United States District Court, D. Minnesota
ORDER ON REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
E. Brasel United States District Judge
se Plaintiff Cory Bevins brings this lawsuit against two
groups of defendants: the Becker County Defendants (Becker
County, Minnesota; Becker County Jail, the Becker County
Sheriffs' Department, an unknown Becker County Sheriff,
Donald Nelson, John W. Freeman, Paula Peterson, and Randy
Hodgson), and the St. Mary's Defendants (St. Mary's
Regional Health Center and Innovis Health,
LLC). Bevins' claims arise from the medical
treatment he received while being detained at Becker County
Jail (“the Jail”). The Becker County Defendants
and the St. Mary's Defendants moved for summary judgment
[ECF Nos. 126, 120] and Magistrate Judge Becky R. Thorson, in
a Report and Recommendation, recommended granting both
motions. [ECF No. 180 (“R&R”) at 2.] For the
reasons stated below, the Court grants both
January 14, 2014, Becker County police arrested, transported,
and booked Plaintiff Cory Bevins at Becker County Jail. [ECF
No. 129-1 at 94.] The arresting officer informed the Jail
staff that Bevins was a heavy drinker and may experience
withdrawal symptoms. [ECF No. 129-2 at 2.] The Jail staff
observed Bevins, but Bevins argues he “was never
checked on or even asked if he was ok. Not once did a guard
open the door or trap to ask [him] if he was ok. After the 12
hours elapsed the guard opened the door and told [him] to
cuff up. He was never asked if he was ok or if he thought he
needed medical attention.” [ECF No. 157 at 1-2.]
that 12-hour period, Bevins experienced worsening abdominal
pain. [ECF No. 122-3 (“Bevins Dep.”) at
38:24-39:3.] Bevins was taken to St Mary's Regional
Health Center (“the Hospital”) and admitted.
(Id. at 36:20-37:20.) A doctor diagnosed him with
alcoholic hepatitis and gastritis. (Id. at
40:10-41:2.) Bevins spent two days at the Hospital.
(Id. at 37:05-38:01.) He was then discharged and
prescribed four vitamins and an acid suppressant. [ECF No.
129-2 at 4.] The Jail filled Bevins' prescriptions the
day after his discharge. (Id.) The Jail administers
medication to inmates four times per day [ECF No. 129,
¶9] and Bevins took his medication every day for the
next week, January 18, to January 25. [ECF No. 129-1 at
January 20, 2014, Bevins saw Dr. Pankaj Timsina at Essentia
Health, who noted his symptoms were improving. [ECF No. 122-3
at 74.]. Then, two days after his appointment, Bevins
submitted a Sick Call Request Form, stating he was
experiencing severe side and stomach pain. (Bevins Dep. at
62:12-63:4.) Bevins called his mother from the Jail and told
her the Jail had given him ibuprofen for the pain, that the
medications prescribed after his hospitalizations had run
out, and that he was waiting for them to be refilled. [ECF
No. 133-1 at 2-3.]
days later, a Jail nurse attempted to contact Dr.
Timsina's office. (Bevins Dep. at 63:5-63:14.) The nurse
spoke with Dr. Monica Pokharel the following day, who stated
that the Jail could give Bevins one dose of Tylenol or
ibuprofen if necessary and that if the pain continued, Bevins
could return to the clinic. (Id. at 68:1-22.) Jail
staff then noticed Bevins had vomited in his cell.
(Id. at 79:18-80:18.) Bevins unsuccessfully
attempted to hide the vomit and Jail staff noticed there was
blood in his vomit. (Id.) Jail staff then took
Bevins back to the Hospital where he stayed for several days.
(Id. at 69:5-70:1.)
met with Dr. Timsina for a follow-up appointment. [ECF No.
122-3 at 107.] Dr. Timsina amended Bevins' diagnosis to
chronic pancreatitis and they discussed a treatment plan.
(Id.) Bevins also met with a social worker several
times at the Jail. [ECF No. 129-2 at 16-17.] He told the
social worker that he was “feeling ‘helpless'
and ‘hopeless' regarding his situation of
incarceration.” (Id. at 16.) The social worker
noted that Bevins may benefit from taking antidepressants.
