United States District Court, S.D. Texas, Houston Division
MEMORANDUM & ORDER
KEITH P. ELLISON UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
hearing on June 27, 2019, the Court heard oral argument on
Defendant Latoisha Dorsey's (“Defendant”)
Motion for Summary Judgment. At the hearing, the Court denied
the motion, because the Court found that a genuine issue of
material fact remained as to the availability of qualified
immunity. Defendant subsequently appealed the Court's
denial of qualified immunity. (Doc. No. 101.) At the request
of both parties, the Court now reduces to writing the genuine
issues of material fact effecting its oral denial of summary
judgement. See Silverthorne v. Laird, 460 F.2d 1175,
1178-79 (5th Cir. 1972); 16A Charles Alan Wright, Arthur R.
Miller & Edward H. Cooper, Federal Practice and
Procedure § 3949.1 (4th ed. 2019) (noting that,
after a notice of appeal is filed, a district court
“may reduce to writing an earlier oral decision”
so as long as it does “not alter the substance of the
consideration of a motion for summary judgment, the Court
construes all contested factual issues in the light most
favorable to the non-movant. Bourne v. Gunnels, 921
F.3d 484, 492 (5th Cir. 2019). For the purpose of deciding
the motion for summary judgment, the Court finds that the
facts, construed in the light most favorable to the
non-movant, are as follows.
is a combat veteran who served in Iraq and Afghanistan. (Doc.
No. 97-18.) Late in the evening on September 26, 2014,
Plaintiff took Ambien prescribed to her to treat her
diagnosed post-traumatic stress disorder
(“PTSD”). (Doc. No. 97-2 at 6.) Shortly
thereafter, Plaintiff left her house in her car, attempting
to reach the hospital. (Doc. No. 97-1 at 74.) Plaintiff felt
calm and alert when she got into the car. (Doc. No. 97-1 at
74.) However, at some point, Plaintiff became unable to
operate her vehicle. (Doc. No. 97-1 at 74.)
bystander found Plaintiff sitting in her car, stopped at a
red light. (Doc. No. 97-3.) The bystander attempted to
communicate with Plaintiff, but found that she was
incoherent. (Doc. No. 97-3.) The bystander later stated that
Plaintiff “was not asleep, but was not responsive to
[his] questions to her.” (Doc. No. 97-3.) The bystander
called an ambulance. (Doc. No. 97-3.) Plaintiff told the
emergency medical technician (“EMT”) that she had
PTSD and had taken four Ambien. (Doc. No. 97-4.) The EMT
noticed two more pills, later identified as Ambien, in
Plaintiff's hand, and an opened water bottle in her lap.
(Doc. No. 97-2; Doc. No. 97-4.) The EMT wanted to take
Plaintiff directly to the hospital. (Doc. No. 97-4.)
Defendant arrived on the scene, Plaintiff was still
experiencing intermittent unconsciousness. (Doc. No. 97-2 at
6.) Defendant and other deputies removed Plaintiff from her
car, handcuffed her, and pushed her into the back of a patrol
car. (Doc. No. 97-6 at 0:53-0:56.) Deputies then proceeded to
search Plaintiff's vehicle, which clearly displayed a
disabled placard in the front window. (Doc. No. 97-6 at
1:05-1:22.) In a video recorded by Defendant's dash cam,
Plaintiff can be heard telling someone off-camera with a male
voice that she has PTSD. (Doc. No. 97-8 at 1:07-1:08.)
drove Plaintiff to Houston Police Central Intox
(“Intox”), a police department facility where law
enforcement conducts blood draws to determine if an
individual is intoxicated. (Doc. No. 97-2 at 6; Doc. No.
97-14 at 23.) At some point during the drive, Defendant
manually disabled the video and audio recording equipment
inside her police cruiser, a violation of department policy.
(Doc. No. 97-5 at 136; Doc. No. 97-11 at 159-165.) On the way
to Intox, Plaintiff told Defendant that she felt suicidal,
and asked to be taken to the hospital. (Doc. No. 97-1 at
104.) Defendant refused and instead proceeded to Intox, where
Plaintiff was left handcuffed to a bench in a cell for two
hours to wait for her blood draw. (Doc. No. 97-1 at 104; Doc.
