Searching over 5,500,000 cases.

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Bryant v. Orange County

United States District Court, M.D. Florida

January 8, 2018




         This matter comes before the Court on Defendant Clairmont's Motion to Dismiss (Doc. 31); Defendant Evans' Motion to Dismiss (Doc. 32); the Motion to Dismiss filed by Defendants Buck, Gonzalez, Harter, and Orange County (“Collective Motion”) (Doc. 33); the Response in Opposition filed by the Plaintiffs (Doc. 40); and the Reply filed by Defendants Buck, Gonzalez, Harter, and Orange County (Doc. 41).

         I. Background

         A. Facts as Alleged in the Complaint

         During his arrest on August 6, 2015, Max Gracia, Jr. (“the Decedent”) suffered dog bite wounds to his hands and legs. Amend. Compl., Doc. 29, ¶ 21. Although the Decedent received multiple dog bites on both his hands and legs, at least some of which were severe, the Plaintiffs do not seek any relief with respect to the initial dog bite injuries themselves.[1] The Decedent received some treatment for those wounds at Orange County Regional Medical Center, and later on the day of his arrest, the Decedent was admitted to the Health Services Department, also known as Corrections Health Services (“CHS”) of Orange County Corrections (“OCC”). Id.

         The Decedent's injuries resulted in an assignment to the Infirmary as his housing unit at OCC. Id. ¶ 22. Around the time of his admission to the Infirmary, Defendant Robert Buck III, M.D. (“Buck”) evaluated the Decedent and noted that he “had multiple dog bites with severe flesh involvement.” Id. In addition to diagnosing multiple dog bites, Buck put the Decedent back on his seizure medication, prescribed antibiotics and pain medications, including ibuprofen and Tylenol #3, and noted that, upon verification that the Decedent “had been compliant in the community, ” Atripla[2] should be ordered. Id. ¶ 22-23. Buck did not order Atripla for the Decedent, and according to the Plaintiffs, “Buck never saw or inquired about [the Decedent] again.” Id. ¶ 23. A summary of what happened to the Decedent next, based on the facts alleged in the Amended Complaint, follows.

         On August 7, 2015, the Decedent's “wounds were cleaned and dressed” by Defendant Elsa Galloza-Gonzalez (“Gonzalez”).[3] Id. ¶ 25. At that time, at least one of his wounds was “reddened with scant serosanguineous drainage present.” Id. At some point on the same day, Defendant Karen Clairmont (“Clairmont”) allegedly saw the Decedent, but did not obtain his vital signs or perform any physical assessment.[4] Id. ¶ 26.

         On August 8, 2015, the Decedent was educated about the risk of infection and was told to increase his fluid intake.[5] Id. ¶ 27. The Decedent's wound dressing was changed, and Gonzalez again noted that the wound on his left leg was “reddened with scant serosanguineous drainage.”[6]Id. ¶ 28. The Decedent vomited twice, and no vital signs were taken, but the Decedent was later given odansetron.[7] Although the wound was reddened and the Decedent complained of vomiting, Gonzalez recorded that he showed “no signs or symptoms of infection.” Id. ¶ 28, 29.

         On August 9, 2015, at 6:35 AM, the dressing on the Decedent's left leg wound was changed. The wound was reddened and had “a large amount of bloody drainage.”[8] Id. ¶ 30. The Decedent complained of dizziness and weakness, and at some point that morning, his vital signs were taken for the first time in fifty-five hours, revealing tachycardia[9] of 131 and a respiratory rate of 22. Id. ¶ 32. In response to his abnormal vital signs, Evans ordered an increased fluid intake.[10] Id. The Decedent's vital signs were never taken again. Id. At 9:00 PM, the Decedent twisted and moaned loudly in bed, said that he “can't do it, ” and fell to the ground.[11] Id. ¶ 37. At some point prior to 9:54 PM, the Decedent “refused to get up for his evening medications.”[12] Id. ¶ 33.

         At around 11:16 PM on August 9, 2015, an officer and two supervisors came to transfer the Decedent to a different housing unit. Id. ¶ 35. At the time, the Decedent was unresponsive, groaning lethargically, and laying on the floor. Id. Clairmont was present and told the officers that he was “‘faking or exaggerating his medical condition and inability to get up.'” Id. The officer and two inmate workers physically moved the Decedent to a cell with a recording camera, in order to “‘ascertain the validity of his proclaimed illnesses.'” Id. The Decedent was documented as compliant. Id. However, a disciplinary report was filed against the Decedent because he “refus[ed]” to follow orders in connection with the transfer; instead, the Decedent lay on his back on the floor and “refus[ed] all treatment.”[13] See Id. ¶ 38.

         On August 10, 2015, at 2:58 AM, a corrections investigator tried to “interrogate” the Decedent with respect to the disciplinary report. Id. ¶ 36. The Decedent was unable to reply to the corrections investigator. Id.

