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Williams v. Hardin County Detention Center

United States District Court, W.D. Kentucky, Louisville

March 29, 2019




         This matter is before the Court on the motions for summary judgment by Defendants Southern Health Partners (SHP), Christy Curry, and Lisa Puckett[1] (the SHP Defendants) (DN 67) and by Defendants Hardin County and Danny Allen (the County Defendants) (DN 68). Plaintiff, proceeding pro se, filed a response to the SHP Defendants' motion (DN 74).

         The Court gave Plaintiff an opportunity to file a supplemental response and provided general guidance to Plaintiff in responding to a motion for summary judgment (DN 94). Plaintiff filed a motion for an extension of time to file a supplemental response (DN 95), which is GRANTED, and a supplemental response to the motions for summary judgment (DN 98).

         For the reasons that follow, the Court will grant Defendants' motions for summary judgment. Because the Court will enter summary judgment in favor of Defendants, it will also deny Plaintiff's motion for partial summary judgment.


         Plaintiff was incarcerated at the Hardin County Detention Center (HCDC) at the time pertinent to the complaint. Upon initial review of the complaint and amended complaint under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, the Court allowed Plaintiff's § 1983 claims of denial of medical/mental health treatment under the Eighth Amendment of the United States Constitution and Section 17 of the Kentucky Constitution to proceed against Defendants Hardin County, HCDC Medical Staff, SHP, Curry, and Puckett in their individual capacities. The Court also allowed a state-law claim of failure to train and supervise to go forward against Defendant Allen in his individual capacity.

         In the complaint, Plaintiff stated that while he was housed at HCDC from June 9, 2015, to March 1, 2016, he “filled out the proper medical request sick call slip form (SHP form 11/2014) from [SHP] provided to [HCDC] medical staffs - Medical department regarding his mental health issues and psychological conditions.” He stated that in August 2015 he “was placed in an observation cell due to being a harm to others and/or himself” for seven days. He stated that during this time he “informed medical that he is a disabled veteran that received medication and been diagnosed with borderline bipolar, manic-depression, and ADD.” Plaintiff maintained that the medical staff had him sign medical release forms to obtain his mental health records from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and the Kentucky Department of Corrections (KDOC). He reported that he previously had been “prescribed Risperdal and Depacote from the VA for underlying mental health issues” and that he had been diagnosed by a psychiatrist with “acute anxiety disorder and moderate recurrent depression and was prescribed Celexa along with other medications throughout his incarceration from 2005-2015.”

         Plaintiff maintained that, while the HCDC medical staff requested his mental health records and “were made aware of his mental health issues and psychological conditions, they failed to provide psychiatric care/counseling, medical treatment, or prescribe the proper medications and refused him of his right to medical care or treatment.” He stated, “On several requests, the medical staff wrote back on a request that, ‘if it isn't/wasn't life threatening than they don't have to treat [him]!' They also told him to wait until he was sentenced and have DOC take care of his problem.” (Brackets by Plaintiff). He further stated, “Numerous other times either refused to answer or denied his requests and grievances.” He also represented that “the doctor from [SHP] wouldn't reissue his eye drops (Ciprofloxacin) or a trial dosage of Depacote.”

         In the amended complaint, Plaintiff stated that Defendant Curry was the nurse practitioner in the medical department at HCDC and answered the majority of sick call requests and grievances while Plaintiff was at HCDC. He asserted, “She is the person who stated, ‘if it wasn't/isn't life threatening than we don't have to treat you . . .' and ‘to wait until he was sentenced and have DOC take care of his problem.'” He states that Defendant Curry was the nurse he spoke to when he was placed in the observation cell in August 2015. Plaintiff stated, “Majority of the decision for the medical department are made by Christy Curry and the weight falls upon her shoulders.”

         Plaintiff also stated that Defendant Puckett was “the psychologist (psych nurse) that's suppose to handle any complaints or inmates with psychological issues or needed medication.” He asserted, “Plaintiff waited over 3 months wanting to speak with Lisa and didn't get to speak with her until he was in the observation cell, even though he sent several sick call request forms to her to be seen.” He states that Defendant Puckett requested his medical records from the VA and KDOC. He stated, “Although, she sent off for the records, that way she can know the symptoms and get proper diagnosis, she failed to do anything or get medication prescribed when she was aware that mental issues or illness is present.” He asserted that he was “denied psychiatric care/counseling, medication, and was refused the right to medical care especially when HCDC medical personnel (staff) had proof plaintiff suffers from mental illness and was in need of medication.”