No. 97-2 at 6; Doc. No. 97-5 at 138; Doc. No. 97-10 at 4-5.)
did not inform the nurse conducting the blood draw that
Plaintiff had ingested Ambien. (Doc. No. 97-5 at 144.) During
the blood draw, Plaintiff asked Defendant about veterans'
court. (Doc. No. 97-15 at 7:32-7:37.) Defendant told
Plaintiff that she did not know, but an offscreen voice told
Plaintiff she could discuss it with pre-trial. (Doc. No.
97-15 at 7:39-7:47.) After the blood draw, Defendant took
Plaintiff to Harris County Jail. (Doc. No. 97-5 at 144; Doc.
No. 97-10 at 5.)
booking at the jail, Plaintiff again told Defendant that she
needed to go to the hospital, because she felt suicidal.
(Doc. No. 97-2 at 6; Doc. No. 97-5 at 147-48.) A jail nurse
was called over at this point. (Doc. No. 97-2 at 6.) After
learning of Plaintiff's suicidal ideations and recent
overdose, the nurse and a staff doctor directed Defendant to
take Plaintiff to the hospital. (Doc. No. 97-2 at 6; Doc. No.
97-5 at 150.) Defendant then transported Plaintiff to the
hospital. (Doc. No. 97-2 at 6; Doc. No. 97-5 at 150.)
screening and treatment at the hospital lasted less than an
hour. (Doc. No. 97-10 at 5; Doc. No. 97-17.) Medical records
include a (struck through) notation that Plaintiff was having
thoughts of suicide. (Doc. No. 97-17 at 8.) After discharge,
Defendant took Plaintiff directly from the hospital to be
booked into the Harris County Jail. (Doc. No. 97-5 at 222;
Doc. No. 97-10 at 5.)
the incident with Defendant, Plaintiff's suicidal
symptoms worsened. (Doc. No. 97-1 at 33-34, 134-35, 137-38;
Doc. No. 97-18; Doc. No. 97-20). She has developed symptoms
of hypervigilance, irritability, diminished concentration,
and insomnia. (Doc. No. 97-1 at 33-34, 134-35, 137-38; Doc.
No. 97-20.) She required extended hospitalization to treat
her PTSD, and she experiences nightmares, flashbacks, and
recurring bad memories related to the arrest. (Doc. No. 97-1
at 33-34; Doc. No. 97-18; Doc. No. 97-20.) She also suffers
from symptoms of “re-experiencing” her trauma,
including fear of the police, fear of travelling, and fear of
prescribed therapeutic medications, all of which adversely
impact her mental health. ((Doc. No. 97-1 at 33-34, 134-35,
137-38; Doc. No. 97-20.)
Plaintiff's employers learned of her arrest and
terminated her. (Doc. No. 97-1 at 52.) The criminal charges
against Plaintiff were dismissed, and Plaintiff's Motion
for Expunction of Records relating to her arrest was granted.
(Doc. No. 97-1 at 47; Doc. No. 97-21; Doc. No. 97-22.)
Defendant disputes several portions of this narrative.
Defendant maintains that Plaintiff reported that she was
suicidal only once, just before being booked into the Harris
County Jail. (Doc. No. 97-5 at 148.) Defendant produced some
evidence that Plaintiff refused the EMT's urging to
accept transportation to the hospital. (Doc. No. 94-3 at 82;
Doc. No. 97-4.) However, Defendant concedes that, if
Plaintiff's account is accurate, then Defendant had a
duty to “immediately seek medical treatment for
her.” (Doc. No. 97-5 at 135.) Defendant also testified
that she had direct experience with suicidal inmates when she
worked in the Harris County jail, and that she was trained in
such cases to seek medical intervention before anything else.
(Doc. No. 97-5 at 42-45; Doc. No. 97-23.)
arguments-both in the briefing and at the July 27, 2019
hearing-hinged on the disputed facts being construed in her
favor. And at no point did she “contend that
‘taking all [Baldwin]'s factual allegations as
true[, ] no violation of a clearly established right was
shown.'” Reyes v. City of Richmond, 287
F.3d 346, 351 (5th Cir. 2002) (quoting Cantu v.
Rocha, 77 F.3d 795, 803 (5th Cir. 1996)).