398 F.3d 868 (6th Cir. 2005), 03-4200, Johnson v. Karnes

Docket Nº:03-4200.
Citation:398 F.3d 868
Party Name:James M. JOHNSON II; Christie R. Johnson; James M. Johnson III, a minor child by and through his parent, natural guardian, and next friend James M. Johnson II; Jhovan T. Johnson, a minor child by and through his parent, natural guardian, and next friend James M. Johnson II, Plaintiffs-Appellants, v. Jim KARNES, Franklin County Sheriff; Franklin Cou
Case Date:February 25, 2005
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit
 
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398 F.3d 868 (6th Cir. 2005)

James M. JOHNSON II; Christie R. Johnson; James M. Johnson III, a minor child by and through his parent, natural guardian, and next friend James M. Johnson II; Jhovan T. Johnson, a minor child by and through his parent, natural guardian, and next friend James M. Johnson II, Plaintiffs-Appellants,

v.

Jim KARNES, Franklin County Sheriff; Franklin County/Board of County Commissioners; Vincent Spagna, M.D.; EMSA Correctional Care, Inc.; John Does 1-10, Defendants-Appellees.

No. 03-4200.

United States Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit

February 25, 2005

Submitted: Nov. 2, 2004

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[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

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ON BRIEF:

Kevin J. O'Brien, Thomas F. Martello, Jr., Kevin O'Brien & Associates, Columbus, Ohio, for Appellants.

Jeffrey Lynn Glasgow, Tracie M. Boyd, Franklin County Prosecutor's Office, Columbus, Ohio, Vincent J. Lodico, Crabbe, Brown & James, LLP, Columbus, Ohio, for Appellees.

Before: MOORE and GIBBONS, Circuit Judges; EDMUNDS, District Judge. [*]

OPINION MOORE, J., in which EDMUNDS, D.J., joined. GIBBONS, J. (pp. 877-79), delivered a separate dissenting opinion.

OPINION

MOORE, Circuit Judge.

Plaintiff-Appellant James M. Johnson II ("Johnson") severed several tendons in his right hand immediately prior to his detention in the Franklin County Jail. After his release, Johnson brought this suit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging that Defendants-Appellees Jim Karnes, in his official capacity as Franklin County Sheriff ("Sheriff Karnes"); the Franklin County Board of Commissioners ("Franklin County Commissioners"); EMSA Correctional Care, Inc. ("EMSA"); and Vincent Anthony Spagna, M.D. ("Dr. Spagna") violated his constitutional right to adequate medical care in jail. 1 The district court granted summary judgment in favor of all four defendants, and Johnson challenges that decision on appeal. As Johnson did not put forward sufficient evidence to demonstrate a genuine issue of material fact as to whether his injuries resulted from a policy or custom of either Franklin County or EMSA, we AFFIRM the district court's decision to grant summary judgment in favor of Sheriff Karnes, the Franklin County Commissioners, and EMSA. However, as we conclude that Johnson has established a fact issue on his claim against Dr. Spagna, we REVERSE the district court's decision to grant summary judgment in favor of Dr. Spagna, and REMAND this case to the district court for further proceedings.

I. BACKGROUND

We take the facts of this case in the light most favorable to Johnson, the party opposing the summary judgment motion. Sometime after dark on October 5th or 6th, 1998, Johnson severely cut his hand after tripping on a concrete stoop and falling at least partway through a glass door at the residence of his then-girlfriend, now-wife and co-plaintiff, Christie R. Johnson. Johnson called 911, and both an ambulance and a police car were dispatched

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to the scene. As Johnson was bleeding severely, medical personnel brought him out to the ambulance and bandaged his wound. While the medical personnel were caring for him, the police discovered that there was an outstanding warrant for Johnson's arrest. 2 Johnson was then transferred from the ambulance to the police car, and taken to the emergency room of St. Ann's Hospital.

At the time of his deposition, Johnson did not have a good memory of what took place during that emergency room visit. However, he did remember a female doctor telling him that his tendons had been completely severed, that he was to return for surgery in three to seven days 3 (because the tendons needed some time to harden before surgery was performed), and that if he did not return in the appropriate time period, he would "probably ... lose the use of [his] hand permanently." Joint Appendix ("J.A.") at 151 (Johnson Dep.). Additionally, he remembers the doctor stating at least some of these things in the immediate presence of the police officers responsible for him.

Johnson was transferred from St. Ann's Hospital to the Franklin County Jail, apparently later that same night or early the next morning. His initial medical screening form, dated October 6, 1998, bears the notation "See Hosp. Report" in response to a question about obvious medical problems. J.A. at 79 (Initial Medical Screening). After the initial medical evaluation, it may have been "a couple of days," J.A. at 159 (Johnson Dep.), before Johnson even had the opportunity to speak to a nurse. After this, a jail nurse came periodically to give Johnson antibiotics that had been prescribed by one of the emergency room doctors but did not give him any painkillers. During the entire period Johnson was at the jail (a period of 31 days, including the day he entered and the day of his release), the bandages on his arm were changed only once. The jail nurses did not check the wound on any regular basis. Although he is not completely certain, Johnson stated that he believed he had the opportunity to speak with a doctor only once during his entire period of confinement.

