United States District Court, S.D. Georgia, Savannah Division
BELINDA LEE MALEY, individually and on behalf of the Estate of Matthew Clinton Loflin, deceased; and GENE LOFLIN, individually, Plaintiffs,
CORIZON HEALTH, INC., a Delaware Corporation; CORIZON, LLC, a Missouri Limited Liability Company; CHATHAM COUNTY, a Georgia County; ROY; HARRIS; ESTATE OF AL ST. LAWRENCE; JOHN WILCHER, individually and in his i official capacity as Jail Administrator; SCOTT KENNEDY, M.D.; ADAMAR GONZALEZ, M.D.; and VIRGINIA O'NEILL; Defendants.
WILLIAM T. MOORE, JR. UNITED STATES JUDGE
the Court are the Defendants John Wilcher and Al St.
Lawrence's Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. 52), the
parties' Joint Consent Motion to Dismiss Defendants
Virginia O'Neill, Chatham County, and John T. Wilcher in
his Official Capacity (Doc. 87), and the parties'
Stipulation of Dismissal of Corizon, LLC (Doc. 65). For the
following reasons, Defendants John Wilcher and Al St.
Lawrence's Motion for Summary Judgment is GRANTED
IN PART and DISMISSED AS MOOT IN
PART. Additionally, the parties' Consent Motion
to Dismiss Defendants Virginia O'Neill, Chatham County,
and John Wilcher in his Official Capacity (Doc. 87) and the
parties' Joint Stipulation of Dismissal of Corizon, LLC
(Doc. 65) are GRANTED.
case arises out of the incarceration and subsequent death of
Matthew Loflin in 2014. (Doc. 1.) On February 6, 2014, Loflin
was arrested on drug charges. (Doc. 52, Attach. 2 at 1.) He
was held as a pre-trial detainee at the Chatham
County Detention Center ("CCDC"). (Id.) At
the time of Loflin's detention, Defendant Corizon Health
Inc. ("Corizon") provided medical services to
detainees at the CCDC pursuant to a contract with Chatham
County. (Id.) At all relevant times, Dr. Charles
Pugh was the acting onsite medical director employed by
Defendant Corizon. (Id., Attach. 5 at 20.) As
medical director, Dr. Pugh provided direct patient care and
monitored healthcare expenses to ensure care was provided in
a cost efficient manner. (Id. at 21.) Defendant
Virginia O'Neill was also employed by Defendant Corizon
as the health services administrator at CCDC. (Doc. 68,
Attach. 2 at 2). As health service administrator, Defendant
O'Neill had a variety of non-clinical duties.
his arrest and arrival at CCDC, Loflin's health began to
deteriorate. (Doc. 52, Attach. 2 at 2.) Dr. Pugh believed
that Loflin suffered from pneumonia. (Id., Attach. 5
at 28.) Between February 7, 2014 and March 23, 2014, Loflin
had at least 16 encounters with Corizon medical staff.
(Id., Attach. 2 at 2.) On March 24, 2014,
Dr. Pugh became concerned for Loflin's health and decided
to admit him toj the CCDC medical infirmary. (Id.,
Attach. 5 at 28.) In the infirmary, Loflin was provided with
around the clock medical care. (Id. at 2.)
Loflin's condition continued to worsen, Dr. Pugh ordered
that Loflin obtain an echocardiogram on March 26, 2014.
(Id. at 17.) The echocardiogram revealed that Loflin
had "very poor heart function" that indicated a
"fairly severe cardiomyopathy.'''
(Id. at 17, 26.) After obtaining these results, Dr.
Pugh believed that Loflin needed more intensive care than
could be provided in the CCDC infirmary. (Id. at
17.) Dr. Pugh's position at the CCDC did not grant hini
the independent authority to admit Loflin to a hospital for
more intensive care. (Id. at 16-17.) Rather, Loflin
could only have been admitted to a hospital if he was either
sent directly to the emergency room, or scheduled for an
appointment with an offsite physician who then could decide
to admit him to the hospital. (Id. at 17.) Despite
Dr. Pughrs concerns, however, Loflin was not
transferred to a hospital and remained in the CCDC infirmary.
