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Estate of Goodin v. Knox County

United States District Court, E.D. Kentucky, Southern Division, London

June 16, 2014

KNOX COUNTY, KENTUCKY, et al., Defendants.



This matter is before the Court upon the Motion for Summary Judgment filed by Defendants Knox County, Knox County Judge Executive J.M. Hall, and Knox County Jailer Mary Hammons. The facts of this case center on the death of Angela Goodin while she was incarcerated in the Knox County Detention Center. At issue is whether Knox County, Hall, or Hammons violated the constitutional rights of Angela Goodin, or otherwise acted negligently in connection with her death.



Mrs. Angela Goodin was arrested by the Barbourville City Police in Knox County, Kentucky, on the evening of January 27, 2011, on a warrant for Trafficking a Controlled Substance. [R. 33-4.] On the day of her arrest, Goodin had traveled with her daughter Tabitha Goodin to Lexington, Kentucky, for a doctor's appointment. [R. 35 at 21-22.] Tabitha Goodin testified that she believed her mother had taken her usual prescription medication that morning, and that she did not believe her mother had had any alcohol on the day of her arrest, but that she had noticed her mother was shaking all that day and thought her mother was going into a seizure. [ Id. at 24-25, 27.] Because Angela Goodin continued to shake while driving home that evening, Tabitha took over the driving. [ Id. at 28.] They arrived back in Barbourville at about 7:00 p.m. and pulled into a Walmart parking lot, where they were stopped by five police cars. [ Id. at 29.]

One of the arresting officers, Officer Senters, testified that the police had made controlled drug buys off of Angela Goodin "on a couple of different dates" before her arrest, and that on the evening of her arrest the police had been informed by a cooperating witness that she would arrive at the Barbourville Wal-Mart at a certain time. [R. 36 at 8-9.] Tabitha Goodin testified that the arresting officers searched Mrs. Goodin and also searched her purse. [R. 35 at 33.] According to Officer Senters, although the police found some Percocet in Mrs. Goodin's possession when they arrested her, they did not find the drugs they were looking for, and therefore Senters told Officer Robert Brown to make sure the jail personnel searched Goodin to see if they could find other drugs.[1] [R. 36-1 at 11.] Officer Senters also advised Brown that when police had conducted controlled buys from Goodin in the past, she had taken the contraband out of her bra, and that she should be watched closely. [ Id. ] Officer Brown asked Goodin if she was on any medication, to which she only stated that she had taken the prescribed Percocet. [ Id. ] Brown placed Goodin in his car but did not see her remove anything or place anything in his car. [ Id. ] The officers stated that at the time of her arrest, Goodin did not appear to be under the influence or intoxicated at all. [ Id. ] Goodin also did not make any statements to the officers that would make them suspect she had taken any drugs other than her prescribed medicine. [ Id. ] Neither Senters nor Brown saw Goodin take any pills while she was in their custody. [ Id. ]

Brown took Goodin to the Knox County Detention Center and advised Booking Officer Nancy Foley that Goodin had hidden illegal drugs in her bra in the past and needed a strip search. [R. 36-1 at 11; R. 33-6.] In his Incident Report, Deputy Jailer Shelby Johnson confirmed that Brown told Foley that Goodin might have concealed pills on her person. [R. 33-14.] According to Officer Foley, she took Goodin into the property room where she conducted a strip search, and had Goodin take all her clothes off, lift each breast, squat, and cough three different times, but did not find any type of pills. [R. 33-7.] Foley asked Goodin if she had any drugs or alcohol in her system or if she had taken any that day, but Goodin replied that she did not. [ Id.; R. 33-6.] Goodin asked for some water and told Foley that she had a fever and thought she had the flu, but said that she would be "okay." [R. 33-6.]

Goodin was booked into the Knox County Detention Center at approximately 9:22 p.m. on January 27, 2011. As part of the booking process, Officer Nancy Foley asked Goodin a series of questions which included a medical questionnaire. [R. 33-5 at 1.] Foley noted that Goodin did not appear to be under the influence of alcohol or drugs at the time of booking. [ Id. ] She also noted that Goodin did not show any signs of trauma or illness that would require emergency treatment, nor did she have any evidence of illness or infection that could spread through the jail. [ Id. ] When asked whether she was carrying medication, Goodin responded "no." [ Id. ] When asked if she was currently taking any medication, Goodin only listed medication for high blood pressure, and that she was taking "Klophin" for a psychiatric disorder. [ Id. at 3.] Goodin also responded "no" when asked if she had ever tried to harm herself or attempted suicide. [ Id. ]

Angela Goodin was then placed in cell # 132, a detox cell for women. [R. 33-11.] The jail's cell check records reflect that officers checked on Goodin each hour between midnight and 8:00 the next morning. [ Id. ] The last check was conducted at 8:00 a.m. on January 28, 2011. [ Id.; R. 33-8.] Deputy Jailer Annette Lawson confirmed these checks in her Incident Report which stated that she performed hourly bed checks during her shift between 11:00 p.m. and 7:00 a.m. [R. 33-13.] Deputy Lawson further reported that between 5:30 and 6:00 a.m. on January 28, Lawson put another female prisoner into Goodin's cell, at which point Goodin woke up, raised up, and then laid back down. [ Id. ] At 8:10 a.m. on January 28, 2011, the Knox County Detention Center Activity Log reports that the other women in cell # 132 yelled out that Goodin was not breathing. [R. 33-8.] According to the Activity Log and the Extraordinary Occurrence Report filled out after Goodin's death, Officer Sheila Brown responded to the cries, along with several other officers, who put an ammonia inhalant under Goodin's nose. [ Id.; R. 33-12.] When Goodin did not respond, Officer Brown called EMS at 8:13 a.m., and two other members of the staff immediately started C.P.R. which continued until the EMS arrived and transported Goodin to the hospital. [R. 33-8; R. 33-12.] Coroner Michael Blevins pronounced Goodin dead at 8:30 a.m. [R. 33-19 at 4.]

