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McCarthy v. County of Bucks

October 28, 2010

KEVIN MCCARTHY, PLAINTIFF
v.
COUNTY OF BUCKS, ET AL. DEFENDANTS



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Stengel, J.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

In March, 2006, Mr. McCarthy was a pre-trial detainee incarcerated at the Bucks County Correctional Facility. While incarcerated, Mr. McCarthy suffered from a wrist/arm abscess, which required surgical removal of the abscess, hospitalization, and resulted in "some degree of permanent pain and dysfunction."

Mr. McCarthy has filed a second amended complaint against the County of Bucks, Thomas French, Eleanor M. Travers, Bucks County Health Department, and Dr. David Davis.*fn1 Dr. David Davis, the medical director at the Bucks County Correctional Facility, filed a partial motion for summary judgment requesting judgment in his favor for the claim Dr. Davis violated 42 U.S.C.A. § 1983, the negligent infliction of emotional distress claim, and the punitive damages claim. For the reasons set forth below, I will grant the motion.

I. BACKGROUND

On March 7, 2006, Kevin McCarthy turned himself into the Bristol Township Police Department and the Bucks County Sheriff's Department took him into custody.*fn2

Mr. McCarthy was incarcerated at the Bucks County Correctional Facility. See Defendant's Statement of Facts at ¶ 2; Plaintiff's Statement of Facts at ¶ 2.

Dr. David Davis is Board certified in family medicine, is Board eligible in addiction medicine, and has completed a fellowship in pain management. Id. at ¶ 3. He is the medical director at the Bucks County Correctional Facility, where he works as a full-time, independent contractor. Id. at ¶¶ 4-5. In 2006, Dr. Davis worked on Tuesdays from 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., and Thursdays and Fridays from 8:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. See Defendant's Statement of Facts at ¶ 8; Plaintiff's Statement of Facts at ¶ 8. He routinely saw 35 to 40 patients a day. Id. at ¶ 9. Dr. Davis was on call seven days a week and, if a nurse had a question about an order for a patient, the nurse could reach Dr. Davis on his pager. Id. at ¶ 10.

Pursuant to the Department of Public Health Manual, used by Bucks County Correctional Facility, the medical staff must complete a full assessment upon all inmates within fourteen days of incarceration. Plaintiff's Statement of Facts at Exh. F. If an inmate has an injury, he is not admitted until medical personnel has seen him. Id. at Exh. ss. At Dr. Davis's deposition he stated a nurse examines each inmate within 48 hours of incarceration and processing and Dr. Davis examines each inmate within two weeks of incarceration. See Defendant's Statement of Facts at Exh. D at 110-11.

Bucks County Correctional Facility is staffed by nurses twenty-four hours per day. Id. at Exh. D at 14; see Defendant's Statement of Facts at ¶ 12; Plaintiff's Statement of Facts at ¶ 12. It has a contract with Doylestown Hospital for admission of all prison patients.*fn3 See Defendant's Statement of Facts at ¶ 13; Plaintiff's Statement of Facts at ¶ 13.

Bucks County Correctional Facility's policy is to fingerprint both hands of a new inmate. Mr. McCarthy's left hand was not fingerprinted. See Plaintiff's Statement of Facts at Exh. K. Officer John Bailie, the officer who fingerprinted Mr. McCarthy, stated "I usually ask a person if your hands hurt you . . . if they tell me yes, then I say are you willing to get fingerprinted? And if they say no, I will say okay. And I don't fingerprint them." Id. at Exh. I at 47. Officer Bailie stated the only other reasons he would not fingerprint a hand are if the hand was missing fingers or if the prisoner was unruly. If unruly, the prisoner would not sign the fingerprint card. Id. at 48, 51. Mr. McCarthy signed the fingerprint card. See Plaintiff's Statement of Facts at Exh. K.

