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Blakley v. Osage County Jail

United States District Court, D. Kansas

March 17, 2017




         This matter comes before the court on pro se plaintiff Damond O. Blakley's Motion for Judgment (Doc. 62), Motion to Suppress (Doc. 73), “Motion to Show Admission of Guilt” (Doc. 81), “Motion to Dismiss Osage County Defendant Phillip Shepard's Memorandum in Support of His Motion for Summary Judgment” (Doc. 86), “Motion to Show Material Evidence for Discovery at Trial” (Doc. 88), and Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. 89), and defendant Officer Shepard's Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. 70). All parties have responded and replied to the pending motions and, where they have not, the time to do so has passed. For reasons explained below, the court denies plaintiff's Motion to Suppress, grants Officer Shepard's Motion for Summary Judgment, and denies plaintiff's remaining motions as moot.

         I. Background

         Plaintiff currently is detained in the Shawnee County, Kansas Jail. Before the Shawnee County Jail, and at the times relevant to his Complaint, plaintiff was detained in the Osage County, Kansas Jail.

         Plaintiff names four defendants in his Complaint: (1) the Osage County Jail, (2) Osage County Sheriff Laurie Dunn, (3) Osage County Jail Supervisor Sergeant Gerald Nitcher, and (4) Osage County Correctional Officer Philip Shepard. The court's screening order dismissed plaintiff's claim against the Osage County Jail. Doc. 6. The court later dismissed plaintiff's claims against Sheriff Dunn and Sergeant Nitcher. Docs. 47, 55. The only remaining claim is plaintiff's Eighth Amendment claim against Officer Shepard. Officer Shepard now moves for summary judgment.

         II. Plaintiff's Motion to Suppress Martinez Report (Doc. 73) and Officer Shepard's Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. 70)

         For the purpose of Officer Shepard's Summary Judgment Motion, the court takes the facts, where uncontroverted, from the parties' briefs[1] as well as the Martinez Report (Doc. 77).

         Plaintiff filed a Motion to Suppress the Martinez Report because, he contends, his “past criminal history has no bearing toward this civil suit.” Doc. 73 at 1. Indeed, plaintiff's remaining claim presents a civil claim, alleging that Officer Shepard violated his Eighth Amendment rights when he failed to get plaintiff medical treatment. “When the plaintiff challenges a prison's policies or established procedures and the Martinez report's description of the policies or procedures remains undisputed after plaintiff has an opportunity to respond, [the court] should, and will, treat the portion of the Martinez report describing the policies or procedures like a written document that has been attached to plaintiff's complaint.” Hall v. Bellmon, 935 F.2d 1106, 1112-13 (10th Cir. 1991). The Martinez report aids the court in “its broad reading of the pro se litigants pleadings . . . by supplementing a plaintiff's often inadequate description of the practices that he contends are unconstitutional.” Id. at 1112. Plaintiff has had an opportunity to respond to the Martinez report. And, although he moved to suppress the report, he did not dispute the description of the policies and procedures contained in the report. So, the court denies plaintiff's Motion to Suppress and considers the facts in the Martinez report when making its decision. The court turns to Officer Shepard's Motion for Summary Judgment because, if granted, all of plaintiff's motions are moot.

         A. Facts

         Plaintiff arrived at the Osage County Jail on January 20, 2015. On January 26, 2015, plaintiff submitted a Medical Request Form for a “knot” “on [his] left side lower back.” Doc. 77 at 13. Plaintiff visited Dr. Seeman on February 11, 2015. During the visit, plaintiff requested to be taken off all of his medications. Some of these medications treated plaintiff's anxiety and depression. Dr. Seeman agreed, and the Osage County Jail staff stopped administering these medications to plaintiff.

         On February 12, 2015, plaintiff began to experience pain in his chest and heart. Plaintiff sought help from Jailer Phil (“Officer Shepard”) while Officer Shepard was on his routine jail check. Officer Shepard separated plaintiff from other inmates by moving him to the jail's holding area for observation, so he could question him about his symptoms. Officer Shepard asked plaintiff if he was experiencing chest pain, and plaintiff said that he was not, but that he did not feel right.[2] Plaintiff described a “fluttering” in his chest and stated that he wanted to go to the hospital. Id. at 14. Officer Shepard did not think that plaintiff was exhibiting any symptoms of a serious medical condition. Officer Shepard observed that plaintiff was breathing and speaking normally, that plaintiff's skin color appeared to be normal, and that plaintiff did not seem to be in any distress. Officer Shepard also knew that plaintiff had stopped taking all of his medications, including his anti-anxiety medications. Officer Shepard told plaintiff that what he was feeling was “only in his head, ” that “it was stress, ” and that he would be alright. Id. at 4. Officer Shepard let plaintiff fill out a medical request form when he returned to his cell. Doc. 68-1 at 16. According to plaintiff, he was lightheaded the next day.

         Plaintiff saw a physician on February 25, 2015. Plaintiff filed this lawsuit three weeks later. Plaintiff's suit alleges that Officer Shepard's failure to provide him with medical care on February 12, 2015 amounted to a violation of his Eighth Amendment rights. Plaintiff asserts that Officer Shepard should have gotten help for him, and that his failure to do so constituted mental and physical abuse. Plaintiff contends that his pain was so great that he was lightheaded for a day after Officer Shepard looked at him, and that Officer Shepard disregarded “an excessive risk to [his] health [and] safety.” Doc. 79 at 1.

         In his Response, plaintiff contends that he has been suffering from his heart problems for over a year. His symptoms include feeling dizzy and weak. Plaintiff attached documents to his Response, including “Progress Notes” from a visit to the Cotton-O'Neil Heart Center where he saw Dr. Kevin Bernd. The Progress Notes state that plaintiff visited Dr. Bernd on March 4, 2016. The Progress Notes also state that plaintiff reported to Dr. Bernd that he started to develop heart palpitations in February 2015, and that they occurred every three to four days. The Progress Notes describe plaintiff's report that the palpitations usually resolve on their own. The notes also reveal that another physician, Dr. Seeman, tested plaintiff and found that he has been experiencing episodes of supraventricular tachycardia (SVT).

         B. Legal Standard

         Summary judgment is appropriate if the moving party demonstrates that “no genuine dispute [about] any material fact” exists and that it “is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). When applying this standard, the court views the evidence and draws inferences in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. Nahno-Lopez v. Houser, 625 F.3d 1279, 1283 (10th Cir. 2010). A disputed “issue of fact is ‘genuine' ‘if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the non-moving party' on the issue.” Id. (quoting Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986)). And an “issue of fact is ‘material' ...

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