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Adams v. Ferguson

United States Court of Appeals, Fourth Circuit

March 6, 2018

ROXANNE ADAMS, Administrator of the Estate of Jamycheal M. Mitchell, Deceased, Plaintiff - Appellee,
v.
DEBRA K. FERGUSON, Licensed Clinical Psychologist, Defendant-Appellant, and NAPHCARE, INC.; NSEKENENE KOLONGO, MD; RENEE EDWARDS, LCSW; JUSTIN RAY, NP-PSYCH; BENEDICT NGWA, NP; PAM JOHNSON, RN; NATALYA THOMAS, RN, HSA; JALESSA RIVERS, LPN; HOPE NICHOLSON, MA; DORIS MURPHY, MSW; JOHN/JANE DOE, (1-11) Naphcare Nurses; KELLY N. BOYD; HAMPTON ROADS REGIONAL JAIL AUTHORITY; HAMPTON ROADS REGIONAL JAIL; DAVID L. SIMONS; EUGENE TAYLOR, III; BARNES, Correctional Officer at the Hampton Roads Regional Jail; BLAKELY, Correctional Officer at the Hampton Roads Regional Jail; BOURNE, Correctional Officer at the Hampton Roads Regional Jail; BUTCHER, Correctional Officer at the Hampton Roads Regional Jail; GIBBS, Correctional Officer at the Hampton Roads Regional Jail; HILLIARD, Correctional Officer at the Hampton Roads Regional Jail; HOWARD, Correctional Officer at the Hampton Roads Regional Jail; KEISTER, Correctional Officer at the Hampton Roads Regional Jail; WHITAKER, Correctional Officer at the Hampton Roads Regional Jail; POWELL, Correctional Officer at the Hampton Roads Regional Jail; SMITH, Master Jail Officers "MJOs" at Hampton Roads Regional Jail; DIXON, Master Jail Officers "MJOs" at Hampton Roads Regional Jail; JOHNSON, Master Jail Officers "MJOs" at Hampton Roads Regional Jail; DERRICK R. BROWN, Sergeant at the Hampton Roads Regional Jail; STEPHEN T. PHILLIPS, Sergeant at the Hampton Roads Regional Jail; WILLIAM A. EPPERSON, Sergeant at the Hampton Roads Regional Jail; STEVEN W. WHITEHEAD, Sergeant at the Hampton Roads Regional Jail; TAMARA L. EVERETTE, Sergeant at the Hampton Roads Regional Jail; RODERICK D. MADISON, Lieutenant at the Hampton Roads Regional Jail; REGINALD WHITEHEAD, Sergeant at the Hampton Roads Regional Jail; FELICIA M. COWAN, Captain at the Hampton Roads Regional Jail; GAIL HART, Defendants.

          Argued: December 5, 2017

         Appeal from the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, at Norfolk. Rebecca Beach Smith, Chief District Judge. (2:16-cv-00229-RBS-LRL)

         ARGUED:

          David Patrick Corrigan, HARMAN CLAYTOR CORRIGAN & WELLMAN, P.C., Glen Allen, Virginia, for Appellant.

          John Frederick Preis, Henrico, Virginia, for Appellee.

         ON BRIEF:

          Jeremy D. Capps, M. Scott Fisher, Jr., HARMAN CLAYTOR CORRIGAN & WELLMAN, P.C., Glen Allen, Virginia, for Appellant.

          Mark J. Krudys, THE KRUDYS LAW FIRM, PLC, Richmond, Virginia, for Appellee.

          Before GREGORY, Chief Judge, and MOTZ and TRAXLER, Circuit Judges.

          DIANA GRIBBON MOTZ, CIRCUIT JUDGE

         This case arises from the events surrounding the death of Jamycheal Mitchell. His personal representative, Roxanne Adams, brought this action on his behalf, asserting claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and state law against Debra K. Ferguson and forty-nine other defendants. Ferguson moved to dismiss all claims against her; the district court denied the motion. Ferguson appeals. For the reasons that follow, we affirm in part, reverse in part, and remand for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.

         I.

         Because this case comes to us after denial of a motion to dismiss, we "accept as true all of the factual allegations contained in the complaint." Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007) (per curiam).

         A.

         Police arrested Jamycheal Mitchell in April 2015 for theft. Because Mitchell had a history of mental health issues and displayed "agitated behavior, elevated and irritable mood," and had "delusions," a state court judge ordered a competency evaluation. That evaluation found that Mitchell "was an appropriate candidate for the [state's] Jail Diversion Program." Mitchell, however, "refuse[d] to accept [those] services." As a result, instead of transferring Mitchell to a mental health facility, the state sent him to Hampton Roads Regional Jail ("the Regional Jail").

         While at the Regional Jail, a psychologist again evaluated Mitchell and found him "both manic and psychotic." The psychologist concluded that Mitchell "lacked the capacity to assist counsel in preparing a defense" and "urged" the court "to commit Mitchell to the Department of Behavioral Health [& Developmental Services] for inpatient treatment to restore his competency." The state court accordingly issued a Competency Restoration Order ("Competency Order"), which, "in an effort to restore him to competency," directed that Mitchell "be treated at Eastern State Hospital" ("the Hospital").

         Mitchell never received such treatment. The clerk of the court did not notify the Hospital of Mitchell's Competency Order for two months. When the Hospital did receive the Competency Order, the person responsible for processing it "put the fax [containing the Competency Order] in her desk drawer and took no further action." As a result, no one ever entered Mitchell's name into the list of individuals waiting for beds at the Hospital. Instead, Mitchell remained at the Regional Jail, where he did not receive necessary medical care and guards denied him food and water, allowed him to live in a cell covered by feces and urine, and physically abused him.

         On August 19, 2015, Mitchell died from "wasting syndrome" or severe malnutrition. Months after Mitchell's death, the Office of the State Inspector General reported that the Hospital almost never operated at capacity, and that state-wide, there were more empty beds ...


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