Authement v. Parish Of Terrebonne, CIVIL ACTION NO. 09-4618

Decision Date08 December 2010
Docket NumberCIVIL ACTION NO. 09-4618
CourtU.S. District Court — Eastern District of Louisiana



This matter was before the Court for non-jury trial upon consent of the parties pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c).1 On November 8, 2010, the Plaintiff, Terry Peter Authement Jr. ("Authement") participated in a non-jury trial by conference telephone call and counsel for the Defendants, and their witnesses, appeared in person before the Court.2

I. Testimony at Trial

The testimony and record reflects that, on Friday, June 19, 2009, Authement was a pretrial detainee housed in isolation cell C-104 at the Terrebonne Parish Criminal Justice Complex ("TPCJC"). He came to be placed in that cell on suicide watch after he attempted to hang himself earlier that same day. The records indicated that Authement was angry because he wanted a mattress in his cell. He also testified that he was emotionally upset, because of prior pain in his shoulder and because of prior sexual assaults by other inmates which plagued him.

When he was found with a noose, made out of a sheet or towel, around his neck, he was taken by prison guards to the medical unit.3 The nurse, who had no special training in the treatment of psychiatric patients, noted redness around his neck from the noose and advised Authement that he would be placed on suicide watch.4 He was scheduled to see a psychiatrist on Tuesday, June 23, 2009.

In the meantime, he was given a "blue suicide smock" to wear.5 The smock, demonstrated at trial, is an ankle-length smock which fastened by velcro around the inmate, who was left without undergarments.

The cell in which he was housed had upper and lower glass windows for observation. On suicide watch, inmates were delivered three meals a day and checked frequently, in addition to occasional visual surveillance from the guard's pod.

At some point, according to Authement, his shoulder became dislocated. In explanation, Authement stated that he has a recurring problem with his shoulder slipping out of the joint. This was confirmed by the TPCJC medical administrator, Richard Neal.6 Authement can often get it back into place, but sometimes he requires medical assistance. He claims that he requested assistance for his shoulder, which can be painful. He recalled being told by someone in medical that, since he dislocated it himself, he would have to reset it himself.7

In an effort to gain attention, Authement placed paper over the window of his cell. According to the reports submitted to the Court prior to trial, this was about 3:40 p.m. on June 19, 2009. The deputies were called to his cell, because papering the window blocked the view into the cell and is a safety concern, especially with an inmate on suicide watch. The pod officer, Deputy Michael Dawson, who also testified at trial, opened the pod door to allow Corporal Matthew Jaccuzzo and Deputy Chad White to gain access to Authement's cell. He opened the door to Authement's cell and the two officers entered.

According to the officers, Authement was on the floor complaining about his shoulder. Jaccuzzo and White escorted him out of the cell without incident. Jaccuzzo remained with Authement up against the wall and White returned to the cell to remove the paper. Dawson had to close White into the cell, because the sliding door blocked his access to the paper on the window. When he cleared the paper, Dawson opened the cell to let him out. Dawson testified that he had visual contact of the cell and the area where Authement and Jaccuzzo stood, and he did not see Jaccuzzo do anything to Authement. On Cross-Examination, Dawson testified that he was only able to see the right side of Authement and Jaccuzzo as they stood at the wall.

Authement testified that, while he was up against the wall, Jaccuzzo pushed him which caused the velcro on his smock to come undone, exposing his backside. When he pushed him up against the wall, it also caused a scratch on his shoulder for which he still has a scar. He claims that Jaccuzzo then stuck his finger into his anus, lifted it up, and then pulled it out, causing him pain and discomfort. He stated that Jaccuzzo told him that he would continue to receive this kind of treatment when he misbehaved. Authement also testified that, the next day, Jaccuzzo brought him a disciplinary write-up and told Authement that he would kill Authement if he lost his job because of the complaints against him.

