United States District Court, D. Minnesota
Fariss McClain, ROBINS KAPLAN LLP, for plaintiff.
A. Wolf and Jason M. Hively, IVERSON REUVERS CONDON, for
defendants Stearns County Jail and John L. Sanner.
Charles Gross and Mark W. Hardy, GERAGHTY O'LOUGHLIN
& KENNEY, PA, for defendants MEnD Correctional Care,
PLLC, Elaine Byker, Martin Langenfeld, Jodie French, and
ORDER GRANTING MOTIONS FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT
R. TUNHEIM CHIEF JUDGE
Zachary Taylor brings this action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983
against Stearns County Jail (“SCJ”), and Stearns
County Sheriff John Sanner (collectively referred to as the
“SCJ Defendants”). Taylor alleges that SCJ
violated his Eighth and Fourteenth Amendment rights by
denying him adequate and timely medical care (Count One), and
by failing to adequately train its medical staff (Count Two).
Taylor realleges Count One against Sanner. Both SCJ and
Sanner now move for judgment on the pleadings, or, in the
alternative, summary judgment of all the claims against them.
The Court will convert the Motion for Judgment on the
Pleadings to a Motion for Summary Judgment, and, because SCJ
is a non-suable entity and because Sanner did not commit any
constitutional violations, the Court will grant the Motion.
also asserts Count One against MEnD Correctional Care, PLLC
(“MEnD”), Martin Langenfeld, Elaine Byker, Jodie
French, and Ashley Altendahl, (collectively referred to as
the “MEnD Defendants”). He additionally claims
that the MEnD Defendants were medically negligent (Count
Three). The MEnD Defendants now move for summary judgment of
Count One. Because the medical care provided by the MEnD
Defendants did not violate the Constitution, the Court will
grant the Motion.
was arrested in St. Cloud, Minnesota, on March 21, 2014.
(Compl. ¶ 14, Oct. 25, 2016, Docket No. 1.) During his
arrest, he was tackled to the ground and, in the process,
injured his left arm and wrist. (Id.) Requiring
treatment, St. Cloud police took Taylor to the St. Cloud
Hospital Emergency Department (“ED”), where an
x-ray revealed that he had a broken left wrist. (Aff. of Mark
W. Hardy (“Hardy Aff.”) ¶ 3, Aug. 31, 2018,
Docket No. 44; Ex. A at 2, Aug. 31, 2018, Docket No. 45.)
applied a splint to Taylor's wrist, and gave him several
written discharge instructions, including to “follow up
in ortho - call today to make an appointment in 5-7
days” and to “return for repeat evaluation if
increase, changes, new or worsen symptoms.” (Hardy Aff.
¶ 3, Ex. A at 2-3.) He was also provided with the name
and address of an orthopedic care clinic and told to
“[s]chedule an appointment as soon as possible for a
visit in 1 week.” (Id. at 3.) Finally, the ED
prescribed Taylor oxycodone for pain management.
(Id. at 3.)
being discharged by the St. Cloud Hospital, St. Cloud police
took Taylor to SCJ. (Compl. ¶ 16.) Because SCJ
contracted with MEnD, a local medical center, to fulfill its
duty to provide healthcare to inmates, MEnD was responsible
for inmate healthcare at SCJ and privately employed its own
medical staff to do so. (Answer ¶ 6, Dec. 27, 2016,
Docket No. 7.) Elaine Byker, Jodie French, and Ashley
Altendahl are all nurses who were employed by MEnD, and
Martin Langenfeld is a physician's assistant.
(Id. ¶ 7.) Though not a licensed physician,
Langenfeld was the highest level of care that consistently
examined patients at SCJ and ultimately made final treatment
decisions. Accordingly, the nurses reported to and
received instructions from Langenfeld, and could not schedule
outside medical appointments for inmates without a direct
order from Langenfeld. (Aff. of Andrew A. Wolf (“Wolf
Aff.”) ¶ 8, Ex. 8 at 12, Aug. 30, 2018, Docket No.
March 22, the day after his arrest, Altendahl examined Taylor
at SCJ. Altendahl noted that Taylor had come in for a broken
wrist, but did not otherwise substantially examine the wrist.
