United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Harrison Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
TIMOTHY L. BROOKS, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
a civil rights action filed by the Plaintiff, Tony A.
Griffin, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Griffin proceeds
pro se and in forma pauperis. The claims at
issue in this case arise out of Griffin's incarceration
in the Baxter County Detention Center ("BCDC") from
August 4, 2018, through September 14, 2018. Griffin names as
Defendants Nurse Sara Hollis and Jail Administrator Tony
who is Black, contends his constitutional rights were
violated when Defendants exhibited deliberate indifference to
his serious medical needs and he was denied medical care on
the basis on his race. Griffin has sued the Defendants in
their personal capacities only. (Doc. 20 at 4).
case is before the Court on the Defendants' Motion for
Summary Judgment. (Docs. 24-26, 40). Plaintiff has responded
to the Motion, (Docs. 31-32, 42, 48), and it is ready for
Prior Medical History
his deposition,  Griffin testified that he had been in a
serious car accident in 2001 or 2002 during which he
sustained injuries to his head, back, left leg, and both
feet. (Doc. 26-8 at 17). As a result of the head injury,
Griffin has problems with his memory, including forgetting
things he is told and people's names. Id. at
26-28. In 2011, Griffin had a light stroke. Id. at
19. Griffin has sciatic nerve damage to his left side.
Id. While he was in prison in 2014 or 2015, Griffin
had stents put in his heart. Id. at 21. Griffin
testified that he has to take "a lot of medicine"
for his heart, his blood pressure, gastroesophageal reflux
disease ("GERD"), rheumatoid arthritis, pain in his
shoulder from an injury, and sciatic nerve damage to his left
leg. Id. at 21-24. However, he testified he did not
"even know half the medicine he takes now."
Id. at 21.
testified that during periods of time when he was not
incarcerated, he did not have ongoing care for his medical
problems. (Doc. 26-8 at 17). In fact, he stated that he had
not had an outside doctor for years. Id. at 17-18.
His grandmother, who was a nurse and a full-blooded Cherokee,
provided Griffin with "natural herbs and stuff that
helped." Id. at 19. Griffin testified that when
he was in Arkansas Department of Correction
("ADC"), he was put on approximately 17 different
medications. Id. at 22.
also took seven or eight medications at the halfway house,
OMART, where he was placed when he was paroled. Id.
at 22. On August 4, 2018, Griffin was arrested at the
Mountain Home Motel where he had lived for a "little
over a year." (Doc. 26-8 at 29-30). Griffin testified he
had his medications, but the arresting officers refused to
take them. Id. at 29-30. The medication Griffin had
at the hotel had been filled by OMART at a pharmacy in
Gassville, Arkansas. Id. at 29-30. Griffin testified
that the medication lasted over a year because he was not
taking it daily in accordance with the prescription
directions, with the exception of the non-prescription 81 mg
Bayer aspirin. Id. Griffin testified that OMART had
given him "more than what they were supposed to"
when he left there. Id. In fact, Griffin stated that
one of the nurses at OMART advised him to "keep a lot of
[the medication], that way when you get out, you were
good." Id. at 35. Griffin testified he could
not remember all the medications but knew he was taking high
blood pressure and heart medication and pain pills.
Id. at 33. According to Griffin, when he tried to
get help from three different doctors in Mountain Home, where
he was living, "they refused me because of my color.
They said they don't do my kind." Id. at
31-32. Griffin testified throughout his deposition that the
population of Mountain Home in general, and the detention
center personnel in particular, including the Defendants,
were racist and wanted any Blacks to move out of the area.
Incarceration at the BCDC
was booked into the BCDC on August 4, 2018. (Doc. 26-2 at 1).
He remained incarcerated there until September 14, 2018, when
he was transferred to the ADC. Id.
testified that the day he was arrested, he spoke to Nurse
Hollis and advised her that his medication had been left in
his hotel room. (Doc. 26-8 at 44-45). Griffin stated that he
advised Nurse Hollis that he needed his heart medication.
Id. at 45. According to Griffin, Nurse Hollis
remarked that Griffin worked with her brother at Bass Cat
Boats, made good money, and should give her some. (Doc. 26-8
at 47-48). He refused, and after that, Nurse Hollis avoided
him. Id. at 45. Administrator Beck was not a party
to these events. Id.
September 6, 2018, at approximately 4:15 p.m., Nurse Hollis
was talking to Griffin's cellmate, who was on suicide
watch about "meds and stuff." (Doc. 26-8 at 39).