He wrote two request forms, which were responded to by Major LeeRoy Lirette. These "requests" were entitled admission of guilt presumably suggested that if the prison staff did not respond, he would conclude that their failure to respond was an admission of their guilt. He complains that despite these requests, he has never been treated for the injury from this incident. Although Major Lirette responded to his request, his response was only that Authement's complaint was unfounded. He did not address the subject of the request, which was the desire to be seen and treated by a medical provider for his physical problems.

Authement testified further that he had previously been raped in jail by a cell mate. He filed suit related to that incident and was able to settle with the prison officials. This was not contested by the defense. He also stated that the assault by Corporal Jaccuzzo rekindled the memories of the prior rape and added to his mental distress.

He further testified that he reported the incident to EMT Melanie Naquin8 and Deputy Thomas Clark.9 He also stated that on June 30, 2009, he tried to show Naquin a piece of bloody tissue to establish that he had been assaulted. Instead of examining his rectum to determine if there was an injury, she reported his complaint again to someone; possibly the assistant warden, Lieutenant Mitchell Dupre. According to Authement, Naquin was again told that Dupre was taking care of everything. Authement testified that he still has not been seen for his injury, not even at his new facility. However, he did get subsequent care for his shoulder at Allen Correctional Center.

At Terrebonne Parish, he was continually told to adjust his own shoulder. He is not sure who these instructions came from in the medical unit. Authement admitted that he did see the nurses and doctors after this incident, but he did not receive treatment for this incident.

Authement stated that he was not upset with the medical unit for failing to provide him with treatment after the assault. Instead, he testified that it was the prison administration, specifically the Warden, who refused to send him for care because of the investigation. He stated that he wrote two requests to the Warden. He also filed a grievance complaint. He received a denial because the criminal investigation deemed his claims to be false. He completed three steps and received the same response.

Major LeeRoy Lirette, the Warden of TPCJC, testified that when an inmate wants medical treatment, he can complete a form and tell the medical staff when they make medication passes. He saw Authement's grievance on June 22, 2009, when he returned to work after the incident. He recalled that the incident happened on the evening of Friday, June 19, 2009, after hours. He contacted the detective bureau, per prison policy, to have an outside investigator appointed. Detective Wayne Smith was assigned to investigate Authement's claims. He was not aware of whether Authement received medical treatment on June 19, 2009.

Major Lirette did not recall that Authement at some point sent a request for medical care to him in the form of a grievance claiming that his prior requests had been ignored. Authement read to the Court from a response signed by Major Lirette stating that the investigation had been concluded and that Authement claims were found to be false.10 Major Lirette testified that he would have written that because the investigation was turned over and completed by the detective bureau. Major Lirette also testified that he was not aware of any complaints Authement may have made to be seen by a doctor on June 19, 2009.

Corporal Matthew Jaccuzzo testified at trial and repeatedly denied that this incident occurred. He stated that he noted Authement's complaints about his shoulder problem and escorted him out of the cell so that White could remove the paper. Jaccuzzo remained with Authement outside of the cell while White cleared the cell. He testified that he used a compliance hold, with one arm behind his back, to walk him out of the cell and keep him up against the wall. He was able to return Authement to his cell without incident. Jaccuzzo also confirmed that Authement did not resist their efforts to remove him and restrain him.

Richard Neal, the medical administrator at the TPCJC, confirmed that Authement orally reported the incident to an EMT on the evening of June 19, 2009. According to the medical records, referred to by Neal at trial and received prior to trial from the Defendants, Authement reported the incident to EMT Naquin and Deputy Little during the 8:00 p.m. medication pass out on June 19, 2009.11 Naquin completed an incident report indicating that the report was made to her and she gave Authement two Tylenol tablets.12 The report was signed by Naquin and a supervisor named Lieutenant Justin Hall.

The records also reflect that Authement reported the incident again on June 22, 2009, to an EMT at the 4:00 p.m. medication pass-out.13 This EMT, whose name is not clear in the records, reported the matter to Lieutenant John Babin, who reportedly advised that "it was being taken care of."

According to Neal, inmates at TPCJC are allowed to request medical treatment by completing a medical request form or by orally reporting requests to the EMTs and...

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