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Mohammed v. Doe

United States District Court, Third Circuit

October 22, 2013



C. DARNELL JONES, II, District Judge.

In his Second Amended Complaint, Plaintiff brought seventeen Counts, alleging inter alia, civil rights claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Pennsylvania State Troopers Michael McKeon, Joseph Yingling, Jason Zachariah, Sgt. Robert Reilly, Major John Laufer, former Captain David Young, and former Commissioner of the Pennsylvania State Police Frank Pawlowski (collectively, "Police Defendants") and Crozer-Chester Medical Center, Nurse Dawn Salvucci, Dr. Kristen Varacalli, and Dr. Hussien Kiliddar (collectively, "Hospital Defendants"). Now before this Court is Police Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment ("Pol. Defs. Mot. Summ. J.") (Dkt. No. 147), including their Statement of Undisputed Material Facts ("Pol. Defs. SOF") (Dkt. No. 148), Hospital Defendants' Motion for Partial Summary Judgment ("Hosp. Defs. Mot. Summ. J."), including their Statement of Undisputed Material Facts ("Hosp. Defs. SOF") (Dkt. No. 149), as well as Plaintiffs' opposition brief to Police Defendants ("Pls. Pol. Opp.") (Dkt. No. 173) and factual counterstatement ("Pls. Pol. SOF") (Dkt. No. 169), Plaintiffs' opposition brief to Hospital Defendants ("Pls. Hosp. Opp.") (Dkt. No. 175) and factual counterstatement ("Pls. Hosp. SOF") (Dkt. No. 171), Police Defendants' Reply (Dkt. No. 179), and Hospital Defendants' Reply (Dkt. No. 180). For the reasons set forth below, Defendants' Motions will be GRANTED in part and DENIED in part.


The Court recites the undisputed facts as viewed in the light most favorable to Plaintiff.

A. Traffic Stop and Altercation with Troopers McKeon and Yingling

On August 14, 2009, Plaintiff's Decedent, Hakim Jackson was a passenger in a vehicle being operated by non-party, Ashley McDaniel, that was headed southbound on Interstate 95. (Pol. Defs. SOF ¶ 1). Ms. McDaniel testified that on that day, she and Mr. Jackson were in Philadelphia to purchase cocaine. (Deposition of Ashley McDaniel, hereinafter "McDaniel Dep." at 38:1-17). Troopers Michael McKeon and Joseph Yingling effectuated a traffic stop on the vehicle because, according to Trooper Yingling, he recognized the vehicle, it had "heavily tinted windows, " and the vehicle committed a "roadways laned for traffic" violation. (Pls. Pol. SOF ¶1; Pol. Defs. SOF ¶ 3, Deposition of Michael Mckeon, hereinafter "McKeon Dep." at 105:17-24). The "dashcam" video of the traffic stop, which begins thirty seconds prior to when Trooper McKeon activated the lights of his cruiser, does not show the vehicle make a traffic violation. (Pls. Pol. SOF ¶4; Video of Traffic Stop). Trooper McKeon testified although he could initially only see the silhouette of the driver, a second figure popped up into view. (McKeon Dep. at 106:22-107:17). Ms. McDaniel testified that at that time, Jackson swallowed cocaine by scooping it out of a plastic bag. (McDaniel Dep., at 36:9-24, 37:1-23, 38:1-24, 39:1-9, 116:12-17.) A subsequent police canine search of the vehicle did not detect any drugs in the vehicle. (Pls. Pol. SOF ¶4).

After the vehicle pulled over and stopped, Trooper McKeon approached the driver's side of the vehicle, while Trooper Yingling approached the passenger side. (Pol. Defs. SOF ¶ 5). Ms. McDaniel exited the vehicle for questioning, while Mr. Jackson remained in the passenger seat. Trooper Yingling testified that Mr. Jackson appeared "nervous." (Pol. Defs. SOF ¶ 6; Deposition of Joseph Yingling, hereinafter "Yingling Dep." at 93:8-14). At that point, Trooper Yingling instructed that Mr. Jackson turn off and exit the vehicle; Mr. Jackson refused and tried to flee. ( Id. at 93:21-24, 94:1). Trooper Yingling lunged through the passenger side window and Trooper McKeon approached from the driver's side. (Video of Stop; Yingling Dep. at 94:6-7). Trooper Yingling testified that Mr. Jackson repeatedly punched him in the head. (Yingling Dep., at 94:6-10). At that point, Trooper McKeon deployed his Taser, but it failed to stun Mr. Jackson, who then leaped into the back seat of the vehicle. (McKeon Dep., at 118:10-22). Trooper Yingling then deployed his Taser, but it again was not effective. (Yingling Dep., at 51:15-24, 52:16-22, and 94:10-16).

