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Mangum v. Sevier County

United States District Court, E.D. Tennessee, Knoxville Division

February 19, 2015

Ryan Dale Mangum, Plaintiff,
v.
Sevier County, Tennessee, et al., Defendants.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

PAMELA L. REEVES, District Judge.

Ryan Dale Mangum was arrested in July 2013 for DUI. While in jail, Mr. Mangum, who regularly drank half a gallon of vodka per day, began suffering severe symptoms of alcohol withdrawal. He hallucinated, was unable to speak coherently, grew anxious, and defecated and urinated on himself. Despite witnessing these symptoms and being told by Mr. Mangum's step mother that he was recently hospitalized after becoming unresponsive from detox, the medical staff at the Sevier County Jail failed to send Mr. Mangum to the hospital. At some point during his stay, Mr. Mangum alleges that he was severely beaten by the guards. Still, he alleges he was not sent to the hospital in a timely fashion. Once he was finally sent to the hospital, Mr. Mangum fell into a coma, and was diagnosed with numerous injuries including brain damage. He brought this lawsuit against Sevier County, numerous guards, the nurses at the jail, and First Med-the private entity employing those nurses. First Med and the nurse defendants have each filed motions to dismiss for failure to state a claim under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). For the reasons discussed below, their motions will be DENIED.

I. Background

On June 30, 2013, Ryan Dale Mangum was arrested for DUI. Because he was unable to post bond, Mr. Mangum remained detained in the Sevier County jail. He began suffering from severe alcohol withdrawal symptoms-hallucinating, "ambulating aimlessly" in his cell, sweating, speaking unintelligibly, and defecating and urinating on himself. This continued for several days during which Mr. Mangum was housed in a solitary confinement cell. According to the complaint, nurses periodically looked in on Mr. Mangum, took his blood pressure, and gave him some medication, but they never sent him to a hospital to be treated.

On July 3, 2013, Mr. Mangum's step mother, a nurse herself, called the jail and spoke with Nurse Peterson. She explained that Mr. Mangum had a history of severe alcohol withdrawal symptoms, and on one past occasion, Mr. Mangum became so unresponsive during detoxification that he had to be transported to Park West Medical Center in Knoxville.

Also at some point on July 3, 2013, Mr. Mangum had an altercation with one of the nurses. He was hallucinating and repeatedly asking for his daughter and saying he needed to leave to go to work. In response, several of the guards allegedly beat Mr. Mangum severely-so severely that Mr. Mangum suffered permanent brain injury and nearly died.[1]

At 1:30 in the morning on July 5, 2013, several jailers and medical personal woke Mr. Mangum in his cell, placed him in a wheelchair and took him to be showered. Records indicate Mr. Mangum was lethargic, unable to stand on his own, and he had cuts on his elbow and cheek.

When one of the nurses observed Mr. Mangum's condition at 8:30 a.m. on July 5, 2013, he recorded that Mr. Mangum needed help wiping himself, was disoriented, had bruises on both arms and both legs, and complained of pain in his ribs. An hour later, the same nurse checked back in on Mr. Mangum, and reported to his supervisor. The supervisor looked at Mr. Mangum through the window of his cell, noted that Mr. Mangum had fecal matter on himself, offered him something to drink, and asked the nurse to continue monitoring Mr. Mangum. Finally, at 12:45 that afternoon, the supervisor decided to send Mr. Mangum to the hospital when he was found lying on the floor, covered in feces, incoherent, with shallow respiration, and a pulse of only 46 beats per minute.

At the hospital, Mr. Mangum was admitted to the ICU for severe metabolic acidosis, respiratory failure, acute renal failure as a result of Rhabdomyolysis (a severe syndrome resulting from blunt force trauma in which muscle fibers are released into the blood stream), septic shock, staph infection, and multisystem organ failure. Mr. Mangum went into a coma and underwent emergency dialysis for kidney failure. He remained in a coma for quite some time. X-rays revealed multiple fractures to at least eight of his ribs. After being released from the hospital, Mr. Mangum has continued to suffer from seizures and other neurological and physical disorders. Mr. Mangum contends that these injuries are the result of: (1) being beaten by the deputies; and (2) the defendants' refusal to send him to a hospital in a timely manner.

Mr. Mangum filed suit on June 18, 2014. His amended complaint, filed July 1, 2014, asserts claims against the jail nurses, First Med, Inc. (the private company contracted by Sevier County to provide medical care at the Sevier County Jail), Sevier County, and the guards for excessive force, deliberate indifference to his medical needs, and negligence. First Med and the nurses have moved to dismiss the claims against them for failure to state a claim under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). [R. 34, 37, 39, 41, 43].

II. Standard of Review

Rules 8(a) and 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure require the complaint to articulate a plausible claim for relief. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). This requirement is met when "the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Id. (citing Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 556 (2007)). A motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) requires the court to construe the complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, accept all the complaint's factual allegations as true, and determine whether the plaintiff can prove no set of facts in support of the plaintiff's claims that would entitle the plaintiff to relief. Meador v. Cabinet for Human Resources, 902 F.2d 474, 475 (6th Cir. 1990), cert. denied, 498 U.S. 867 (1990).

The court may not grant a motion to dismiss based upon a disbelief of a complaint's factual allegations. Lawler v. Marshall, 898 F.2d 1196, 1198 (6th Cir. 1990); Miller v. Currie, 50 F.3d 373, 377 (6th Cir. 1995) (noting that courts should not weigh evidence or evaluate the credibility of witnesses). The court must liberally construe the complaint in favor of the party opposing the motion. Id. However, the complaint must articulate more than a bare assertion of legal conclusions. Scheid v. Fanny Farmer Candy Shops, Inc., 859 F.3d 434, 436 (6th Cir. 1988). "[The] complaint must contain either direct or inferential allegations respecting all the material elements to sustain a recovery under some viable legal theory." Id. (citations omitted).

Because a motion to dismiss is meant to test the "sufficiency of the plaintiff's claim for relief, " the court "may consider only matters properly part of the complaint or pleadings" in ruling on the motion. Armengau v. Cline, 7 F.Appx. 336, 334 (6th Cir. 2001) (citations omitted). If matters outside the pleadings are introduced and not excluded, the motion to dismiss must be treated as one for summary judgment under Rule 56. Fed R. Civ. P. 12(d); Wysocki v. IBM, 607 F.3d 1102, 1104 (6th Cir. 2010). The Sixth Circuit has taken a "liberal view" of what matters fall within the pleadings. Armengau, 7 F.Appx. at 344. "If referred to in a complaint and central to the claim, documents attached to a motion to dismiss form part of the pleadings." Id. (citations omitted). A court may ...


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