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Hester v. Reed

United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana

February 21, 2018


         SECTION “A” (2)



         Plaintiff, Rashad Rene Hester, is currently a prisoner in the LaSalle Correctional Center (“LaSalle”) in Olla, Louisiana. He was incarcerated in the Lafourche Parish Detention Center (“Lafourche”) in Thibodaux, Louisiana at the time of the subject incident. He filed this complaint pro se and in forma pauperis pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. He alleges that defendant Deputy Santiago Reed negligently caused Hester to be electrically shocked and that defendant Nurse Lee provided him with inadequate medical care for the injuries he suffered in the incident while he was incarcerated in Lafourche. Plaintiff seeks monetary damages in the total amount of $150, 000. Record Doc. No. 3 (Complaint at ¶ V).

         On December 12, 2017, I conducted a telephone conference in this matter. Participating were plaintiff pro se and Assistant Lafourche Parish Attorney Mike Jiminez, counsel for defendants. Plaintiff was sworn and testified for all purposes permitted by Spears v. McCotter, 766 F.2d 179 (5th Cir. 1985), and its progeny.

         Having considered the record as a whole and the applicable law, I recommend that this case be DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE for the following reasons.

         THE RECORD

         Plaintiff testified that he was incarcerated in LaSalle, serving a nine year sentence for his conviction in October 2017 for a drug distribution charge. Hester stated that he was previously incarcerated at Lafourche from December 6, 2016 to October 2017 and was transferred to LaSalle in November 2017. Hester confirmed that his claims in this case arise from an incident that occurred on January 9, 2017, while he was incarcerated in Lafourche as a pretrial detainee.

         Hester testified that on the day of the incident, he and three or four other inmates were in a holding cell, called “the library, ” with Deputy Reed standing guard in the hallway. Hester stated that he was “nominated” by his dorm-mates to be their barber, so he was in the library to cut the other inmates' hair. Plaintiff stated that Reed gave him a pair of electric clippers. Hester asserted that he plugged one end of the extension cord into the clippers while Reed plugged the other end into the electrical outlet in the hallway outside of the holding cell.

         Hester testified that in plugging the cord into the electrical outlet, Reed negligently “slammed the bars closed, ” which caused the extension cord to get stuck in the bars. Plaintiff claimed that it was Reed's careless closing of the cell door, while “laughing and clowning with his co-workers, ” that caused Hester's left hand to be shocked by the clippers. “When he slammed [the extension cord] in [the bars] it caused the shock to come through the clippers from the extension cord wire, ” plaintiff asserted, “and that sent me falling to the floor.” When asked whether it was plaintiff's contention that Reed did this negligently or carelessly, plaintiff responded, “I think it was careless, unprofessional work because he was clowning with another co-worker.” He acknowledged that Reed's actions were unintentional.

         Hester reiterated that he felt a shock during the incident that knocked him to the floor. Plaintiff asserted that he suffered pain on the day of the incident, and that he continues to have “flashbacks” to that moment and pain in his hand. “Still, to this day, my hand twitches, ” he claimed. Hester stated that his hand was not burned; the shock did not produce blood or any kind of cut; he did not lose consciousness but was dizzy; there was some blackening or bruising of the hand, which went away; and he experienced numbness in his hand for approximately one hour after the shock. “It didn't leave a wound mark, but if you look in my hand you can tell, you know, ” plaintiff stated, “that something happened inside my hand.”

         Hester asserted that he received no medical care. However, he also testified that Reed and another officer took him to see night shift Nurse Lee in the jail 10 to 15 minutes after the incident, and that she examined his hand and checked his heart rate. Hester confirmed that he was given one dose of ibuprofen by the nurse. He stated that he did not attend the follow-up sick call appointment scheduled for January 16, 2017, because he was transferred to another detention center only a few days after the incident. Hester testified that he teleconferenced with a doctor concerning his hand when he returned to the Lafourche jail for a week or two. He asserted that he spoke with the teleconference doctor about the incident, but he claimed that the doctor “blew it off like nothing was wrong with me.” Hester testified that at the time of the teleconference he was wearing an Ace bandage on his hand to stop the twitching.

         Plaintiff stated that he did not have a copy of his medical records, and he denied knowing Carol McCurdy, who signed the chart notes concerning his medical visit on January 10, 2017. Plaintiff was advised that his medical records contain no evidence of any wounds or swelling on the night of the incident. He confirmed the records' accuracy, but stated that he had a mark on his hand from the clippers and that the inside of his left hand tingled.

         Hester confirmed that he asserts two kinds of claims arising from his incarceration at Lafourche, including (1) that Deputy Reed carelessly handled the electrical clippers and cord, which led to the shock, and (2) that he did not receive proper medical care.

         The verified medical records from the Lafourche jail state that Hester was brought to the jail medical department shortly after being shocked by the clippers, and that he complained of left arm and wrist pain. Record Doc. No. 8-1 at p. 28. The records indicate that there were no visible wounds or swelling where plaintiff stated the pain was located. Id. Plaintiff was instructed to return to the medical department if his condition persisted or worsened. Id. Rebecca White noted in the record on August 21, 2017 that she contacted the Catahoula Correctional Center (“Catahoula”), where plaintiff was being transferred before being moved to LaSalle, to ask why plaintiff was wearing an Ace bandage. Id. The record states that Catahoula had no information about the Ace wrap, and could not explain why Hester had received the bandage. Id.

         At the conclusion of the Spears hearing, my office forwarded a copy of the medical records to Hester and provided him with an opportunity to review them and provide the court with any written comments he might have about them. Record Doc. No. 12.

         Hester subsequently wrote that he was shipped to Concordia Parish Correctional Facility, from Lafourche, on January 12, 2017. Record Doc. No. 13 at p. 1. He stated that he filled out a request for medical attention on January 10, 2017 and was scheduled to see a doctor on January 16, 2017. Id. Hester asserted that he was “shipped to a DOC center” while awaiting trial, and he was “shipped” from Concordia to Catahoula, where he stayed from January 12 to April 16, 2017. Id. He wrote ...

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