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Lee v. Jackson County

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

January 3, 2017

DOROTHY LEE, as Wife and Personal Representative of John Morris Lee, Jr. and Estate of John Morris Lee, Jr., Deceased, and JOHN MORRIS LEE, III, as Son and Wrongful Death Beneficiary of John Morris Lee, Jr., Deceased PLAINTIFFS
v.
JACKSON COUNTY, MISSISSIPPI, et al. DEFENDANTS

         MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART DEFENDANTS JACKSON COUNTY AND JONA CROWLEY'S [260] MOTION TO STRIKE PLAINTIFFS' EXPERT DR. LORI E. ROSCOE; GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART DEFENDANTS JACKSON COUNTY AND JONA CROWLEY'S [256] MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT; AND DENYING AS MOOT DEFENDANT JACKSON COUNTY'S [267] MOTION TO STRIKE SUPPLEMENTAL WITNESSES

          HALIL SULEYMAN OZERDEN, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         BEFORE THE COURT are the Motion [260] to Strike Plaintiffs' Expert Dr. Lori E. Roscoe and the Motion [256] for Summary Judgment filed by Defendants Jackson County, Mississippi, and Jona Crowley, and the Motion [267] to Strike Supplemental Witnesses [267] filed by Defendant Jackson County, Mississippi. These Motions are fully briefed.

         Having considered the Motions, related pleadings, the record, and relevant legal authority, the Court is of the opinion that the Motion [260] to Strike Plaintiffs' Expert Dr. Roscoe should be granted in part and denied in part, that the Motion [256] for Summary Judgment should be granted in part and denied in part, and that the Motion [267] to Strike Supplemental Witnesses should be denied as moot. Dr. Roscoe will be prohibited at trial from testifying about Jackson County's purported breaches of care and medical causation and from drawing a legal conclusion regarding “deliberate indifference.” Plaintiffs' claims against Crowley pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §§ 1985 and 1986 should be dismissed with prejudice, and all claims against Jackson County should be dismissed with prejudice. Plaintiffs' claims against Crowley pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 will proceed to trial.

         I. BACKGROUND

         A. Factual background

         This case arises out of the unfortunate death of John Morris Lee, Jr. (“Mr. Lee” or “Decedent”) on February 24, 2013, while he was incarcerated at the Jackson County Adult Detention Center (“ADC”) in Pascagoula, Mississippi. Mr. Lee was arrested and booked into the Pascagoula City Jail on December 1, 2012, on a felony shoplifting charge. Release Sheet [256-1] at 1. On December 5, 2012, Mr. Lee was transferred to the ADC. Id.; Booking Sheet [256-2] at 1. On February 24, 2013, at approximately 7:11 a.m., other inmates summoned deputies to the dayroom where Mr. Lee was located. Death Investigation [256-11] at 1. Mr. Lee was reportedly having a seizure and was found unresponsive and gasping for breath. Id. Emergency medical technicians arrived at approximately 7:18 a.m. and took over cardio pulmonary resuscitation. Id. at 1-2. At approximately 7:58 a.m., Mr. Lee was transported via ambulance to the Singing River Hospital emergency room, where he was pronounced dead at 8:23 a.m. Id.

         At all relevant times, Defendant Jona Crowley was a registered nurse (“RN”) working as the ADC's “staff nurse” or “head nurse.” Dep. of Jona Crowley [256-12] at 6. Junna Jackson and Kristi Bourn were licensed practical nurses, and Kelli Tassin was a registered nurse, all of whom also worked at the ADC. Id. at 52.

         When nurses would receive an inmate request or a “kite” at the ADC, “any of the nurses could have answered the kites.” Id. at 9. “[T]he only time [Crowley] would have had face-to-face contact with an inmate was on Tuesdays, with the doctor, unless it was an emergency.” Id. at 12.

