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Jenkins v. Aylor

United States District Court, W.D. Virginia, Charlottesville Division

May 17, 2016

VICTORIA JENKINS, individually and on behalf of all others similarly situated, Plaintiff,
F. GLENN AYLOR, et al., Defendants.


          Hon. Glen E. Conrad Chief United States District Judge

         Plaintiff Victoria Jenkins, individually and on behalf of all others similarly situated, filed this action against defendants Superintendent F. Glenn Aylor, Central Virginia Regional Jail Authority (the "Authority"), and several employees at the Central Virginia Regional Jail ("CVRJ"), alleging that they were deliberately indifferent to her serious medical condition by denying her access to her medications. The case is presently before the court on defendants' motion to dismiss and motion to strike portions of the complaint. For the following reasons, the court will grant in part and deny in part the motion to dismiss and will deny the motion to strike.

         Factual Background

         The following facts, taken from plaintiffs complaint, are accepted as true for purposes of the motion to dismiss. See Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007).

         I. Jenkins' Experience at CVRJ

         On October 18, 2014, Jenkins was detained at CVRJ pending trial on three felony charges in the Circuit Court of Madison County, Virginia. At all relevant times, Jenkins suffered from a number of psychiatric ailments, including anxiety, depression, and bipolar disorder. She took several medications to treat these conditions, namely Trazondone, Lexapro, and Xanax. According to the complaint, the "medications successfully managed Jenkins'[] symptoms and allowed her to function normally." Compl. ¶ 16. However, Jenkins was required to take the medications regularly in order to maintain this effect.

         At the time of her arrest, Jenkins asked the arresting officers for permission to retrieve her medications from her purse before being transported to CVRJ; the officers denied this request. When she arrived at CVRJ, she informed the staff of her psychiatric conditions and her need for medications. In response to Jenkins' repeated requests, defendant Jasmine Buckner-Jones, a nurse at CVRJ, laughed and said, "You'd better get used to it. You're not getting the medication your doctor prescribed." Id. ¶ 26. Buckner-Jones also accused Jenkins of faking her conditions in order to get her medications for recreational use and told Jenkins that she could only receive medications that were prescribed by a doctor at CVRJ. However, defendants did not bring Jenkins to see a doctor in order to obtain her medications.

         Within a day or two after her arrival at CVRJ, Jenkins met with her attorney, David Deal, who observed her to be "lucid and able to effectively participate in their conversation." Id. ¶ 35. Jenkins also called her sister, Robin, several times and asked Robin if she could bring Jenkins' medications to CVRJ. Jenkins told Robin that CVRJ staff was refusing to allow her access to her medications. Robin then spoke to Buckner-Jones and defendant Amanda Pitts, another nurse at CVRJ, who told Robin that they "hadn't had time to get [the medications] to [Jenkins] yet." Id. ¶ 29. Robin also called Jenkins' doctor, who instructed CVRJ staff to give Jenkins her medications. However, Pitts informed Robin that CVRJ would not distribute Xanax to Jenkins, despite her doctor's instructions. Thereafter, Robin brought Jenkins' medications, with the exception of Xanax, to CVRJ.

         A few days later, Jenkins' other sister, Bonnie Coffey, spoke to Pitts on the phone, who said that Jenkins had received her medications. However, according to the complaint, defendants still refused to give Jenkins her medications. Deal again visited Jenkins at CVRJ, but she did not recognize him and asked him to leave. This time, Jenkins was "disheveled, malodorous, and did not appear to be in touch with reality." Id. ¶ 36. Jenkins' family members also came to CVRJ every week to see her, but she refused to see them. This was "drastically out of character for Jenkins, and the news alarmed [her] family." Id. ¶ 37.

         On October 29, 2014, Jenkins appeared before the Madison County Circuit Court for a bail hearing. However, she refused to enter the courtroom or speak with her attorney, so the court cancelled the hearing. Prior to the hearing, family members saw Jenkins in a wheelchair. She was "very pale, " "catatonic, " and her hair was "knotted and matted." Id. ¶ 39. Jenkins was also unresponsive when her family members attempted to get her attention outside of the courthouse.

         On November 4, 2014, Coffey and Ruby Reid, Jenkins' mother, went to CVRJ and asked to speak with Superintendent F. Glenn Aylor in order to figure out why Jenkins refused to see them. Aylor sent a woman named "Ms. Deane" to speak to them. Id. ¶ 40. Ms. Deane told Coffey and Reid that Jenkins was in "bad shape" and needed to go to the hospital for treatment. Id. Ms. Deane indicated that they would need to get a court order to send Jenkins to a hospital.

         By November 7, 2014, Jenkins was "paranoid, delusional, and divorced from reality." Id. ¶ 41. She believed that she was being "watched through the wall in her cell[, ] ... refused to eat, and was urinating and defecating on the floor of her cell." Id. Jenkins was then transported to Western State Hospital for treatment. When family members visited Jenkins at the hospital, she was still delusional, but did recognize them this time. However, Jenkins also believed that her dog was in her room at the hospital and would repeatedly "pick[] up" the dog and kiss it. Id. ¶ Hospital staff told Jenkins' family members that Jenkins was off her medications for a while, and that it would take weeks before she would return to normal. During her stay at the hospital, Jenkins was provided with psychiatric medications. Her condition gradually improved.

