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Saville v. Winston

United States District Court, S.D. Texas, Galveston Division

October 23, 2019

JIMMY D. SAVILLE TDCJ # 01366096, Plaintiff,
v.
SERGEANT LARRY WINSTON, et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          JEFFREY VINCENT BROWN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Plaintiff Jimmy D. Saville, an inmate in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice-Correctional Institutions Division (“TDCJ”), filed a civil-rights complaint (Dkt. 1) under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff proceeds pro se and in forma pauperis. Defendant Larry Winston filed a motion for summary judgment (Dkt. 55) seeking dismissal of all claims against him. Plaintiff filed a response and a cross-motion for summary judgment (Dkt. 57). The motions are ripe for consideration. Having considered the parties' briefing, the applicable law, and all matters of record, the Court concludes that Defendant's summary-judgment motion should be granted in part and denied in part and that Plaintiffs motion should be denied for the reasons explained below. The Court will stay and administratively close this case while it locates pro bono counsel to represent Saville at trial.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Saville alleges that Sergeant Winston delayed his access to medical care when Saville suffered a heart attack on June 15, 2016, at TDCJ's Darrington Unit. Winston previously moved for judgment on the pleadings, and the Court's opinion summarized Saville's allegations as follows:

In his pleadings, Plaintiff alleges that he had severe chest pain on June 15, 2016, while at the “trusty camp” at the Darrington Unit (Dkt. 30, at 5-6). He states that he reported the chest pain to Winston more than once, but that Winston did not take action to assist him or call for medical attention (id. at 6). Plaintiff states that, because of Winston's conduct, he sat for “another 25 to 30 min[u]tes in the hot sun” and that his pain worsened (id. at 7). Other persons then helped Plaintiff to a room with a fan, where Plaintiff waited an additional fifteen minutes for medical staff to arrive (id. at 7-8). The unit's medical staff sent Plaintiff to Angleton Hospital, where doctors told him that he had suffered a heart attack (id. at 8-9). Plaintiff then was transported to John Sealy Hospital and remained hospitalized for five days (id. at 9).

(Dkt. 52, at 1-2).[1] Based on these allegations, the Court denied Winston's motion for judgment on the pleadings and set a deadline for him to file a summary-judgment motion:

Plaintiff has pleaded that he reported his “severe” chest pain to Winston more than once, and that Winston nevertheless required him to wait in the sun while his pain worsened. He also has pleaded that medical attention was delayed by approximately 45 minutes, and that he suffered a heart attack requiring emergency medical care and a five-day hospitalization. These allegations are sufficient at the pleading stage.
Winston's motion for judgment on the pleadings therefore will be denied. Winston may reurge his arguments in a motion for summary judgment, which will allow reference to matters outside the pleadings.

(Dkt. 52, at 5-6) (citation omitted).

         Defendant now has filed his summary-judgment motion (Dkt. 55), accompanied by an affidavit from Winston recounting the events of June 15, 2016. Winston states that he worked at the Darrington Unit trusty camp along with three “dorm officers” and one “utility officer” (Dkt. 55-1, at 2). He avers that, when he “received a call from a dorm officer that Offender Saville wanted medical attention, ” he “advised that the dorm officer should have Saville come to the turn-out shed” (id.). Saville claims that Winston gave these instructions at approximately 11:20 a.m., by which time 20 minutes had elapsed since he first reported his chest pain to the dorm officer (Dkt. 57, at 1-2).

         Winston's affidavit states that, after speaking with Saville in the shed, he called for medical help:

I asked Saville what was wrong. He said that he had chest pains. I responded that I would call medical. I called medical and told them of Offender Saville's complaints. I was asked specific questions about Saville's appearance. I observed that he did not appear to be in distress-that he was able to stand, that he was not sweating and that he was speaking in a normal voice. He was, in fact, cursing and ranting that he did not want to ride the trailer. I reported these facts to the person I spoke with in the medical department, who advised me to get Offender Saville to the back gate.

(Dkt. 55-1, at 2-3). In his sworn declaration, Saville agrees that he was “calm” and “coherent” and spoke “in a normal voice” when he told Winston about his chest pains (Dkt. 57, at 5).