Trooper McKeon temporarily fought off Ms. McDaniel and then opened the back driver's side door and pulled Mr. Jackson out of the vehicle and on to the highway ground. (Video of Stop; McKeon Dep., at 119:1-9). Trooper Yingling came over to assist in subduing Mr. Jackson, but Mr. Jackson was able to flee into the John Heinz Wildlife Reserve. (Video of Stop; Yingling Dep., at 64:2-10). Troopers Yingling and McKeon followed in pursuit of Mr. Jackson, and what happened next remains in dispute. (Video of Stop).

Troopers McKeon and Yingling followed tracks into the brush, ultimately found Mr. Jackson, and subdued him following a brief scuffle in the brush. (Pol Defs. SOF ¶¶ 20-23). Trooper McKeon testified that during this struggle, Mr. Jackson punched McKeon in the face. (McKeon Dep. at 129:15-24, 130:1-5). The Medical Examiner's Autopsy Report documented blunt force trauma to Mr. Jackson's neck that suggests that he had been choked at some point during the altercation. (Exhibit "F" to Pls. Pol. SOF, Autopsy Report, hereinafter "Autopsy Report" at p.3). Trooper Yingling testified that they finally handcuffed Mr. Jackson after Trooper Yingling deployed his Oleoresin Capsicum ("OC") spray while Mr. Jackson tussled with Trooper McKeon. (McKeon Dep., at 130:6-17)

Trooper Yingling testified that he used his Taser on Mr. Jackson three times: twice at the vehicle and only once in the swamp; however, data downloaded from the Taser shows that he Tasered Mr. Jackson nine times, ranging from durations of one second to nineteen seconds. (Exhibit "E" to Pls. Pol. SOF, Expert Report of Roger Clark ("Clark Report") at p. 3-4.)

Trooper McKeon testified that he did not use his Taser; however, data downloaded from Trooper McKeon's Taser shows that the Taser was deployed one time, for duration of four seconds. (Pls. Pol. SOF ¶¶ 7-19; McKeon Dep. at 158:6-14; Clark Report p. 4).

Troopers James Lark and Erin Jason responded to the scene and located Troopers McKeon and Yingling, as well as Mr. Jackson, who had been handcuffed. (Pol. Def. SOF ¶¶ 29-30). By that time, Mr. Jackson refused to stand. ( Id. at ¶31). Troopers Lark, Yingling, McKeon, Jason, a bystander, and other police officers pulled Jackson to a nearby dirt road. ( Id. ). Trooper Lark, acting at Trooper Acosta's direction, then took control of Mr. Jackson, who was transported to a waiting ambulance. ( Id. at ¶32). Although Trooper Acosta had told Trooper Lark to take Mr. Jackson back to barracks, the EMTs on the scene indicated that Mr. Jackson needed to go to the hospital. ( Id. at ¶¶33-36). Upon finding this out, Trooper Acosta instructed Trooper Lark to go along. Mr. Jackson was then transported by ambulance to Crozer-Chester Medical Center ("CCMC"). ( Id. at ¶37).

B. Arrival at CCMC and Subsequent Treatment.

Mr. Jackson arrived at CCMC at 6:49 p.m. that evening, nearly one hour after the traffic stop. ( Id. at ¶39). Nurse Thomas McKniff described Mr. Jackson as "very combative, " "cursing at staff, " "uncooperative, " and pulling off his cardiac monitor, pulse ox probe, and IVs at the time of his triage. (Hosp. Defs. SOF ¶ 57; Deposition of Thomas McKniff, hereinafter "McKniff Dep." at 19:6-24, 20:1-6, and 21:19-22). Dr. Elizabeth Barrall, an emergency department attending physician, evaluated Mr. Jackson. (Hosp. Defs. SOF ¶61, Deposition of Dr. Elizabeth Barrall, hereinafter "Barall Dep." at 23:19-24, 24:1-24). Mr. Jackson would not provide her with any medical history, and provided a false name when asked. (Hosp. Defs. SOF ¶¶60, 67).