The autopsy report concluded that Angela Goodin died from "Oxycodone Intoxication." [R. 33-3 at 1.] The examining physician's final diagnosis stated that there was a bag "with blue-white nondescript material" in Goodin's small intestine and that she swallowed the bag reportedly filled with oxycodone the previous day. [ Id. at 2.] The attached lab report confirmed that Goodin tested positive for oxycodone. [ Id. at 10-11.] Jay Sowders of the Kentucky State Police prepared an Investigative Report, and was dispatched to the jail soon after Goodin was found unresponsive. [R. 33-1 at 4.] As part of his investigation, he questioned the other three women who had been in Goodin's cell that night - April Peters, Rebecca Brock, and Brittany Partin. All three of them told Sowders that Goodin did not appear to be under the influence when they were first in contact with her, but that Goodin had told them that she swallowed "a cigarette cellophane containing approximately 15 to 20 Roxicet 30 mg pills when she was stopped by police." [R. 33-19 at 5.] Partin told Sowders that Goodin had asked them not to say anything to the guards about the pills and that she was fine. [ Id. ] Each of them stated that Goodin had been snoring loudly through the night, and was still snoring at 7:15 a.m. when breakfast trays were brought to the cell, but that Goodin did not get up to eat breakfast. [ Id. ] Sowders concluded that Goodin died "as a result of an accidental overdose." [ Id. ] Goodin's husband Joseph Goodin and her daughter Tabitha both testified in their depositions that they suspected that Goodin had been addicted to prescription pain killers for several months before her death. [R. 34 at 46-50; R. 35 at 16-21.]

Plaintiffs never scheduled depositions for Defendants J.M. Hall or Mary Hammons, but the record reflects that they responded to Plaintiffs' discovery requests in the form of Interrogatories and Requests for Production of Documents. [ See R. 33-20, R. 33-21, R. 33-22, R. 33-23.] Mary Hammons, the Knox County Jailer, was not present the evening when Goodin was booked, but she was present on the morning Goodin died. Hammons' response to the Interrogatories stated that she was in her office when she heard a commotion in the hallway, and that as she went out to see what was going on one of the deputies yelled to call 911. After the EMS took Goodin from the jail, Hammons called the Department of Corrections and the Kentucky State Police, and then began preparing an Extraordinary Occurrence Report. [R. 33-22 at 8.] In her Extraordinary Occurrence Report, Hammons stated that "[e]verything was done to prevent this from happening. Procedures were followed and documented." [R. 42-6 at 2.] She then included the following summary of the incident:

1. Cells checked at 8:00 a.m. everything was okay.
2. Woman in Cell 132 hollered "This girl has stopped snoring. She's not breathing!"
3. We ran to cell 132 to check her. There wasn't any response.
4. Inside we used an ammonia inhalant under her nose.
5. Immediately started C.P.R. (Homer Tuttle, Hobert Davis)
6. Immediately Shelia Brown called E.M.S. at 8:13
7. C.P.R. was continued until E.M.S. arrived.
8. County Judge and County Sheriff were both at the jail as soon as they heard the E.M.S. call.

[R. 33-12 at 2; 42-6 at 2.] Hammons also noted that there is video footage of Goodin at the time she was booked into the jail which shows Goodin "was in no apparent distress and was able to ambulate and obey commands." [R. 33-22 at 9.]

Defendant Hall has been the Knox County Judge Executive since 2007. As the Judge Executive, he is the chief administrative officer and oversees the Knox County Fiscal Court. [R. 42 at 1.] In his response to the Interrogatories, Hall stated that "the day to day operations of the jail are overseen by the jailer." [R. 33-20 at 3.] The Knox County Fiscal Court provides funding for the Knox County Detention Center, approves the hiring and firing of jail employees, approves jail policies, and is responsible for ensuring that jail policy complies with Kentucky statutory regulations. [ Id. at 3-4, 6.] Hall had no personal contact with Goodin or personal knowledge of her during her incarceration. Hall arrived at the jail before Goodin was transported by EMS, but otherwise had no personal involvement with Goodin's incarceration, nor did he know which individual jail employees were directly involved. [ Id. at 4-7.] As for Knox County Jail policies, Hall stated that the Fiscal Court adopted the jail's operating policy in 2008, and there have been no revisions or amendments to the policy since that time. [ Id. at 5.]

The Inmate Procedure Manual for the Knox County Detention Center requires detention officers to "conduct a visual inspection of each cell area" and check each inmate at least once every hour. [R. 42-2 at 1.] For inmates requiring "special surveillance, " the Manual instructs jail personnel to "conduct and document direct in-person surveillance a minimum of every twenty (20) minutes." [ Id. ] As listed by the Manual, the following classes of inmates require "special surveillance": suicidal, assaultive, escape risk, mentally or emotionally disturbed, inmates in segregation, and ...

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