         According to Crowley, protocol was that if an inmate responded on an ADC questionnaire or informed one of the nurses that he had been prescribed medication that he did not have with him, a Release of Information (“ROI”) form would need to be completed by the inmate in order for the ADC to obtain additional information. Id. at 13-14. Likewise, when an ADC inmate requested prescription medication Crowley explained that the inmate was required to sign an ROI form in order for the ADC staff to determine what medications the inmate had been prescribed. Id. at 9-10. The ROI was then sent to the inmate's doctor or hospital. Id. at 10.

         When the ADC medical staff received the records back from the inmate's physician, Crowley would read over them and place them in the bin of the ADC's contract physician, Dr. Sid Ross (“Dr. Ross”), for review when he came in to the ADC on Tuesdays. Id. at 10, 55-56. According to Crowley, if something came up that needed attention before Tuesday, she would call Dr. Ross, or she would send the inmate to the emergency room if immediate medical care was necessary. Id. at 10-11.

         Mr. Lee's December 5, 2012, Booking Medical Sheet at the ADC listed a “Dr. McLossky” as his doctor. Booking Medical Sheet [256-3] at 1. The Booking Medical Sheet disclosed that Mr. Lee had, either at the time or in the past, suffered from epilepsy, fainting spells, a heart condition, high blood pressure, and seizures. Id. The Booking Medical Sheet stated that Mr. Lee was taking medication prescribed by a doctor, specifically medications for high blood pressure and seizures. Id. at 1-2. However, the Booking Medical Sheet did not list any specific medications Mr. Lee took, nor did it specifically identify what medical provider had prescribed such medications or what pharmacy Mr. Lee used to fill his prescriptions.

         Mr. Lee had been incarcerated at the ADC on several previous occasions.[1]While Mr. Lee was incarcerated at the ADC during the months of July through October 2011, the ADC's Medication Administration Records noted that Mr. Lee had been prescribed Lanoxin 0.25 mg by a Dr. Hudson and three Dilantin 100 mg daily by a Dr. Simmons. Medication Records [271-4] at 4-7. During another period of incarceration from January to April 2012, the ADC's Medication Administration Records indicated that Mr. Lee had been prescribed one Digoxin 25 mg and three Dilantin 100 mg daily by a Dr. Emerick. Id. at 1-3.

         On January 6, 2013, during his final incarceration at the ADC, Mr. Lee submitted an inmate request which read as follows:

I have a pass [sic] record her [sic] at the ADC, will you check my record and you will see my medical history. I need to be place [sic] back on my seziuer [sic] and heart M.E.D.S. [sic] please. (1) I take Loxian [sic] 0.25 mg 1 time a day → mornings. (2) I take Dilantin 100 mg 3 time [sic] a day → give all 3 at night.

         Inmate Request [271-2] at 1. On January 7, 2013, Crowley responded to Mr. Lee's request as follows:

Where are your meds?
Have them brought to ADC.
Sign ROI to your Dr[.]

Id.; see also Dep. of Jona Crowley [256-12] at 16, 58 (identifying this response as hers). When asked in her deposition if she had informed Dr. Ross of Mr. Lee's January 6, 2013, request, Crowley testified, “I don't believe so.” Dep. of Jona Crowley [256-12] at 49.

         According to Crowley, Linda Richardson from the ADC had contacted Mr. Lee's sister about the medications, but no one was willing to bring his medications to the ADC. Id. at 59. It is unclear from the record when this purported contact with Mr. Lee's sister occurred.

         Crowley was asked at her deposition whether she had checked Mr. Lee's medical history after receiving Mr. Lee's January 6, 2013, kite. Id. at 17. Crowley testified as follows:

A. Those are -- those weren't at our disposal. Those were being stored, like, from a previous time he was there, those records, when he left, are taken out of medical, scanned in, and they're stored at the Homeport.
Q. Okay. Where are they scanned into?
A. They're scanned into the computer.
Q. Can you look on the computer?
A. You can look on the computer.
Q. Did you look on the computer?
A. I don't remember.
Q. So you did have access to them?
A. I'm sure I had access.
Q. Okay. And so you are sure you had access to his previous medical records?
A. If they were scanned in.
* * *
[Q.] Don't you think it would be prudent to look at his previous records?
A. I would agree, yes.
Q. So if he's complaining of seizures and he's had -- you all had possession, the Jackson County ADC had possession of his medical records, do you think it would be a good idea to look at his medical records?
A. I would have reviewed them.
Q. But you don't know if you did or not?
A. No. I don't remember.