         Saville alleges that, rather than transporting him immediately for medical help, Winston delayed his access to medical care when he “chose to make [Saville] ride on the trailer, in the hot sun, with the other offenders that were going to the back gate” (id). He claims that, that after he got on the trailer as Winston instructed, he “sat on the trailer in the hot sun for another 20 minutes until the trailer was filled up” (id. at 2).[2] Winston agrees that the trailer was delayed by approximately 20 minutes and, although he does not explain the reason, states that he did not cause the delay:

I advised Saville to get on the trailer. He was agitated by this and said that he would not get on the trailer. There was a delay in transporting offenders to the back gate, which was not due to any action on my part. At some point he got on the trailer and was transported to the main building. From the time I first saw Offender Saville until the trailer left the turn-out shed was a period of approximately twenty (20) minutes.

(Dkt. 55-1, at 3). He avers that he was “unaware of Offender Saville's medical history, including any alleged heart-related condition” (id).

         Winston maintains that the trailer was the only way to transport Saville to the medical department. See Id. (“[t]here was a tractor-trailer at the turn-out shed, which was the only means of transporting offenders to the main building where Saville would have access to the medical department”). However, Saville avers that a state vehicle was available at the trusty camp for Winston's use and that TDCJ policy required Winston to use the vehicle for a medical emergency (Dkt. 57, at 5). He also alleges that, when he arrived at the back gate, an officer there told him that Winston “was suppose[d] to bring you directly to medical instead of making you ride that trailer” (id. at 2).

         Saville estimates that he arrived at the back gate at 11:40 a.m. (id.). Winston has submitted Saville's medical records from the clinic, which show that medical personnel were notified by security staff at 11:30 a.m. that Saville needed medical attention; that medical staff “arrived” at 11:35 a.m., presumably at the back gate to wait for the trailer bringing Saville; and that Saville's “arrival” at an unspecified location, presumably the back gate or the clinic, was at “11:45 11:50” (Dkt. 55-2, at 4).

         TDCJ's clinic records reflect that Saville arrived by stretcher in stable condition and complained of chest pain radiating to his left arm (id). He described the chest pain as sharp, constant, and radiating, and ranked its severity as 8 out of 10 (id). The nursing assessment noted normal respirations and normal arm strength on both sides (id. at 5). At 12:00 noon, Saville was given aspirin to chew and “nitro x1” and reported that his chest pain “remain[ed] at a 7/10 after 1st nitro” (id. at 6). An EKG showed normal sinus rhythm (id). At 12:05 p.m. Saville received a second “nitro” and reported chest pain of 5 out of 10 (id). At 12:10 p.m. Saville received a “3rd nitro” and stated that his chest pain remained the same after the third dose (id). Clinic staff notified a physician, Dr. Owusu, who ordered that Saville go to an emergency room for evaluation of chest pain “unrelieved by nitro x3” (id). At 1:15 p.m., Saville departed by ambulance (id). He states that doctors at Angleton Hospital told him that he had suffered a heart attack and transferred him to John Sealy Hospital in Galveston, where he was hospitalized for five days (Dkt. 57, at 3). Winston has not submitted, and the Court's current record does not contain, Saville's medical records from either hospital.

         Plaintiff claims that Winston violated his Eighth Amendment right to adequate medical care. He alleges that his heart attack might have been prevented if he had received prompt medical attention. See Dkt. 32, at 6 (alleging that by the time he arrived at the back gate, he “was in severe pain” and “[his] condition had worsened to where [he] was needing help to move”); Dkt. 57, at 5 (stating in sworn declaration that he “suffer[ed] a heart attack, which could have been prevented had Serg[e]ant Winston taken me directly to the infirmary instead of making me ride on the trailer”).

         Winston maintains that, according to TDCJ policy, he did not have the responsibility to call 911 for a medical emergency, but only to report Saville's medical needs to the medical department:

Per TDCJ policy, medical is tasked with the responsibility of calling 911, if needed. My understanding of the policy is that I was to report Offender Saville's concerns/condition to medical and that medical would address his medical needs. I did not do ...

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