(Hardy Aff. ¶ 4, Ex. B (“SCJ Records”) at
1-2, Aug. 31, 2018, Docket No. 46.) Because March 22 was a
Saturday, Altendahl's main goals in this first
examination were to make sure the wrist was stable and that
Taylor's pain was under control so that Taylor could wait
until full-time staff came in the following Monday to more
fully examine the wrist. (Hardy Aff. ¶ 5, Ex. C
(“Altendahl Dep.”) at 5-6, Aug. 31, 2018, Docket
No. 47.) However, before he was examined by full-time staff,
Taylor was assaulted by an inmate at SCJ, and subsequently
underwent another general examination, this time by Byker.
(Compl. ¶ 18-19.) Byker noted that Taylor was still
experiencing wrist pain and told him that he would remain in
a splint until he could see Langenfeld or possibly an
orthopedic doctor. (SCJ Records at 3.) She also notified
Langenfeld of Taylor's assault and told Langenfeld that
Taylor should be seen on the next clinic day. (Id.)
She did not order any x-rays on Taylor's wrist.
first examined Taylor's wrist on March 27, six days after
his arrest. (Id. at 4.) Langenfeld noticed
significant issues with Taylor's wrist, such as the fact
that it was discolored, its range of motion was limited, it
was cool to the touch, and the area around the wrist had a
capillary refill of four seconds. (Id.) Pursuant to
his evaluation, Langenfeld extended Taylor's oxycodone
prescription for another week, and established a plan of care
for the wrist that would include continued splinting and pain
medication, as well as additional examination as necessary
should Taylor's symptoms worsen. (Id. at 4, 7.)
also had Taylor sign a release form which allowed Langenfeld
to order the St. Cloud Hospital ED records, including the
ED's x-ray images. (Id.) Langenfeld did not
order additional x-rays on the wrist during his March 27
examination, because, in his medical judgment, additional
x-rays were not warranted at that time. (Wolf Aff. ¶ 12,
Ex. 14 (“Langenfeld Dep.”) at 21, Aug. 30, 2018,
Docket No. 37-10.) Consequently, because Langenfeld had not
yet obtained the ED's x-ray images nor had x-rays taken
on site, Langenfeld established his plan of care without
having seen any internal imaging of the wrist. (Langenfeld
Dep. at 26.)
Langenfeld's plan of care included placing Taylor in a
splint for the following four weeks and only then taking
follow-up x-rays, (SCJ Records at 7), before the four weeks
had elapsed, Taylor was transferred to the Minnesota
Department of Correction's Stillwater facility and out of
MEnD's control. (Compl. ¶ 26.) After being
transferred to Stillwater, Taylor did not see a medical
professional until May 6, when he was examined by Nurse Patti
Ramler. (Compl. ¶ 27; Hardy Aff. ¶ 10, Ex. H
(“MCF Records”) at 1, Aug. 31, 2018, Docket No.
52.) Ramler, during this first examination, ordered x-rays of
the wrist, and after reviewing the images, requested that
Taylor be seen by an outside orthopedist. (MCF Records at 1.)
to Ramler's request, Taylor's wrist was examined by
Dr. Timothy Hiesterman at St. Cloud Orthopedics on May 12.
(Hardy Aff. ¶ 11, Ex. I (“SCO Records”) at
1-6, Aug. 31, 2018, Docket No. 53.) Hiesterman noticed that
Taylor “ha[d] almost no motion of his wrist” and
that the wrist showed signs of “malalignment and
malunion.” (SCO Records at 4.) As a result, Hiesterman
recommended that Taylor undergo wrist surgery. (Id.
at 5.) The subsequent surgery took place on May 14, and
Hiesterman noted in his post-operation report that the
surgery was “extremely technically difficult”
because the wrist had “fully healed in a malunited
position.” (Id. at 7-8.)
that both MEnD and its medical professionals, as well as SCJ
and Sheriff Sanner, provided him with constitutionally
deficient medical care, Taylor filed this lawsuit in October,
2016. MEnD and its medical professional have filed a summary
judgment motion on these constitutional claims, (Mot. for
Summ. J., Aug. 31, 2018, Docket No. 40), and SCJ and Sheriff
Sanner have filed a Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings or
Motion for Summary Judgment in the alternative (Mot. for J.
on the Pleadings, Aug. 30, 2018, Docket No. 33.)