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Leyva v. Lunsford

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

April 11, 2019

SERGEANT GARY LUNSFORD, Washington County Detention Center DEFENDANT



         This is a civil rights action filed pro se by Plaintiff Eduardo Lamas Leyva under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Currently before the Court is a Motion for Summary Judgment filed by Defendant, Sergeant Gary Lunsford ("Sergeant Lunsford"). (Doc. 28). Plaintiff has not filed a response, and the time to do so has passed. The Court finds this matter ripe for consideration.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff filed his complaint on May 25, 2018. (Doc. 1). His application to proceed in forma pauperis was granted the same day. (Doc. 4). Plaintiff is currently incarcerated in the Washington County Detention Center ("WCDC") awaiting trial on pending criminal charges. (Doc. 9, p. 3).

         Plaintiff alleges Sergeant Lunsford denied him medical care on February 28, 2018, when he refused to allow Plaintiff "to speak with a medical provider at the jail due to my broke cranium from a car wreck." (Doc. 1, p. 4). Plaintiff claims Sergeant Lunsford "told me to go drink water and lay down. I have medical records proving this and ever since I have been still in pain and lack of vision and my concentration has been off." Id. Plaintiff initially sued Sergeant Lunsford in his individual and official capacities seeking compensatory damages. On June 7, 2018, the Court entered a screening order pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A dismissing the official capacity claims. (Doc. 7).

         On January 17, 2019, Sergeant Lunsford filed the instant Motion for Summary Judgment arguing: (1) there was no personal involvement of Sergeant Lunsford; (2) Plaintiff failed to exhaust the administrative remedies available to him; (3) there was no deliberate indifference to Plaintiffs medical needs; (4) negligence is not a constitutional violation; and (5) Sergeant Lunsford is entitled to qualified immunity. Although Plaintiff did not file a response to the motion, his complaint was verified; therefore, Plaintiff's allegations will be considered accordingly.


         Plaintiff was arrested and booked into the custody of the WCDC on February 2, 2018. During the booking process, Plaintiff informed WCDC staff that he had medical issues and complaints relating to his "head" and that he was taking "pain meds" for this condition. (Doc. 30-2, pp. 1-8). The next day, Plaintiff filed a request for medical services and asked to be added to the sick call list. He was added to the list that same day. (Doc. 30-3, p. 5).

         On February 7, 2018, Plaintiff indicated he no longer needed medication. The WCDC medical staff responded stating they would have a provider review his request and cancel it. Id. at 6. The following day, Plaintiff reported issues with his "broken head" and was placed on the sick call list for review by a medical provider. On February 10, 2018, he was evaluated by medical staff and found to be "more concerned with getting killed if he goes back to Mexico . .. mild distress, nose and head injury were from 2 years ago." Plaintiff indicated he did not want to be on medications at that time. (Doc. 30-4, p. 27).

         On February 12, 2018, Plaintiff was again seen by medical staff. Plaintiff asked for a second blanket and expressed concern about being returned to Mexico. Id. at 24-27. His request for a second blanket was approved and, at his request, he was given a journal to write down his feelings rather than being treated with medications. Id. at 24.

         On February 21, 2018, Plaintiff filed a request to medical services asking, "I would like to know how it works here, if you feel bad, ... I have to be dying to make a case."[1]The following day, medical staff responded: "You have to see the nurse, they will put you on the list tomorrow... If you have a medical complaint, inform us. We have been helping you as much as possible. Our doctor did not think you were in immediate trouble with your medical needs. Your doctor visit for your head was in 2005." (Doc. 30-3, p. 8).

         On the evening of February 21, 2018, Plaintiff was using the kiosk after lights out, and an officer instructed him to get off the kiosk and go to his bunk. Plaintiff remained at the kiosk and was issued a citation for failure to follow verbal orders of staff. The report was approved by Sergeant Lunsford on February 24, 2018. (Doc. 30-5, pp. 1-4). In response to the citation, on February 26, 2018, Plaintiff wrote:

I write this letter to tell my story about the events that took place on 01/21/2018 at 23:49. My head was hurting and I asked for a pain pill or another blanket to calm my head pain and I refused all kinds of help for this reason. I wrote in the kiosk as I send some complaints because they are charging for medical charity and do not give me adequate medication and every time is greater my medical expenses because doctors and nurses come to supposedly see me and it is pure farce probably not even that up I owe and do not receive the right medication. The officer ...

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