Hiles v. Franklin Cty. Bd. of Commrs., 2005 Ohio 7024 (OH 12/30/2005), 05AP-253.

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Ohio
Citation2005 Ohio 7024
Docket NumberNo. 05AP-253.,05AP-253.
PartiesRobert Hiles, Administrator, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. Franklin County Board of Commissioners, et al., Defendants-Appellees.
Decision Date30 December 2005

Page 1

2005 Ohio 7024
Robert Hiles, Administrator, Plaintiff-Appellant,
Franklin County Board of Commissioners, et al., Defendants-Appellees.
No. 05AP-253.
Court of Appeals of Ohio, Tenth District, Franklin County.
Rendered on December 30, 2005.

APPEAL from the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas, C.P.C. No. 99CVC04-3002.

Rourke & Blumenthal, and Michael J. Rourke, for appellant.

Ron O'Brien, Prosecuting Attorney, and Mary Jane Martin, for appellees.



{¶1} Plaintiff-appellant, Robert Hiles, individually and as the administrator of the estate of Michael Hiles, appeals from a judgment of the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas granting summary judgment in favor of defendants-appellees, the Franklin County Board of Commissioners, Franklin County Sheriff Jim Karnes, Corporal John Myers, Sergent Paul Theodore, and Deputies Timothy Mace, Paula Andy, Brian Sibbalds, and Roderick Thorne. For the following reasons, we affirm that judgment.

Page 2

{¶2} Michael Hiles was appellant's adopted son. In April 1998, Michael robbed a gas station in Grove City, Ohio. At the time of the robbery, Michael was 20 years old. Subsequently, Michael was arrested and charged with robbery and other offenses. Pursuant to a plea agreement, he pled guilty to charges in exchange for a two-month prison term at Orient Correctional Institute followed by a six-month involuntary commitment to a rehabilitation center. Michael had a significant history of drug and alcohol abuse as a teenager.

{¶3} Michael remained out of jail on bond awaiting his scheduled sentencing hearing. During this period of time, Michael abused drugs and alcohol to such an extent that appellant became concerned that Michael could harm himself and others. Appellant also worried that Michael might do something that would jeopardize his plea agreement. Because of this concern, appellant contacted Michael's attorney and arranged to have Michael's bond revoked so that Michael would be taken into custody before he was sentenced. On August 14, 1998, the trial court revoked Michael's bond and placed him in the custody of the Franklin County Corrections Center ("jail").

{¶4} During the jail's admission process, a nurse asked Michael a number of questions as part of an initial medical screening. One of the questions was whether he had ever considered or attempted suicide. Michael apparently responded affirmatively because the nurse wrote down "6 months" in response to that question on the medical screening form. Because of Michael's affirmative response to this question on the medical screening form, Michael was asked additional questions from a "Mental Health Questionnaire." In response to a question about whether Michael had ever tried to commit suicide and, if so, how many times, the nurse wrote down "6 months ago." In a separate comment section to that question, the nurse also wrote that Michael "denies

Page 3

suicidal ideations at this time." Michael was incarcerated, but was not put on any type of suicide watch.

{¶5} According to appellant, Michael had attempted suicide two or three times between 1995 and 1998, although appellant doubted the sincerity of these attempts and felt they were efforts to avoid discipline. Appellant had no indication that Michael might be suicidal at the time of his incarceration. Nor did Michael give appellant any reason to suspect that his incarceration had caused him to consider suicide. Therefore, appellant did not have any conversations with jail authorities about placing Michael on a suicide watch.

{¶6} In the early morning hours of September 11, 1998, Michael was in a cell on the third floor of the jail. Michael's cell was less than a minute's walk from the guard's office. Deputy Mace was assigned to supervise the third floor of the jail that morning. Guards in the jail must perform hourly rounds of the floor they are supervising. During their rounds, guards activate watch tour buttons at certain locations on each floor. The activation of the tour button informs the jail's command center (located on the first floor of the jail) that the guards are doing their required rounds. A computer system records and logs in real time almost every function that occurs in the jail, including the activation of these tour buttons and the opening and closing of cell doors. According to those records, Deputy Mace began a tour of the third floor of the jail at 2:26:37 a.m. and finished the tour at 2:30:30.

