CONSTITUTIONAL LAW

Section 1983 • Pretrial Detainees • Prison Medical Care • Supervisory Liability

Hasty v. Montgomery Cty., PICS Case No. 14-0394 (E.D. Pa. Feb. 28, 2014) Surrick, J. (21 pages).

Hasty brought a §1983 action against the county, Correctional Medical Care and a doctor for injuries he sustained as a result of the denial of medical care while he was a pretrial detainee at the Montgomery County Correctional Facility. The defendants moved to dismiss the suit. Denied.

Hasty was admitted to the correctional facility on Sept. 3, 2010 on pending criminal charges. On Sept. 13, 2010, a psychiatrist at the facility prescribed Risperdal for him. The next day he developed priapism with pain in the abdomen and genital area and abnormal urination. From Sept. 14 through Sept. 17 he refused medication from the facility nurses and repeatedly requested medical care through the medical care request system. He made his requests through the medical phone request system and directly to correctional officers and facility medical staff. On Sept. 17, a physician’s assistant examined Hasty and he was sent to a hospital where he was treated and returned to the facility. On Sept. 19, 2010, he was transferred to another hospital where he underwent surgery which resulted in permanent impotence. He filed a §1983 claim against the facility, CMC and the doctor and a state law medical malpractice claim against CMC and the doctor.

Hasty argued that the county and CMC failed to adopt and implement policies to ensure timely access to medical care when they failed to ensure that a proper medical assistance request system was in operation; ignored medical assistance requests from inmates with serious complaints; failed to provide adequate medical and nursing staffing; failed to train, supervise and discipline medical and correctional staff as to inmate medical needs; failed to correct known defects and failed to provide for necessary medical tests, hospitalization and other treatment for seriously ill inmates. Hasty alleged that these failures led to the lack of timely medical assistance that resulted in his pain, need for surgery and resulting permanent impotence. These factual allegations clearly supported a plausible claim for relief.

Defendants alleged that Hasty failed to identify the policymaker who authorized the unconstitutional policies or promoted the practices that led to the constitutional violations. However, Hasty identified the doctor who supervised the CMC staff as a policymaker. Defendants cited no legal authority to support the dismissal of Hasty’s claim at this early stage for failing to name specific officials at the county level who were responsible for promoting and implementing the alleged unconstitutional policy. Contrary to defendants’ assertions, Hasty identified an unconstitutional policy in failing to have an adequate system for emergency medical care and he was not obligated to plead with special particularity the exact policies and practices prior to any discovery into the alleged practices.

Even though Hasty was a pretrial detainee at the time of the alleged injury, the Fourteenth Amendment afforded him at least the same protections as the Eighth Amendment provides for a convicted prisoner. Defendants did not dispute that Hasty’s priapism was a serious medical need and Hasty’s repeated requests for medical assistance through the telephone request system and directly to medical and other staff at the facility and the ignored medical need met the minimum pleading requirements to establish deliberate indifference under the Due Process Clause.

As to the state law medical negligence claims, Hasty filed the required certificate of merits against CMC and the doctor in compliance with Rule 1042.3. CMC’s argument that Hasty was required to file a certificate with respect to each of the licensed professionals for whom CMC was vicariously liable was flawed because the defendants circumvented Hasty’s efforts to obtain discovery of the names of nurses and other medical personnel who provided treatment to him.