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Martin v. Southern Health Partners, Inc.

United States District Court, W.D. Kentucky, Bowling Green Division

February 11, 2019

DANYEL O. MARTIN, Administratrix of the Estate of Edward T. Burke, IV, deceased PLAINTIFF



         This matter is before the Court on Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment (DN 26), Plaintiff's Motions to Exclude Expert Testimony (DN 24, 25, 28), Defendants' Motion to Exclude Expert Testimony (DN 27), and Defendants' Motion for Leave to Seal (DN 40). The motions are ripe for adjudication. For the reasons outlined below, Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment is GRANTED IN PART, Defendants' Motion for Leave to Seal is GRANTED, and the remaining motions are DENIED AS MOOT.


         Plaintiff Danyel O. Martin has brought this action as administratrix of the estate of her son, Edward Burke (“Burke”), who died while in the custody of the Warren County Regional Jail (“WCRJ”) on February 1, 2016. (Compl. ¶ 1, DN 1). Defendants in this action include Southern Health Partners, Inc. (“SHP”), who contracted with the WCRJ to provide medical care. The remaining Defendants are Ronald Waldridge, M.D. (“Dr. Waldridge”), Barry Dorrity, APRN (“Dorrity”), Talana Lasley, LPN (“Lasley”), Lynn Gray, LPN (“Gray”), and Tasha Hafley-Crane (“Crane”), who are all employees of SHP.[1] Plaintiff has asserted a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 that Defendants were deliberately indifferent to Burke's medical needs in violation of the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments. (Compl. ¶¶ 24-27). Plaintiff has further asserted state law claims that Defendants were negligent in their treatment of Burke. (Compl. ¶¶ 28-30).

         The events giving rise to this case began on November 5, 2015, when Burke was admitted to the WCRJ following his arrest for a parole violation. (Pl.'s Resp. Defs.' Mot. Summ. J. Ex. 1, at 1, DN 32-1). The medical staff at the jail conducted a screening upon admission, and Burke alerted jail medical staff that he suffered from both diabetes and Addison's disease.[2] (Defs.' Mem. Supp. Mot. Summ. J. Ex. 2, at 2, DN 26-3 [hereinafter Defs.' Mot.]). Burke was a brittle diabetic, meaning his blood sugar levels could make sudden and dramatic fluctuations on a daily and sometimes hourly basis. (Dahring Dep. 78:11-18, May 10, 2018, DN 26-4). Burke had also suffered an Addisonian crisis leading to cardiac arrest in early 2013. (Defs.' Mot. Summ. J. Ex. 4, at 3, DN 26-5).

         Initially, Burke received medication for diabetes, but he did not receive prednisone to address his Addison's disease until January 8, 2016. (Defs.' Mot. Summ. J. Ex. 13, DN 26-14 [hereinafter Medication Administration Record]). Burke then continued taking prednisone daily until January 30, 2016, when he refused his dosage and signed a form documenting his refusal of the medication and waiver of liability. (Defs.' Mot. Summ. J. Ex. 17, DN 26-18).

         On January 31, 2016, one day after refusing his prednisone, Burke took the medication as prescribed. (Defs.' Mot. Summ. J. Ex. 15, at 2, DN 26-16 [hereinafter Jan. 31 Progress Notes]). That afternoon, however, he contacted medical staff to request a check of his blood sugar and Crane was dispatched to perform the check, which showed a blood sugar level of 296.[3] (Jan. 31 Progress Notes 2; Crane Dep. 57:24-25, July 11, 2017, DN 26-13; Defs.' Mot. Summ. J. Ex. 10, at 2, DN 26-11). Burke requested unscheduled insulin, but after consulting with Gray, Crane informed him none would be administered. (Crane Dep. 58:11-17). Less than an hour later, Burke went into cardiac arrest and was transferred to The Medical Center of Bowling Green. (Jan. 31 Progress Notes 2). He never regained consciousness and died the following day. (Defs.' Mot. Summ. J. Ex. 18, at 5, DN 26-19).


