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Russell v. Campbell

United States District Court, M.D. Tennessee, Columbia Division

May 17, 2017

CYNTHIA SMITH RUSSELL, Individually, and as Adminstratix of the ESTATE OF JASON WAYNE HENDRIX, Deceased, and on behalf of all other wrongful death beneficiaries, Plaintiff,



         Pending before the Court is the Motion for Partial Summary Judgment (Doc. No. 36) filed by Defendants Otis Campbell, Jr., M.D., Ellen Fowlkes, R.N., Amanda Davis, R.N., and Linda Flowers, R.N., to which Plaintiff Cynthia Smith Russell has responded in opposition (Doc. No. 43) and Defendants have replied (Doc. No. 48). For the reasons that follow, the Motion will be granted in part and denied in part.

         I. Background[1]

         This is an action for deliberate indifference and wrongful death under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, and for violations of the Tennessee Health Care Liability Act, Tenn. Code Ann. ¶ 29-16-101. It is brought by Plaintiff, individually, and on behalf of the estate of her son, Jason Wayne Hendrix.

         Mr. Hendrix was an inmate at the Turney Center Industrial Complex (“Turney Center”), a TDOC facility. The individual Defendants all provided medical services at the facility: Otis Campbell, Jr. as a physician; and Ellen Fowlkes, Amanda Davis, and Linda Flowers as registered nurses.

         On November 8, 2015, Mr. Hendrix fell on the metal commode in his cell, injuring his shoulder. Plaintiff attributes the fall to Mr. Hendrix having eaten undercooked chicken that had been served to several inmates at the Turney Center on November 3, 2015. (PSOF ¶¶ 6, 8).

         Dr. Campbell examined Mr. Hendrix's shoulder on November 8, 2015, and ordered an x-ray of Mr. Hendrix's shoulder and side. Dr. Campbell also prescribed Motrin, Toradol, and an analgesic balm. (Id. ¶ 9).

         On November 13, 2015, Plaintiff called his mother and told her that he had shoulder and severe stomach pain. He also told her that he was in his cell, but expected to be transferred to the Turney Center's on-site clinic on November 16, 2015. (Id. 10, 11).

         At approximately 7:30 p.m. on November 17, 2015, Mr. Hendrix was transferred to the clinic. (TDOC p. 270). At the time, he told Nurse Fowlkes that he had been experiencing diarrhea and vomiting for two days. He also reported pain, a dry mouth, dizziness, and nausea upon standing. (PSOF ¶ 1). Noting “[d]ehydration and possible fluid deficit, ” Nurse Fowlkes, pursuant to Dr. Campbell's instructions, started an intravenous (“IV”) line and provided Mr. Hendrix with Vicodin and Parafon Forte, the latter of which he refused to take. (Id.; TDOC p. 270). Nurse Fowlkes' shift ended around 10:00 p.m., and Nurse Flowers assumed responsibility for Mr. Hendrix's care. (Fowlkes' Aff. ¶ 5).

         Around 10:05 p.m., Mr. Hendrix fell while guards were escorting him down a clinic corridor. He was helped to a chair in the hallway and then walked unescorted to Room 2 where he told Nurse Flowers, “I don't know what happened, I think I passed out.” (TDOC p. 270). Mr. Hendrix also stated, “I told y'all that I was hurting bad, ” and that, “I'm really sick. I'm not making this up.” (PSOF ¶ 14; TDOC p. 270).

         Nurse Flowers found Mr. Hendrix to be “diaphoretic” (i.e. sweating heavily), and he stated that he was too sick to take off his clothing in order to be examined. His pulse rate at the time was 120 beats per minute (bpm). (PSOF ¶¶ 15, 16; TDOC p. 269). Because Mr. Hendrix claimed to be hot, Nurse Flowers brought him a fan. (TDOC 269). As Nurse Flowers was leaving the room Mr. Hendrix asked if he could turn off the light, but Nurse Flowers demurred, saying she wanted to keep an eye on him. (Id.).

         Less than thirty minutes later, at approximately 10:40 p.m., Nurse Flowers return to Mr. Hendrix's room, at which time he disrobed so that he could be examined. After the examination, Mr. Hendrix was provided with a urinal and given instructions on how to use it so that the medical staff could see how much urine he produced. (Id. at 268). Before leaving, Nurse Flowers showed Mr. Hendrix how to use the call light if he needed attention.

         Mr. Hendrix was rechecked by Nurse Flowers at 1:10 a.m. on November 18, 2015, who noted that his skin was warm and dry to the touch, his lung sounds were clear, and bowel sounds were heard in all four quadrants. Nurse Flowers also examined Mr. Hendrix's neck “for obvious injury, ” but none was found. (Id. at 270).When asked, Mr. Hendrix was able to move his neck freely from side-to-side. At that time, Mr. Hendrix stated, “If I try to stand up I feel like I will faint.” (Id. at 267-268).

