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Anderson v. Marshall County

United States District Court, N.D. Mississippi, Oxford Division

December 24, 2014

ANGELA ANDERSON, personally and on behalf of the wrongful death beneficiaries of Princess Anderson, deceased, Plaintiff,
v.
MARSHALL COUNTY, MISSISSIPPI, AND BAPTIST MEMORIAL HOSPITAL — DESOTO, Defendants.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

DEBRA M. BROWN, District Judge.

Plaintiff Angela Anderson filed this wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of herself and her deceased 22-year-old mentally ill daughter, Princess Anderson, for constitutional violations Princess Anderson allegedly suffered while detained at the Marshall County Jail and for inadequate medical treatment she allegedly received while hospitalized at Baptist Memorial Hospital in Desoto County, Mississippi. Defendants Marshall County, Mississippi, and Baptist Memorial Hospital-Desoto ("Baptist DeSoto") separately move for summary judgment and request that they be dismissed from this case. Baptist DeSoto, joined by Marshall County, also moves for transfer of the trial location from Greenville to Oxford in the event summary judgment is denied. Plaintiff and Baptist DeSoto move to strike certain opinion testimony of Dr. Thomas Fowlkes, an expert witness for Marshall County. In addition, the parties have filed several motions in limine regarding the admissibility of certain evidence at trial. For the reasons below, the Court finds that Plaintiff fails to establish a genuine issue of material fact as to whether Marshall County was deliberately indifferent to the decedent's serious medical needs. Therefore, summary judgment is granted in favor of Marshall County. Having dismissed all federal claims in this matter, the Court declines to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over Plaintiff's state law claims against Baptist DeSoto and dismisses those claims without prejudice. The motions to transfer, motions to strike, and motions in limine are denied as moot.

I

On February 7, 2011, at approximately 10:42 a.m., Princess Anderson went to the emergency room at Baptist Memorial Hospital in Collierville, Tennessee, complaining of nausea. Med. Records I [112-1] at 1-5, 23. An ultrasound and other tests were performed on Anderson, and it was determined that she was pregnant. Id. at 2, 11-12. Based on the test results, doctors could not rule out a possible ectopic pregnancy. Id. Anderson refused additional testing and recommended treatment before checking out of the hospital. Id. at 20.

Later that day, at approximately 10:25 p.m., Anderson was taken by ambulance to the emergency room of Baptist DeSoto in Desoto County, Mississippi, complaining of hyperventilation and opioid abuse. Med. Records II [112-2] at 1; Compl. [1] at 3. According to her medical records, Anderson told staff that she smoked marijuana and drank cough medicine containing codeine after she left the Collierville hospital earlier that day. Med. Records II [112-2] at 4, 10. Plaintiff admits that Anderson told her she "had smoked a blunt and took a swallow of syrup." Pl.'s Dep. [112-5] at 21.

One of the nurses who examined Anderson at Baptist DeSoto that night described her demeanor as anxious but alert and that Anderson answered questions appropriately. Nixon Dep. [112-3] at 6. According to the same nurse, Anderson became agitated whenever her fiance was in the room with her and, as such, medical staff placed soft restraints on Anderson and put a sitter in the room with her so that she would not be left alone. Id. at 12-14. Anderson remained at the hospital overnight. During her hospitalization, medical staff reviewed her records from the Collierville hospital, performed testing on her, and determined that she suffered from acute psychosis, intrauterine pregnancy, and a reaction to drug usage with an underlying psychiatric disorder. Med. Records II [112-2] at 5, 10. A psychiatric evaluation was performed, and medication was prescribed for her treatment. Id. at 8; Nixon Dep. [112-3] at 15, 23. When Anderson refused voluntary admission into a psychiatric facility, [1] plans were made to reevaluate her for involuntary psychiatric treatment. Med. Records II [112-2] at 10.

