841 F.3d 1207 (11th Cir. 2016), 15-11412, Melton v. Abston

Docket Nº:15-11412
Citation:841 F.3d 1207, 26 Fla.L.Weekly Fed. C 993
Opinion Judge:PER CURIAM:
Party Name:WALTER MELTON, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. DAVID ABSTON, GREG CARR, et al., Defendants-Appellees
Attorney:For WALTER MELTON, Plaintiff - Appellant: Andrew Jacob Tuck, Micah D. Moon, Alston & Bird, LLP, ATLANTA, GA. WALTER MELTON, Plaintiff - Appellant, Pro se, PRICHARD, AL. For DAVID ABSTON, Defendant - Appellee: Robert McCollough Spence, David E. Rains, Rosen Harwood, PA, TUSCALOOSA, AL. For GREG CA...
Judge Panel:Before ROSENBAUM and JILL PRYOR, Circuit Judges, and UNGARO,[*] District Judge.
Case Date:November 18, 2016
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit
SUMMARY

Plaintiff, formerly a pretrial detainee, filed suit against defendants under 42 U.S.C. 1983, alleging that defendants were deliberately indifferent to his serious medical needs. The district court granted summary judgment for defendants. The court concluded that, viewing the record in the light most favorable to plaintiff, there is evidence that defendant had a serious medical need for treatment... (see full summary)

 
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Page 1207

841 F.3d 1207 (11th Cir. 2016)

26 Fla.L.Weekly Fed. C 993

WALTER MELTON, Plaintiff-Appellant,

v.

DAVID ABSTON, GREG CARR, et al., Defendants-Appellees

No. 15-11412

United States Court of Appeals, Eleventh Circuit

November 18, 2016

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Alabama. D.C. Docket No. 7:11-cv-01115-LSC-SGC.

AFFIRMED IN PART, REVERSED IN PART, VACATED IN PART AND REMANDED.

For WALTER MELTON, Plaintiff - Appellant: Andrew Jacob Tuck, Micah D. Moon, Alston & Bird, LLP, ATLANTA, GA.

WALTER MELTON, Plaintiff - Appellant, Pro se, PRICHARD, AL.

For DAVID ABSTON, Defendant - Appellee: Robert McCollough Spence, David E. Rains, Rosen Harwood, PA, TUSCALOOSA, AL.

For GREG CARR, Defendant - Appellee: Robert McCollough Spence, Rosen Harwood, PA, TUSCALOOSA, AL.

For MANLY SULLIVAN, Defendant - Appellee: James Will Axon, Jr., Allen C. King, Starnes Davis Florie, LLP, BIRMINGHAM, AL; Robert McCollough Spence, David E. Rains, Rosen Harwood, PA, TUSCALOOSA, AL.

For H. LESLIE FOWLER, Defendant - Appellee: James Will Axon, Jr., Allen C. King, Starnes Davis Florie, LLP, BIRMINGHAM, AL.

Before ROSENBAUM and JILL PRYOR, Circuit Judges, and UNGARO,[*] District Judge.

OPINION

PER CURIAM:

Plaintiff, Walter Melton (" Melton" ), appeals the district court's grant of summary judgment in favor of Defendants, Sheriff David Abston (" Sheriff Abston" ), Deputy Debra Abston (" Deputy Abston" ), Chief Deputy Greg Carr (" Chief Deputy Carr" ), Deputy Tyler Booth (" Deputy Booth" ), Deputy David Ellis (" Deputy Ellis" ), Dr. Manly Sullivan (" Dr. Sullivan" ), Nurse Tanya Ray (" Nurse Ray" ) and Dr. H. Leslie Fowler (" Dr. Fowler" ), in Melton's action brought under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Melton, formerly a pretrial detainee, asserts that the district judge erred in concluding that the facts, viewed in the light most favorable to Melton, failed to demonstrate that Defendants were deliberately indifferent to his serious medical needs in violation of the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments while he was incarcerated at Pickens County Jail. Melton also argues that there is a triable issue of fact as to whether Dr. Fowler conspired with Pickens County Jail officials in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1983.

After review and oral argument, we affirm entry of summary judgment in favor of Dr. Fowler and Deputy Booth and reverse entry of summary judgment in favor of Nurse Ray, Dr. Sullivan, Sheriff Abston, Deputy Abston, Chief Deputy Carr, and Deputy Ellis. But, we also hold that Sheriff Abston and the deputy defendants are immune from suit in their official capacities as Alabama state officials.

I. FACTUAL BACKGROUND

Assessing the summary judgment record in the light most favorable to Melton, as non-movant, the facts are as follows:

Melton was a pretrial detainee at Pickens County Jail from approximately January 6, 2010 until July 14, 2011, a period of approximately sixteen months.

In August 2003, Melton was in an automobile accident in which he suffered multiple fractures, including a fracture of the left humeral shaft that required surgery. Dr. H. Chester Boston, the orthopedic surgeon who then operated on Melton, performed open reduction surgery on and transfixed Melton's left humeral shaft with a plate and several screws. (ECF No. 93-1 at 106-09.) On June 19, 2006, Dr. Boston re-examined Melton's left arm and found " the humeral fracture to be well healed." ( Id. at 118.)