         At 1:30 a.m. on November 18, 2015, Mr. Hendrix was observed on camera going to the bathroom. Upon finishing, he activated the call light to summon Nurse Flowers. She found that Mr. Hendrix's stools were “black (tarry) and showed ‘frank'[i.e. visible] blood.” (TDOC p. 267). Mr. Hendrix admitted that, within a two-day period, he had ingested 30 Naproxen pills, 24 Motrin pills, and most of a prescription for Mobic tablets. (PSOF ¶ 1; TDOC p. 266). He claimed to have taken that medicine because his shoulder was still hurting. (TDOC p. 267). Nurse Flowers told Mr. Hendrix that so much medicine in such a short period could cause a “GI bleed” and “make him feel like he was going to faint and feel very weak.” (Id.). Nurse Flowers noted on the chart “G.I. bleed/ previous shoulder injury.” (Id.).

         After finishing with Mr. Hendrix, Nurse Flowers called Dr. Campbell to inform him about what she had learned. (PSOF ¶ 20, TDOC p. 266). Nurse Flowers was instructed to keep Mr. Hendrix in the clinic, observe him, and monitor his vital signs every two hours until Dr. Campbell came into the clinic. (TDOC p. 266).

         Approximately two hours latter, at 3:30 a.m. on November 18, 2015, Nurse Flowers went in to see Mr. Hendrix and told him that Dr. Campbell had been called and would examine him that morning. Mr. Hendrix reported that he was still very weak. Nurse Flowers told him that this could be caused by a “GI Bleed” given the medications he had taken. (TDOC p. 265). Plaintiff characterizes Nurse Flowers's note to that effect as being a diagnosis that Mr. Hendrix had a gastrointestinal hemorrhage. (PSOF ¶ 21).

         At 5:30 a.m. that day, Nurse Flowers looked in on Mr. Hendrix again and found his skin to be “slightly clammy/warm.” (TDOC p. 264). She wrote in her notes “GI Bleed, ” (id.), which Plaintiff again characterizes as a diagnosis of a “gastrointestinal hemorrhage.” (DSOF ¶ 21). Nurse Flowers updated Dr. Campbell on Mr. Hendrix's condition and was instructed to continue monitoring him. Dr. Campbell also ordered a complete blood count (“CBC”) to determine blood loss, but those results did not return until after Mr. Hendrix left the Turney Center clinic. (PSOF ¶¶ 4, 5).

         Nurse Davis relieved Nurse Flowers at around 6:00 a.m. on November 18, 2015. When Nurse Davis went to see Mr. Hendrix at 7:30 a.m., he stated, “I'm hurting so bad in my stomach and my neck, you've got to help me.” (TDOC p. 264). Mr. Hendrix was examined and his heart rate was 109 bpm.

         Nurse Davis drew blood for the CBC as ordered by Dr. Campbell, a procedure that Mr. Hendrix “tolerated well.” (Id.). Further, because Mr. Hendrix's skin was clammy and he complained of being hot, he was given a cold compress to place on his head and ice water. He was also provided breakfast. (Id.).

         Around 9:00 a.m., Mr. Hendrix used the call light to summon Nurse Davis. When she entered the room, Mr. Hendrix stated that he was unable to sit and felt “like he would pass out.” (PSOF ¶ 25). He also stated, “My head hurts now with my neck and I think it[']s to do with that fall.” (TDOC p. 263). Upon examination, Mr. Hendrix's skin was found to be “pale and clammy, ” and he had a heart rate of 118 bpm. (Id.).

         Nurse Davis called Dr. Campbell and was instructed to continue monitoring Mr. Hendrix. Dr. Campbell also ordered an x-ray of Mr. Hendrix's spine and skull.

         Mr. Hendrix was not examined again by Nurse Davis through the remainder of her shift. However, Nurse Davis claims that she and other nurses continued to monitor him by camera, until her shift ended around 2:00 p.m. (Doc. No. 36-2, Davis Aff. ¶¶ 8, 9).

         Mr. Hendrix was examined by Dr. Campbell at 1:00 p.m. on November 18, 2015. At the time, Mr. Hendrix reported that he was hurting all over. His temperature was 98.4E degrees Fahrenheit, his blood pressure was 138/70 and his pulse rate was 120 bpm. Upon examination, Dr. Campbell found “mild tenderness along [the] C-spine, as well as “mild epigastric tenderness of the abdomen.” (TDOC p. 263).

         Dr. Campbell diagnosed a “GI hemorrhage, ” secondary to “NSAID toxicity.” (Id.). In an affidavit filed in support of Defendants' Motion, Dr. Campbell asserts that he believed Mr. Hendrix “likely suffered from gastritis due to ingesting an excessive amount of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (‘NSAIDs').” (Doc. No. 36-1, Campbell Aff. ¶ 13). Dr. Campbell prescribed intravenous fluids, along with a liter of D5NS, (TDOC p. 263), which is a fluid containing electrolytes and calories. He also prescribed Lortab for pain, Benadryl for nausea, and ...

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