BONNY EDWARD TAYLOR, as the Personal Representative and Administrator of the Estate of Almus Reed Taylor, Plaintiff - Appellant,
HENRY P. HUGHES, in his individual capacity, BILL BLUE, in his individual capacity, et al. Defendants - Appellees.
from United States District Court for the Middle District of
Alabama No. 2:14-cv-01163-KS-WC
TJOFLAT, NEWSOM, and GILMAN, [*] Circuit Judges.
GILMAN, CIRCUIT JUDGE
Taylor died from internal bleeding after being kept in a jail
holding cell overnight. Bonny Edward Taylor, Almus's
father and the Administrator of Almus's estate, sued the
jail guards under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and Alabama state
law, alleging that they were deliberately indifferent to
Almus's serious medical needs. The district court
dismissed Bonny's claims because of qualified immunity,
state-agent immunity, and Alabama Code § 14-6-1.
appeal raises two questions: (1) whether qualified immunity
shields the guards from Bonny's deliberate-indifference
claim based on the U.S. Constitution, and (2) whether
state-agent immunity and Alabama Code § 14-6-1 shield
the guards from Bonny's state-law claims. For the reasons
set forth below, we REVERSE the judgment of
the district court and REMAND the case for
further proceedings consistent with this opinion.
material facts in this case are subject to genuine disputes,
but we will resolve such disputes in Bonny's favor
because his claims were dismissed on summary judgment. With
this understanding in mind, we will apply the law to the
following factual scenario:
November 16, 2013, Covington County Deputy Kyle Adams found
Almus in a battered pickup truck that was stopped in the
middle of the road. The driver-side door of the truck was in
the truck's bed. Almus was lying across the seat, had
scratches on his arms, and was unable to walk on his own.
Deputy Adams called Emergency Medical Services (EMS) and the
Alabama Highway Patrol.
team and Alabama State Trooper Chase Amis came to the scene.
The parties dispute whether EMS performed a medical
evaluation. Although Almus said that he had been in an
accident, Trooper Amis claimed to have seen no evidence that
an accident had actually occurred. Almus refused to take an
ambulance to the hospital unless he could bring his dogs. The
EMS team refused to accommodate Almus's request, so they
asked him to sign a release stating that he did not want to
go to the hospital. Almus was unable to sign the release, but
the EMS team accepted Almus making a mark on the form.
Trooper Amis then arrested Almus for driving under the
influence and took him to the Covington County Jail.
Ben Hunter, Bill Blue, and Roy Parker were the jail guards on
duty. Almus arrived at 9:33 p.m., appeared highly
intoxicated, and had to be assisted while walking to the
holding cell. According to the guards, Trooper Amis said that
Almus was "medically cleared" and "just
drunk." But the Booking Medical Log reflects Almus's
statement that "he [was] all busted up from [a] car
dispute is whether Almus cried out for help during the night
and whether the guards heard Almus's cries. According to
several of Almus's fellow detainees, Almus spent several
hours moaning and crying out in pain. They said that Almus
told the guards that he had been in an accident and was
"dying" and "broke up" inside. The record
further contains evidence that Almus begged for medical
attention, but was told by the guards to "shut up."
None of the guards called for medical help.
to jail guard Hunter, however, he checked on Almus at 5:00
a.m. and asked if Almus needed medical attention. Almus
purportedly replied that he was in pain but could wait until
the nurse arrived a little later. Hunter's deposition
testimony, however, is inconsistent with that from one of
Almus's fellow detainees and is not corroborated by other
jail's nurse arrived at around 6:00 or 6:30 a.m. that
morning. When the nurse tried to assess Almus's
condition, he slid onto the ground and spit up blood. An
officer called 911 and Almus was taken away in an ambulance.
Almus died on his way to the hospital from internal bleeding.
sued the jail guards on behalf of Almus's estate,
alleging that the guards violated Almus's rights under
both the U.S. Constitution and state law. The district court
concluded that the guards were protected by qualified
immunity, state-agent immunity, Alabama Code § 14-6-1 (a
statute that provides conditional immunities to sheriffs and
jail guards). As a ...