United States District Court, M.D. Louisiana
HOSEY COLBERT, ET AL.
CITY OF BATON ROUGE/ PARISH OF EAST BATON ROUGE, ET AL.
RULING AND ORDER
A. JACKSON CHIEF JUDGE.
the Court is the Motion to Dismiss (Doc. 68) filed by
Defendant, Dr. Robert Blanche ("Dr. Blanche") and
the Motion to Dismiss (Doc. 71) filed by Defendant, Dr.
Charlie H. Bridges ("Dr. Bridges") seeking
dismissal of claims brought by Plaintiffs, Hosey Colbert and
Shantita Colbert ("Plaintiffs") under Federal Rule
of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim.
Plaintiffs filed an Opposition to each Motion to Dismiss.
(Docs. 78, 80). The Court has jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C.
§1331. Oral argument is not necessary. For the following
reasons, the Motion to Dismiss (Doc. 68) fxled by Dr. Blanche
is GRANTED IN PART and DENIED IN PART. The Motion to Dismiss
(Doc. 71) filed by Dr. Bridges is GRANTED IN PART and DENIED
are the parents of Tyrin Colbert ("Colbert"), their
17 year old son, who was murdered by an inmate while
incarcerated as a pretrial detainee at the East Baton Rouge
Parish Prison ("EBRPP"). (Doc. 40 at p. 1). On
January 12, 2017, Plaintiffs brought suit against, inter
alia, City of Baton Rouge/Parish of East Baton Rouge
("EBR"), which is the political entity responsible
for funding operations and maintenance of the prison; Sheriff
Sid J. Gautreaux, who is responsible for running the prison;
Warden Dennis Grimes, who is responsible for the day-to-day
operation of the prison; Prison Medical Services
("PMS"), which is the entity responsible for
administering healthcare to the inmates; Rintha Simpson, who
was the Interim Director of PMS; and "J. Does, "
who are unknown sheriffs deputies and PMS staff. (Doc. 1 at
August 14, 2017, Plaintiffs filed a superseding First Amended
Complaint ("Complaint") adding additional claims
and Defendants in place of "J. Does." (Doc. 40).
The additional Defendants included Dr. Bridges, who is the
"EBRPP Medical Director;" Dr. Blanche, who is the
psychiatrist for the mental health program at EBRPP; as well
as, Sargent (J rani and Sargent Cage. who are employees oft
lie East Baton Rouge Sheriffs Office. (Doc. 40 at ¶¶
Plaintiffs allege that Dr. Bridges and Dr. Blanche were
deliberately indifferent to the serious medical and mental
health needs of Colbert, which continued until Colbert's
murder. (Id. at ¶¶ 97, 103). Plaintiffs
further allege that Dr. Bridges and Dr. Blanche's
"policies, patterns or practices" violated
Colbert's right to be free from punishment without due
process of law under the Fourteenth Amendment and 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983. (Id.).
January 9, 2018, the Court granted Plaintiffs' Motion for
Voluntary Dismissal of State Claims (Doc. 81), which
dismissed all state law claims brought against Dr. Bridges
and Dr. Blanche, that is, Counts 8, 10, 11, and 12 of the
First Amended Complaint. (Doc. 83). As such, Plaintiffs bring
only § 1983 violations against Dr. Bridges and Dr.
Blanche in their official capacities, as well as their
individual capacities. (Doc. 40 at ¶¶ 96, 101).
Colbert's Detention At EBRPP
allege that on or about November 6, 2015, Colbert was
arrested at his school,  and subsequently detained at the EBRPP.
(Doc. 40 at ¶ 13). On November 10, 2015, Colbert
allegedly reported feeling suicidal and was placed on suicide
watch, where he was housed in Unit IPs M01 and N01
wings. (Id. at ¶ 16). Three days
later, Colbert reported hearing voices and having
hallucinations, and he informed Defendant PMS staff that he
needed help. (Id. at ¶ 18). Plaintiffs assert
that on the same day, Dr. Blanche, the prison psychiatrist,
assessed Colbert "through the bars of [Colbert's]
cell, " and determined that Colbert was neither suicidal
nor depressed and that he was manipulating prison staff.
(Id. at ¶ 19). Dr. Blanche then allegedly
ordered that the suicide watch be discontinued.
November 17, 2015, after an EBRPP deputy allegedly found
Colbert rocking back and forth, talking to the wall, and
shaking in his cell on the juvenile wing, Dr. Blanche
conducted another assessment "through the bars of
[Colbert's] cell." (Id. at ¶¶
22-23). During this assessment, Colbert allegedly informed
Dr. Blanche that he had not been sleeping, and Dr. Blanche
reportedly noted that Colbert "may be responding to
internal stimuli, " that he seemed "very anxious,
" that he had an "imaginary friend, " and that
he had lost weight due to being rushed. (Id. at
¶ 23). Plaintiffs assert that Dr. Blanche then
prescribed Colbert several psychotropic medications, such as,
"Ativan and Haldol." (Id. at ¶¶
November 24, 2015, Dr. Blanche purportedly saw Colbert during
a follow-up examination, "again through the bars of
[Colbert's] cell, " and noted that Colbert had
"IMPROVED [sic]." (Id. at ¶ 25). The
next day, on November 25th, Colbert reported to PMS staff
that he had been sexually assaulted by another prisoner.