On February 8, 2011, at approximately 9:00 a.m., Plaintiff came to the hospital to check on Anderson. Pl.'s Dep. [112-5] at 14, 26; Faulkner Dep. [112-4] at 25-27. Anderson allegedly had been combative with hospital staff but calmed down while Plaintiff was present. Pl.'s Dep. [112-5] at 14, 26.

Also on February 8, 2011, the Chancery Court of Desoto County, Mississippi, issued a writ to the Sheriff of Desoto County to take custody of Anderson for mental examination. Med Records II [112-2] at 25-26. An order was also entered transferring the case to the Chancery Court of Marshall County. Id. at 22. Anderson was medically cleared from the hospital, and taken into custody by Desoto County law enforcement at approximately 11:45 a.m., who then transported her to the Marshall County Jail. Id. at 31; Doc. [112-7] at 1; Faulkner Dep. [112-4] at 20-23, 31; Harris Dep. [112-10] at 11. The Marshall County Sheriff's Office took custody of Anderson upon her arrival at the jail.[2]

On February 9, 2011, the Chancery Court of Marshall County, Mississippi, issued a writ to the Sheriff of Marshall County to take custody of Anderson because she was "mentally ill and in need of mental treatment."[3] Doc. [112-6] at 10, 14. At all relevant times, Kenny Dickerson was the Sheriff of Marshall County. Compl. [1] at 1. The Chancery Court set a hearing and appointed an attorney to represent Anderson in the civil commitment proceedings. See Doc. [112-6] at 16.

When Anderson arrived at the Marshall County Jail, she was booked and placed in a cell by herself. Harris Dep. [112-10] at 14, 20. According to the jailer who completed the booking process, Anderson was not "really talking" when she came in.[4] Doc. [112-8] at 19. The jailer also claimed that Anderson's medical records were sent to the Marshall County Jail but were not opened because non-medical personnel were prohibited from opening medical records. Id. at 20. While Anderson was housed at the jail, officers periodically checked on her.[5] According to the Marshall County Jail Administrator, it was common for Anderson to "go out and lay on the floor" during her detention. Harris Dep. [112-10] at 20.

Marshall County Jail officers scheduled an initial prescreening psychological evaluation for Anderson. Doc. [112-8] at 42-43. On February 9, 2011, a mental health counselor came to the jail and conducted the evaluation on Anderson. Shelton Dep. [112-9] at 3-5. The counselor recommended that Anderson be examined for commitment and hospitalized for psychosis. Id. at 8. According to the counselor, the Marshall County Jail was not given a copy of her report on Anderson. Id. at 5.

Also on February 9, 2011, Plaintiff visited Anderson in jail. Plaintiff claims she found Anderson sitting on a cart partially clothed with trash scattered on her cell floor. Pl.'s Dep. [112-5] at 34-38. In contrast, an officer at the jail claims Anderson was lying naked on the floor of her cell at that time. Doc. [112-8] at 38-39. After Plaintiff arrived, Anderson was cleaned, dressed, and locked in her cell. Id.

On February 10, 2011, the jail officer again found Anderson lying naked on the floor of her cell. Id. at 43, 48. Later that day, the jailer saw Anderson standing naked by her cell window. Id. at 50-51. When the jailer tried to talk to her, Anderson did not respond. Id. at 50. At an unspecified time, Anderson was given a blanket and apron.[6] Id. at 57-58. Plaintiff called to check on Anderson that day but did not come to the jail due to inclement weather conditions. Pl.'s Dep. [112-5] at 40-44.

