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Doker v. Montgomery County

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

June 20, 2018


          Honorable Aleta A. Trauger, District Judge



         By Order entered July 26, 2017 (Docket Entry No. 5), this action was referred to the Magistrate Judge for pretrial proceedings under 28 U.S.C. §§ 636(b)(1)(A) and (B), Rule 72(b) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, and the Local Rules of Court.

         Presently pending are separate motions for summary judgment filed by Defendants Montgomery County, Tennessee (Docket Entry No. 33) and Correct Care Solutions, LLC (Docket Entry No. 37). Plaintiff has not responded to the motions. For the reasons set out below, the undersigned respectfully recommends that the motions be granted and this action be dismissed.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Derek Taylor Doker (“Plaintiff”) is a former inmate who was confined at the Montgomery County Jail (“Jail”) in Clarksville, Tennessee during 2017. He is no longer incarcerated and appears to currently reside in Williamston, South Carolina.[1]

         The following background information is summarized from Plaintiff's pleadings and the undisputed evidence in the record.[2] On December 4, 2016, Plaintiff was seriously injured in a car accident, suffering a broken pelvis, a broken leg, broken ribs, as well as other injuries. The treatment of his injuries required that he stay in either a hospital or a rehabilitation center for several weeks after the accident, but he was eventually cleared to be released and, on January 4, 2017, he entered the Jail on charges related to the accident. Plaintiff arrived at the Jail in a wheelchair with restrictions on his ability to ambulate and was placed in a medical isolation cell in the medical unit. He remained there until March 4, 2017, when he was moved to a general population housing unit after the order for a wheelchair was discontinued and he was no longer restricted to the medical unit.[3]With the exception of a period of less than a week when he returned to the medical unit in May 2017, Plaintiff remained in the general population the remainder of his time at the Jail.[4] Although it is unclear exactly when Plaintiff was released from the Jail, he appears to have been released in late November or in December of 2017. While at the Jail, Plaintiff received various forms of medical treatment for his injuries from the medical staff at the Jail and from outside medical providers, including multiple medications, x-rays, sick call examinations at the Jail, and consultations and appointments with outside medical providers .[5] The frequency of Plaintiff's treatment ranged from being seen quite often during his first few months at the Jail to being seen less frequently as his injuries healed.

         On June 15, 2017, Plaintiff filed this lawsuit pro se and in forma pauperis based on allegations that he was subjected to unconstitutional conditions of confinement at the Jail. By Memorandum and Order entered July 26, 2017 (Docket Entry Nos. 4 and 5), the Court found that Plaintiff alleged an arguable claim against Montgomery County, Tennessee (“Montgomery County”) for violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”), 42 U.S.C. § 12131, et seq., based on allegations that he was housed in a cell that was not handicapped accessible and did not have handrails. Although other claims were dismissed upon the initial review, Plaintiff subsequently filed an amended complaint stating arguable claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for violations of his constitutional rights against Montgomery County and Correct Care Solutions, LLC (“CCS”), a private entity that provides medical care to inmates at the Jail. See Docket Entry Nos. 7 and 17.

         Specifically, Plaintiff alleges a claim that he was denied constitutionally adequate medical care at the Jail because: (1) during his first three months at the Jail, he was held in a restricted medical cell that was not equipped with handicap bars and that kept him in isolation for 23 hours a day; (2) he fell and injured himself on one occasion while transferring from his wheelchair to the toilet in the medical cell; and, (3) he was denied physical therapy and had a limited ability to exercise while kept in the medical cell, which he contends caused him to develop a limp. See Amended Complaint. Plaintiff also alleges that the medical unit cell into which he was placed on May 25, 2017, had feces and urine in it and he contends that he developed Hepatitis C because of the uncleanliness of his cell. Id.

         Defendants filed answers, see Docket Entry Nos. 12, 23, and 26, and the Court entered a scheduling order providing for a period of pre-trial activity, including a period for discovery. See Docket Entry No. 14. Other than the two motions for summary judgment, there are no other motions pending in the lawsuit.


         Defendant CCS acknowledges that Plaintiff suffered from serious medical conditions while at the Jail. However, CCS argues the undisputed evidence shows that he was provided with appropriate medical care and that there is no evidence showing that any CCS staff member treated him with deliberate indifference. See Memorandum in Support (Docket Entry No. 38) at 11-12. Defendant CCS further argues that, even if an individual staff member failed to treat Plaintiff appropriately, CCS cannot be held liable under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 based upon the theory of respondeat superior because of the actions of its employees and that there is no evidence supporting a claim that any CCS policy, custom, or procedure led to a violation of Plaintiff's constitutional rights. Id. at 12-15. To the contrary, CCS argues that its policies mandate that CCS staff receive appropriate training and supervision and that prisoners under its care receive appropriate medical care and treatment. Id. at 16-18. Defendant CCS supports its motion with: (1) a Statement of Undisputed Material Facts (Docket Entry No. 39); (2) the affidavit of Jessica Ison (“Ison Affidavit”), who is the CCS Health Services Administrator in Montgomery County (Docket Entry No. 37-1); and, (3) copies of Plaintiff's medical records and CCS policies (Docket Entry Nos. 37-2 to 37-34).

         Defendant Montgomery County likewise acknowledges Plaintiff's serious medical needs while he was at the Jail but argues that the undisputed facts fail to support either a claim that it violated the ADA or a claim that it violated Plaintiff's constitutional rights. See Memorandum in Support (Docket Entry No. 34) at 7-14. Montgomery County further contends that Plaintiff failed to exhaust the administrative remedies available to him at the Jail prior to bringing his lawsuit, id. at 6 and 15, and that Plaintiff has not offered any evidence of a policy, practice, or custom of Montgomery County that can be linked to the alleged constitutional violations. Id. at 11-12 and 14. Defendant Montgomery County supports its motion with: (1) a Statement of Undisputed Material Facts (Docket Entry No. 35); and, (2) the affidavit of Douglas Tackett (“Tackett Affidavit”), the Assistant Chief Deputy of the Detention Division of the Montgomery County Sheriff's Office (Docket Entry No. 36). Defendant Montgomery County also relies upon the Ison Affidavit.

         Plaintiff was notified of the motions for summary judgment filed by Defendants, warned that his lawsuit could be dismissed if he failed to respond, and given a deadline of April 27, 2018, to file a response. See Order entered March 12, 2018 (Docket Entry No. 40). However, Plaintiff has not responded in any manner to the motions. The docket ...

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