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Bekhtyar v. Grayson County Detention Center

United States District Court, W.D. Kentucky, Owensboro Division

December 18, 2018

JAMAL BEKHTYAR, PLAINTIFF
v.
GRAYSON COUNTY DETENTION CENTER et al., DEFENDANTS

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          JOSEPH H. MCKINLEY JR., DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Before the Court is the motion to dismiss or alternatively for summary judgment filed by Defendants Grayson County and Jason Woosley (DN 30). Briefing on the motion is complete, as is discovery.[1] For the following reasons, the motion for summary judgment will be granted.

         I.

         Plaintiff alleged that on March 28, 2016, while on probation, he was seen by his primary care physician, Dr. Sean Ryan, for a “severe insect bite reaction/painful injury to the region of [his] upper-inner-right thigh.” He states that Dr. Ryan gave him prescriptions for more than one antibiotic and follow up orders for bed rest. Plaintiff also was told to let Dr. Ryan know if his medical condition worsened by the next day. Plaintiff stated that the next morning his condition was worse but that he was not able to contact his doctor because he was arrested by the U.S. Marshals Service (USMS).

         Plaintiff stated that after being arrested, he informed the USMS of his medical condition. He alleged that the USMS booking officer assured him that the facility where he would be sent would collaborate with his treating physician and treat him appropriately.

         Plaintiff alleged that when he was booked into the Grayson County Detention Center (GCDC), a medical staff member came to the intake area, briefly looked at his leg, asked him who his doctor was, and placed him in the medical observation pod. He alleged that despite telling her of the medical treatment he had received, including an ultrasound and instructions to notify his treating doctor if his condition worsened, “medical staff did not start any of my medications which neglected my medical condition and furthered it to worsen.” He further stated that when his mother called GCDC to insist that they continue his doctor's orders, the medical staff responded that Plaintiff “‘was no longer in Dr. Sean Ryan's care . . . .'” Plaintiff alleged that his condition continued to worsen. He stated that in the evening he was given one of his antibiotics and an aspirin. He stated that the next day, the wound began to bleed, at which time the medical staff “slid some band-aides under the door, told [him] to pack up, and moved [him] to solitary confinement.” He alleged that he spent two days in solitary confinement while his wound continued to bleed and to worsen. Plaintiff states that, on April 1, 2016, he was taken to medical for the first time where his wound was wrapped before he was taken to the courthouse for his detention hearing. Plaintiff stated that the Assistant U.S. Attorney and his probation officer had him immediately released “to go to the hospital myself, at my own expense to be treated” because “they feared I may lose my leg or worse if kept in custody.” He stated that he went immediately to the hospital where emergency surgery was performed.

         On initial review, the Court found that Plaintiff alleged a GCDC policy not to treat prisoners who are under the authority of the USMS and allowed Plaintiff's deliberate-indifference-to-serious-medical-needs claim under the Fourteenth Amendment to continue.

         II.

         Summary judgment is proper “if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). The party moving for summary judgment bears the burden of demonstrating the absence of a genuine issue of material fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986).

         The moving party's burden may be discharged by demonstrating that there is an absence of evidence to support an essential element of the nonmoving party's case for which he or she has the burden of proof. Id. A moving party with the burden of proof who seeks summary judgment faces a “substantially higher hurdle.” Arnett v. Myers, 281 F.3d 552, 561 (6th Cir. 2002). “[W]here the moving party has the burden -- the plaintiff on a claim for relief or the defendant on an affirmative defense -- his showing must be sufficient for the court to hold that no reasonable trier of fact could find other than for the moving party.” Calderone v. United States, 799 F.2d 254, 259 (6th Cir. 1986) (internal quotation marks, citation, and emphasis omitted). The party with the burden of proof “must show that the record contains evidence satisfying the burden of persuasion and that the evidence is so powerful that no reasonable jury would be free to disbelieve it.” Arnett, 281 F.3d at 561. “Accordingly, summary judgment in favor of the party with the burden of persuasion ‘is inappropriate when the evidence is susceptible to different interpretations or inferences by the trier of fact.'” Green v. Tudor, 685 F.Supp.2d 678, 685 (W.D. Mich. 2010) (quoting Hunt v. Cromartie, 526 U.S. 541, 553 (1999)).

         Defendants' motion first argues that Plaintiff's complaint is barred by the one-year statute of limitations for 42 U.S.C. § 1983 actions in Kentucky. According to Defendants, Plaintiff's original complaint was filed on April 19, 2017, and Plaintiff's cause of action accrued on March 29, 2016, when he arrived at GCDC. In Kentucky, § 1983 actions are limited by the one-year statute of limitations found in Ky. Rev. Stat. § 413.140(1)(a). Collard v. Ky. Bd. of Nursing, 896 F.2d 179, 182 (6th Cir. 1990).

         Putting aside the question of whether Plaintiff's claim did accrue on March 29, 2016, Defendants' argument fails because although Plaintiff's complaint was not file-stamped by the Clerk until April 19, 2017, Plaintiff signed it on March 24, 2017. Under the mailbox rule, a prisoner's action is deemed filed on the date it was presented to prison officials for mailing. Miller v. Collins, 305 F.3d 491, 497-98 (6th Cir. 2002) (citing Houston v. Lack, 487 U.S. 266 (1988)); see also Bowlds v. Dortch, No. 4:10-CV-P61-M, 2010 WL 2203258 (W.D. Ky. May 26, 2010) (applying the mailbox rule to a civil-rights action brought pursuant to § 1983).

         The complaint form from the United States District Court for the District of Minnesota, which Plaintiff used, does not have a place to sign and date as to when it was presented to prison authorities for mailing.[2] However, “[t]he fact that the parties may never be able to determine precisely when Plaintiff mailed his [c]omplaint should not prevent the application of the mailbox rule in this litigation.” Higgenbottom v. McManus, 840 F.Supp. 454, 456 (W.D. Ky. 1994). Therefore, the Court declines to grant Defendants' motion based on statute of limitations.

         Defendants' motion next argues that Plaintiff failed to exhaust his administrative remedies as required by the Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA). They argue that although the GCDC had a grievance procedure available to Plaintiff, Plaintiff failed to file a grievance regarding the alleged deliberate indifference to his medical needs. Among the attachments to the motion is the affidavit of Defendant Woosley, GCDC Jailer. Defendant Woosley avers that at all times during Plaintiff's incarceration there, GCDC had in effect an inmate grievance procedure and that, upon arrival and booking at GCDC, all inmates are provided with a copy of the inmate handbook, which includes the GCDC's Inmate Grievance Policy and Procedure. According to that affidavit, the GCDC grievance policy provides that “‘any inmate shall be allowed to file a grievance at such time as the inmate believes he . ...


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