Griffin testified that he asked Nurse Hollis if he could get
something for "pain and stuff." Id. He
explained that he was not allowed to bring his "heart
medication and stuff' and was having chest pain.
Id. According to Griffin, Nurse Hollis "looked
at [him] kind of funny and said he would have to fill out a
"paper."' Id. Griffin testified he
filled out the medical request form and gave it to her.
Id. at 40. Then, "she walked off, c[a]me
back" and "slid it up under the
door." Id. Griffin testified that Nurse
Hollis formerly worked at an ADC unit where he had been
incarcerated, and he believed she knew he was taking heart
medication. Id. at 43. Griffin stated that he told
her he needed his heart medication and that it was in his
hotel room. Id. Griffin could not recall the name of
the medication. Id.
testified that on the medical request form he had asked for
medication but indicated that he did not have a doctor. (Doc.
26-8 at 41). He asked for Bayer aspirin and told Nurse Hollis
that his medications were still sitting in his hotel room.
Id. He asked if someone could be sent to get them.
Id. Griffin testified his parole officer and Officer
Michael Day, who was in the criminal investigation division,
indicated Griffin's belongings were still at the hotel.
Id. at 41-42. According to Griffin, Officer Day,
Nurse Hollis, and an unidentified woman were all sitting in a
small room "laughing and stuff and were calling [him]
'Niggers.'" Id. at 42.
stated that on September 7, 2018, Nurse Hollis refused him
medication, stating that she did not have to "listen or
do a damn thing that you tell me." (Doc. 26-8 at 47).
She then told him that he could "lay in the cell and
die." Id. at 46. Griffin further testified that
he begged Nurse Hollis "over, and over, and over"
for something to take for his heart. Id. at 64. He
believed Nurse Hollis had some of the same type of medication
at the facility. Id. According to Griffin, Nurse
Hollis did not even provide him with the Bayer aspirin.
Id. at 64-65. Instead, "some female jailer
snuck me some Bayer aspirin while I was there."
Id. at 64.
maintains that Administrator Beck said to him: "Nigger,
you can lay up in the cell and die, for all I care."
(Doc. 26-8 at 45). Griffin did not believe this occurred on
the same day that Nurse Hollis made similar statements.
Id. at 45-46. Griffin also asserts that
Administrator Beck was a "bully." Id. at
September 7, 2018, Griffin submitted a grievance complaining
that Nurse Hollis failed to provide him with medical
attention. (Doc. 26-3 at 1). He stated he had a
life-threatening illness. Id. He requested to be
given an aspirin every day for his heart. Id. He
also indicated that Nurse Hollis talked to him like he was a
"boy." Id. In response, a jailer was
instructed to provide Griffin with a medical request form and
to log it in the Guardian Inmate Tracking System.
medical request form dated September 8, 2018 appears in the
record. (Doc No. 26-4 at 1). In response to questions
contained on the form, Griffin stated he had no current
doctor, did not have a current pharmacy, could not recall the
names of any of his medication except the Bayer aspirin, and
he did not know if he had any drug allergies. Id. He
also asked for medical attention for his heart. Id.
Griffin's signature appears on the medical request.
Id. On the bottom portion of the form is an area to
be completed by the medical provider. Id. The date
of the exam is blank, and in the area for medical notes, the
word "refused" is written. Id. There is no
signature following this remark. Id.
morning of September 12, 2018, Clifford Beck wrote that he had
spoken to Griffin regarding his grievance and told him to
complete a medical request form. (Doc. 26-5 at 2). A jailer
was instructed to provide Griffin with the form. Id.
The same day, Advanced Practice Nurse Denise Clifton-Jones
and Nurse Hollis started to complete a health service request
form for ADC jail detainees. (Doc. 26-4 at 2). The area on
the form for the detainee to describe his injury or illness
is blank. Id. Griffin did not sign the form.
Id. According to the nurses, Griffin walked out of
the medical office before filling in or signing the form.
(Doc. 26-4 at 3; Doc. 26-5 at 1). Advanced Practice Nurse
Denise Clifton-Jones described the encounter as follows:
Pt has completed a sick call for[m] requesting
"heart[.]" When he arrived to the exam room I
attempted to decipher what type of problems he has/had and he
became belligerent and began yelling stating he doesn't
understand why it is so hard to get an aspirin. When I
attempted to explain to him that I at least need his pharmacy
information so that I can verify the medications he is
supposed to be taking. He began yelling again and cursing
that he is 9 hours from home and doesn't know what
medications he is supposed to be taking nor does he know what
pharmacy he has been using-at which time he exited the
medical office without completing the visit.
(Doc. 26-5 at 3). Griffin, however, maintains he did not walk
out of the office but was instead told to leave. (Doc. 32 at
maintains that Administrator Beck went along with Nurse Hollis
in refusing him medical attention and denied his request to
go to the hospital when he was having "real bad chest
pain." (Doc. 26-8 at 51-52). Griffin indicates he told
Administrator Beck that he did not have his nitro pills to
take and needed to go to the hospital. Id. at 52.
According to Griffin, Administrator Beck's response was:
"Nigger, I ain't taking you nowhere."
Id. Griffin could not recall what day this encounter
took place. Id. Griffin further testified that
Administrator Beck said: "Nigger, you can lay up in the
cell and die, for all I care." Id. at 45.
Griffin testified he did not know if he had a heart attack
that day since he was never taken to a doctor or the
hospital. Id. Griffin stated that it was obvious if
he had a heart attack, it was not serious enough to kill him.
Id. Griffin also asserts that both Defendants
refused to go and get his medication from the hotel.
Id. at 58.
September 14, 2018, Griffin underwent a transfer assessment
at the ADC (Doc. 26-4 at 4). Griffin was placed on Amlodipine
Besylate Tab/10 mg and Hydrochlorothiazide
Tab/25 mg; lab tests were ordered; and, he was
referred for a physical examination "for any medical
restrictions." Id. at 4-5. Griffin testified he
was put on bed rest and medications were started. (Doc. 26-8
at 52). Griffin maintains that he was told his blood pressure
was high and that the BCDC personnel "were trying to
kill [him]." Id. at 53.
BCDC is operated in accordance with written policy, and
"the staff is expected to conform to policy." (Doc.
26-7 at 1). The jail administrator, here Defendant Tony Beck,
is responsible "for the overall operation of the
jail." Id. The BCDC provides "jail inmates
with medical and health care to the standards" of
existing Arkansas and United States statutory law and court
precedents. (Doc. 26-7 at 6). To this end, the BCDC
"shall provide ... medical personnel who are duly
licensed in the State of Arkansas." Id. One
licensed practical nurse ("LPN") is "employed
full time and . . . maintains an office and presence inside
the confines of the Detention Center when working and on
duty." Id. There is also one Advanced Practice
Registered Nurse (APRN) employed part-time and "who
shall regularly be available in person at the Detention
Center to see jail inmates a minimum of two (2) times per
week." Id. Both "will work under the
general authority and direction of a licensed physician . . .
however the physician shall not have responsibility for nor
be required to keep or maintain a presence at the Detention
Center, neither shall the physician be responsible for
on-site general supervision of the LPN or APRN."
inmate is booked in, the booking jailer "shall ask a
series of basic medical questions to determine, among other
things, whether the inmate has any injuries, is under the
care of a physician, has any communicable diseases, and is
taking any medications prescribed by a licensed health care
professional." (Doc. 26-7 at 7). The responses to the
questions are to be "fully annotated in the booking file
for later review by supervisory personnel and/or licensed
medical personnel providing services to the Detention
Center." Id. If such questions were asked of
Griffin in this case, no record of Griffin's responses
has been provided to the Court.
for medical services are to be made in writing on a medical
request form. (Doc. 26-7 at 7). "Other than in cases of
emergencies or urgent situations in which jail personnel
reasonably believe medical care is immediately necessary, a
jail inmate will only be provided with professional medical
care if they complete a "Medical Request Form" and
turn it in for review by licensed medical personnel."
Id. The forms are available once per day
"during the 8:00 pm distribution of medication time
period." Id. Any medical request forms that are
completed "will be logged and annotated in the Guardian
Inmate Tracking System, which will log the date and time that
the completed form was returned." Id. The
completed forms are reviewed by the LPN.
inmates who have completed the Medical Request Form are
permitted to speak personally with and be seen by the LPN
during times designated for the distribution] of medication
by the LPN." (Doc. 26-7 at 7). Inmates will be seen by
the "APRN during such times as the APRN is at the
Detention Center, if sufficient information is articulated on
the Medical Request Form to necessitate the need to be seen
by the APRN." Id. This decision will be
determined by the APRN." Id. at 8. For each
inmate seen, the "LPN and APRN shall keep detailed and
specific medical notes . . . that will identify the nature of
the complaint and necessary action, if any, that was taken or
decisions made." Id.
only prescription medications that are provided and dispensed
to inmates are those that have been duly and lawfully
prescribed by qualified medical personnel. (Doc. 26-7 at 9).
All medications ...