After examining Mr. Jackson, Dr. Barall spoke to an officer who was being treated elsewhere in the emergency department. ( Id. at ¶63). Based on her examination, it was Dr. Barrall's clinical impression that Mr. Jackson was under the influence of a stimulating intoxicant based on his erratic and combative behavior. ( Id. at ¶ 67, Barrall Dep., at 31:3-24, 32:1-24, 33:1-5, and 37:1-11). It is disputed whether Dr. Barrall was told at that time by a police officer that Mr. Jackson had ingested cocaine. Dr. Barrall ordered a urine screen of Mr. Jackson, which tested positive for cocaine. (Hosp. Defs. SOF ¶ 69). On her examination, Dr. Barrall also noted that Mr. Jackson had lesions on his back, "presumably from a Taser." ( Id. at ¶ 68). In light of Mr. Jackson's behavior, Dr. Barall ordered a 0.5 mg dose of Ativan via IV Push, which was administered at 9:28 p.m. ( Id. at ¶ 70; Barrall Dep., at 45:11-48). According to Dr. Barall's notes from Saturday, August 15, 2009 at 12:32 a.m., Plaintiff was in acute renal failure ("ARF") and had "slight" rhabdomyolysis for which he was receiving aggressive intravenous fluids. (Hosp. Defs. SOF ¶ 72, Exhibit I to Hosp. Defs. SOF, hereinafter "Medical Chart" at CCMC 00031). Within the next half hour, Mr. Jackson had bloody bowel movement and a rectal examination that was also deemed "bloody." (Hosp. Defs. SOF ¶ 73, Medical Chart, at CCMC 00031).

At that point, Dr. Barrall contacted Dr. Budier and recommended further testing because Mr. Jackson was in ARF. (Hosp. Defs. SOF ¶ 74, Medical Chart, at CCMC 00031). Dr. Budier documented that the subsequent CT scans were "negative." (Hosp. Defs. SOF ¶ 75, Medical Chart, at CCMC 00047-49). At 1:31 a.m., Dr. Barall asked Mr. Jackson if he had taken anything, Mr. Jackson said he ingested 1 ½ grams of cocaine the day before. (Hosp. Defs. SOF ¶ 76, Medical Chart, at CCMC 31). Dr. Barall asked one of the nearby police officers if 1 ½ grams is "a lot" of cocaine; the police officer confirmed that it is. (Hosp. Defs. SOF ¶ 79). Dr. Barrall was concerned that Mr. Jackson could have bowel ischemia, in light of his bloody bowel and other symptoms. (Hosp. Defs. SOF ¶ 80; Barrall Dep., at 55:22-24, 56:1-10, and 110:8-113:16; Medical Chart, at CCMC 00031). By 2:42 a.m., Dr. Barrall worried that Mr. Jackson had disseminated intravascular coagulation (DIC) because, in addition to his earlier bloody bowel movement, Mr. Jackson developed bruising to his right shoulder that was not present earlier and hematomas at the Taser sites which were not initially bleeding. (Hosp. Defs. SOF ¶ 84; Medical Chart, at CCMC 00031.)

Dr. Faith Whalen, the ICU intern that worked under the direction of Dr. Hussein Kiliddar, the ICU attending physician, received a patient history from Dr. Barall and saw Mr. Jackson around 2:42 a.m. (Hosp. Defs. SOF ¶ 85). Dr. Neeli, an ICU resident, was also in communication with Dr. Whalen. Subsequent to that, Drs. Whalen, Neeli, and Kiliddar were all in phone contact between 3:00 am and 7:00 a.m. (Hosp. Defs. SOF ¶ 87). Around 4:00 a.m., Dr. Kiliddar discussed Mr. Jackson with Dr. Neeli over the phone. He testified that the conversation was similar to his with Dr. Barrall, that the plan at that time was to trend Mr. Jackson's rhabdomyolysis and provide IV fluid, and that Dr. Neeli provided him with Mr. Jackson's lab results and noted he was awake in the Emergency Department. (Hosp. Defs. SOF ¶ 89, Deposition of Dr. Hussein Kiliddar, hereinafter "Kiliddar Dep. at 69:17-24, 70:1-24, and 71:1-14).

Dr. Barall spoke with Dr. Hussein Kiliddar around 3:00 a.m. and the two discussed the cocaine use, the lab results, and the worsening rhabdomyolysis. (Hosp. Defs. SOF ¶ 81; Medical Chart, at CCMC 00031). Dr. Kiliddar felt that Mr. Jackson should be admitted to the ICU. (Hosp. Defs. SOF ¶ 82; Kiliddar Dep., at 49:19-24 and 50:1-6.) Based on Mr. Jackson's elevated CK levels, Dr. Kiliddar planned to put Mr. Jackson on a protonix drip, trend his labs, and facilitate Mr. Jackson's eventual dialysis and placement on respirator. (Hosp. Defs. SOF ¶ 83; Kiliddar Dep., at 54:10-24 and 55:1-11). Mr. Jackson was then transported to the MICU 3 on August 15, 2009 at approximately 5:07 a.m. (Hosp. Defs. SOF ¶ 90; Medical Chart, at CCMC 00033.) Dr. Whalen entered a variety of orders with the approval of her attending physician, including one allowing for Fentanyl 25 mcg IV every 4 hours as needed for breakthrough pain and Lorazepam (Ativan) ...

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