When Mr. McCarthy was incarcerated on March 7, 2006, a classification report was completed. See Defendant's Statement of Facts at ¶ 16; Plaintiff's Statement of Facts at ¶ 16. Mr. McCarthy's primary classification was drug detoxification and the report noted daily use of heroin, Methadone, and Xanax. See Defendant's Statement of Facts at Exh. B. It stated Mr. McCarthy had reflex sympathetic dystrophy,*fn4 his left arm was ripped off two years ago, he had limited motion in his hand, arm, and legs, and he took Benacane and Methadone. Id. It also stated he was under a doctor's care for his left arm injury and for high blood pressure. Id.

On March 7, 2006, a nurse saw Mr. McCarthy. She took his blood pressure, which was 160/114, recorded a pulse of 80, and recorded a temperature of 98.2. See Defendant's Statement of Facts at ¶ 20; Plaintiff's Statement of Facts at ¶ 20. The nurse made a notation that Mr. McCarthy had taken Xanax and Methadone earlier that day. Id. at ¶ 21. The nurse called Dr. Davis who ordered Cardizem, which is used to treat high blood pressure. Id. at ¶ 22.

On March 8, 2006 and March 9, 2006, Mr. McCarthy was transported to and from the Bucks County Courthouse. See Defendant's Statement of Facts at Exh. G.

On March 9, 2006 at 1:00 a.m., Mr. McCarthy was found in his cell huddled over with chest pain. See Defendant's Statement of Facts at ¶ 26; Plaintiff's Statement of Facts at ¶ 26. The officers contacted the dispensary. Nurse Mullen noted Mr. McCarthy made complaints of chest wall pain and was grasping at his mid-sternum, he had gooseflesh and rhinitis. See Plaintiff's Statement of Facts at Exh. L. The nurse called Dr. Davis, who ordered an opiate detoxification protocol and a Benzodiazepine protocol for Xanax withdrawal. See Defendant's Statement of Facts at H.

On March 9, 2006, Mr. McCarthy underwent a medical history and physical assessment. See Defendant's Statement of Facts at ¶ 28; Plaintiff's Statement of Facts at ¶ 28. The medical history and physical assessment reported Mr. McCarthy suffered reflex sympathetic dystrophy and a skin graft in his left arm and noted he had been electrocuted in 2003, which resulted in a fasciotomy*fn5 requiring a skin graft from his leg. He denied open wounds. Mr. McCarthy reported taking Methadone, Xanax, and Neurotin and reported using heroin. See Defendant's Statement of Facts at Ex. I. Mr. McCarthy testified that, although there were no open wounds, the handcuffs left a noticeable scar. See Plaintiff's Statement of Facts at Exh. B at 173. Dr. Davis diagnosed Mr. McCarthy as a "thirty-nine year old white male with pneumonia. On Methadone withdrawal and hypertension." See Defendant's Statement of Facts at Exh. I. Mr. McCarthy maintains he told Dr. Davis he "was handcuffed and my left arm is killing me," but Dr. Davis "didn't pay too much attention about it at all." See Plaintiff's Statement of Facts at Exh. B at 94. Following the medical history and physical assessment, Dr. Davis ordered Catapres, a drug used to treat hypertension. The order also stated the doctor would re-check Mr. McCarthy in 24 hours, and Mr. McCarthy was to have all meals in his cell, use an Albuterol inhaler, and was placed on bottom-bunk status. See Defendant's Statement of Facts at ¶ 32; Plaintiff's Statement of Facts at ¶ 32.

On March 9, 2006, Mr. McCarthy had chest discomfort but was able to breath. Officer Ramochak called the dispensary, and Mr. McCarthy was instructed to lie down.*fn6 On March 9, 2006, Dr. Davis gave a telephone order for a chest x-ray to be performed in the morning. See Defendant's Statement of Facts at ¶ 34; Plaintiff's Statement of Facts at ¶ 34. The nurse noted Mr. McCarthy ...


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