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Moran v. Reddix

United States District Court, S.D. Mississippi, Southern Division

June 9, 2014

DONALD E. MORAN, #171514, Plaintiff,
v.
DR. REDDIX and MARCUS THORN, Defendants.

SUMMARY JUDGMENT

JOHN M. ROPER, Magistrate Judge.

Before the Court are the Defendants' Motions for Summary Judgment [70, 72] and the Plaintiff's Motion [75] for Summary Judgment. The Court, having been advised in the premises and having considered the entire record, finds as follows:

The Plaintiff, Donald E. Moran [Moran] filed his complaint on April 8, 2013, alleging violations of his constitutional rights. [1, p. 4.] At all times relevant to this suit, Moran was a pretrial detainee. [71, p. 1.] Moran was arrested and booked into the Harrison County Adult Detention Center [HCADC] on April 21, 2010, following his indictment on charges of Touching a Child for Lustful Purposes. [70-1, pp. 4-6.] Moran was housed in B-Block, B-Section, Cell 113. [70-1, p. 7.] Moran contends that he was evaluated by a clinical psychiatrist, Dr. Schaeffer, when he entered the HCADC. [1, p. 4.] Moran contends that he was prescribed certain psychiatric medication, which Dr. Michael Reddix [Dr. Reddix] was responsible for dispensing as the medical contractor for the HCADC. ( Id. ) Moran states that when his medication ran out, the prescription was not renewed, thereby causing his mental state to deteriorate to the point that Moran contemplated suicide. ( Id. )

Moran was interviewed by the medical contractor for the HCADC, Health Assurance LLC, at which time Moran was assessed as having mental health issues, and his medications were identified as Effexor, Lithium, Seraquel, Lortab and Xanax. [70-1, p. 11.] A note at the time of examination indicated that an attempt to contact Moran's treating physician would be made to confirm his medications. ( Id. )

Moran was examined again on April 22, 2010, following complaints of chest pain. [70-1, p. 12.] Moran was suffering from acute anxiety. ( Id. ) The next day, Moran reported extreme pain on his right side. [70-1, p. 13.] After the physician was contacted, new prescription medication were ordered. ( Id. ) Moran was placed on suicide watch on April 24, 2010. [70-1, p. 14.] Medication confirmed with Moran's pharmacy confirm the following: Effexor-150 mg; Lithium-900 mg; and Seraquel-200 mg. [70-1, p. 15.] The physician, Dr. Schaeffer, ordered a continuous 15 minute suicide watch until the medications were received on April 26, 2010. [70-1, p. 16.]

Moran was assessed on April 26, 2010, with the determination made that he "remain on watch until 4 meds have been administered." [70-1, p. 17.] On April 27, 2010, Moran remained on suicide watch, and his medication still had not arrived. ( Id. ) On April 28, 2010, Moran still had not received his psychotropic medications. ( Id. )

Moran received his medication on April 29, 2010, and according to the notes, the social worker met with Moran for a daily assessment, indicating that Moran's demeanor had drastically improved. ( Id. ) Moran was taken off suicide watch and placed in a "step down" cell in D-Block, F-Section. [70-1, pp. 17-18.] After his time in the step down cell, Moran was transferred back to the general population on April 30, 2010. ( Id. )

On April 30, 2010, Moran told the HCADC medical staff that he had faked the suicide threat so he could receive his medication quickly. [70-1, p. 19.] The physician should be notified of any significant lab results, according to Moran's chart. ( Id. )

Marcus Thorn [Thorn] was posted in D-Block, E-Section on May 9, 2010. [70-2, p. 1.] Moran was in cell 137 until about 7:00 P.M., when he left his cell for day room time. ( Id. ) At 7:04 P.M., Moran climbed over the top tier rail, yelled "Hey Officer" and then jumped to the floor, feet first. [70-2, p. 2.] Thorn had yelled to Moran not to jump, just before Moran actually jumped. ( Id. ) Thorn called for backup, and two sergeants and two nurses responded to the call. [70-2, pp. 2-3.] American Medical Response was called, and Moran was ultimately transported to Gulfport Memorial Hospital for treatment. [70-2, p. 3.]

Thorn avers that Moran was not on suicide watch at the time of the incident. ( Id. ) Moran states that "At no time was I made aware of any potential risk of harm to Donald Moran's health or safety as an inmate at the HCADC, nor was I aware of any facts from which the inference could be drawn that a substantial risk of serious harm as to Donald Moran." [70-3, p. 3.] Thorn stated that he was not responsible for prescribing or administering medication to the inmates, nor was he aware of any medication taken by Moran or any other inmate. ( Id. ) Thorn did provide security for nurses that were administering medication at times. ( Id. )

Moran contends that Dr. Reddix and Thorn violated his constitutional rights by failing to protect him from attempting suicide. [1, p. 4.] Moran claims that Dr. Reddix failed to dispense medication prescribed by Dr. Scheaffer and that Thorn opened Moran's cell, thereby providing Moran with the opportunity to make his suicide attempt. [1, pp. 4-5.] Moran contends that he informed Thorn of his intention to jump if he were let out of his cell for recreation time. [1, p. 5.] Thorn had conducted an informal count of all inmates and a security and welfare check of all inmates in their cells prior to the incident at issue in this case. [70-2, p. 2.] Thorn averred that prior to the jumping incident, he was not made aware by Moran or anyone else that Moran was having suicidal thoughts or that Moran presented a threat of harm to himself or anyone else prior to the incident. [70-2, p. 3.] Moran was not on suicide watch on May 9, 2010, the date of the incident at issue in this suit. ( Id. ) In fact, Thorn indicated that he had never met or heard of any facts regarding Moran prior to meeting Moran during his May 9, 2010, shift in D-Block, E-Section of the HCADC. [70-2, p. 1.]

Thorn states that he is entitled to qualified immunity for any claims advanced against him in his individual capacity. [71, p. 15.] Thorn asserts that because Moran cannot demonstrate that any of his constitutional rights were violated by Thorn, thus entitling Thorn to qualified immunity. ( Id. ) Even if Moran had established a constitutional violation, Thorn's contends that his conduct was objectively reasonable making immunity applicable in this case. ( Id. )

Thorn also argues that Moran has not stated an official capacity claim against him because Moran cannot show that Thorn was a policy maker. [71, p. 18.] Thorn averred that he was not an official policy maker for the Harrison County Sheriff's Office and did not have policy making authority for that office. [70-2, p. 3.] Thorn maintains that because Moran's official capacity claims are actually claims against the office of the Harrison County Sheriff, Moran must show a governmental policy, custom, or practice which was the moving force behind a constitutional deprivation, or that a policy was adopted with objective deliberate indifference to Moran's constitutional rights to establish liability against Thorn. [71, p. 20.]

David Sanderson [Sanderson], warden of the HCADC, averred that the HCADC has specific policies in place regarding the duties of deputies, suicide watch and mental health care which are designed to protect the health and safety of all inmates at the HCADC. [70-1, pp. 23-38.] Thorn asserts that these policies or his actions were not the moving force behind any alleged deprivation of Moran's rights. [71, p. 20.] According to ...


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