         The hospital discharged Jenkins on December 3, 2014, and she returned to CVRJ. Upon her return, Buckner-Jones asked Jenkins whether she had "enjoyed her trip." From then on, CVRJ staff gave Jenkins her medications, and her mental condition remained stable. When Jenkins asked a CVRJ staff member why she was not given her medications prior to her hospitalization, the employee, identified in the complaint as "Ms. Kidwell, " said that "we didn't have the funding at the time[, ]" and that she "wanted to send [Jenkins] offsite, but we didn't have the funding for it." Id. ¶ 49. Jenkins was released from CVRJ on August 6, 2015 after a jury acquitted her on two charges, and the prosecutor entered a nolle prosequi on the third charge.

         The complaint alleges that, at the time of Jenkins' detention, CVRJ had written policies and procedures in place for inmates who required regular medications. Specifically, if an inmate had the medication on her person at the time of intake, the policies required CVRJ staff to refer her to the medical department. If an inmate did not have the medication on her person, the policies instructed CVRJ staff to see if a family member could bring the medication to CVRJ or, in the alternative, refer the inmate to the medical department. In the event that the medication was not on hand at CVRJ, CVRJ staff must obtain the medication from outside CVRJ through specific procedures. These procedures included procurement of the medication from a licensed pharmacy with a valid prescription from the CVRJ medical department, distribution of the medication in accordance with a physician's orders, and recordation of the time and number of doses provided to the inmate. The policies also provided that "[m]edication shall be administered to the individual pursuant to telephone, verbal, standing or direct orders." Id. ¶ 20(5).

         II. Other Inmate's Experience at CVRJ

         In addition to the circumstances surrounding Jenkins' detention, the complaint describes a "pattern and practice of deliberate indifference to inmates' medical needs" at CVRJ. Id. ¶ 50.

         a. Shawn Berry [1]

         On August 7, 2014, Berry was arrested by deputies from the Orange County Sheriffs Department on outstanding warrants. At the time of his arrest, Berry had been addicted to alcohol for over twenty years and heroin for about ten years, and he informed the deputies that he would experience severe withdrawal in jail. Berry's girlfriend also told the deputies that Berry would experience withdrawal symptoms in jail, and that he had to be placed in intensive care the last time he went to jail.

         While in custody at CVRJ, Berry began to experience severe withdrawal symptoms. Other inmates at CVRJ requested medical assistance for Berry on a number of occasions. Nevertheless, CVRJ staff would sometimes ignore these requests entirely. At other times, Pitts and others told the inmates that if Berry did not personally approach the window to ask for medical assistance, he would receive none. The inmates advised CVRJ staff that Berry was too sick to leave his bunk. When the inmates offered to bring a food tray to Berry, because he was too sick to retrieve his own, CVRJ staff refused. The medical staff at CVRJ-including defendant Christie Apple-Figgins, a nurse at CVRJ, [2] and Buckner-Jones-did provide Berry with medication and Gatorade, took his vitals, and monitored his condition. Officers at CVRJ also assisted Berry on several occasions, namely when he fell out of his bunk, could not stand in the shower, and soiled his jumpsuit. Over the course of two days, Berry's health deteriorated, and he passed away on August 9, 2014.

         At the time of Berry's death, CVRJ had written policies and procedures for treating inmates suffering from alcohol and heroin withdrawal. However, the complaint alleges that the medical staff did not follow CVRJ's internal protocols for alcohol and heroin withdrawal when they treated Berry.

         b. Inmate A

         In 2006, an individual referred to in the complaint as "Inmate A, " suffered a back injury that required him to take both pain medication and muscle relaxers. At first, CVRJ staff refused to give Inmate A any medication. Eventually, Inmate A was able to obtain pain medication, which he received anywhere between six hours to two weeks after his requests. At the time, Inmate A also suffered from Crohn's disease, which was aggravated by medications that contained ibuprofen or aspirin. Although CVRJ staff knew of Inmate A's condition, he received unidentified pain medications that aggravated his Crohn's disease. Medical staff, however, refused to verify the types of pain medications that Inmate A received.

         In addition, the complaint describes an incident in which a correctional officer held Inmate A down on the floor and repeatedly drove his knee into Inmate A's rib cage and lower sides. Shortly after, Inmate A began bleeding from his rectum. He did not receive medical attention despite at least two requests for help from the correctional officers.

         c. Inmate B

         Another inmate, known as "Inmate B, " was incarcerated at CVRJ in 2005. At the time, Inmate B was prescribed three different psychiatric medications. Each medication required that he take one dose in the morning and one dose at night. However, CVRJ staff gave Inmate B both doses of two of his medications in the morning and both doses of his third medication in the evening. According to the complaint, Inmate B also witnessed CVRJ staff give another inmate's medication with water, although the directions specified that the pill was not supposed to be taken with water. Finally, Inmate B ...

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