United States District Court, D. Minnesota
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
E. RAU, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
matter comes before the undersigned on Defendants McLeod
County, McLeod County Jail, Sheriff Scott Rehmann, John Doe,
Jane Does #1-2, and Various Unknown Corrections Officers,
Doctors, and Nurses' (collectively,
“Defendants”) Motion for Dismissal and/or Summary
Judgment (“Dispositive Motion”) [Doc. No. 33].
This matter was referred for the resolution of pretrial
matters pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B) and
District of Minnesota Local Rule 72.1 for a Report and
Recommendation. See (Order of Reference) [Doc. No.
45]. For the reasons set forth below, the Court recommends
that Defendants' Dispositive Motion be granted and that
this case be dismissed.
Amended Complaint asserts that Defendants violated his Eighth
Amendment rights. (Am. Compl. at 8-9). The central premise
of Shelton's Amended Complaint is that McLeod County jail
staff ignored Shelton's medical records in their
possession and failed to prescribe sufficient doses of
Xanax. Specifically, Shelton alleges that he
experienced cruel and unusual punishment relating to
Defendants' medical indifference when they-on four
separate occasions in February 2014, August 2014, October
2014, and December 2014-denied him Xanax for his
Tourette's Syndrome, causing Shelton to undergo rapid
withdrawal symptoms.(Id. ¶¶ 28-36). As a
result, Shelton alleges that he experienced “severe
panic attacks, seizures, auditory hallucinations, visual
hallucinations, and extreme anxiety.” (Id.
¶ 35). Furthermore, Shelton alleges that his seizures
caused “additional physical injuries, such as a broken
foot.” (Id.). Shelton seeks an award of
undisclosed “compensatory and punitive damages for his
severe emotional and mental distress, embarrassment,
humiliation, pain and suffering, ” in addition to
“costs, disbursements, and attorneys' fees incurred
in bringing and prosecuting this action.” (Id.
the close of discovery, Shelton's counsel moved to
withdraw. See (Mot., “First Mot. to
Withdraw”) [Doc. No. 29]; see also (Pretrial
Scheduling Order) [Doc. No. 28 at 1] (stating “[a]ll
fact discovery [of] any kind shall be commenced in time to be
completed by” August 1, 2017). The Court deferred
ruling on the First Motion to Withdraw because Shelton's
counsel had provided insufficient information under the Local
Rules. See (Order Dated Oct. 5, 2017) [Doc. No. 30].
Soon thereafter, Defendants filed their Dispositive Motion
and Shelton's counsel filed a Notice of Motion and Motion
to Withdraw from Representation (“Second Motion to
Withdraw”) [Doc. No. 38]. The Court stayed the briefing
of the Defendants' Dispositive Motion pending resolution
of the Second Motion to Withdraw. See (Text Only
Order Dated Nov. 22, 2017) [Doc. No. 46].
hearing before the undersigned, the Second Motion to Withdraw
was granted. See (Minute Entry Dated Jan. 8, 2018)
[Doc. No. 47]; (Text Only Order Dated Jan. 8, 2018) [Doc. No.
48]. Later, the Court also issued a briefing schedule for
Defendants' Dispositive Motion. (Text Only Order Dated
Jan. 19, 2018) [Doc. No. 49] (establishing that Shelton must
respond to Defendants' Dispositive Motion on or before
February 19, 2018). Shelton's Motion for Appointment of
Counsel (“Motion to Appoint Counsel”) [Doc. No.
50] followed. The Court denied Shelton's Motion to
Appoint Counsel. See (Order Dated Jan. 29, 2018)
[Doc. No. 51]. In particular, the Court stated that it
is sensitive to Shelton's apprehension regarding his
pro se status in this matter. That being said, the
Court concludes that appointment of counsel is not warranted
under the circumstances. Specifically, the factors espoused
in [Phillips v. Jasper County Jail, 437 F.3d 791,
794 (8th Cir. 2006)] do not suggest that the Court or Shelton
“will substantially benefit from the appointment of
counsel.” See Plummer[ v. Grimes, 87
F.3d 1032, 1033 (8th Cir. 1996)]. Critically, Shelton
received the benefit of counsel in crafting his Amended
Complaint and throughout the discovery process. Thus, Shelton
cannot show continued benefit of representation with respect
to his ability to investigate the facts. Discovery is closed
and the record is what the record will be, regardless of
whether the Court appoints new counsel in this matter.
(Id. at 4). Shelton did not file a timely response
to the Defendants' Dispositive Motion. Instead, almost
two months after the time in which he could timely respond,
Shelton submitted a collection of exhibits that show medical
expenses for various drugs including Xanax, Nefazodone,
Lorazepam, and Diazepam. (Exs., “Shelton's
Exs.”) [Doc. No. 52]. The only explanation that
accompanied the exhibits was included in a cover letter, in
which Shelton asserted “[t]hese are my prescription
records. Please submit this as evidence in my case. A copy
has already been sent to the defending attorney.”
