Troupe v. St Louis Cnty., 4:20 CV 1790 RWS

CourtUnited States District Courts. 8th Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of Missouri)
Decision Date15 March 2022
PartiesTASHONDA TROUPE, Plaintiff, v. ST. LOUIS COUNTY, et al., Defendants.
Docket Number4:20 CV 1790 RWS


ST. LOUIS COUNTY, et al., Defendants.

No. 4:20 CV 1790 RWS

United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division

March 15, 2022



Lamar Catchings died from an undiagnosed form of leukemia while a pretrial detainee at St. Louis County's Buzz Westfall Justice Center (Justice Center). Plaintiff Tashonda Troupe is Catchings' mother and brings this lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and state law against St. Louis County and its various officials, as well as members of the jail and medical staff at the Buzz Westfall Justice Center for the death of her son. In addition to St. Louis County, named as defendants are Emily Doucette (a physician and the acting Director of St. Louis County Department of Public Health at the time of Catchings' death), Julia Murphy (the acting Director of the Justice Center at the time of Catchings' death), Spring Schmidt (the acting Director and/or co-director of St. Louis County's Department of Public Health), twelve jail guards (Dexter Swims, Justin Mohler, Daniel Morgan, Felicia Collins, Bryan Kirkbride, Monika Williams, Justin


Anderson, Jordan Atwater, Lakeisha Walker, Steven Drews, Nathaniel Beard, and Rodrick Oliver), and three nurses (Anthony Young, Terrianna Byas, and Melissa Susman).[1] Before the Court are motion to dismiss all claims asserted against these defendants in the Second Amended Complaint. (Docs. 41, 43, 49). For the reasons stated below, plaintiff's § 1983 claims are dismissed as to all defendants except Young. The Court will defer ruling on the state law claims pending the parties' decision to appeal the qualified immunity rulings in this Memorandum and Order.

Background Facts

The following facts related are alleged in the Second Amended Complaint and (unless otherwise noted) assumed true for purposes of this motion.

In April of 2018, Catchings was detained at the Buzz Westfall Justice Center awaiting trial on criminal charges. He was nineteen years old and appeared healthy. Catchings was a physically and socially active detainee from April of 2018 until January of 2019, when his health began to decline. During the second week of February, Catchings told a guard that he vomited when he ate and had difficulty hearing. When the guard suggested Catchings get a sick call request


form from the guard podium, he told her that he could not walk to the podium due to dizziness. She then took the form to him, which he submitted. Catchings received no response from medical staff for two days. As a result, the guard requested medical personnel come to Catchings' cell.

On February 18, 2019, defendant Anthony Young, a licensed practical nurse, visited Catchings in his cell. The consultation lasted seven minutes. Despite being informed that Catchings was vomiting when he ate, had hearing loss, had trouble breathing, and was dizzy, Young recorded Catchings only complaint as “headache.” Young did not take or record Catchings' vital signs despite standing orders issued by defendant physician Emily Doucette, the acting Director of St. Louis County's Department of Public Health, to do so. The standing orders required Young to monitor and record vital signs and contact a medical provider because Catchings reported dizziness coupled with headache. Instead, Young simply told Catchings to take Tylenol and then informed the corrections officer that he was unconcerned about Catchings' vomiting.

Four days later, on February 22, 2019, Catchings was unable to walk without assistance from guards. Catchings had a scheduled court appearance that day and told jail staff, including defendant guards Justin Mohler, that he was not feeling well. Catchings was sick, weak, and vomiting. Instead of seeking medical treatment for Catchings, defendants Mohler, Justin Anderson, and Lakeisha


Walker carried him from his cell and put him in a wheelchair to take him to court. After returning from court, Catchings continued to report that he felt unwell and requested that he be taken to the infirmary. When a fellow detainee requested Catchings be taken to the infirmary, Walker told the detainee to “shut up and mind his business before he received lockdown time.” Catchings was not taken to the infirmary. Instead, he was seen by another licensed practical nurse in his cell, this time defendant Terrianna Byas.