{¶7} Between 2:45 a.m. and 3:15 a.m., Deputy Mace had to quiet down some of the inmates on the third floor who were yelling at each other. Michael was involved in the disturbance. Deputy Mace then returned to his guard station. Wayne McClaskey, an inmate in a cell near Michael, testified that the inmates were harassing Michael by making

Page 4

sexual threats against his wife and by telling him that they would kill themselves if they had been turned in by their father. McClaskey thought that the harassment upset Michael because he heard Michael banging the walls and cell door, which apparently caused the door to vibrate. The jail's computer records indicate there were disturbances with Michael's cell door at 3:04:36 a.m. and 3:07:49 a.m. McClaskey then heard a gurgling sound that he assumed, considering all that had gone on before, was Michael trying to kill himself.

{¶8} According to the jail's computer records, Deputy Mace began his next round of the third floor at 3:27:55 a.m. He activated the east entrance tour button at 3:28:09 a.m. and the third floor medical tour button at 3:28:26 a.m. Continuing west on the floor, he arrived at the north portion of the wing at 3:30:25 a.m. Shortly thereafter, Deputy Mace arrived at Michael's cell. He saw Michael standing straight up, with his back to the cell door. Michael's knees did not appear to be bent, although his neck was slightly at an angle. Deputy Mace then noticed a sheet around Michael's neck that was tied to the top of the cell door. At this point, Deputy Mace did not know whether Michael was faking suicide in an attempt to get Deputy Mace to open the cell door, or whether the suicide was real. Deputy Mace yelled out Michael's name a couple of times, but Michael did not respond. Deputy Mace climbed up the outside of the cell door and untied the sheet from the cell door. Michael slumped forward onto the floor of his cell.

{¶9} Deputy Mace then contacted the command center and asked them to open Michael's cell door. Deputy Mace still did not know for sure whether this was a hoax or a true medical emergency. Therefore, he did not immediately tell the command center that he had a medical emergency and he did not call a "Code Blue Medical." A Code Blue Medical orders the jail's Emergency Response Team ("ERT") and medical staff to

Page 5

respond to the location. That morning, the ERT consisted of Deputies Thorne, Sibbalds, and Andy, as well as Corporal Myers and Sergeant Theodor.

{¶10} According to the computer records, Michael's cell door opened at 3:33:07 a.m. Deputy Mace, calling Michael's name, went into the cell and untied the sheet from around Michael's neck. He picked up Michael's arm and shook him to try to wake him. Getting no response, Deputy Mace called the command center for a Code Blue Medical. He did not call for an emergency squad. At 3:34:41 a.m., the command center initiated the jail's page system to communicate the Code Blue Medical to the entire facility. Before the ERT arrived, Deputy Mace tried to ascertain whether or not Michael had a pulse but he did not attempt to perform rescue breathing. The ERT arrived at 3:36:31 a.m. just as Deputy Mace was pulling Michael out of his cell.1 Deputy Mace told Corporal Myers that he was not sure if Michael had a pulse. Corporal Myers took out a protective device to perform CPR when medical personnel arrived at the scene.

{¶11} Nurses Pearley Gable and Pam Martin arrived at the scene at 3:37:13 a.m., less than a minute after the ERT arrived. Nurse Gable took charge of the scene and tried to determine if Michael had a pulse. He told the guards at the scene that he thought there was a faint pulse. He requested an emergency squad and began CPR at 3:40:02 a.m. Sometime between 3:43 and 3:44 a.m., before the emergency squad arrived, Nurse Gable stopped administering CPR to Michael and left the scene to call his commanding doctor. Nurse Gable admitted that he should not have stopped CPR before the emergency squad arrived. Michael received no further medical attention after Nurse

Page 6

Gable left the scene until the emergency squad arrived. The Columbus Fire Department's emergency squad arrived at Michael's cell between 3:50 and 3:51 a.m. and initiated CPR again. The emergency squad could not resuscitate Michael and he was pronounced dead later that morning.

{¶12} As a result of Michael's death, appellant filed a complaint in the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas against appellees.2 The complaint set forth wrongful death and survivorship claims, as well as a claim for assault and battery ("state law claims"). The complaint also asserted a federal claim under Section 1983, Title 42, U.S. Code ("1983 claim"), alleging that the appellees violated Michael's constitutional rights. Appellees moved for summary judgment on all of appellant's claims. Appellant responded by claiming that issues of fact existed that made summary judgment inappropriate. The trial court disagreed and granted appellees' motion for summary judgment in its entirety.

{¶13} Appellant appeals, assigning the following errors:

1. The trial court erred in granting summary judgment dismissing Plaintiff's claim under 42 U.S.C. §1983 when the record contained probative evidence establishing a violation of the decedent's constitutional rights.

2. The trial court erred in granting summary judgment dismissing Plaintiff's state law claims and in finding that the Defendants were immune from liability pursuant to Chapter 2744 of the Ohio Revised...

To continue reading

Request your trial

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT