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Matthews v. Tangipahoa Parish Police Jury

United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana

March 8, 2019

RONALD EUGENE MATTHEWS, III
v.
TANGIPAHOA PARISH POLICE JURY, ET AL.

         SECTION: “J” (4)

          ORDER AND REASONS

          CARL J. BARBIER UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Before the Court is a Motion to Dismiss (Rec. Doc. 78) by Defendants, CorrectHealth Tangipahoa, LLC (“CorrectHealth”) and Dr. Walter Smith (“Dr. Smith”). Plaintiff, Ronald E. Matthews, filed an opposition (Rec. Doc. 82). Having considered the motions and legal memoranda, the record, and the applicable law, the Court finds that the motion should be GRANTED IN PART AND DENIED IN PART.

         FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         This litigation arises out of events that transpired at the Tangipahoa Parish Jail (“the Jail”) from November 23, 2015 through December 7, 2015. Plaintiff alleges that on or about November 23, 2015, he had a disagreement with a fellow inmate while working in the Jail kitchen. Plaintiff alleges that Deputy Eady-the deputy supervising the kitchen at the relevant time-physically pushed Plaintiff out of the kitchen, fired him from his trustee position, told him to “get the hell out of my kitchen, you black ass boy!” and threatened, “I'm going to show you boy!” Thereafter, Deputy Hickey reassigned Plaintiff to the dormitory housing the Jail's general inmate population. Plaintiff alleges that he submitted a grievance to the Jail through the Administrative Remedy Procedure (“ARP”), seeking disciplinary action against Deputy Eady for his use of racial slurs. However, the Jail's ARP Screening Officer allegedly responded that the investigation yielded no evidence that Deputy Eady said any racist remarks. Plaintiff, however, was charged with battery of a correctional facility employee as a result of the incident.

         On December 2, 2015, Plaintiff alleges that he was eating a bag of chips in the U-Dormitory day room when another inmate approached him and asked to borrow a bag of chips. After Plaintiff refused, the inmate intentionally bumped into Plaintiff and punched him in the face when Plaintiff asked him to apologize. Plaintiff alleges that three other inmates then joined in and began punching Plaintiff all over his face and body. One of Plaintiff's attackers retrieved a wooden broom and began beating Plaintiff with it. Thereafter, Plaintiff alleges that the men attempted to sodomize him with the broomstick. Plaintiff then lost consciousness.

         Plaintiff alleges that approximately ten or fifteen minutes after regaining consciousness, Deputy Cameron Crockett responded to the incident and took Plaintiff to the Jail medical facility for evaluation. Plaintiff was also instructed to fill out an incident report. Plaintiff alleges that Jail personnel determined that he needed to be transported to a hospital for emergency medical treatment. Plaintiff asserts that physicians at North Oaks Medical Center (“North Oaks”) in Hammond, Louisiana diagnosed him with open fracture mandible, unspecified injury of rectum, suspected adult sexual abuse, unspecified intracranial injury with loss of consciousness of unspecified duration, stress, and essential (primary) hypertension. Plaintiff also complained of pain in his right shoulder, but he was not diagnosed with a fractured shoulder while hospitalized, though he was given a sling for his arm. North Oaks scheduled Plaintiff for jaw surgery at University Medical Center on December 7, 2015.

         On December 4, 2015, Plaintiff was discharged from North Oaks. Plaintiff alleges that his doctors instructed him to begin taking Cleocin (an antibiotic), Hycet (a painkiller), Zoloft (an anti-depressant), and Peridex (a topical microbial). Plaintiff asserts that his discharge instructions stated that he was to have a diet of “full liquids” and was to “get help right away” if he experienced fever, difficulty swallowing, headache, or anxiety. Plaintiff alleges that North Oaks provided the discharge instructions and prescriptions to the Jail, and Deputy Crockett was in the room when the information was communicated verbally to Plaintiff. Plaintiff alleges that upon his return to the Jail, he complained about receiving regular food at mealtime, but Deputy Hickey told Plaintiff that he could either eat what was provided or not eat at all. Plaintiff asserts that a kitchen trustee later informed him that Deputy Eady had instructed kitchen staff not to accommodate Plaintiff's liquid diet. Additionally, Plaintiff alleges that not only did he not receive his prescribed medications, he was denied Tylenol because he did not have a prescription for it.