         At approximately 5:15 AM, an officer informed Clairmont that the Decedent was not breathing.[14] Id. ¶ 39. Clairmont observed the Decedent on his back in bed, with no pulse or respirations; at that time, efforts to revive the Decedent began and continued until EMS arrived and transported the Decedent at 5:48 AM. Id. At 6:09 AM, the Decedent was pronounced deceased at Orlando Regional Medical Center. Id. ¶ 40. An Autopsy Report concluded that the manner of his death was homicide, due to his incarceration, and that the cause of death was “septic shock complicating infected dog bite wounds” with HIV as a contributory factor. Id. ¶ 41.

         B. Procedural History

         On September 18, 2017, the Plaintiffs filed the Amended Complaint. Doc. 29. Count I alleges a § 1983 claim against Orange County, Count II alleges a § 1983 claim against Buck, Count III alleges a § 1983 claim against Evans, Count IV alleges a § 1983 claim against Clairmont, Count V alleges a § 1983 claim against Gonzalez, Count VI alleges a § 1983 claim against Harter, and Count VII alleges a medical malpractice claim against Orange County.[15]

         Defendants Clairmont and Evans each filed individual motions to dismiss on October 2, 2017. Docs. 31, 32. That same day, Defendants Orange County, Buck, Gonzalez, and Harter filed a collective motion to dismiss (“Collective Motion”). Doc. 33. The Plaintiffs filed a Response on October 31, 2017, and Defendants Orange County, Buck, Gonzalez, and Harter filed a collective Reply on November 15, 2017. Docs. 40, 43.

         II. Standard of Review

         In ruling on a motion to dismiss, the Court must view the complaint in the light most favorable to the Plaintiff, see, e.g., Jackson v. Okaloosa County, Fla., 21 F.3d 1531, 1534 (11th Cir. 1994), and must limit its consideration to the pleadings and any exhibits attached thereto. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 10(c); see also GSW, Inc. v. Long County, Ga., 999 F.2d 1508, 1510 (11th Cir. 1993). The Court will liberally construe the complaint's allegations in the Plaintiff's favor. See Jenkins v. McKeithen, 395 U.S. 411, 421 (1969). However, “conclusory allegations, unwarranted factual deductions or legal conclusions masquerading as facts will not prevent dismissal.” Davila v. Delta Air Lines, Inc., 326 F.3d 1183, 1185 (11th Cir. 2003).

         In reviewing a complaint on a motion to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), “courts must be mindful that the Federal Rules require only that the complaint contain ‘a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.' ” U.S. v. Baxter Intern., Inc., 345 F.3d 866, 880 (11th Cir. 2003) (citing Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)). This is a liberal pleading requirement, one that does not require a plaintiff to plead with particularity every element of a cause of action. Roe v. Aware Woman Ctr. for Choice, Inc., 253 F.3d 678, 683 (11th Cir. 2001). However, a plaintiff's obligation to provide the grounds for his or her entitlement to relief requires more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do. Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 554-555 (2007). The complaint's factual allegations “must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level, ” id. at 555, and cross “the line from conceivable to plausible.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 680 (2009).

         III. Analysis

         A. Legal Standards

         “To survive a motion to dismiss based upon qualified immunity, the plaintiff must have alleged sufficient facts to support a finding of a constitutional violation of a clearly established law.” Chandler v. Sec'y of Florida Dep't of Transp., 695 F.3d 1194, 1198 (11th Cir. 2012). Otherwise, qualified immunity protects government officials who were acting within their discretionary authority. Franklin v. Curry, 738 F.3d 1246, 1249 (11th Cir. 2013). There is no dispute as to whether the Defendants were acting within the scope of their discretionary authority, nor is there a dispute as to whether, if the Defendants did in fact violate the Decedent's constitutional rights, those constitutional rights were clearly established at the time of the violations. Accordingly, the sole question before the Court on the matter of qualified immunity is whether the Plaintiffs have alleged the violation of a constitutional right.

         A claim for relief under § 1983 requires that the Plaintiff allege a “deprivation of an actual constitutional right.” McElligott v. Foley, 182 F.3d 1248, 1254 (11th Cir. 1999). “It is well settled that the deliberate indifference to serious medical needs of prisoners” constitutes a violation of the Eighth Amendment. Id. (internal quotation marks omitted). Therefore, to establish a claim in this context under § 1983, the Plaintiff must allege (1) a serious medical need, (2) deliberate indifference to that need by the Defendants, and (3) a causal connection between Defendant's deliberate indifference and Plaintiff's injuries. See Hatten v. Prison Health Services, Inc., 2006 WL 4792785 (M. D. Fla. Sept. 13, 2006). For purposes of the Motions to ...

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.