(Cover Letter) [Doc. No. 52-1]. The exhibits show that
Shelton had a gap in his Xanax prescription from July 24,
2014, until November 24, 2014. See (Shelton's
Exs. at 2).
assert that Shelton's Amended Complaint should be
dismissed for failure to state a claim for a number of
reasons: (1) Shelton's medical history suggests that he
did not have a serious medical need for Xanax; (2) the
unnamed parties have not been served and must be dismissed;
(3) McLeod County Jail is not subject to suit; and (4)
Shelton did not assert any individual capacity claims-and
because there is no individual liability-Shelton cannot bring
claims under Monell v. Department of Social
Services, 436 U.S. 658 (1978). (Defs.' Mem. in Supp.
at 12-19). With respect to summary judgment, Defendants argue
that they were not indifferent to Shelton's medical
needs. See (id. at 12-13, 21-28). To that
end, Defendants assert that they gave him medication as
instructed by a physician to help Shelton with medically
identifiable concerns and that treatment was based on the
physician's medical discretion. (Id. at 23-26).
In support of their Dispositive Motion, Defendants filed
twenty-four exhibits, including probation reports, some of
Shelton's medical records, and medical administrations
records for Shelton while at the McLeod County Jail.
See (Exs. 1-24, Attached to Aff. of Jason M.
Hiveley) [Doc. Nos. 36-1 to 36-24].
probation reports show that prior to each of the alleged
incidents, Shelton was incarcerated for alcohol-related
incidents. See (Ex. 1 at 3) (describing the various
violations including unlawful blood alcohol levels and
failure to complete a halfway house protocol). The medical
records also suggest medical professionals were concerned
with Shelton's prescription drug use. See (Ex.
3) (notes from an August 2007 appointment where the physician
stated Shelton “clearly uses meds without discretion or
regard to MD's orders”). The medical records
further demonstrate that medical professions were concerned
with Shelton's mixing of Xanax with alcohol. See,
e.g., (Ex. 24) (stating “of significant concern,
is [Shelton's] admission of drinking alcohol in
combination with his Xanax” and that Shelton rebuked
attempts at discussing “how dangerous this is”).
The medical records also evidence situations in which Shelton
told physicians that he “do[es]n't go through
withdrawal from [X]anax” and that seizures he has had
in the past could not be attributable to Xanax withdrawal.
See (Ex. 5 at 2). But see (Ex. 19 at 4)
(stating that Shelton has a history of
“Xanax/benzodiazepine withdrawal seizures”).
Finally, the record shows that Shelton declined
Chlordiazepoxide during his February 2014 incarceration,
which “may also be used to treat symptoms of alcohol
withdrawal.” See Chlordiazepoxide Hydrochloride
(Oral Route), Mayo Clinic,
(last updated Mar. 1, 2017); see also (Exs. 15-17)
(medical inmate notes and refusal of treatment release
his incarnation in February of 2014, Shelton was provided
with step-down doses of Xanax. See (Ex. 10)
(Shelton's medication record while incarcerated in
February 2014); (Ex. 11) (Shelton's health complaint form
complaining of reduced Xanax doses); see also
(Defs.' Mem. in Supp. at 6-7) (describing the manner in
which Shelton was administered Xanax during his February 2014
incarceration). Prior to his incarceration in August of 2014,
Shelton attempted suicide by overdosing on Xanax and
consuming alcohol. See (Ex. 19 at 2-3).
Consequently, given Shelton's medical history, medical
professionals apparently prescribed Thorazine (aka
“Chlorpromazine”), discontinuing Shelton's
Xanax prescription. See (Ex. 20 at 2); see
also (Defs.' Mem. in Supp. at 8) (Shelton's Exs.
at 2) (showing no Xanax prescription from July 24, 2014 until
November 24, 2014). With respect to his time in the McLeod
County Jail in August of 2014, the medication administration
records demonstrate that he was not given Xanax during his
August stay, but was given Thorazine. See (Ex. 21 at
2-5). During his incarceration in October of 2014, he was not
provided Xanax. See (Ex. 22 at 2). Shelton was also
not provided with Xanax during his December 2014
incarceration, although he appears to have obtained a new
prescription for it. See (Ex. 23 at 2);
(Shelton's Exs. at 2).
Dismissal Under Rule 12(b)(6)
To survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must contain
sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim
to relief that is plausible on its face. A claim has facial
plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that
allows the court to draw the reasonable ...