On February 11, 2010, over three years later, Melton fell from a wooden crate and hit his left arm on the top of a bench seat while boarding a transit van that was to take him from Pickens County Jail to court. (ECF No. 108 at 36-37.) Melton immediately experienced pain and the sensation of something " pop[ping]" in his left arm and so informed Deputy Ellis, but Deputy Ellis did not render first aid or pursue medical treatment for Melton. ( Id. ) Later that day, Melton's arm became discolored and began to swell. The middle part of Melton's upper arm " moved as if in two pieces." (ECF No. 34 at 38.)

Thereafter and continuing until transferred to the Alabama Department of Corrections, Melton repeatedly complained orally and in writing to jail employees that he believed his arm was broken and that the hardware in his upper arm was dislocated. Melton also claimed that he was experiencing severe pain, that the pain was intensifying, and that he was losing sensation in his left hand. ( Id. at 37-43; ECF No. 93-1 at 4-30, 33-36, 38-39, 60-61.) He also began requesting a sling beginning on March 26, 2010 or possibly earlier. (ECF No. 93-1 at 4-5.)

Melton's written medical requests were reviewed initially by Nurse Ray. ( Id. at 4-5, 7-12, 16, 18-21, 29-31, 33-36, 60-61.) Nurse Ray discussed Melton's complaints with Dr. Sullivan, a physician contracted to treat inmates at Pickens County Jail, from time to time. (ECF No. 93-1 at 191-202; ECF No. 93-2 ¶ 2.)

Nurse Ray first responded to Melton's complaints on April 19, 2010, after Melton complained the pain in his left arm was " bringing tears to my eyes." (ECF No. 93-1 at 10, 191.) On that date, she advised Dr. Sullivan that Melton felt that the rod and plate in his arm were dislocated and requested a prescription for pain medication. ( Id. at 191.) On April 22, 2010, Dr. Sullivan prescribed Ibuprofen 800mg for pain and approved x-rays of Melton's left arm provided Melton prepaid for them. ( Id. at 191; ECF No. 108 at 37.) That same day, Melton's mother, Mary Melton, visited the jail and paid $160 for the x-rays. (ECF No. 34 at 34.) During her visit, Mrs. Melton observed her son's arm was " obvious[ly] . . . broken." (ECF No. 34 at 35.)

On April 26, 2010, Melton spoke with Chief Deputy Carr and demonstrated to him how his arm moved at the break in his bone, but Chief Deputy Carr did not pursue medical attention for Melton. (ECF No. 108 at 38.)

On April 28, 2010, Melton complained that his left arm and hand were frequently going numb, that he was in severe pain and that the Ibuprofen was not relieving the pain. (ECF No. 93-1 at 12.) Nurse Ray responded that Melton did not " have to take" the medicine if it was not giving him relief. ( Id. )

On May 5, 2010, Melton's brothers, Daniel Melton Jr. and Wesley Melton, visited Pickens County Jail and spoke with Nurse Ray via telephone. (ECF No. 34 at 49-56.) Nurse Ray informed them that the jail was still " waiting on [Melton's] medical records to know what kind of x-rays to order." (ECF No. 34 at 54.) While at the jail, Melton's brothers also met with Sheriff Abston, the individual ultimately responsible for the care and custody of inmates at Pickens County Jail, and complained to him that Melton's broken left arm had gone untreated since February 2010. ( Id. at 55-56; ECF No. 94-5.)

On May 7, 2010, Deputies McDaniel and Ellis took Melton to Pickens County Medical Center where his left arm was x-rayed. (ECF No. 93-1 at 120.) The technician showed Deputy McDaniel the x-rays and told him that Melton's arm " had a bad break and some of the screws barely had anything to hold on to." (ECF No. 108 at 40-41.) When Deputy Ellis asked about Melton's arm, the technician told him Melton had a bad break. ( Id. ) Following the x-rays, Dr. Charles E. King, Jr. issued a radiology report with the following findings: " Plate and six screws transfix mid humeral fracture. There is a lateral angulation at the apex by approximately 40 degrees. Persistent lucency through the fracture site is noted though there is moderate callous formation. Some lucency around the screws in the more proximal aspect of the humerus and this grossly may represent some changes from motion at these sites. No other abnormality demonstrated." (ECF No. 93-1 at 120.) Despite these findings, Melton was returned to the jail and did not receive medical treatment.

On or about May 11, 2010, Melton requested immediate medical attention for " unbearable" pain. ( Id. at 15.) Nurse Ray informed Melton that Dr. Sullivan's position was that Melton's arm was not broken, but that " the plate in [Melton's] arm had shifted." (ECF No. 108 at 41.) She also advised Melton that Dr. Sullivan would refer him to an orthopedist if Melton was willing to pay in advance for the visit and advised him to continue taking the Ibuprofen. ( Id. )

On May 24, 2010, Nurse Ray scheduled an appointment for Melton with a local orthopedist, Dr. Fowler, for June 8, 2010 at 11:00 a.m. (ECF No. 93-1 at 195-96; ECF No. 108 at 41-42.) Nurse Ray advised Melton of the appointment and told him that he would have to pay in advance for the visit and additional x-rays. (ECF No. 93-1 at 195-96; ECF No. 108 at 42.) Over the next month, Nurse Ray, Deputy Abston, Melton's family members and Melton's attorney had several conversations...

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