(Id. at 17.) Bevins also spoke with a nurse at the
jail about his mental health. (Id. at 18.) He told
the nurse he thought he had been prescribed an
antidepressant. (Id.) The nurse contacted Dr.
Timsina, who indicated Bevins had not in fact been prescribed
an antidepressant. (Id.)
later, Bevins submitted another Sick Call Request Form.
(Bevins Dep. at 129:4-8.) He complained that the area above
his lip was swollen and that he believed it was a spider
bite. (Id. at 129:13-25.) A nurse at the jail found
there was some “slight swelling” but no signs of
infection or redness. (Id. at 130:13-17.) Bevins was
authorized to receive ibuprofen four times a day and an ice
pack for his face three times a day. (Id. at
130:18-23.) Jail staff then took Bevins to urgent care the
following day. (Id. at 131:4-7.) Doctors diagnosed
Bevins with cellulitis and prescribed him an antibiotic and
pain medication, which Jail staff administered to him.
(Id. at 135:4-25.) Over the next few weeks the
swelling disappeared and the cellulitis fully resolved. In
April 2014, Bevins was transferred to federal custody.
(Id. at 155:6-20.)
sued the St. Mary's and Becker County Defendants,
alleging several constitutional violations under 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983 including: (1) deliberate indifference to medical
needs; (2) a violation of procedural due process; (3)
conspiracy to violate his constitutional rights, as well as a
claim against Becker County for enacting unconstitutional
policies, customs, and practices. [ECF No. 24.] Bevins also
brought state law claims for negligence and medical
malpractice. Id. The St. Mary's Defendants and
the Becker County Defendants moved for summary judgment. [ECF
No. 120, 126.] In an R&R, Magistrate Judge Becky R.
Thorson recommended granting the motions (R&R at 29) and
Bevins submitted an Objection. [ECF No. 182 (“Bevins
party objects to a magistrate judge's report and
recommendation, the Court “shall make a de novo
determination of those portions of the report or specified
proposed findings or recommendations to which objection is
made.” 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(C). A court should
grant summary judgment when “there is no genuine
dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to
judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56. The
moving party “bears the initial responsibility of
informing the district court of the basis for its motion,
” and must identify “those portions of [the
record] which it believes demonstrate the absence of a
genuine issue of material fact.” Celotex Corp. v.
Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). The nonmovant must
then submit evidence of “specific facts showing that
there is a genuine issue for trial.” Id. at
324 (citation omitted).
Exhaustion of Administrative Remedies
R&R recommends dismissing Bevins' federal complaints
against the Becker County Defendants because Bevins failed to
exhaust his administrative remedies. (R&R at 14-18.) The
Prison Litigation Reform Act (“PLRA”) requires
that “[n]o action shall be brought with respect to
prison conditions under section 1983 of this title, or any
other Federal law, by a prisoner confined in any jail,
prison, or other correctional facility until such
administrative remedies as are available are
exhausted.” 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(a).
“[D]ismissal is mandatory” when a plaintiff fails
to exhaust his or her available administrative remedies
before filing a lawsuit. Johnson v. Jones, 340 F.3d
624, 627 (8th Cir. 2003).
Ross v. Blake, 136 S.Ct. 1850 (2016), the Supreme
Court defined “available” remedies under the PLRA
as those “capable of use.” Id. at 1858.
Administrative remedies are only “unavailable”
when: (1) the process is a “dead end, ” with
prison officials “unable or consistently
unwilling” to provide relief; (2) the administrative
scheme is “so opaque that it becomes, practically
speaking, incapable of use”; or (3) prison officials
thwart attempts at seeking remedies through
“machination, misrepresentation, or
intimidation.” Id. at 1859-60.
Becker County Grievance Procedure is listed in the Becker
County Detention Facility Inmate Handbook. [ECF No. 129 at
¶3.] During Bevins' time at Becker County Jail, the
Handbook was made available to all inmates in the