(Id., Attach. 2 at 2.)
obtaining Loflin's echocardiogram results. Dr. Pugh met
with Defendant John Wilcher, CCDC Jail Administrator, to
discuss Loflin's treatment, and to request to have Loflin
released on bond. (Id., Attach. 5 at 21.) Dr. Pugh
stated that the conversation was focused on the potential
cost of Loflin's care and that he "didn't tell
[Wilcher] any details of [Loflin's] medical
condition." (Id. at 10.) Subsequently,
Defendant Wilcher made "inquiries" about getting
Loflin released, but his efforts wfere
"unsuccessful." (Id. at 12.) Shortly after
the conversation with Dr. Pugh, Defendant Wilcher contacted
the jail to inquire about Loflin's status. (Doc. 55,
Attach. 1 at 2.) Defendant Wilcher spoke with Nurse Thrift,
who "advised [Wilcher] of [Loflin'js] status."
this time, Loflin remained in the CCDC infirmary, where he
continued to complain of chest pain and difficulty breathing.
(Doc. 52, Attach. 4 at ¶ 44-C70.) Dr. Pugh stated that
these symptoms were consistent with a diagnosis of congestive
heart failure. (Id., Attach. 5 at 28.) At the
request of Dr. Pugh, Loflin was transported to an appointment
with an offsite cardiologist on April 7, 2014. (Id.,
Attach. 5 at 7.) Immediately after this appointment, the
cardiologist admitted Loflin to Memorial Health Hospital.
(Id. at 17.) Loflin died at the hospital on April
24, 2014. (Id., Attach. 2 at 3) .
his death, Loflin's mother, Brenda Maley, brought suit
individually and on behalf of, the Estate of Matthew Loflin.
(Doc. 1.) In an amended complaint, Loflin's father, Gene
Loflin, subsequently joined suit in his individual
capacity.(Doc. 92.) In the Amended Complaint,
Plaintiffs allege that Defendant Wilcher, along with other
named defendants, were deliberately indifferent to
Loflin's serious medical need while detained at the CCDC.
(Id.) They have filed this action seeking damages
under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for the alleged deliberate
indifference to Loflin's medical needs and his subsequent
wrongful death. (Id.)
response, Defendant Wilcher has filed a Motion for Summary
Judgment requesting that this Court dismiss all claims
against him in his individual capacity. (Doc. 52.)
Defendant Wilcher argues that he is entitled to qualified
immunity and protected from suit. (Id.) The
Plaintiffs contend that Defendant Wilcher is not entitled to
qualified immunity, because in their view, Defendant Wilcher
violated Matthew Loflin's constitutional right when he
acted with deliberate indifference to Loflin's medical
needs. (Doc. 55.)
addition to Defendant Wilcher's Motion for Summary
Judgment, the parties have also filed a series of
stipulated dismissals. Specifically, the parties have
filed a Consent Motion to Dismiss Virginia O'Neill,
Chatham County, and John Wilcher in his official capacity.
(Doc. 87.) Additionally, the parties have filed a Stipulation
of Dismissal of Corizon, LLC. (Doc. 65.)
DEFENDANT WILCHER'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY
Standard of Review
to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(a), "[a] party may
move for summary judgment, identifying each claim or
defense-or the part of each claim of defense-on which summary
judgment is sought." Such a motion must be granted
"if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as
to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment
as a matter of law." Id. The "purpose of
summary judgment is to 'pierce the pleadings and to
assess the proof in order to see whether there is a genuine
need for trial.' " Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co.
v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986) (guoting
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56 advisory committee notes).
judgment is appropriate when the nonmovant "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).
The substantive law governing the action determines whether
an element is ...