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Lucio v. City of Tarrant

United States District Court, N.D. Alabama, Southern Division

July 15, 2015

TAMMY L. LUCIO, Plaintiff,
v.
CITY OF TARRANT, ALABAMA, et al., Defendants.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

R. DAVID PROCTOR, District Judge.

This matter is before the court on the Motions for Summary Judgment filed by Defendants Keith Smith (Doc. # 94), Larry Rice (Doc. # 96) and Chase Ramsey (Doc. # 98). The Motions have been fully briefed. (Docs. # 95, 97, 99, 103, 104, 108, and 111-13).

I. Relevant Background and Facts[1]

On or about September 19, 2011, Plaintiff Tammy L. Lucio was taken into custody for disorderly conduct and was transported to the City of Tarrant Jail. (Doc. # 56). While there, Plaintiff alleges that Defendant Smith pushed her, causing her to fall and break her arm. Thereafter, among other things, Plaintiff alleges that she was denied medical attention for her arm, despite repeated requests for same. She claims this caused permanent damage to her arm. (Doc. # 56).

The Rule 56 evidence indicates that Officer Smith transported Plaintiff to the Tarrant jail and escorted her inside to the booking room. (Doc. # 100-1 p. 97). Officer Smith removed Plaintiff's handcuffs in the booking room. (Doc. # 100-1 p. 99). After the booking process was completed, Officer Smith instructed Plaintiff to change into jail clothes, which she did in the visitation hall, under the supervision of Officer Sharon Briggs. (Doc. # 100-1 p. 102). After Plaintiff changed clothes, Officer Smith stood in the doorway between the booking room and the visitation hall. (Doc. # 100-1 p. 104). Plaintiff was standing within arm's reach of Officer Smith. (Doc. # 100-1 p. 104). Plaintiff testified that she turned toward Officer Smith to ask him to use the phone. (Doc. # 100-1 p. 105-07). Officer Smith, however, perceived Plaintiff's action to be aggressive toward him. (Doc. # 100-7 ¶ 4). With open hands, Officer Smith pushed Plaintiff away from him in order to put some distance between them. (Doc. # 100-7 ¶ 4). As a result of the push, Plaintiff fell to the floor, hitting her left wrist on a stool as she fell. (Doc. # 100-1 p. 120).

After Plaintiff got up, Officer Smith escorted her to a jail cell. (Doc. # 100-1 p. 126). Plaintiff told Officer Smith that she had broken her arm and needed to go to the hospital. (Doc. # 100-1 p. 127). Once being placed in a cell, Plaintiff "hollered" and kicked the door for a time period she believes to be about thirty minutes. (Doc. # 100-1 pp. 128-129). Officer Smith returned to Plaintiff's cell with "at least four" paramedics. (Doc. # 100-1 p. 130). Plaintiff described the examination by the paramedics as follows:

Q: And what did they do?
A: They examined me, looked at me and wanted to place a blood pressure cuff on this arm. I told the gentleman that this was the hurt arm, could he put it on this right arm. And that agitated Officer Smith, and he removed them from my cell, the paramedics.
Q: Before they took your blood pressure?
A: They never took my blood pressure because I told him to put it - do it on this arm instead of this arm.
Q: You mean you told him -
A: My left arm, they wanted to take it on my left arm. And I asked the paramedics to remove it and take my blood pressure on my right arm. And that agitated Officer Smith and he removed the paramedics. The paramedics left after that.
Q: Did the paramedics ever examine your left wrist?
A: Visual. They looked at it. They never touched it. They just looked at it.
Q: Did they ever take your hand and press the tips of your fingers?
A: No.

(Doc. # 100-1 pp. 131-132).

Q: Okay. Had they checked any other vital sign before Officer Smith instructed them to leave?
A: No.
Q: All they were able to do, according to you, was look at your left arm and start to take your blood pressure?
A: Correct.

(Doc. # 100-1 p. 136).

The Patient Care Narrative prepared by the paramedics reflects that the paramedics obtained Plaintiff's name, address, age, date of birth and chief complaint of left wrist pain. (Doc. # 100-4). The paramedics also checked and recorded Plaintiff's pulse, respirations and specific oxygen. (Doc. # 100-4). The paramedics also noted that "Pt. in custody of Tarrant Police Dept. Pt. c/o (L) wrist pain. Pt. states her (L) arm hurts. Normal cap refill. No obvious deformity. Pt. stable. Pt. left in custody of Tarrant P.D." (Doc. # 100-4). Nothing in the Patient Care Narrative indicates that Plaintiff's arm was broken or that she needed further medical attention. (Doc. # 100-4). Officer Smith signed the form refusing treatment. (Doc. # 100-4).

After the paramedics left her cell, Plaintiff had no further interaction of any kind with Officer Smith.

Plaintiff's only interaction with Officer Ramsey was on the morning of September 20, 2011, where Officer Ramsey supervised Plaintiff for approximately 5 minutes while she placed a phone call. (Doc. # 100-1 pp. 142-144). In her deposition, Plaintiff described her full interaction with Officer Ramsey as follows:

Q: Okay. So Tuesday morning is your first morning in the Tarrant jail in September of 2011?
A: Correct.
Q: Who's the first officer that you have any communication with Tuesday morning?
A: Chase Ramsey.
Q: And what was the nature of that communication?
A: He - I stopped him and I asked him - told him about my arm, that my arm was hurt and I needed to go to the hospital. And, also, could I use the phone to let my family know that I was hurt in this jail and had not been able to - been taken to the hospital.
Q: Okay. What did he say?
A: He let me out to use the phone.
Q: How far is it from the cell you were in to where you could use the phone?
A: The booking area where I was initially, where I came in.
Q: Just a few -
A: So a few ...

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