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Matthew Dietz v. County of Allegheny

August 13, 2012

MATTHEW DIETZ PLAINTIFF,
v.
COUNTY OF ALLEGHENY, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge Cathy Bissoon

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

I.MEMORANDUM

Pending before the Court are Defendants County of Allegheny and Ramon C. Rustin's Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. 64), and Defendant Allegheny Correctional Health Services, Inc.'s Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. 68). For the reasons stated herein, the Court will grant both motions.

BACKGROUND

A.Factual Background

Plaintiff Matthew Dietz alleges that, during his three-day stay at Allegheny County Jail ("ACJ"), Defendants County of Allegheny, Ramon C. Rustin, and Allegheny Correctional Health Services ("ACHS") violated his substantive due process rights guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution by failing to implement proper policies regarding medical care for diabetic inmates.

Plaintiff is an insulin-dependent diabetic who uses an insulin pump to administer insulin. He was transferred, as a pretrial detainee, from Westmoreland County Prison to ACJ at 9:00 A.M. on March 10, 2009. See Westmoreland County Prison Release Report (Doc. 77-1). Upon entry into ACJ, a correctional officer took away Plaintiff's insulin pump. Insulin- dependent diabetes may be treated with an insulin pump or insulin injections, and there is no evidence in this case of a medical benefit of using an insulin pump instead of insulin injections. ACHS Facts ¶ 24; Pl.'s Response to ACHS Facts ¶ 24.

Plaintiff was then placed in a holding cell and was given a meal that was not specially prepared for diabetics. A special diet is important for diabetics in order to avoid high blood sugar. Aiken Dep. 22:25-23:13 (Doc. 72). For a diabetic inmate to get special meals at ACJ, ACHS must request such meals for the inmate.

On March 11, 2009, at 1:39 P.M., Plaintiff met with medical staff from ACHS. Plaintiff asserts that he was not given insulin until sometime on March 11, 2009, at least eighteen hours after he was placed in the holding cell.

On March 12, 2009, Plaintiff met with an ACHS physician for the first time during his stay at ACJ. At 12:18 P.M. on March 12, 2009, Plaintiff was admitted to the ACJ infirmary. Also on March 12, 2009, ACHS requested special meals for Plaintiff.

ACHS Nursing Protocols for care of diabetics, in place during Plaintiff's stay at ACJ instruct nurses to instruct patients to "[e]at the diet prescribed by the physician and avoid commissary snacks." ACHS Nursing Protocols for Diabetes Mellitus ¶ E.1.a (Doc. 64-4 at 3). The Protocols also instruct nurses to "[m]ake appointment for the patient to see the physician or practitioner within 2 days of entering the facility," id. at ¶ E.2, and to "[c]onfirm medications and dosages and notify physician or practitioner for medication and diet orders," id. at ¶ E.3.

B.Procedural Background

Plaintiff brought this action asserting various causes of action against various defendants. Following this Court's ruling on a motion to dismiss and stipulated dismissals, the only remaining claims are under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, against Defendants County of Allegheny, Rustin, and ACHS, for alleged violations of Plaintiff's substantive due process rights guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. Specifically, Plaintiff alleges that Defendants failed to implement proper policies for providing insulin and special meals for diabetic inmates, and that Defendant ACHS failed to implement policies preventing novice medical personnel from learning proper IV techniques by practicing on inmates in emergency situations. Defendants move for summary judgment on all of Plaintiff's claims. ANALYSIS

As an initial matter, the Court notes that the parties' briefing in this case has been less than impressive, creating unnecessary additional work for the Court. Defendants Allegheny County and Rustin repeated many arguments that already were addressed in their motion to dismiss, making their positions on summary judgment unclear. Large portions of Defendants Allegheny County and Rustin's brief appear to be copied identically from their brief in support of their motion to dismiss. For example, Defendants Allegheny County and Rustin devote nearly five pages of their brief arguing that Plaintiff "fails to state a claim" against Defendant Rustin for lack of personal involvement, while acknowledging that the Court already determined that Plaintiff's claims against Rustin could proceed based on his role as final policymaker. County Br. 2-6 (Doc. 65). Defendants Allegheny County and Rustin moved for summary judgment as to all of Plaintiff's claims, but did not even bother to address Plaintiff's primary theories -- that Defendants' policy failures caused a delay in Plaintiff receiving necessary insulin and special meals -- until prompted to do so by the Court. See Text Order, July 18, 2012.

Defendant ACHS asserts that Plaintiff testified that he "received continuous diabetes care from the time he was admitted into the Allegheny County Jail on March 10, 2009 until he was released on March 13, 2009," ACHS Br. 6 (Doc. 70), but Plaintiff testified that he did not receive insulin for at least eighteen hours after arriving at ACJ. Dietz Dep. 52:6-52:21 (Doc. 71-1). Defendant ACHS also relies upon medical records to support its assertion that Plaintiff received insulin on March 10, 2009, but has provided no evidence as to the interpretation of the records. The Court cannot simply accept as true counsel's assertions that ...


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