United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, South Bend Division
JAMES BARNES, as Personal Representative of the ESTATE OF RACHEL A. BARNES, Deceased, Plaintiff
JOHN T. BOYD, Sheriff of LaPorte County, Indiana, et al., Defendants
OPINION AND ORDER
L. Miller, Jr. Judge
Dr. Weldon Cooke, Advanced Correctional Healthcare, Inc., and
IUHLP Liquidation, Inc., doing business as I.U.
Health-LaPorte Hospital filed motions for summary judgment
with respect to each of the remaining claims asserted against
them in Mr. Barnes' third amended complaint. For the
following reasons, the court grants those motions.
judgment is appropriate when the pleadings, discovery
materials, disclosures, and affidavits demonstrate no genuine
issue of material fact, such that the movant is entitled to
judgment as a matter of law. Protective Life Ins. Co. v.
Hansen, 632 F.3d 388, 391-392 (7th Cir. 2011). The court
must construe the evidence and all inferences that reasonably
can be drawn from the evidence in the light most favorable to
Mr. Barnes, as the non-moving party. Anderson v.
Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 255 (1986).
As the moving parties, the defendants bear the burden of
informing the court of the basis for their motions, and
presenting evidence demonstrating the absence of any genuine
issue of material fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett,
477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). If they meet that burden, Mr.
Barnes can't rest upon the allegations in the pleadings,
but must “point to evidence that can be put in
admissible form at trial, and that, if believed by the
fact-finder, could support judgment in his favor.”
Marr v. Bank of Am., N, A., 662 F.3d 963, 966 (7th
County Sheriff Deputy Skyler Curtis arrested Rachel Barnes
when he found her intoxicated next to the car she had driven
into a pond. He took her to the I.U. LaPorte Hospital for a
blood draw and alcohol test. After drawing her blood, a
hospital employee told Deputy Curtis that it would take an
hour to get the results. Deputy Curtis took Ms. Barnes to the
county jail and went off his shift without collecting the
test results. Those results showed that Ms. Barnes had a
blood alcohol content of .447 percent.
Nancy Bunch, the jail intake officer that Friday night,
believed Ms. Barnes was under the influence of drugs or
alcohol based on her observation of slurred speech, dilated
pupils, unsteady gait or balance, bloodshot eyes and
confusion. Ms. Barnes told Officer Bunch she had last taken
her methadone five days earlier, and had consumed a pint of
vodka in the previous hour.
the next morning, Ms. Barnes complained that she couldn't
breathe, She told Corporal Ryan Hawkins that she suffered
from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and was being
treated for opiate addiction. The county hadn't arranged
for Advanced Correctional Healthcare, its private health care
provider, to staff the jail on weekends, so there were no
medically trained personnel at the jail. Cpl. Hawkins filled
out an Opiate Withdrawal Protocol sheet and took Ms.
Barnes's vital signs. Under the county's agreement
with Advanced Correctional Healthcare, Dr. Weldon Cooke
became Ms. Barnes's private physician when she was booked
into the jail, so Cpl. Hawkins called Dr. Cooke at home to
discuss Ms. Barnes's anticipated opiate withdrawal. Cpl.
Hawkins told Dr. Cooke nothing about alcohol withdrawal. Dr.
Cooke prescribed medicines for Ms. Barnes.
Barnes raised the issue of alcohol during her medical intake
screening later Saturday morning. Officer Bruce Vermilyer
thought Ms. Barnes was under the influence of alcohol, but
because Cpl. Hawkins already had spoken with Dr., Cooke,
neither Officer Vermilyer or anyone else relayed any concerns
about alcohol withdrawal to Dr. Cooke. Officer Nerissa Miller
took over for Cpl. Hawkins when the shifts changed a little
after noon; Cpl. Hawkins told her about Ms. Barnes's
opiate withdrawal, but nothing about her alcohol withdrawal.
little later, Dep. Curtis picked up the blood alcohol test
results from the hospital. He told no one about the high
blood alcohol content and simply corrected the arrest report
to reflect a BAC of .447. Under jail policy, an arrestee with
a BAC over .24 wasn't supposed to be admitted to the
times during Saturday afternoon, Ms. Barnes complained to
jail personnel of weakness. Early on Sunday morning, officers
found Ms. Barnes dead in her cell. An autopsy disclosed that
the cause of death was seizure due to alcohol withdrawal.
Barnes, the Successor Administrator of the Estate of Rachel
Barnes, sues Dr. Cooke and Advanced Correctional Healthcare,
IUHLP Liquidation, Inc. (the hospital) and the county
sheriff's department and several of its deputies and
officers. Mr. Barnes alleges that the defendants violated the
Fourth Amendment (Counts 1-4) and state law (including
Indiana's Wrongful Death Statute, Ind. Code §
34-23-1-2), when they deprived Ms. Barnes of medical care for
a serious medical condition (alcohol withdrawal and related
seizures) while she was incarcerated as a pretrial detainee
at the LaPorte County Jail and caused her death. The
sheriff's department and personnel haven't moved for
summary judgment; Dr. Cooke, Advanced Correctional Healthcare
and the hospital have moved for summary judgment.
Mr. Barnes voluntarily dismissed the medical malpractice
complaint against Dr. Cooke that was pending before the
medical review panel, the court granted Dr. Cooke's
motion to dismiss the state law claims against him (Counts 5
and 6), which were essentially medical malpractice claims
[Doc. No. 113]. The court also granted LaPorte Hospital's
Rule 12(c) motion for judgment on the pleadings to the extent
Ms. Barnes' § 1983 claims sought to hold it
vicariously liable for the acts or omissions of its lab
employees, but found that he had stated a plausible claim for
direct liability and that there wasn't a sufficient
factual basis to determine whether the hospital was a state
actor for purposes of the § 1983 claims [Doc. No. 113].
Statement of Genuine Disputes, Mr. Barnes contends that two
disputed facts preclude the entry of summary judgment for Dr.
Cooke and Advance Correctional Healthcare:
(1) Dr. Cooke's assertion that the blood pressure
variance between Ms. Barnes' left and right arm on the
night she was arrested was “normal”.
Plaintiff's expert, Dr. Joliff, didn't think it was
and would have asked that those vitals be retaken; and
(2) Dr. Joliff's belief that Ms. Barnes' oximeter
reading either indicated a potential problem or was