Court Rules Jail Medical Staff Did Not Act With Deliberate Indifference

December 5, 2017

U.S. District Court Judge Sue E. Meyerscough granted summary judgment in favor of Vermillion County Jail and jail nurses in Jones v. Hartshorn, et al., No. 15-cv-2032. Inmate Walter Jones claimed that defendants were deliberately indifferent to a litany of medical conditions while he was detained at the jail in 2011 and 2013. Judge Myerscough initially ruled that Jones’s claims arising from his 2011 detention were barred by the 2-year statute of limitations and could not be pursued. The Court then ruled that the defendant nurses who were not directly involved in Jones’s care lacked personal involvement in the alleged constitutional violation and thus could not be held liable. Finally, the Court found that Jones presented no evidence that he even had most of the medical conditions he complained of, such as diabetes, psoriasis, hyperglycemia, hypoglycemia, blurred vision, kidney damage, ear ringing, dizziness, anxiety, limb swelling, chronic pain, and lack of energy. Jones’s speculative allegations about these conditions were not a basis for liability. Likewise, his hypothetical claim that soy in his meals caused these problems was not based on any admissible evidence presented in the case.

Turning to the medical conditions for which there was evidentiary support that Jones had the condition and that the treating nurse had knowledge of, the Court was left with four potential claims: treatment for his high blood pressure, dermatitis, tooth decay, and rectal bleeding. The Court quickly disposed of Jones’s claim relating to his high blood pressure. The undisputed evidence demonstrated that Jones was diagnosed with the condition in 2011, received a new prescription to treat it when he arrived at the jail in 2013, and then refused the medication less than a month later. The nursing staff could not be held liable for Jones’s refusal to take his prescribed medication.

Judge Mysercough requested additional briefing on the remaining medical claims for dermatitis, tooth decay, and rectal bleeding. After Jones failed to respond to Defendants’ supplemental briefing, the Court granted Defendants’ motion for summary judgment. Michael Condon and Tara Grimm represented the Defendants.

Jones v. Hartshorn


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