         Plaintiff alleges that during the early hours of December 5, 2015, he collapsed in his cell. He was then transported to Lallie Kemp Medical Center (“Lallie Kemp”) for treatment. Plaintiff asserts that Deputy Sospheas did not secure Plaintiff in the transport van with a safety belt and, as a result, Plaintiff fell onto the floor area of the van. Upon arrival at Lallie Kemp, Plaintiff alleges that Deputy Sospheas directed racial slurs at Plaintiff for verbalizing his inability to get out of the vehicle on his own. Plaintiff asserts that Deputy Sospheas then pulled Plaintiff out of the vehicle by his right arm, which was in a sling, causing him to hit the pavement. Plaintiff alleges that the treating physician at Lallie Kemp diagnosed him with chest wall pain, closed jaw fracture, and glenoid fracture of the right shoulder. Plaintiff also received a prescription for Glucophage, a medication used to manage high blood sugar, with “pain medication to be determined by the prison/custodial MD.” Thereafter, Plaintiff was discharged and transported back to the Jail.

         Upon his return to the Jail, Plaintiff alleges that a kitchen trustee informed him that Deputy Eady had promised the four inmates who attacked Plaintiff synthetic marijuana and extra food in exchange for physically harming Plaintiff. After learning this, Plaintiff submitted a grievance to the Jail under the ARP seeking disciplinary action against the four inmates who attacked him and against Deputy Eady. On December 6, 2015, Plaintiff submitted another grievance against Jail staff for refusing to give him his prescribed medication and liquid diet. In response to Plaintiff's grievance dated December 6, Plaintiff alleges that the Jail's ARP Screening Officer stated, “You were given ibuprofen. We do not give narcotics here, no matter who ordered it. To get attention you were ‘donkey kicking' the door. That, I imagine, was painful.”

         On December 7, 2015, Jail employees did not take Plaintiff to his scheduled jaw surgery and instead transferred Plaintiff to the custody of the St. Tammany Parish Sheriff's Office. Plaintiff alleges that his prescriptions and discharge instructions from North Oaks were among his personal effects listed in the inventory he was asked to review and sign. Upon his transfer to St. Tammany Parish Jail, Plaintiff asserts that he received medical attention and a liquid diet, and his jaw surgery was rescheduled and took place on December 16, 2015.

         On January 6, 2016, Plaintiff alleges that he submitted a grievance by mail to the Jail reiterating his request for disciplinary action against the four inmates who attacked him and against Deputy Eady for his role in the attack. On January 12, 2016, Plaintiff asserts that he submitted by mail an additional grievance reiterating his request for disciplinary action against the Jail staff who refused to give him his prescribed medication and liquid diet.

         On April 7, 2016, Plaintiff filed a pro se Complaint against the Tangipahoa Parish Police Jury, Sheriff Daniel Edwards, Warden Lieutenant Doe Finn, Deputy Doe Eady, and Deputy Doe Sospheas. (Rec. Doc. 1). After a Spears hearing, the Court dismissed Plaintiff's claims against the Tangipahoa Parish Police Jury, Sheriff Daniel Edwards, and Warden Lieutenant Doe Finn with prejudice. (Rec. Docs. 14, 19). However, the Court permitted Plaintiff to proceed with his claims against Deputies Eady and Sospheas. (See Rec. Doc. 19). On June 16, 2017, Plaintiff-represented by counsel-filed a First Amended Complaint naming “Shift Supervisor Chad” and “Tangipahoa Parish Jail Medical Director Dr. John Doe” as additional defendants. (See Rec. Doc. 29). On August 1, 2017, Plaintiff sought leave to file a Second Amended Complaint to properly name Chad Hickey and Walter Smith, M.D. as the “Doe” defendants referenced in the First Amended Complaint and to add certain state law claims against all defendants. (See Rec. Doc. 35). Plaintiff then filed a motion for leave to file a Third Amended Complaint on October 9, 2017. (See Rec. Doc. 39). On October 17, 2017, Magistrate Judge Roby denied Plaintiff's motion to file a Second Amended Complaint as futile because all claims against CorrectHealth[1] and Dr. Smith[2] had prescribed. (See Rec. Doc. 40). Plaintiff's motion for this Court to review that ruling (Rec. Doc. 43) was dismissed as moot after this Court granted Plaintiff's motion for leave to file a ...


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