On February 11, 2011, the Chancery Court of Marshall County, Mississippi, ordered that the Marshall County Sheriff transport Anderson to Alliance Health Care for examination related to her pregnancy.[7] Med. Records I [112-1] at 4. That same day, Anderson was found unconscious in her cell at the Marshall County Jail. Doc. [112-8] at 52-54. Plaintiff claims she saw Anderson lying on the floor of her cell naked in two inches of water and human waste, and blood was smeared on the walls of her cell. Pl.'s Dep. [112-5] at 51-52, 54-55. Marshall County Jail officers called paramedics, and Anderson was taken to Alliance Hospital. Doc. [112-8] at 54-55. She was later transported to Baptist Memorial Hospital Union County, where she stayed from February 11, 2011, to February 14, 2011. Mangle Dep. [145-7] at 3, 7. She was then transferred to Baptist DeSoto, [8] where she remained until her death on March 15, 2011. Id. at 7. Anderson's autopsy report reflects that she died from "multisystem organ failure of uncertain etiology." Doc. [112-17] at 5.

II

On October 15, 2012, Plaintiff filed the instant action against Marshall County, Sheriff Kenny Dickerson, and Baptist DeSoto, for damages arising from the death of Princess Anderson. See Compl. [1]. In the complaint, Plaintiff asserts claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Marshall County and Sheriff Kenny Dickerson for deliberate indifference to Anderson's serious medical needs and for failure to provide reasonable medical care. Id. at 5-7. Plaintiff asserts state law claims against Baptist DeSoto for negligent medical treatment of Anderson. Id. at 7-8. By order dated April 24, 2013, Sheriff Kenny Dickerson was dismissed from the case.[9]

On March 14, 2014, Marshall County filed a motion for summary judgment on grounds that Plaintiff cannot prove subjective deliberate indifference or show that an unconstitutional policy of Marshall County was the moving force behind the alleged constitutional deprivations. Mot. [112]. The same day, Baptist DeSoto filed a motion for partial summary judgment on grounds that Plaintiff failed to state a viable claim against it and requested that the Court decline jurisdiction over the negligence claims in the event that summary judgment is granted to Marshall County. Mot. [108]. On April 4, 2014, Baptist DeSoto filed a motion for summary judgment renewing its claim for statutory immunity on the medical treatment of a patient undergoing involuntary commitment proceedings. Mot. [128].

In addition to its dispositive motion, Baptist DeSoto moved for transfer of trial location from Greenville to Oxford. Mot. [147]. Marshall County filed a joinder in support of the motion to transfer trial location. Doc. [155]. Also before the Court are Plaintiff's and Marshall County's separate motions to strike the expert testimony of Dr. Thomas Fowlkes from trial. Mot. [124][126]. All motions have been fully briefed and are ripe for resolution. Because the claims against Marshall County serve as the basis of federal jurisdiction in this case, the Court will first consider Marshall County's motion for summary judgment.[10]

III

Under Rule 56(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, summary judgment should be granted when the evidence in a case shows that there is no genuine issue of any material fact and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Entry of summary judgment is appropriate, "after adequate time for discovery and upon motion, against a party who fails to make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an element essential to that party's case, and on which that party will bear the burden of proof at trial." Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986). When evaluating whether summary judgment is appropriate, a district court reviews all well pleaded facts in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. Pratt v. City of Houston, 247 F.3d 601, 606 (5th Cir. 2001). Factual controversies are to be resolved in favor of the nonmoving party only when "both parties have submitted evidence of contradictory facts." Little v. Liquid Air Corp., 37 F.3d 1069, 1075 (5th Cir. 1994).

The party moving for summary judgment must inform "the district court of the basis for its motion, and identify[] those portions of [the record] which it believes demonstrate the absence of a material fact." Catrett, 477 U.S. at 323. The nonmoving party must "go beyond the pleadings" and "designate specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial.'" Id. at 324 (citations omitted). The nonmoving party cannot rely on metaphysical doubt, conclusive allegations, or unsubstantiated assertions but instead must show that there is an actual controversy warranting trial. Little, 37 F.3d at 1075 (internal quotation marks and citations omitted). In the absence of proof, the district court should not assume that the nonmoving party could have proved the necessary facts. Paz v. Brush Engineered Materials, Inc., 555 F.3d 383, 391 (5th Cir. 2009). "A ...


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