During his confinement, Johnson submitted at least two "kites" (medical request forms) and one social service call card. The first medical request form, dated October 13, 1998, describes Johnson's medical problem as:

"EAR INFECTION, EXTREME PAIN IN LEFT EAR. ALONG WITH EXTREME PAIN IN RIGHT HAND. SEVERED TENDONS NEED SURGERY TO [illegible, but possibly "RECONNET" (sic)] TENDONS.

J.A. at 95. A notation at the bottom, in a different handwriting and apparently dated November 4, 1998, reads "To be seen 11/11/98 by Dr. Aziz." J.A. at 95. This notation appears in a section marked "FOR STAFF USE ONLY" and appears to be signed by "T. Hairston RN." J.A. at 95. The second medical request form, dated October 28, 1998, describes Johnson's problem as:

THE SAME PROBLEM THAT I'VE HAD SENSE (sic) I'VE BEEN HERE (10/5/98), SEVERED TENDONS IN

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MY RIGHT HAND THAT I'VE BEEN NEEDING SURGERY ON, THAT NO ONE HERE SEEMS TO CARE ABOUT! HELLO, I'M IN EXTREME PAIN.

J.A. at 96. There is no staff notation on the medical request form dated October 28, 1998. The social services call card, dated October 23, 1998, begins:

SOCIAL SERVICES REQUEST AGAIN FOR MEDICAL ATTENTION, INMATE HAS NEEDED SURGERY FOR QUITE SOME TIME NOW (10/5/98)[.] INMATE HAS PUT IN CALL CARDS AND MEDICAL SLIPS ON NUMEROUS OCCASIONS SEEKING AN URGENCY IN THIS MATTER. THE INMATE IS LOOKING AT PERM[A]N[E]NT LOSS OF USE OF RIGHT HAND ... DUE TO SEVERED TENDONS IN HIS RIGHT HAND WHICH HE NATURALLY IS (RIGHT HANDED).

J.A. at 97-98. After discussing several issues more directly related to a social services request, it ends with the statement "INMATE IS CLOSE TO HAVING A NERVOUS BREAKDOWN. PLEASE HELP BEFORE IT'S TO[O] LATE." J.A. at 98. In addition to Johnson's own efforts, one or more members of Johnson's family were also trying to contact jail personnel about Johnson's medical situation.

At the time of Johnson's confinement, medical services at the jail were contracted out to EMSA. Dr. Spagna, an EMSA employee, served as "medical director of the Franklin County jail and workhouse." J.A. at 253 (Spagna Dep.). Dr. Spagna testified in his deposition that Johnson's medical request forms would have been reviewed first by the nurses, and only transferred to Dr. Spagna if the nurses determined that there was a problem worthy of his attention. 4

In his deposition, Dr. Spagna asserted that it was his understanding that Johnson's tendon "was not severed as much as it was injured," and that "[n]o one ever mentioned severed meaning complete break." J.A. at 273 (Spagna Dep.). He further noted that he had not seen the October 13, 1998, medical request form, the October 28, 1998, medical request form, or the social services call card. Dr. Spagna did not "have any independent recollection of actually doing a full scale exam on [Johnson]," J.A. at 274-75 (Spagna Dep.), but on the basis of documents in Johnson's records Dr. Spagna admitted that he "must have seen him" on October 16, 2004. J.A. at 282-84 (Spagna Dep.). When asked about an order, apparently dated October 23, 1998, ordering that Johnson's sutures not be removed until after Johnson had seen a certain plastic surgeon, 5 Dr. Spagna explained that he "didn't want to guess" whether the sutures might actually have been holding Johnson's tendons together. J.A. at 286 (Spagna Dep.). Dr. Spagna also stated the he had an informal "curbside consult[]," J.A. at 292, with an orthopedist, Dr. Won Song,

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about Johnson's injuries, but Dr. Song did not recall this conversation. 6

Johnson was discharged from the facility on November 5, 1998. He immediately sought surgery, but the initial operation was unsuccessful. A second surgery was successful in reconnecting the tendons, but this did not restore Johnson to anything near full use of his right hand. Johnson, who was thirty-two years old on the date of his deposition, can no longer make a fist. He has full use of his thumb, but his use of each of the four fingers on his right hand is severely impaired. He can no longer write normally with his right hand, which was his dominant hand prior to these events. He could type prior to his injury, but he can now only "peck" with the injured hand. Although once very athletic, he can no longer lift weights or participate in sports.

II. ANALYSIS

A. Jurisdiction and Standard of Review

As Johnson sued under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, the district court had jurisdiction pursuant to the general federal question statute, 28 U.S.C. § 1331. We have jurisdiction over the appeal pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1291. We conduct de novo review of decisions granting summary judgment, drawing all reasonable inferences in favor of the nonmoving party. McLean v. 988011 Ontario, Ltd., 224 F.3d 797, 800 (6th Cir. 2000). Summary judgment should be granted when "the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and...

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