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Estate of Wright v. Lake County

United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, Hammond Division

September 6, 2017

LAKE COUNTY, IN, Defendants.


          Joseph S. Van Bokkelen, United States District Judge

         Plaintiff, the estate of Cedell Wright, has sued Defendant Dr. William Forgey under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging that his deliberate indifference to Wright's serious medical needs while he was a pretrial detainee at the Lake County jail resulted in Wright's death. This matter is before the Court on Dr. Forgey's motion for summary judgment (DE 125) and motion to strike certain evidence Plaintiff has offered in opposition to the summary judgment motion (DE 150).

         A. Facts

         The following facts are taken as true for the purposes of Dr. Forgey's motion. They are taken largely from Dr. Forgey's Statement of Undisputed Material Facts (because Plaintiff, in its response to the motion, does not challenge any of those facts or identify, in its Statement of Genuine Disputes any facts it contends are genuinely disputed) and augmented by facts set out in the “Facts” section of Plaintiff's brief.

         Dr. Forgey is a physician affiliated with Correctional Health Indiana Inc., an Indiana corporation that has contracted to provide health services to inmates at the Lake County Jail. He is not an employee of the Lake County Jail or the Sheriff of Lake County, but serves as the Jail's medical director. He held that position when Cedell Wright, was a pretrial detainee at the Jail from November 9, 2012, to March 4, 2013, the day he died. Although Dr. Forgey stated in his affidavit that he was not responsible for supervising or administering mental health services at the jail, he had a collaborative practice agreement with Faith Ornelas, a Clinical Nurse Specialist, that called for Dr. Forgey to work with Ornelas to provide health care services to patients of the Lake County Jail, including providing psychiatric medication prescriptions and counseling.

         Wright's jail medical records indicate that he was 5'10" tall and weighted 134 lbs when he arrived at the Jail. According to a mental health/suicide intake screening, Wright reported that he had nothing to look forward to and felt that there was no help for him and his situation. A mental health evaluation was attempted on November 20, 2012, but Wright signed a mental health refusal of care form. Additional attempts at mental health screenings were not successful. On November 20, 2012, Wright also refused a comprehensive health screening.

         On November 30, 2012, Wright reported that he had been constipated for two weeks and that constipation was a recurring problem for him. He also reported a loose tooth and severe pain from the four teeth adjacent to the loose tooth. He was described as thin and emaciated. He refused the mineral oil that was prescribed for his constipation. He was given a dental appointment and scheduled for a clinic visit that he refused. Mr. Wright was ordered to see Dr. Forgey or a nurse practitioner in five days.

         On December 3, 2012, Wright refused to come to the clinic. On December 4, he refused a lab draw. On December 7, he refused dental treatment. Dr. Forgey saw him on December 9, when he noted that Wright was prescribed multiple vitamins due to his emaciated condition, but refused them.

         On December 10, 2012, Wright refused dental care and complained of constipation and abdominal pain. He was given mineral oil. That evening he made an urgent care call, reporting that he had not had a bowel movement in four weeks, had abdominal pain, and had spit up blood. A nurse practitioner's assessment was constipation with impaction and abdominal pain. Wright was insisting on a stool softener, but she told him it could not be given until the impaction cleared. Wright did not want the impaction manually cleared and agreed to try a suppository first. He was to see the nurse practitioner two days later, but on December 13, 2012, he refused a clinic visit.

         On December 18, 2012, Wright again complained of abdominal pain and constipation. His abdomen was slightly distended but it was not painful upon touch. He was given a dose of mineral oil and was scheduled to have a clinic visit on December 20. On that date, Wright was evaluated by Dr. Jose Agusti regarding abdominal pain, constipation, and diarrhea.

         On January 12, 2013, Wright lost a tooth and complained of a sharp ache in his left ear. Dr. Forgey was called and he ordered an antibiotic and pain medication for ten days, as well as a dental visit. However, Wright did not take these medications as directed.

         On January 14, 2013, Wright was seen by a mental health worker (at least the Court believes the initials after her name-QMPH-stand for “qualified mental health provider”) after it was reported that he was not integrating with the general population, was not eating, was losing weight and had not showered in five days. The mental health worker described him as emaciated, flat, and irritable. He avoided eye contact and his speech was slow, soft, and slurred.

         Wright told her that he would refuse “psych” medications because he had never taken any medications in his life. He appeared lethargic, withdrawn, and depressed. He was moved to the medical wing on the fourth floor for medication, observation, and stabilization.

         The Jail medical records document that the mental health staff evaluated him on January 15, 17, 18, 21, and 22. It was noted that he was refusing to eat because he did not like jail food. A nurse practitioner discussed the importance of calorie intake to ensure immune system strength and stated that the plan was to consult with the medical director and consider Megace (an appetite stimulant). Wright said he would try to eat more. He was also told that mental health services were available if he wanted to talk to a mental health worker. On January 22 he reported experiencing auditory hallucinations that he did not find particularly ...

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