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 official capacity as Jail Administrator; SCOTT KENNEDY, M.D.; ADAMAR GONZALEZ, M.D.; and VIRGINIA O'NEILL; Defendants.
WILLIAM T. MOORE, JR. JUDGE
the Court are Defendant Scott Kennedy's Motion for
Summary Judgment (Doc. 66) and Defendant Corizon
Health, Inc.'s Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. 67). For
the following reasons, Defendant Kennedy's motion is
GRANTED IN PART and DENIED IN
PART. Defendant Kennedy's motion is
GRANTED with respect to any claim for
wrongful death premised on state law. However, Defendant
Kennedy's motion is DENIED with respect
to Plaintiffs' deliberate indifference and corresponding
wrongful death claims. Defendant Corizon's motion is also
GRANTED IN PART and DENIED IN
PART. Defendant Corizon is entitled to summary
judgment on Plaintiffs' claim for wrongful death pursuant
to state law. However, summary judgment is
DENIED with respect to Plaintiffs'
deliberate indifference and corresponding wrongful death
claims against Defendant Corizon.
case arises out of the incarceration and subsequent death of
Matthew Loflin in 2014. (Doc. I.) On February 6, 2014, Loflin
was arrested on drug charges. (Doc. 92 at 8.) He was held as
a pre-trial detainee at the Chatham County Detention Center
PCCDC") . (Id.)
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.) Dr. Charles Pugh was the acting onsite medical
director employed by Defendant Corizon. (Doc. 93, Ex. 2 at
72.) As the onsite medical director, Dr. Pugh provided direct
patient care and monitored healthcare expenses to ensure
healthcare was provided in a cost-efficient manner.
(Id. at 23, 79.) Defendant Dr. Scott Kennedy was the
acting regional medical director for Defendant Corizon. (Doc.
93, Ex. 1 at 7.) In his role, Defendant Kennedy "served
as coach, mentor, instructor, and supervisor to the site
medical directors within his region of all facilities in
Georgia and Florida." (Doc. 79, Attach. 2 at 2.)
his arrest and arrival at the CCDC, Loflin's health
quickly began to deteriorate. (Doc. 66-3, Attach. 3 at ¶
34-37.) Initially, Dr. Pugh believed that Loflin suffered
from pneumonia. (Doc. 93, Ex. 2 at 108.) Between February 7,
2014 and March 23, 2014, Loflin had at least 16 encounters
with Defendant Corizon's medical staff. (Doc. 66-3,
Attach. 3.) On March 24, 2014, Dr. Pugh became concerned
about Loflin's condition and decided to admit him to the
CCDC medical infirmary. (Doc. 93, Ex. 2 at 67.) In the
infirmary, Dr. Pugh reported that Loflin was provided with
the best possible care that could be provided at a jail.
(Id. at 121.) However, Dr. Pugh acknowledged that
the CCDC infirmary was not equipped to handle serious medical
conditions. (Id. at 68.)
March 26, 2014, Dr. Pugh ordered an echocardiogram to test
Loflin's heart. (Id. at 62-3.) The
echocardiogram revealed that Loflin had a "very poor
heart function" that indicated a "fairly severe
cardiomyopathy." (Id. at 64.) After obtaining
these results, Dr. Pugh believed that Loflin needed more
intensive care than could be provided in the CCDC infirmary.
(Id. at 121.) Dr. Pugh's position at the CCDC,
however, did not grant him the independent authority to admit
Loflin to a hospital for more intensive care. (Id.
at 62.) 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.
March 26, 2014 and March 28, 2014, Dr. Pugh spoke with
Defendant Kennedy to discuss Loflin's care. (Id.
at 66-7, 85.) During these calls, Dr. Pugh stated that he
believed Loflin should be taken to the emergency room so that
he would be able to quickly see a cardiologist. (Id.
at 85, 114.) Defendant Kennedy, however, disagreed. (Doc. 93,
Ex. 1 at 92-3.) Defendant Kennedy did not think that Loflin
would actually be able to see a cardiologist if admitted to
the emergency room. (Id. at 92-3.) Instead of
sending Loflin directly to the emergency room, Defendant
Kennedy and Dr. Pugh decided to schedule Loflin an
appointment directly with an offsite cardiologist.