Id. at 17-19.

         In an inmate request submitted on January 8, 2013, Mr. Lee stated that:

I was told by your [illegible] staff “nurse” to write a kite to the head nurse Mrs. Jonna [sic]: To inform her that I needed to be place[d] back on my medication which the A.D.C. medical records should show from my pass [sic] records from Dr. Ross. Please look into this matter. My health condition is life threaten[ing]. I need to see a doctor.
* * *
P.S. Read the response on back page. Sir, if I had my on [sic] medication I wouldn't never ask [sic] the nurse Mrs. Jonna [sic] to place me back on my M.E.D. [sic]

         Inmate Request [271-2] at 2. The ADC response bearing the stamp of Captain Ray Bates read:

She told you what you need to do. We can't give you meds w/o a prescription regardless of past records. Have someone bring them or sign a Release of Information.

Id. It is unclear from the record whether Crowley ever saw this particular request and response prior to Mr. Lee's death, but according to Crowley's deposition testimony, it appears that she may not have received Mr. Lee's January 8, 2013, kite. Dep. of Jona Crowley [256-12] at 21 (“The next one was Kelli. I didn't see that.”).[2]

         On February 22, 2013, Mr. Lee completed another inmate request. Inmate Request [271-2] at 3. Mr. Lee stated as follows:

I need to see a doctor soon. I've been have-ing [sic] seizures from the brain surgery in 1994. I have an A.V.M. on my brain. I haven't been under a doctor lately only at the Singing River E.R. I also have same problem with my heart condition. I have A-fib heart failure. I'm having cool sweats and my blood pressure is low. Or please ask the nurse to send me a release of information to send to Singing River Hospital E.R. for my medical record please.

Id. The unsigned response to Mr. Lee's Kite stated that the “ROI has been sent already. See nurse at cart to check B/P / pulse if needed.” Id. It is not clear from the record who at the ADC drafted this response or whether Crowley ever saw this kite or response prior to Mr. Lee's death. Crowley testified that she did not recognize the handwriting, but that is was one of the other nurses who worked at the ADC. Dep. of Jona Crowley [256-12] at 52.

         The same day, on February 22, 2013, Mr. Lee signed an ROI for his medical records from Singing River Hospital. ROI [271-12] at 1. ADC records indicate that the ROI was faxed, presumably to Singing River Hospital, at 4:38 p.m. that day. Id. at 50.[3]

         With respect to Mr. Lee's February 22, 2013, request, counsel asked Crowley at her deposition “would it have been proper protocol to notify the doctor that [Mr. Lee was] having seizures?” Dep. of Jona Crowley [256-12] at 41. Crowley responded “[w]e notify him when you get the release of records, you get the records in.” Id. Instead of notifying Dr. Ross of a specific inmate request, Crowley testified that “protocol was to get the records for Ross to review and make the decision what meds he's been on and what we're going to put them back on.” Id. at 44.

         Crowley was asked if she had any reason to believe that Dr. Ross was advised of any issue that Mr. Lee was having with seizures during his last incarceration at the ADC. Dep. of Jona Crowley [256-12] at 56. Crowley responded, “I have no idea.” Id. at 56-57.

         As for the delay in completing the ROI, Crowley testified:

[t]hat's one of the things that I don't understand because he had been there before and he knew procedures, and he knew what a Release of Information was. And it was available to him from day one on the cart twice a day. So I don't know why he waited.

Id. at 20-21. According to Crowley, she never saw Mr. Lee during his last incarceration. Id. at 60. Mr. Lee had “[n]o face-to-face with ...


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