         The Court has subject matter jurisdiction over this matter because Plaintiff's Section 1983 claim presents a federal question. 28 U.S.C. § 1331. The Court has supplemental subject matter jurisdiction over Plaintiff's state law claims arising from the same case or controversy pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1367(a).


         A. Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment

         In ruling on a motion for summary judgment, the Court must determine whether there is any genuine issue of material fact that would preclude entry of judgment for the moving party as a matter of law. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). The moving party bears the initial burden of stating the basis for the motion and identifying evidence in the record that demonstrates an absence of a genuine dispute of material fact. See Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986). If the moving party satisfies its burden, the non-moving party must then produce specific evidence proving the existence of a genuine dispute of fact for trial. See Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 247-48 (1986).

         While the Court must view the evidence in the light most favorable to the non-moving party, the non-moving party must do more than merely show the existence of some “metaphysical doubt as to the material facts.” Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986) (citation omitted). Rather, the non-moving party must present specific facts proving that a genuine factual dispute exists by “citing to particular parts of the materials in the record” or by “showing that the materials cited do not establish the absence . . . of a genuine dispute . . . .” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(1). “The mere existence of a scintilla of evidence in support of the [non-moving party's] position will be insufficient” to overcome summary judgment. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 252.

         1. Section 1983 Claim

         a. Standard

         “To prevail on a cause of action under § 1983, a plaintiff must prove ‘(1) the deprivation of a right secured by the Constitution or laws of the United States (2) caused by a person acting under the color of state law.'” Shadrick v. Hopkins Cty., 805 F.3d 724, 736 (6th Cir. 2015) (quoting Jones v. Muskegon Cty., 625 F.3d 935, 941 (6th Cir. 2010)). Professionals providing medical services to inmates at a county jail qualify as government officials acting under color of state law for Section 1983 purposes.[4] Winkler, 893 F.3d at 890 (citing Harrison v. Ash, 539 F.3d 510, 521 (6th Cir. 2008)).

         To meet her burden on a Section 1983 claim, a plaintiff must prove two components: one objective and one subjective. Spears v. Ruth, 589 F.3d 249, 254 (6th Cir. 2009). “For the objective component, the detainee must demonstrate the existence of a sufficiently serious medical need.” Id. (internal quotation marks omitted) (citation omitted). “[A] medical need is objectively serious if it is one that has been diagnosed by a physician as mandating treatment or one that is so obvious that even a lay person would easily recognize the necessity for a doctor's attention.” Blackmore v. Kalamazoo Cty., 390 F.3d 890, 897 (6th Cir. 2004) (internal quotation marks omitted) (citation omitted). Defendants do not dispute that Plaintiff satisfies the objective component. See Garretson v. City of Madison Heights, 407 F.3d 789, 797 (6th Cir. 2005) (finding diabetes requiring regular insulin injections is a serious medical condition); see also Kruse v. Williams, 592 Fed.Appx. 848, 856 (11th Cir. 2014) (noting that the parties conceded that Addison's disease was a serious condition for the objective prong of a deliberate indifference claim). The Court will therefore focus its inquiry on the subjective prong of the analysis.

         The subjective prong requires proof that the defendant both denied medical care and did so with the requisite culpable mental state. Garretson, 407 F.3d at 797. “A defendant has a sufficiently culpable state of mind if he ‘knows of and disregards an excessive risk to inmate health or safety.'” Winkler, 893 F.3d at 892 (quoting Farmer v. Brennan,511 U.S. 825, 837 (1994)). The subjective component functions “to prevent the constitutionalization of medical malpractice claims . . . .” Comstock v. McCrary,273 F.3d 693, 703 (6th Cir. 2001) (citation omitted). Thus, “deliberate indifference describes a state of mind more blameworthy than negligence.” Farmer, 511 U.S. at 835. Proof of actual knowledge on the part of the accused officials is a critical component, and “[i]f the officers failed to act in the face of an obvious risk of which they should have known but did not, then they did not violate the Fourteenth Amendment.” Garretson, 407 F.3d at 797 ...

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