(Id. at 110.) An appointment was scheduled for April
7, 2014. (Doc. 93, Ex. 2 at 25.)
meantime, Loflin remained in the CCDC infirmary, where he
continued to complain of chest pain and difficulty breathing.
(Doc. 66-3, Attach. 3 at ¶ 67-70.) At some point, Dr.
Pugh spoke with Defendant John Wilcher, CCDC Jail
Administrator, to request that Loflin be released from
incarceration on bond.(Doc. 93, Ex. 2 at 33.) Dr. Pugh testified
that it was Defendant Corizon's standard practice to
request the release of a prisoner who would likely require
expensive care. (Id. at 38.) Once released,
Defendant Corizon would have no obligation to pay for the
prisoner's medical bills. (Id.) In this case,
Dr. Pugh's request to have Loflin released from
incarceration was ultimately unsuccessful. (Id. at
April 7, 2014, Loflin attended his scheduled
appointment with an offsite cardiologist, Dr. Brett Burgess.
(Id. at 25.) Immediately after this appointment, Dr.
Burgess admitted Loflin to Memorial Health Hospital.
(Id. at 26.) On April 24, 2014, Loflin died at the
hospital. (Doc. 92 at 16.)
his death, Loflin's mother, Plaintiff Brenda Maley,
brought suit individually and on behalf of the Estate of
Matthew Loflin. (Doc. 1.) In an amended complaint,
Loflin's father, Plaintiff Gene Loflin, subsequently
joined suit in his individual capacity. (Doc. 92.) In the
amended complaint, Plaintiffs allege that Defendants Kennedy
and Corizon were deliberately indifferent to Loflin's
critical medical needs while detained at the CCDC.
(Id.) As a result, Plaintiffs 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.)
support of their claim, Plaintiffs have consulted with a
cardiologist, Dr. Charles Wickliffe. (Doc 69-2, Ex. 1 at
6-7.) Dr. Wickliffe opined that Loflin "died of the
complication of his congestive heart failure and underlying
cardiomyopathy." (Id.) He acknowledged that
while Loflin's condition likely had a poor prognosis from
the beginning, "[h]is death was related to the marked
delay in initiation of appropriate treatment for his
congestive heart failure." (Id.) He further
concluded that the care provided at the CCDC was insufficient
to properly treat Loflin's condition. (Id.)
Kennedy and Corizon have now each filed similar motions for
summary judgment. (Doc. 66; Doc. 67.) In their
motions, Defendants Kennedy and Corizon argue that Plaintiffs
are unable to establish any facts to support their contention
that either Defendants Kennedy or Corizon were deliberately
indifferent to Loflin's medical needs. As a result, both
Defendants argue that Plaintiffs' wrongful death claim
also must fail.
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) (quoting 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 essential. DeLong Equip. Co. v. Wash. Mills
Abrasive Co., 887 F.2d 1499, 1505 (11th Cir. 1989).
Supreme Court explained:
[A] party seeking summary judgment always bears the initial
responsibility of informing the district court of the basis
for its motion, and identifying those portions of the
pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and
admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any,
which it believes demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue
of material fact.
Celotex, 477 U.S. at 323.; The burden then shifts to
the nonmovant to establish, by going beyond the pleadings,
that there is a genuine issue as to facts material to the
nonmovant's case. Clark v. Coats & Clark, Inc.,
929 F.2d 604, 608 (11th Cir. 1991).
Court must review the evidence and all reasonable factual
inferences arising from it in the light most favorable to the
nonmovant. Matsushita, 475 U.S. at 587-88. However,
the nonmoving party "must do more than simply show that
there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material
facts." Id. at 58 6. A mere
"scintilla" of evidence, or simply conclusory
allegations, will not suffice. See, e.g.,
Tidwell v. Carter Prods., 135 F.3d 1422, 1425 (11th
Cir. 1998). Nevertheless, where a reasonable fact finder may
"draw more than one inference from the facts, and that
inference creates a genuine issue of material fact, then the
Court should refuse to grant summary judgment."
Barfield v. Brierton, 883 F.2d 923, 933-34 (11th
CLAIMS AGAINST ...