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Davenport v. Nussbaumer

United States District Court, E.D. North Carolina, Western Division

September 25, 2019

TRAVIS LAMONT DAVENPORT, Plaintiff,
v.
VICTORIA NUSSBAUMER, LINDA BIGGS, SGT. WESSON, CORPORAL GILLIAM, DENNIS PILLMON, OFFICER JONES, SHERIFF OF BERTIE COUNTY, SHERIFF OF MARTIN COUNTY, and CRAIG FRIEDMAN, Defendants.[1] TRAVIS LAMONT DAVENPORT, Plaintiff,
v.
SHERIFF OF BERTIE COUNTY, SHERIFF OF MARTIN COUNTY, and CRAIG FRIEDMAN, Defendants.

          ORDER

          LOUISE W. FLANAGAN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This matter is before the court on defendants’ motions for summary judgment (DE 69, 75, 79) pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56. The motions by defendants Victoria Nussbaumer (“Nussbaumer”), Linda Biggs (“Biggs”), Sgt. Wesson (“Wesson”), Corporal Gilliam (“Gilliam”), Dennis Pillmon (“Pillmon”), Officer Jones (“Jones”) and Craig Friedman (“Friedman”) were fully briefed. Plaintiff did not respond to defendants Sheriff of Bertie County and Sheriff of Martin County’s motion. In this posture, the issues raised are ripe for decision.

         STATEMENT OF THE CASE

         Plaintiff, a former state pretrial detainee proceeding pro se, commenced this action by filing complaint on January 19, 2017, asserting claims for violations of his civil rights pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff alleges defendants violated his right to privacy under the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution by disclosing private health information from his medical records. As relief, plaintiff seeks monetary relief and an injunction directing the Bertie-Martin Regional Jail to change its policies permitting correction officer involvement in detainee medical care.

         On October 25, 2017, the court entered order consolidating this action with Davenport v. Sheriff of Bertie County et al., No. 5:17-CT-3016-FL (E.D. N.C. ), a similar action plaintiff filed in this court against defendants Sheriff of Bertie County, Sheriff of Martin County, and Friedman.

         On January 17, 2018, the court conducted its frivolity review of the complaint and allowed the action to proceed. On January 31, 2018, plaintiff filed motion to appoint counsel, which the court denied that same day. On March 7 and 26, 2018, plaintiff filed motions to amend complaint. The court denied the motions to amend by order entered May 17, 2018.

         On September 21, 2018, the court entered case management order governing discovery and pretrial motions practice. The parties completed discovery on or about January 21, 2019.

         On February 21, 2019, defendants filed the instant motions for summary judgment. In their motion, defendants Biggs and Nussbaumer rely upon a statement of material facts, and the following: 1) affidavit of Biggs; 2) affidavit of Nussbaumer; and 3) plaintiff’s medical records. In their motion, defendants Friedman, Gilliam, Jones, Pillmon, and Wesson (together, “officer defendants”) rely upon a statement of material facts, and the following: 1) declaration of Terrence Whitehurst (“Whitehurst”), jail administrator of the Bertie-Martin Regional Jail; and 2) declarations of defendants Wesson, Gilliam, Pillmon, Jones, and Friedman. In their motion, defendants Sheriff of Bertie County and Sheriff of Martin County’s (together, “Sheriff defendants”) rely upon a statement of material facts, and the following: 1) declaration of John Holley (“Holley”), the Sheriff of Bertie County; 2) declaration of Tim Manning (“Manning”), the Sheriff of Martin County; and 3) copies of North Carolina Session Laws.

         Plaintiff responded in opposition to defendants Nussbaumer and Biggs’s motion on April 3, 2019, relying upon an opposing statement of material facts, plaintiff’s affidavit, and a document concerning legal resources available in North Carolina prisons. Plaintiff also submitted pages marked exhibits two through six, but did not file corresponding exhibits. Also on April 3, 2019, plaintiff responded in opposition to the officer defendants’ motion, relying upon an opposing statement of material facts, plaintiff’s declaration, and the same legal resources document filed in opposition to defendants Nussbaumer and Biggs’s motion. Plaintiff also submitted a page marked exhibit two but did not provide a corresponding exhibit. As noted, plaintiff did not respond to the Sheriff defendants’ motion for summary judgment.

         On April 17, 2019, defendants Biggs and Nussbaumer filed reply in further support of their motion for summary judgment. On May 1, 2019, the officer defendants filed reply in further support of their motion for summary judgment.

         STATEMENT OF THE FACTS

         As defendants move for summary judgment, the court recounts the facts in the light most favorable to plaintiff. On January 25, 2016, plaintiff was arrested on state criminal charges and placed in the Bertie-Martin Regional Jail in Windsor, North Carolina, for pretrial detention. (Pl.’s Aff. (DE 88-1) ¶ 2; Nussbaumer Aff. (DE 72-2) ¶ 4). Defendants Nussbaumer and Biggs were licensed nurses employed by Southern Health Partners during the relevant time period, and they provided contract healthcare services to detainees at the Bertie-Martin Regional Jail. (Nussbaumer Aff. (DE 72-2) ¶ 2; Biggs Aff. (DE 72-1) ¶ 2). Defendants Gilliam, Jones, Pillmon, and Wesson were detention officers employed at the Bertie-Martin Regional Jail during the relevant time period. (Gilliam Decl. (DE 77-3) ¶ 2; Jones Decl. (DE 77-5) ¶ 2; Pillmon (DE 77-4) ¶ 2; Wesson Decl. (DE 77-2) ¶ 2). Defendant Friedman was the Bertie-Martin Regional Jail administrator. (Friedman Decl. (DE 77-6) ¶ 2).