         Further, Plaintiff stated that Defendant Allen “failed to properly train or advise his staff on resolving the continuous violation of his Constitutional Rights . . . .” He stated that Defendant Allen was “the main policymaking authority at HCDC or for Hardin County at the jail; thereby, holds him liable for deprivation of Plaintiff's Constitutional rights.”

         In their motion for summary judgment, the SHP Defendants argue that Plaintiff's medical and other records from his incarceration at HCDC show that they were not deliberately indifferent to his mental health needs. They state that when Plaintiff was booked into HCDC on June 9, 2015, he answered a list of standard medical questions and completed a suicide questionnaire with a HCDC deputy jailer, which they attach. According to the attached medical questions, Plaintiff was asked if he had “recently been treated for any medical or mental illness” and if he had any “medications you are taking or need to be taking[.]” Plaintiff answered “no” to these question. In addition, in the attached suicide questionnaire, Plaintiff was asked if he had “any serious medical or mental health conditions that may need attention while you are here” and whether he had “recently taken or been prescribed medication for emotional problems[.]” Plaintiff answered “no” to these questions, as well. The SHP Defendants report that after the standard medical questions and suicide questionnaire were completed, Plaintiff refused a medical intake screening, which would have been performed by a non-party SHP nurse, and they attach a Refusal of Medical Treatment and Release of Responsibility form signed by Plaintiff dated June 10, 2015.

         The SHP Defendants further state that the day after Plaintiff was booked into HCDC, June 10, 2015, he submitted a sick call slip, attached to the motion, requesting to be seen for injuries he received during his arrest. They attach a Clinical Pathway/Patient Clinical Data Form, dated June 11, 2015, which shows that Plaintiff was examined by a non-party SHP nurse on that date. The nurse noted light bruising on Plaintiff's right shoulder and the right side of his forehead. The SHP Defendants maintain that Plaintiff did not complain of mental health issues or request mental health treatment or medication during this examination.

         In their motion, the SHP Defendants maintain that Plaintiff underwent a complete history and physical performed by Defendant Curry on June 23, 2015. Citing to the Admission Data/History and Physical Form dated June 23, 2015, which they attach, they state that at that time Plaintiff informed Defendant Curry that he suffered “from acute anxiety disorder/moderate recurrent depression” but did not indicate that he took medication for it. They maintain, “Once again, Plaintiff did not request mental health treatment or medication at that time.”

         The SHP Defendants report that Plaintiff submitted a second sick call slip, which they attach, on June 27, 2015, claiming that his left eye was red and irritated and that he had a sty on the inside of his eyelid. Citing an attached Clinical Pathway/Patient Clinical Data Form dated June 28, 2015, they report that Defendant Curry responded to Plaintiff's sick call request the following day and provided Plaintiff with eye drops to use in his affected eye. The SHP Defendants state that Plaintiff did not complain of mental health issues or request mental health treatment or medication at that visit.

         The SHP Defendants attach a grievance Plaintiff submitted on July 25, 2015, in which he stated the following:

I have filled out several sick call forms and request forms to be seen by medical for mental health needs and am being denied medical treatment for I've been diagnosed with Bipolor & ADD thru VA Medical Clinic in Grayson County, Kentucky and with Acute Anxiety Disorder/Moderate Recurrent Depression thru [KDOC] while at Luther Luckett Correctional Complex [LLCC] from 2009 to present.

         However, the SHP Defendants assert, “There is absolutely nothing in Plaintiff's records to indicate that the assertions Plaintiff made in this grievance are true.” They continue, “To the contrary, Plaintiff had been seen on three separate occasions since coming into the facility on June 9, 2015, and while he reported a history of acute anxiety disorder/moderate recurrent depression, he never requested mental health treatment or medication.”

         The SHP Defendants attach an Inmate Request Form dated July 26, 2015, in which Plaintiff requested, “I need to speak with someone because I don't feel like living any more and just wish I'd die or someone to kill me. I feel people are plotting against me and out to get me and need to go to administrative seg.” An officer wrote on the form, “Placed on suicide watch 7/26/15 1040.” The SHP Defendants cite Plaintiff's Progress Notes from that date showing that Defendant Curry spoke with Plaintiff about his concerns that day, placed him in administrative segregation, and put Plaintiff on suicide watch to ensure his safety. The SHP Defendants maintain that Defendant Curry also contacted the Kentucky Jail Mental Health Crisis Network on that date so they could perform an evaluation of Plaintiff. The Kentucky Jail Mental Health Crisis Network Episode Report dated July 26, 2015, states that the evaluation indicated that Plaintiff “had been housed in maximum security due to his charges but [on July 25, 2015, ] after the jail learned he is also a sex offender he was reclassified to [the sex offender] pod. He is unhappy with his new classification.” The report also states, “When staff spoke to ...

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