United States District Court, S.D. Alabama, Southern Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
V. S. Granade SENIOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
matter is before the Court on Defendants' motion for
summary judgment (Doc. 32), Plaintiff's opposition
thereto (Doc. 36), and Defendants' reply (Doc. 37). For
the reasons explained below, the Court finds that
Defendants' motion for summary judgment should be
Anthony Frederick Mann is an inmate at Holman Correctional
Facility in Escambia County, Alabama. (Doc. 1, ¶ 4).
Plaintiff filed this action seeking damages for injuries he
received when another inmate allegedly doused him with hot
Liquid Fire that had been mixed with baby oil. (Doc. 1,
¶ 17). “Liquid Fire” is a drain line opener.
(Doc. 32-12). Plaintiff filed this suit against Correctional
Officer Mack Smith, Maintenance Supervisor Ricky Morgan,
Maintenance Employee Ernie Pulley, Corizon Health Care
Services, Inc., Corizon, LLC and Dr. Karen Stone. (Doc. 1).
However, all claims against Smith, Morgan and Pulley have
been dismissed. (Doc. 16; Doc. 23, p. 1, fn 1). Thus, the
only remaining defendants are Corizon Health Care Services,
Inc. and Corizon, LLC (referred hereafter collectively as
“Corizon”), and Dr. Karen Stone.
Complaint asserts state law claims against Corizon and Dr.
Stone based on their failure to mitigate and properly treat
Plaintiff's severe acid burns. (Doc. 1, ¶¶ 6,
11). Specifically, Plaintiff alleges that Dr. Stone, who is
an employee or independent contractor of Corizon,
“failed to meet the minimum standard of care in the
relevant medical community” because she “treated
acid burns with water exacerbating his serious physical
injuries.” (Doc. 1, ¶¶ 11, 33). The complaint
states that “Defendant Stone is being sued in her
capacity as an employee or independent contractor of
Defendant Corizon, and in her capacity as a physician
independently licensed in the State of Alabama.” (Doc.
1, ¶ 11). Plaintiff alleges that Defendants'
“negligence aggravated Plaintiff's injuries, when
these defendants, as medical professionals, attempted to
treat the active burning of Plaintiff's body with water,
instead of something with the requisite pH to stop the
burning further.” (Doc. 1, ¶ 32). The complaint
also alleges that Corizon owed a duty to Plaintiff to hire
and oversee its employees and independent contractors and to
ensure that they had proper training. (Doc. 1, ¶ 34).
The Complaint asserts that Corizon “should be held to
at least the minimum standard of care as an employer of a
negligent treating physician in a medical malpractice
case.” (Doc. 1, ¶ 10).
submitted the affidavit of Dr. Karen Stone who treated
Plaintiff on the day of the incident. (Doc. 32-1). Plaintiff
was brought to the health care unit at Holman Correctional
Facility with chemical burns to his face, neck, abdomen,
hands and knees at 11:35 a.m. on April 15, 2014. (Doc. 32-1,
p. 3). Stone reports that an ambulance was immediately called
and it arrived within approximately 30 minutes. (Doc. 32-1,
p, 4). “Immediate actions were taken to look after the
medical needs of Mr. Mann immediately upon his arrival at the
health care unit at Holman.” (Doc. 32-1, p. 5). For the
30 minutes that Plaintiff was at the health care unit at
Holman, Plaintiff's body was washed continuously with
water. (Doc. 32-1, p. 4). According to Dr. Stone, her medical
education and training has taught her that water is the best
solution to be applied to chemical burns such as those
suffered by Plaintiff on April 15, 2014. (Doc. 32-1, p. 4).
The Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) for Liquid Fire states
that for emergency and first aid:
EYES: Flush immediately with water for at least 15
minutes. Forcibly hold eyelids apart to ensure complete
irrigation of eye/lid tissue. GET IMMEDIATE MEDICAL ATTENTION
SKIN: Wipe off excess. Flush immediately with water
for at least 15 minutes while removing contaminated clothing.
(Doc. 32-1, p. 4, Doc. 32-12, p. 4). The MSDS for Liquid Fire
also states that “[c]ontact with eyes may result in
permanent visual loss unless removed quickly by thorough
irrigation with water.” (Doc. 32-12, p. 4). Dr. Stone
also attached to her affidavit a copy of a document from the
Mayo Clinic that states that if you have an immediately
recognized chemical burn:
Rinse the burn immediately. Run a gentle, steady stream of
cool tap water over the burn for 10 or more minutes.
(Doc. 32-13, p. 2). Dr. Stone avers that Plaintiff “was
kept alive miraculously through the dedication of the health
care staff at Holman until the paramedics arrived” to
transport him to the burn unit at University of South Alabama
Hospital in Mobile, Alabama. (Doc. 32-1, p. 5). According to
Dr. Stone, “[w]ere it not for the actions of [herself],
as well as the nurses and medical staff at the health care
unit at Holman, Mr. Mann would have surely died of the
chemical burns he suffered as a result of the actions of
another inmate at Holman.” (Doc. 32-1, p. 5). Dr. Stone
states that Plaintiff “was treated with appropriate
medical treatment for his chemical burns.” (Doc. 32-1,
p. 8). Based on Dr. Stone's medical education, training,
background and experience, as well as her first-hand
knowledge of the treatment that Plaintiff received at the
Holman Correctional Facility, Dr. Stone opines that Plaintiff
at all times received medical treatment at or above the
standard of care of physicians practicing medicine in the
state of Alabama. (Doc. 32-1, p. 8).
Summary Judgment Standard
Rule of Civil Procedure 56(a) provides that summary judgment
shall be granted: “if the movant shows that there is no
genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is
entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” The trial
court's function is not “to weigh the evidence and
determine the truth of the matter but to determine whether
there is a genuine issue for trial.” Anderson v.
Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 249 (1986).
“The mere existence of some evidence to support the
non-moving party is not sufficient for denial of summary
judgment; there must be ‘sufficient evidence favoring
the nonmoving party for a jury to return a verdict for that
party.'” Bailey v. Allgas, Inc., 284 F.3d
1237, 1243 (11th Cir. 2002) ...