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Asanachescu v. Clark County

United States District Court, Ninth Circuit

December 10, 2013

AFRODITA ASANACHESCU, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
CLARK COUNTY, et al., Defendants.

ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT NEAL RENDLEMAN'S MOTION FOR JUDGMENT ON THE PLEADINGS AND DISMISSING CLAIMS WITHOUT PREJUDICE

BENJAMIN H. SETTLE, District Judge.

This matter comes before the Court on Defendant Neal Rendleman, MD's ("Dr. Rendleman") Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings. Dkt. 48. The Court has considered the pleadings filed in support of and in opposition to the motion and the remainder of the file and hereby grants the motion for the reasons stated herein.

I. PROCEDURAL HISTORY

On March 25, 2013, Plaintiffs filed a complaint naming Dr. Rendleman and others as defendants in an action involving conduct that led to the death of a mentally ill pretrial detainee, Marius Asanachescu ("Asanachescu"). Dkt. 1. On July 2, 2013, Dr. Rendleman filed an answer. Dkt. 26. On August 21, 2013, Dr. Rendleman filed a Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings. Dkt. 48. On September 9, 2013, Plaintiffs filed a response (Dkt. 57) and on September 13, 2013, Dr. Rendleman filed a reply (Dkt. 60).

II. FACTUAL BACKGROUND[1]

In their complaint, Plaintiffs allege that Defendants were deliberately indifferent to the medical needs of Asanachescu while he was a pretrial detainee at the Clark County Jail, and that Defendants' acts and omissions culminated in Asanachescu's death. Dkt. 1.

According to the complaint, Dr. Rendleman worked for Conmed, Inc.[2] and was the "prescribing designee" for the jail. Dkt. 1 at 7. His duties included "evaluating requests for psychiatric service and determining the need for immediate treatment." Dkt. 1 at 7.

On January 30, 2012, Asanachescu was booked at the Clark County Jail on an assault charge. Dkt. 1 at 9. Asanachescu suffered from Schizoaffective Disorder, Bipolar Type, a mental illness which had caused him to pose a risk to himself and others in the past. Dkt. 1 at 3. Plaintiffs allege that Asanachescu's mental illness had been well compensated in recent years, and that Clozaril, a medication he had been prescribed prior to his booking, proved effective in treating his illness. Dkt. 1 at 3. Plaintiffs allege that Asanachescu was never provided this medication while at the jail.

After booking, Asanachescu was placed in administrative segregation "as a safety and security risk." Dkt. 1 at 9. The jail informed Asanachescu that his placement was necessary because he posed a danger to himself and others. Dkt. 1 at 9. The booking officer noted that Asanachescu had attempted suicide in the past and that he was "bi polor [sic] off meds." Dkt. 1 at 9.

On February 2, 2012, Asanachescu was placed on suicide watch after informing an officer that he was suicidal. Dkt. 1 at 11-12. Later that day, Asanachescu was observed "naked and lying face down on the floor of the cell pounding his forehead on the steel drain cover." Dkt. 1 at 12. Asanachescu's self-harming behavior continued over the next few days and at times jail staff restrained him by strapping him in a "Pro-Straint chair." Dkt. 1 at 16.

On February 7, 2012, after another episode of self-harm behavior, Defendant James Douglas, MD ("Dr. Douglas"), ordered administration of the drug olanzapine as a "bridge" until Clozaril could be obtained. Dkt. 1 at 18. Dr. Douglas noted that Asanachescu had been "extremely violent and self injurious since incarceration" and that he "historically decompensated when meds other than Clozaril are tried." Dkt. 1 at 18. On the afternoon of February 7, 2012, Asanachescu received the olanzapine injection. Dkt. 1 at 19. That evening and the following afternoon, however, Asanachescu refused to voluntarily take the olanzapine and it was not administered. Dkt. 1 at 19.

On the night of February 8, 2012, Asanachescu again began banging his head in his cell and refused to stop. Dkt. 1 at 20. Asanachescu agreed to be placed into the Pro-Straint hair, and at 11:35 p.m., Registered Nurse Kelle Price ("RN Price") was called for "placement of inmate in restraint chair." Dkt. 1 at 20. When she arrived, RN Price noted that Asanachescu was "disheaveled [sic], naked, covered in feces and blood, was observed slamming frontal forehead on floor, unable assess orientation...." Dkt. 1 at 20. RN Price checked his vital signs and noted he had a "risk for confusion" from slamming his head on the floor and "risk for injury [related to] self destructive behavior." Dkt. 1 at 20.

In the early hours of February 9, 2012, Asanachescu allegedly became assaultive toward jail staff. Dkt. 1 at 21. His behavior evidently became serious enough that a sergeant contacted RN Price "regarding Asanachescu's aggressive and self-harm behavior, requesting RN Price contact a qualified mental health professional for evaluation and possible emergency psychotropic medication administration...." Dkt. 1 at 21. That morning, Asanachescu continued to refuse taking the olanzapine voluntarily. Dkt. 1 at 22. Asanachescu was placed in the Pro-Straint chair for seven hours. At 6:00 pm, jail staff continued to restrain Asanachescu because he was "struggling against restraints, demanding to be removed" and was exhibiting "violent, erratic behavior." Dkt. 1 at 25.

Dr. Rendleman was allegedly the on-call physician for the jail on February 9, 2012. At 6:30 pm, RN Price contacted Dr. Rendleman to confer regarding Asanachescu's "evident need for psychiatric care." Dkt. 1 at 25. Dr. Rendleman informed RN Price that Asanachescu was not his patient and to wait until the next day for Asanachescu's assigned doctor, Dr. Douglas, to examine him. Dkt. 1 at 25. According to the complaint, Dr. Rendleman "offered no treatment plan other than ...


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