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Mays v. Sprinkle

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

November 16, 2018

JEFFREY A. MAYS, Administrator for the Estate of DAVID WAYNE MAYS, deceased, Plaintiff,
v.
RONALD N. SPRINKLE, et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          Hon. Glen E. Conrad Senior United States District Judge.

         David Wayne Mays ("David") died at Carilion Roanoke Memorial Hospital on July 28, 2016, after being arrested in Botetourt County. Jeffrey Mays, David's brother and the administrator of his estate, subsequently filed this action against the Sheriff of Botetourt County, Ronald Sprinkle, and eight of the Sheriffs officers, asserting claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and Virginia law. The case is presently before the court on the defendants' motion to dismiss. For the following reasons, the plaintiffs claims under § 1983 will be dismissed pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). The court will decline to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over the state tort claims.

         Background

         The following factual allegations, taken from the plaintiffs amended complaint, are accepted as true for purposes of the pending motion. See Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007) ("[W]hen ruling on a defendant's motion to dismiss, a judge must accept as true all of the factual allegations contained in the complaint.").

         On July 25, 2016, one of Sheriff Sprinkle's deputies found David asleep and slumped over the steering wheel of a parked vehicle. Am. Compl. ¶ 16, Dkt. No. 25. The deputy observed a bag of prescription medication next to David. Id. David eventually awoke and advised the deputy that he had taken gabapentin and alprazolam.[1] Id. The deputy noted that David's speech was slurred, that his eyes were bloodshot, and that he had difficulty standing up and staying awake. Id. David was charged with profane swearing and public intoxication. Id. He was ultimately "released on his own recognizance, as he was sober enough to leave under his own power." Id. David did not undergo any form of medical evaluation and his prescription medication was not confiscated. Id.

         The next day, David's mother called 911 and requested medical assistance. Id. ¶ 20. She advised the dispatcher that David "had consumed alcohol and prescription narcotics," that he was "extremely intoxicated," and that she needed help removing him from a vehicle. Id. Deputy Daniel Faulkner arrived on the scene to find David sitting in the cab of his truck. Id. ¶ 21. The plaintiff alleges that David was "so intoxicated he could hardly lift his head to communicate." Id. David's eyes were bloodshot, his speech was mumbled and slurred, and his gait was unsteady upon exiting the truck. Id. He subsequently "lay himself down in the bed of the pickup truck despite it being full of water." Id. ¶ 25. Deputy Joshua Golla "was present at the rear of the truck and witnessed [David's] level of intoxication and the surrounding circumstances." Id. ¶ 22.

         David was once again arrested for public intoxication. Id. ¶ 19. At some point during the arrest, Faulkner noticed "a bag full of multiple prescription narcotics to the right of where [David] was seated." Id. ¶ 23 (internal quotation marks omitted). The bag contained a bottle of gabapentin capsules which had been prescribed on July 23, 2016, and a bottle of citalopram capsules which had been prescribed on July 7, 2016.[2] Id. The plaintiff alleges that 91 capsules of gabapentin and all 30 capsules of citalopram were unaccounted for. Id.

         While on the scene, Faulkner spoke with an attorney with the Commonwealth's Attorney's Office in Botetourt County regarding potential charges. Id. ¶ 26- Faulkner informed the attorney about David's "level of intoxication, the fact that he had lain down in standing water, and the fact that narcotics and alcohol were involved." Id.

         Sergeant Steven Honaker arrived on the scene and assisted Faulkner with placing David in a patrol vehId.e. Id. ¶ 27. Faulkner then took David to see a magistrate. Id. ¶ 28. While en route, David "passed out and began to snore." Id. Upon arriving at the magistrate's office, Deputy Faulkner had to call out to David several times in order to awaken him. Id. ¶ 29. The deputy also had to help David step out of the vehicle. Id.

         The plaintiff alleges that Deputy Michael Prillaman and Lieutenant Travis Belcher came upon the scene and witnessed David's level of intoxication. Id. ¶¶ 30-31. Prillaman assisted Faulkner with "walking [David] into the docket." Id. ¶ 30. Because David "was unable to sit upright on the bench due to impairment," Belcher advised him to sit at the end of the bench and lean against the wall. Id. ¶ 32.

         The magistrate ultimately "ordered that [David] be held until sober." Id. ¶ 33. At approximately midnight, Sergeant Brandon Byers helped Belcher place David in a cell at the Botetourt County Jail. Id. ¶ 34-35. David required assistance removing his shoes and eyeglasses. Id. ¶ 35. He did not receive any form of medical evaluation prior to being placed in the cell, and none of the defendants requested emergency medical assistance at that time. Id. ¶36.

         At 3:00 a.m., Belcher and Prillaman performed a security check by looking through the glass window of David's cell, through which David could be seen lying on a sleeping mat on the floor. Id. ¶ 38. Roughly twenty minutes later, Byers performed another security check in the same manner. Id.¶ 39. Approximately two minutes later, after leaning closer to the window to obtain a better view, Byers asked another officer to open David's cell. Id. ¶¶ 39-43. He then entered the cell and stood next to David for approximately 10 seconds. Id. ¶ 44. Byers then prodded David's leg and realized that he was unresponsive. Id. ¶ 45.

         Byers attempted to wake David by shaking the sleeping mat. Id. ¶ 46. When that proved unsuccessful, he asked another deputy to retrieve an ammonia packet. Id. He then attempted to check David's pulse. Id. ¶ 47.

         Deputies began performing cardiopulmonary resuscitation ("CPR") at approximately 3:24 a.m. Id. ¶ 48. They continued performing CPR for ten minutes until an emergency medical services ("EMS") unit arrived at the jail. Id. ¶ 48. The EMS unit transported David to Carilion Roanoke Memorial Hospital, where an electroencephalogram ("EEG") showed no signs of brain activity. Id. ¶ 49-50. David was pronounced dead on July 28, 2016 at 12:59 p.m. Id. ¶ 51. "The cause of death was acute hydrocodone, gabapentin, citalopram, and alprazolam intoxication." Id.

         Procedural History

         The plaintiff filed this action against Sprinkle, Faulkner, Golla, Honaker, Prillaman, Belcher, Byers, Delbert Dudding, [3] and Kenny Parker[4] on March 7, 2018. On May 4, 2018, the plaintiff filed an amended complaint. In Count I of the amended complaint, the plaintiff asserts a wrongful death claim against all nine defendants under Virginia Code ยง 8.01-50, based on theories of negligence, gross negligence, and willful and wanton negligence. In Counts II and III, the plaintiff asserts claims for damages under 42 U.S.C. ...


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