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Beck v. Osmond

United States District Court, D. Nebraska

September 12, 2017

CHRISTOPHER STEPHEN BECK, Plaintiff,
v.
SHERIFF DAN OSMOND, Custer County Jail; and PAMELA GOLDSBY, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          RICHARD G. KOPF SENIOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This matter is before the court on Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment. (Filing No. 31.) For the reasons that follow, the Motion is granted.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff Christopher Stephen Beck (“Beck”) filed this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Defendants Dan Osmond (“Osmond”) and Pamela Goldsby[1](“Goldsby”), asserting that they were deliberately indifferent to his serious medical needs in violation of his Eighth Amendment right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment. (Filing No. 19.) Beck alleged that, while confined at the Custer County Jail, Defendants refused his requests to see a doctor for stomach pain that affected his ability to eat and move and caused blood in his stool. (Id.) The court allowed Beck's Eighth Amendment claim for monetary damages to proceed against Osmond and Goldsby in their individual capacities. (Filing No. 20.)

         II. RELEVANT UNDISPUTED MATERIAL FACTS [2]

         1. From August 14, 2014, until November 18, 2014, Beck was confined at the Custer County Jail in Broken Bow, Nebraska, where he awaited extradition to Texas. (Filing No. 32-2 at CM/ECF p. 2.) He had been confined at the Custer County Jail approximately a dozen times before, dating back to 1997. (Filing No. 32-2 at CM/ECF p. 2; Filing No. 32-3 at CM/ECF pp. 1-26.)

         2. Osmond has served as Sheriff of Custer County since January of 2011. (Filing No. 32-1 at CM/ECF p. 1.) The Custer County Sheriff's Office oversees the operation of the Custer County Jail. (Id.)

         3. Goldsby has been the Jail Administrator of the Custer County Jail since 2011. (Filing No. 32-2 at CM/ECF p. 1.) Goldsby, as Jail Administrator, oversees the day-to-day operations. (Filing No. 32-1 at CM/ECF p. 2.) As a result, Osmond is generally not present for or involved in the day-to-day activities at the jail. (Id.)

         4. Goldsby is personally involved in supervising inmates during her shifts, and often personally handles and responds to the written request forms submitted by the inmates. (Filing No. 32-2 at CM/ECF p. 5.)

         5. The inmate handbook provided to inmates at the Custer County Jail at the time of booking instructs them that if they are experiencing a medical need, they are to alert a member of the jail staff if it is an emergency, or if not an emergency, complete and submit a standard written request form which they may designate as “medical” in nature. (Filing No. 32-2 at CM/ECF p. 3; Filing No. 32-3 at CM/ECF p. 138.)

         6. At all pertinent times, non-emergency medical needs of inmates confined at the Custer County Jail were addressed during normal business hours through on-call physicians at the Broken Bow Clinic, P.C. (“BBC”), while emergency or after-hours inmate medical needs were addressed through on-call professional medical staff at the local hospital. (Filing No. 32-2 at CM/ECF pp. 3-5; Filing No. 32-3 at CM/ECF pp. 128-132.) Dr. Shawn Lawrence (“Dr. Lawrence”) was typically the physician from BBC who responded to calls from staff at the Custer County Jail. (Filing No. 32-2 at CM/ECF p. 5; Filing No. 32-4 at CM/ECF pp. 1-2.)

         7. Dr. Lawrence is very familiar with Beck's medical history. His medical history included acid reflux and related symptoms (chest and stomach and throat burning/pain), which was usually well controlled with over-the-counter or prescription antacids. Beck had no history of stomach ulcers or tumors in 2014. (Filing No. 32-4 at CM/ECF p. 3.)

         8. Beck was confined at the Custer County Jail in late 2006 and early 2007. During that time, Dr. Lawrence controlled Beck's acid reflux symptoms with prescription antacid medications, such as Protonix and Prevacid. (Filing No. 32-3 at CM/ECF pp. 29-36; Filing No. 32-4 at CM/ECF pp. 3-4.)

         9. During his 2014 confinement at the Custer County Jail, Beck was always given access to and frequently took over-the-counter antacids (Tums and omeprazole) for stomach pain or related symptoms. (Filing No. 32-2 at CM/ECF p. 7; Filing No. 32-3 at CM/ECF pp. 58-60.)

         10. On August 26, 2014, Beck submitted an inmate medical request form, in which he complained of “severe heart burn, ” chest pain, heart rate fluctuation, and “panic attacks.” (Filing No. 32-3 at CM/ECF p. 65.) Beck took Tums for the heartburn. (Filing No. 32-2 at CM/ECF p. 7; Filing No. 32-3 at CM/ECF pp. 59, 65.)

         11. Beck did not submit any further inmate request forms regarding heartburn or acid reflux symptoms until October 29, 2014. (Filing No. 32-2 at CM/ECF p. 7; Filing No. 32-3 at CM/ECF pp. 63-97.) On October 29, 2014, Beck submitted an inmate medical request form, after regular business hours, which stated, “I am having severe acid reflux but I think I might have an ulcer, cause it burns and I am in severe pain from my chest to my stomach.” (Filing No. 32-2 at CM/ECF p. 7; Filing No. 32-3 at CM/ECF p. 82.) Jail staff did not perceive the existence of any medical emergency, so they left Beck's inmate medical request form for Goldsby to address in the morning. (Id.)

         12. By the next morning, October 30th, Beck had submitted an inmate grievance form that stated, “I am having severe pains in my stomach and having severe acid reflux with pain going from my throat deep into my stomach, I need to see a doctor if I get denied any kind of medical I will start a ...


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