United States District Court, N.D. Alabama, Middle Division
OWEN BOWDRE, CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
§ 1983 case concerns the medical care that Plaintiff
Stephen Hammonds received for his diabetes while incarcerated
at DeKalb County Corrections Center. Defendants Dr. Robert
Theakston and Matthew Martin filed a motion for summary
judgment. (Doc. 80). To resolve the motion for summary
judgment, the court must analyze whether any reasonable
official in the same circumstances as Dr. Theakston and Mr.
Martin would have understood that administering only
short-acting insulin to Mr. Hammonds, as opposed to both
short-acting and long-acting insulin, violated his
constitutional right to be free from the deliberate
indifference to his serious medical needs. The court answers
this overriding question in the negative and finds that
Defendants are entitled to qualified immunity to Mr.
Hammonds’s § 1983 claim and grants their motion
for summary judgment.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
court can resolve a case on summary judgment only when the
moving party establishes two essential elements: (1) no
genuine disputes of material fact exist; and (2) the
moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.
the first element of the moving party’s summary
judgment burden, “‘[g]enuine disputes [of
material fact] are those in which the evidence is such that a
reasonable jury could return a verdict for the
non-movant.’” Evans v. Books-A-Million,
762 F.3d 1288, 1294 (11th Cir. 2014) (emphasis added)
(quoting Mize v. Jefferson City Bd. of Educ., 93
F.3d 739, 742 (11th Cir. 1996)). And when considering whether
any genuine disputes of material fact exist, the court must
view the evidence in the record in the light most favorable
to the non-moving party and draw reasonable inferences in
favor of the non-moving party. White v. Beltram Edge Tool
Supply, Inc., 789 F.3d 1188, 1191 (11th Cir. 2015).
to these rules, the court next presents the facts supported
by evidence on the record in the light most favorable to Mr.
Hammonds suffers from type 1 diabetes mellitus. To treat his
diabetes, he regularly checks his blood glucose level and
September 29, 2014, Mr. Hammonds was arrested and booked into
the DeKalb County Corrections Center. At the time of booking,
he had short-acting R insulin and long-acting N insulin on
his person, which the jail personnel confiscated.
Short-acting R insulin counteracts the spike in glucose that
occurs when eating a meal, whereas long-acting N insulin
helps maintain a healthy baseline glucose level.
Theakston directed Mr. Hammonds’s medical care in the
jail. Dr. Theakston placed Mr. Hammonds on a regular insulin
sliding scale regimen. According to this protocol, jail
medical staff checked Mr. Hammonds’s blood sugar at
least twice a day, and, depending on his blood sugar level,
administered a dosage of only short-acting R insulin, not
long-acting N insulin.
to Mr. Hammonds, the jail staff knew that he had to take both
R insulin and N insulin. Mr. Hammonds testified that he told
the arresting officer, the booking officer, nurses, jailers,
and “everyone who would listen” that he required
R insulin and N insulin. (Doc. 91-2 at 3–4).
notes taken during a prior incarceration in 2007 at the same
jail shows that jail staff treated Mr. Hammonds with both R
insulin and N insulin then. (Doc 82-4 at 48–50,
54–56, 62–70). A medical screening form and
nurse’s notes taken during a prior incarceration in
2013 show that Mr. Hammonds reported that he took both R
insulin and N insulin, but that the jail staff treated him
with only R insulin without issue then. (Doc. 82-4 at
72–73; Doc. 82-17 at 4–6). Dr. Theakston was also
the jail physician during those two prior incarcerations.
October 3, 2014, Mr. Hammonds was “very sick and felt
like [he] might not live.” (Doc. 91-2 at 4). He called
his father from jail and said that he did not think that he
would survive the night.
Hammonds’s mother called 911 and told the operator that
Mr. Hammonds was having a medical emergency at the jail. The
911 operator called Mr. Martin, the Chief Jail Administrator,
to inform him about the call. The parties paint different
pictures of how Mr. Martin responded, but, for purposes of
summary judgment only, the court accepts Mr. Hammonds’s
version of events.
to Mr. Hammonds, Mr. Martin called Mr. Hammonds’s
mother back and “said he was going to make some arrests
if anyone called 911 again and that he was tired of having
his supper interrupted.” (Doc. 91-3 at 2). Mr. Martin
admonished Mr. Hammonds’s mother for “misusing
the 911 system, ” accused Mr. Hammonds of “just
whining and crying and carrying on, ” and kept telling
his mother that “someone was going to be
arrested” for wrongfully calling 911. (Id. at
2–3; Doc. 82-46 at 10).
to Mr. Hammonds, after the phone call, jailers took Mr.
Hammonds to an empty medical ward and gave him a phone with
Mr. Martin on the other line. (Doc. 91-2 at 5). Mr. Hammonds
testified that Mr. Martin threatened him with solitary
confinement and “four walls to complain to” if
his family called 911 again, after which “things would
get worse for [him] and [his] family.” (Doc. 91-2 at
days after the 911 call, on October 5, 2014, the jail staff
could not successfully treat Mr. Hammonds’s high blood
sugar. So Dr. Theakston ordered Mr. Hammonds to be
transported to the DeKalb County Regional Medical Center
Hammonds was hospitalized from October 5 to October 8, 2014
for diabetic ketoacidosis. The hospital treated Mr. Hammonds
with IV insulin until the ketoacidosis was resolved on
October 8, 2014, at which point the hospital discharged him
back to the jail with instructions for the jail staff to
administer 70/30 insulin (a mixture of R insulin and N
insulin) twice a day, administer R insulin according to a
sliding scale protocol, and call the hospital if Mr.
Hammonds’s blood glucose level exceeded 400 mg/dl.
(Doc. 82-23 at 3; Doc. 91-1 at 63).
jail followed the hospital’s discharge instructions and
administered 70/30 insulin twice a day from October 8, 2014
until Mr. Hammonds’s release from jail on October 16,
2014. (Doc. 82-15 at 2). But the jail did not perfectly
follow the hospital’s regular insulin sliding scale
during those eight days. Mr. Hammonds twice had a blood
glucose level exceeding 400 mg/dl. According to the
hospital’s sliding scale, someone at the jail should
have called the hospital for such a high level, but nobody
ever did. And medical records show that, sometimes during Mr.
Hammonds’s last eight days at the jail, the jail staff
gave Mr. Hammonds a dose of R insulin smaller or larger than
the dose required by the hospital’s sliding scale.
(See Doc. 82-15 at 2; Doc. 91-1 at 30–32, 63).
Hammonds alleges that the diabetic ketoacidosis that he
suffered at the jail caused the diabetic peripheral
neuropathy from which he now suffers. Disputed evidence on
the record shows that ...