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Clinton v. Pend Oreille County Jail

United States District Court, E.D. Washington

June 6, 2018

WAYNE B. CLINTON, Plaintiff,
v.
PEND OREILLE COUNTY JAIL, Defendant.

          ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

          SALADOR MENDOZA JR. UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         I. INTRODUCTION

         Plaintiff Wayne B. Clinton alleges that while he was incarcerated at the Pend Orielle County Jail, he was denied equal access to facilities, in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and that staff at the jail were indifferent to his medical needs. Specifically, he alleges that in August 2013, he was denied the use of a walker and that he fell while showering as a result of inadequate shower facilities, causing serious injuries. He further alleges that he had serious medical conditions and symptoms, including cancer, diarrhea, night sweats, headaches, and leg pain, and that jail personnel were aware of these issues but did not provide any medical attention. The Court construes Clinton's pro se complaint as alleging disability discrimination under the ADA and violation of his Fourteenth Amendment right to adequate medical care while in pretrial detention.

         Defendant moves for summary judgment, arguing that Clinton has not established a prima facie case of disability discrimination because he has not demonstrated that he has a disability or that he was excluded from or denied services based upon any disability. Defendant also argues that Clinton has not demonstrated that jail staff were deliberately indifferent to his medical needs and has submitted evidence demonstrating that jail staff were very attentive to Clinton's medical needs. Clinton has not responded to Defendant's motion or submitted any evidence.

         Issues of fact remain concerning whether Clinton had a disability within the meaning of the ADA. However, because he has not demonstrated that he was excluded from participation in or denied benefits or services-in this case the ability to shower-or that he was discriminated against in some other way on the basis of a disability, he has not established a prima facie case of disability discrimination under the ADA. Clinton's medical care claim fails because Clinton has not provided any evidence that his medical needs were ignored. While Clinton need not show deliberate indifference as would be required for an Eighth Amendment claim by a post-conviction prisoner, he nevertheless cannot meet the lesser standard required for a pretrial Fourteenth Amendment claim because the evidence in the record demonstrates that jail staff were very attentive to Clinton's medical needs and concerns and that he received adequate medical care. Notably, he was promptly seen by a physician's assistant following each of his numerous medical requests during the approximately three months he was at the jail, and he was immediately taken to the hospital emergency room after his fall. Accordingly, Defendant's motion is granted.

         II. BACKGROUND

         On August 5, 2013, Clinton was booked into the Pend Oreille County Jail. ECF No. 24 at 2. On that date his medical history was noted as “terminal cancer patient, weak heart, bad teeth, Hepatitis A, and having smashed his left hand 1½ months ago.” ECF No. 25 at 2. During the booking process, Clinton said he did not need any kind of special care and did not complain of any pain. Id.

         Two days later, Clinton submitted a medical request regarding “pooping” his pants and regarding several conditions, including cancer. ECF No. 24 at 3. On August 13, 2013, Plaintiff was seen by physician's assistant (PA-C) Chris Buscher, who prescribed medications, noted that Clinton's cancer was in remission, and ordered laboratory studies. Id. On August 17, 2013, Clinton submitted a second medical request regarding pain in his back and legs. Id. On August 20, 2013, Clinton was seen by PA-C Buscher, who noted that Clinton should use a cane or walker as needed. Id. at 3-4. On September 2, 2013, Clinton submitted a third medical request concerning pain in his back, neck, head, hip, and ears, and difficulty sleeping. Id. at 4. In response to this request, Pend Oreille County Sheriff's Office Captain Geoff Rusho scheduled an appointment for Clinton to see PA-C Buscher on September 10, 2013. Id.

         On September 3, 2013, Clinton fell in the shower. Rusho responded, and he found Clinton lying on the floor, face up with his legs partially in the shower stall and his pants partially pulled up. Id. Clinton told Rusho that he fell while he was trying to put on his clothes. Id. Clinton stated that his head hurt and he was dizzy. Id.

         After the fall, Clinton was immediately transported to Newport Hospital by ambulance. Id. He was treated for a neck strain and released the same day. Id. The emergency-room physician directed a follow-up visit with PA-C Buscher in seven to ten days. Id.

         On September 6, 2013, Clinton submitted a fourth medical request, stating he was having bad headaches and was dizzy. Id. at 5. Clinton was seen by PA-C Buscher on September 10, 2013, who prescribed several medications to treat Clinton's symptoms. Id. Clinton submitted additional medical requests on September 16 and 22, complaining of similar symptoms, and he was seen again by Buscher on September 24, 2013. Id. At the September 24 appointment, Buscher ordered laboratory studies and a follow-up appointment. Id.

         PA-C Buscher saw Clinton again on October 1, 2013. Id. at 6. Buscher conducted a physical exam and reviewed the laboratory report. Id. Although he found no indication of a recurrence of cancer, Buscher approved Clinton's request for a referral to a specialist. Id. However, Cancer Care Northwest determined consultation was not necessary after reviewing Clinton's lab studies and determining that his condition had not changed. Id.

         Clinton submitted additional medical requests on October 7, October 14, October 19, and October 26, 2013, complaining of headaches, neck and back pain, diarrhea, and night sweats. Id. at 6-7. He refused to be seen by PA-C Buscher on October 15, but he was seen by Buscher on October 29. ECF No. 24 at 7. At this appointment, Buscher performed a physical examination, and based upon his assessment, ordered a colonoscopy and prescribed additional medications. ECF No. 24 at 7.

         On November 4, 2013, Clinton submitted another medical request complaining of headaches and diarrhea. ECF No. 24 at 8. He was transferred to Washington Department of Corrections (DOC) custody on November 6, 2013, before a medical appointment on the November 4 request could be ...


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