Byas' examination of Catchings lasted only seven minutes. Despite observing his weakness and inability to stand and being informed that Catchings was dizzy and vomited, Byas did not report Catchings' complaint of vomiting and did not follow standing orders which would have required her to contact a medical provider given his combination of symptoms. Instead, she simply told him to complete another sick call form if he did not feel better by morning. Plaintiff alleges upon information and belief that, at the time Byas examined him, she had access to Catchings' medical records, which presumably included Young's report of his examination of Catchings four days prior. Even if I accept this allegation as true, plaintiff alleges that Young only indicated in his report that Catchings complained of a headache. Young's report does not mention Catchings' alleged additional symptoms of hearing loss, dizziness, and/or vomiting, and it does not record any vital signs. As a result, Young's lack of accurate reporting meant that


any alleged access Byas had to Catchings' medical records would not have provided any additional information about Catchings' medical condition that would have assisted Byas in her treatment of Catchings.

At some point after this visit, defendant guard Monika Williams gave Catchings another sick call form, which he completed and returned to her, stating that nothing was going to happen because his previous two requests for help did not result in him being taken to the infirmary or seeing a medical doctor.

Catchings was unable to walk down the stairs to the commissary on February 26, 2019, and again requested to be taken to the infirmary or seen by a medical doctor. Once again, Catchings was instead visited in his cell by Young. Catchings reported vomiting, heartburn, dizziness, a burning sensation in his chest, and an inability to walk. Mohler told Young he witnessed Catchings vomit, and Young confirmed this fact by looking in Catchings' trash can. Young responded by telling Catchings that he was “faking” and that if he did not “stop this behavior, ” he would “charge” Catchings and have disciplinary sanctions imposed against him. Young told Mohler that Catchings was a “fucking faker” and that “there is nothing wrong with him.” Mohler requested Young schedule Catchings for a clinic visit, and Young said that he would. Later that day, defendant Felicia Collins authorized Catchings' move to a cell on a lower level after being told that he was unable to walk down the stairs. While being moved, Catchings vomited in


front of Mohler and Walker. Catchings was not taken to the infirmary by Mohler or Walker. In fact, Young did not schedule Catchings for a visit to the infirmary or to see a medical doctor as promised. Two days later, Catchings was dead.

On February 28, 2019, the day he died, Catchings did not stand for count during Williams' rounds. Jail policies require detainees to stand for count in part to assess physical well-being. Williams banged on his cell door, but Catchings still did not stand or respond, so Williams contacted Unit Control. In response, defendant guards Dexter Swims, Steven Drews, Nathaniel Beard, “and/or Rodrick Oliver, ” came to Catching's cell.[2] Swims banged on the cell door until Catchings lifted his head and briefly responded. Defendants then left without making him stand or seeking medical attention for Catchings. Later that day, fellow detainees heard Catchings say, “I need to see a doctor!” No. one responded to Catchings' cries for help, although plaintiff does not allege that any jail guards heard him. Williams tried to roust Catchings later that night, but when he failed to respond she did not enter the cell to check on him or otherwise call for assistance. Instead, she just walked away. Defendant Bryan Kirkbride “began doing rounds on his shift at 10:15 p.m.” Plaintiff then alleges that defendant Williams (not Kirkbride) failed to


make Catchings stand for the 10:15 “sign of life” check in violation of jail policy. Catchings was discovered dead the next morning.

Defendant Melissa Susman was employed at the jail as the nurse supervisor for Young and Byas. After Catchings died, she told the medical examiner that Catchings had been “acting weird” before his death and blamed his death on drugs. However, no drugs were found in Catchings' system during the post-mortem examination. Instead, the medical examiner determined that Catchings died from acute promyelocytic leukemia.[3] Doucette is alleged to be in charge of the medical staff responsible for Catchings' care.

Plaintiff names two additional jail guards, Daniel Morgan and Jordan Atwater, in her Second Amended Complaint even though no specific factual allegations are asserted against them. Instead, the Second Amended Complaint contains a section entitled “Allegations Relating [to] Mr. Catchings' Deteriorating Health and Physical Condition and Correctional Staff's Knowledge and Notice Thereof, ” which makes the following identical allegations against each of the named-jail guards:


On information and belief, during the period of Mr Catchings' detention and including the month of February 2019, defendant [jail guard] personally observed, interacted with, and/or was aware of Mr. Catchings and his deteriorating health and physical condition
On information and belief, defendant [jail guard] knew and/or should have known that Mr. Catchings' deteriorating health and physical condition required immediate medical

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