(Id. at ¶ 26).
December 6, 2015, Plaintiffs claim that while Colbert was
housed in Unit II's M01 cellblock, an EBRPP deputy
observed Colbert put his arm into the cell and "then
[he] started screaming and struggling to pull his arm out of
the cell." (Id. at ¶ 28). Allegedly, an
x-ray two days later revealed that Colbert's forearm was
broken, and three days later, on December 11, 2015, Colbert
was transported to the hospital. (Id.). The hospital
purportedly required Colbert to follow up with the physician
within 2-3 weeks, but no follow up appointment was made and
Colbert "never saw the [physician] again."
(Id. at ¶ 30). Plaintiffs assert that Colbert
was not transported to any "scheduled medical call
outs" within EBRPP that occurred on December 14 and 28,
2015, and January 4, 6, and 11, 2016. (Id. at ¶
January 23, 2017, Colbert allegedly expressed to an EBRPP
deputy that he wanted to kill himself, prompting the deputy
to bring Colbert to PMS staff. (Id. at ¶ 33).
Plaintiffs claim that when PMS staff spoke with Colbert, he
"stared" and did not respond, prompting PMS staff
to strip Colbert of his clothes, handcuff and shackle him,
and place him in a paper gown, at which point Colbert
purportedly "threw himself to the floor and bloodied his
month" causing him to be "placed on lockdown."
(Id. at ¶ 33). On January 27th, Colbert's
scheduled appointment with a social worker was allegedly
rescheduled because the social worker was out of the office.
(Id. at ¶ 34). And on January 28th, Colbert was
purportedly taken off suicide watch. (Id. at ¶
EBRPP security staff placed Colbert in a two-person cell on
the juvenile wing with another 17 year old male, Kermitious
Thomas ("Thomas"). (Id. at ¶ 35-36).
Plaintiffs allege that on February 17, 2016, Thomas murdered
Colbert, and was later convicted of the murder. (Id.
at ¶¶ 37-38).
Medical and Mental Health Care at the EBRPP
EBR contracted with Health Management Associates
("HMA") "to provide an assessment of the
clinical operations and medical services being provided by
the City Parish at the [EBRPP]." (Doc. 40 at ¶ 45).
According to Plaintiffs, the authors of the HMA study
interviewed Baton Rouge officials, including Dr. Blanche and
Dr. Bridges. (Id. at ¶ 46). The site visit and
tour of EBRPP and interviews took place in February of 2016,
and the findings and recommendations were presented publicly
to the Metro Council on June 8, 2016. (Id. at ¶
found, inter alia, that acutely mentally ill and
suicidal patients like Colbert are housed on Unit II's
M01 and N01 where Dr. Blanche performs "rounds and
interviews patients through the open bars due to the
difficulty of moving such patients, not for a valid medical
reason." (Id. at ¶ 53). Additionally, HMA
found that M01 and N01, which is "frequently loud with
inmates who are shaking bars [and] throwing feces, "
provided a "woefully inadequate physical environment for
the most unstable mentally ill at" the EBRPP.
(Id. at ¶ 54). HMA further found that Dr.
Blanche had not provided health care staff "suicide
training" in over a year, and that neither Dr. Bridges
nor Dr. Blanche prepared mortality reports for the deaths of
prisoners at EBRPP despite the fact that the mortality rates
in the EBRPP have been substantially above the national
average since 2012. (Id. at ¶¶ 55, 59-63).
motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) tests the sufficiency
of the complaint against the legal standard set forth in Rule
8, which requires "a short and plain statement of the
claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief."
Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). "To survive a motion to dismiss, a
complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as
true, to 'state a claim to relief that is plausible on
its face."' Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S.
662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly,
550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). "Determining whether a
complaint states a plausible claim for relief [is] ... a
context-specific task that requires the reviewing court to
draw on its judicial experience and common sense."
Ashcroft, 556 U.S. at 679.
plausibility" exists "when the plaintiff pleads
factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable
inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct
alleged." Id. at 678 (citing Twombly,
550 U.S. at 556). Hence, the complaint need not set out
"detailed factual allegations, " but something
"more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic
recitation of the elements of a cause of action" is
required. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. When conducting
its inquiry, the Court "accepts all
well-pleaded facts as true and views those facts in the light
most favorable to the plaintiff." Bustos v. Martini
Club Inc., 599 F.3d 458, 461 (5th Cir. 2010) (quotation