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Rayner v. Appling County Sheriff's Office

United States District Court, S.D. Georgia, Brunswick Division

August 14, 2019

DINETHA L. RAYNER, Individually and as Administrator of the Estate of KELSEY JEROME RAYNER, SR., Plaintiff,
v.
APPLING COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE, SHERIFF MARK MELTON, APPLING COUNTY CORRECTIONS OFFICERS ADAM BELL, ANTHONY BARWICK, JEFFERY HAMILTON, NADIA WATTS, ELAINE DOWNDEY, ERNESTINA MERCED, BRANDON GRIFFIS, and WILSON EDWARDS, Individually and in their Official Capacities, SOUTHEAST CORRECTIONAL MEDICAL GROUP, LLC, KACEY NEWBERRY, LPN, CHRISTI TURNER, LPN, LYNN MARSH, LPN, KNICOLE LEE, FNP, JOHN DOE, ADVANCED PRACTICE NURSE, AND JOHN ROE, M.D. Defendants.

          ORDER

          LISA GODBEY WOOD, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Before the Court are two motions: (1) Defendants Southeast Correctional Medical Group, LLC ("SECMG"), Kasey Newberry, Christi Turner, Lynn Marsh, and Knicole Lee's Motion to Dismiss Count IV of Plaintiff's Amended Complaint, dkt. no. 26; and (2) Defendant Sheriff Mark Melton, in his individual capacity and official capacity as Sheriff of Appling County, Adam Bell, Anthony Barwick, Jeffery Hamilton, Nadia Watts, Elaine Dowdney, Ernestina Merced, Brandon Griffis, and Wilton Edward's Motion to Dismiss, dkt. no. 28. These Motions have been fully briefed and are ripe for review. For the reasons provided below, Defendant SECMG, Newberry, Turner, Marsh, and Lee's Motion is DENIED. Defendant Sheriff Melton, Appling County Sheriff's Office, Bell, Barwick, Hamilton, Watts, Dowdney, Merced, Griffis, and Edward's Motion is DENIED.

         BACKGROUND

         The facts stated herein are taken solely from Plaintiff's Amended Complaint and are assumed to be true pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6). On or about October 1, 2016, Sheriff Melton and SECMG executed an agreement that provided in relevant part:

SECMG will provide emergency medical treatment to inmates as necessary and appropriate on site. With the assistance of the Sheriff's officers and 911 services, SECMG will arrange for emergency service to be provided at local hospitals. Appling County Sheriff's Office will be responsible for the cost of emergency transportation and treatment.

Dkt. No. 24 ¶ 14.

         On April 16, 2017, Decedent, Kelsey Jerome Rayner, Sr., was booked into the Appling County Jail. Id. ¶ 15. On April 17, 2017, SECMG employees performed a triage/receiving screening on Decedent. Id. ¶ 16. During the screening, Decedent's medical history showed that he suffered a "nervous breakdown" in 2008, that he had "a history" of being prescribed Risperdal and Prozac, and that he had been diagnosed with manic depression and schizophrenia. Id. ¶ 17. On April 18, 2017, Decedent bonded out of the Appling County Jail. Id. ¶ 18.

         On June 28, 2017, Decedent was again arrested and booked into the Appling County Jail. Id. ¶ 19. On June 29, 2017, Decedent was taken to the local ER because he complained of chest pains. Id. ¶ 23. The test results were normal, and he was returned to the jail. Id. On June 30, 2017, SECMG again did a triage/receiving screening on Decedent. Id. ¶ 20. This time Decedent's medical history showed "a history" of bipolar depression, prior use of Vistaril and Clonidine, and hospitalization in 2012 for a "nervous breakdown." Id. ¶ 21. During this screening, Decedent was crying and speaking rapidly-both signs of depression. Id. ¶ 22. Later that day, Decedent bonded out and was released. Id. ¶ 24.

         On July 14, 2017, Decedent's bonding company "came off their bond" on a misdemeanor charge against Decedent, but Decedent's bond for pending felony charges remained in force. Id. ¶ 25. On July 15, 2017, Decedent was arrested by the Appling County Sheriff's Office. Id. ¶ 26. On July 16, 2017, Defendants Lee and Marsh performed another triage/receiving screening of Decedent. Id. ¶ 27. During that screening, Decedent had a 99.9 degree fever. Id. ¶ 29. Also on that day, Decedent was placed in administrative segregation. Id. ¶ 31.

         On July 20, 2017, Defendant Turner examined Decedent and performed a urinalysis. Id. ¶ 32. The urinalysis indicated high bilirubin. Id. Defendant Newberry was aware at that point that Decedent had "something . . . going on with the liver." Id. From this day to his death on July 26, 2017, Decedent continued to exhibit signs of intense stomach pain. Id. Indeed, on July 21, Defendant Newberry noted in Decedent's chart that he was complaining of stomach pain and that blood work was ordered to be taken on July 22, 2017. Id. ¶¶ 33, 34. On July 22, Defendant Marsh was scheduled to be present at the jail for the blood work, but he did not show up. Id. ¶ 38. Instead, only Defendant Newberry was there, but she did not take any blood for analysis because she did not know how to do that. Id. ¶ 39. At no time after July 22, 2017, was blood taken from Decedent for analysis. Id. ¶ 40.

         On July 24, 2017, Decedent was in obvious physical distress. Id. ¶ 44. Decedent was taken to the State Court of Appling County that day, and he complained to the judge that he had been passing blood and that he "really need[ed] [his] body checked out." Id. ¶ 45. Defendant Officer Bell was present when Decedent complained to the judge. Id. ¶ 48. Officer Bell, nevertheless, did not attempt to get medical treatment for Decedent. Id. After returning from court on July 24, Decedent used his intercom system in his jail cell to contact the guards at least five times prior to his death on July 26, 2017. Id. ¶ 49.

         According to the Amended Complaint, on July 25, 2017, Decedent began experiencing increased distress from the infection that would soon kill him; he ate nothing that morning and was kneeling down with his head and elbows on the floor. Id. ¶ 51. Decedent was not seen by Defendants John Doe or John Roe, M.D., when they visited the jail that day because Decedent's labs were not complete. Id. ¶ 52. Decedent also did not eat that evening. Id. ¶ 53.

         On the morning of July 26, 2017, Decedent began repeatedly vomiting. Id. ¶ 55. At around 3:00 pm, up until his death that night, Decedent was either writhing in pain or completely still "in a pain pose." Id. ¶ 60. Decedent could be observed by the guards on a monitor. Id. Another inmate told the guards that Decedent needed medical attention. Id. ¶ 61. Later, an inmate used her intercom to call for medical attention for Decedent so many times that the control tower disabled her intercom button. Id. ¶¶ 76-78. That inmate could hear Decedent groaning and crying for help. Id. ¶ 76. After her intercom was disabled, the inmate took off her bra and waived it in front of the camera; the guards used the intercom to contact her, and she again asked for medical assistance for Decedent but to no avail. Id. ¶ 79. Several of the Defendant Officers came and checked on Decedent that evening, but none offered him assistance until he was found lifeless at about 9:57 p.m. Id. ¶¶ 63, 70-75, 84, 88-89. Prior to his death and because of the smell, one of the guards even had to cover her mouth and nose with her shirt when she entered Decedent's cell to check on him. Id. ¶ 74. In the interim, Decedent's stomach became massively distended, and he tried to push himself up off the floor twice, but failed both times. Id. ¶¶ 64-65, 82-83.

         Because of these alleged events, Plaintiff, as the administratrix of Decedent's estate, seeks damages for alleged ...


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