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Williams v. Watson

United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Fayetteville Division

July 29, 2016


          Ambrose Bernard Williams, Plaintiff, Pro Se.

          Nurse Darla Watson, Defendant, represented by JaNan Arnold Davis, Rainwater, Holt & Sexton, P.A. & Jason E. Owens, Rainwater, Holt & Sexton, P.A..


          ERIN L. SETSER, Magistrate Judge.

         This is a civil rights action filed by the Plaintiff pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff proceeds pro se and in forma pauperis.

         At the time he filed this action, Plaintiff was incarcerated in the Benton County Detention Center (BCDC). He names as Defendants Nurse Darla Watson and Deputy Freeman. Plaintiff has sued the Defendants in both their individual and official capacities. Plaintiff alleges the Defendants exhibited deliberate indifference to his serious medical needs.

         Deputy Freeman no longer works for Benton County. Service was returned as unexecuted (Doc. 9). By order entered on May 7, 2014 (Doc. 13), Plaintiff was directed to provide the Court with an address for service. Plaintiff was unable to locate an address, but defense counsel provided Deputy Freeman's last known address. Service was again directed on March 24, 2015 (Doc. 28). The summons was again returned unexecuted (Doc. 30). No other address is available to the Court.

         Defendant Darla Watson has filed a motion for summary judgment (Doc. 34). A hearing was held on April 27, 2016, to allow the Plaintiff to testify in response to the motion. Nurse Watson was allowed to testify by telephone. The testimony of Dr. Lafferty was taken telephonically on April 28, 2016. The motion is ready for decision.

         1. Procedural History

         This case was originally scheduled for a hearing on the summary judgment motion on February 17, 2016. However, in reviewing the case prior to the hearing, the undersigned noted that Nurse Watson's summary judgment materials indicated she was not working on the night in question, October 22, 2013, and that it was Nurse Gail Hartgraves who worked that evening. For this reason, the hearing was postponed, and a telephone conference call was held on February 16, 2016, to ascertain whether Plaintiff wanted to file an amended complaint or otherwise move to substitute Nurse Hartgraves in the place of Nurse Watson.

         Plaintiff was insistent that the nurse involved was Nurse Watson. He maintained she was the only nurse there on the evening of October 22, 2013. Since he had been at the facility in excess of ten months, he insisted he knew which nurse he dealt with.

         In view of the apparent disagreement as to which nurse was working on the evening of October 22, 2013, the undersigned directed that the matter be rescheduled for hearing and that subpoenas be issued for Dr. Lafferty and for Nurse Hartgraves.

         2. Background

         (A). Plaintiff's Version of the Events

         Plaintiff testified that he was incarcerated at the BCDC from October 7, 2013, until his release in November of 2014. Defts' Ex. A-1 at 1.[1] At the times relevant to this case, Plaintiff was in pretrial status.

         Plaintiff testified that shortly after he was through eating breakfast on the morning of October 22, 2013, [2] he began to experience a burning sensation and pain in his abdomen. He had never had this feeling before. Plaintiff submitted a medical request/grievance on the kiosk, stating that he had a burning sensation in his stomach and needed to see the doctor. He testified, however, that there was some type of malfunction with the kiosk that day and the grievances for the whole pod were missing for that day. Thirty to forty-five minutes later, he pushed the emergency button.

         Plaintiff testified in his deposition that he had taken a nap after breakfast and that when he woke up around 10:00 or 11:00 a.m., he was feeling bad. Defts' Ex. B at 6-7. This is when he submitted the medical request and, when that was not answered, he started pushing the emergency button. Id.

         Deputy Freeman responded to the emergency button and denied the Plaintiff's request to be seen by the nurse. According to Plaintiff, Deputy Freeman refused his request to see a nurse "four times." Defts' Ex. A-1 at 108 & 137. Deputy Freeman just told Plaintiff to lie back down, that he would be all right, and to stop pressing the emergency button. Defts' Ex. B at 3, [3] 4. Plaintiff felt that Deputy Freeman should have at least come into the pod to see what was wrong. Id. at 32.

         Plaintiff then asked another inmate to press the emergency button and say that something was wrong with the Plaintiff. Id. at 4. Plaintiff indicated that after this, the door was finally opened and he was taken down to the nurses' station. Id.

         Plaintiff testified that it was around 4:00 to 4:30 p.m., when he was finally taken to the nurses' station. He walked to the nurses' station but was in severe pain. Plaintiff testified he saw Nurse Watson and told her about the burning sensation in his stomach. He described it as being in the middle of his abdomen. Nurse Watson had him lay down and pressed on his abdomen. Plaintiff testified ...

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