         Defendant Nussbaumer performed a physical on plaintiff shortly after he arrived at the jail. (Pl.’s Aff. (DE 88-1) ¶ 3). During that physical, plaintiff informed defendant Nussbaumer that he was HIV positive and that he was then experiencing intestinal distress and diarrhea. (Id.). Defendant Nussbaumer did not initially provide plaintiff with medication for the diarrhea, despite his numerous complaints. (Id. ¶¶ 3-8).

         On March 18, 2016, plaintiff complained to detention officers and others about his diarrhea. (See id. ¶ 10). The officers informed defendant Nussbaumer that they would contact the on-call nurse if plaintiff continued complaining about loose stools over the weekend. (Nussbaumer Aff. (DE 72-2) ¶ 9). In response, defendant Nussbaumer instructed the officers not to contact the on-call nurse if the only issue plaintiff reported was loose stools. (Id.). Instead, in an effort to document the complaints, defendant Nussbaumer placed a sign-off sheet on plaintiff’s cell door, which stated in bright red handwriting, “please document any reports of loose bowel movements.” (Id.; Pl.’s Aff. (DE 88-1) ¶ 10).

         Defendant Nussbaumer did not inform plaintiff she had placed the sign-off sheet on his cell door. (Pl.’s Aff. (DE 88-1) ¶ 11). The sign-off sheet was publicly accessible, and plaintiff noticed other inmates pointing in his cell door and laughing at him. (Id.). Plaintiff further reports that “as a result of the posting of my personal medical information on my cell door I was mocked, taunted, teased, and humiliated for my sickness by random inmates.” (Id. ¶ 15). On March 20, 2018, another inmate agreed to remove the sign-off sheet from the door. (Id. ¶ 14).

         Approximately two months later, on May 28, 2016, plaintiff became “distraught with anxiety and depression from inmates randomly coming by my cell still taunting and teasing me well after I had the medical sheet removed” and in response to one inmate taunting him, he “jump[ed] up to verbally confront the inmate and slip[ped] and fell hitting my head on the floor and hurting my right shoulder.” (Id. ¶ 16). Plaintiff was sent to the emergency room as a result of this incident, where he received treatment for his injuries. (Pl’s Decl. (DE 91-1) ¶¶ 23-24). The injury to plaintiff’s shoulder caused mild arthritis between his clavicle and shoulder joint. (Id. ¶ 27).

         On June 24, 2016, plaintiff returned to the jail after he had been sent to a different facility for his medical issues. (Pl.’s Aff. (DE 88-1) ¶ 18). When he arrived, defendant Jones informed plaintiff that he must complete a medical screening questionnaire. (Pl.’s Decl. (DE 91-1) ¶ 5; Jones Decl. (DE 77-5) ¶¶ 4-5). The screening form requested information about plaintiff’s HIV status. (Pl.’s Decl. (DE 91-1) ¶ 5). Plaintiff initially refused to answer the questions on the form, but defendant Jones informed plaintiff that he would not be seen by medical staff if he refused to complete the questionnaire. (Id. ¶ 6). Defendant Wesson was also present during the encounter, a n d he agreed with defendant Jones that plaintiff must answer the questions on the form in order to be seen by medical staff. (Id. ¶ 7). Defendant Wesson contacted defendant Biggs, who also confirmed that plaintiff must complete the form. (Id. ¶¶ 7-8). Because plaintiff needed medical attention, he agreed to complete the form, and thereby disclosed his HIV-positive status to defendants Jones and Wesson. (Id. ¶ 9).

         Upon learning that plaintiff was HIV-positive, defendants Wesson and Jones began treating plaintiff differently. (Id. ¶ 10). For example, defendant Jones stated plaintiff was “contagious” during the June 24, 2016, incident. (Id.). Plaintiff subsequently asked defendant Wesson to assist him with a telephone call to his family, and defendant Wesson responded “ain’t nobody coming to see you” in a malicious tone. (Id.). Plaintiff also generally alleges defendants Jones and Wesson “mocked, bullied, defamed, and humiliated” him. (Id.).

         On June 29, 2016, plaintiff did not receive his double portion meal tray, which was required by his medical orders. (Id. ¶ 11). Plaintiff asked defendant Wesson for his double portion. (Id.). Defendant Wesson approached defendants Gilliam, Pillmon, and Jones and said “in the most sarcastic way” that plaintiff wanted another meal tray. (Id. ΒΆΒΆ 12-13). Plaintiff admits he was given his additional food tray approximately 10 or 15 ...


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