United States District Court, D. Maryland, Southern Division
J.F. and D.F. ex rel. CRAIC and DEBORAH ANN BENTON, Plaintiffs,
CORRECT CARE SOLUTIONS, LLC et al., Defendants.
J. Hazel United States District Judge.
case arises out of the death of Melissa Mae Benton ("Ms.
Benton"), a 36-year-old woman, while she was in the
custody of the St. Mary's County Detention Center (the
"Detention Center"). Ms. Benton's minor
children. J.F. and D.F.. by their guardians and next friends
Craig and Deborah Ann Benton, and Ms. Benton's adult
daughter. Brittany Fleshman. bring suit against Correct Care
Solutions. LLC ("CCS"). Conmed Health Care
Management. Inc. ("Conmed"). and individual health
care staff (collectively. ''Health Care
Provider Defendants"). as well as individual
correctional staff" (collectively. "Correctional
Defendants") at the Detention Center, alleging claims
under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and Maryland state law. Presently
pending before the Court is a Motion to Dismiss by Individual
Defendants P. King. Hosselrode. I. King. Randolph. Beaumont,
and Winkler. ECF No. 14. and a separate Motion to Dismiss by
Individual Defendant Cawley. ECF No. 21. No hearing is
necessary. See Loc. R. 105.6. For the following
reasons. Defendants" Motions to Dismiss are granted, in
part, and denied, in part.
Mae Benton entered the St. Mary's Detention Center on
October 8. 2013 to await transfer to the Maryland Department
of Corrections to begin serving a seven year sentence. ECF
No. 4 ¶ 46. At the time. Ms. Benton was 36 years old and
suffered from various drug addictions, bipolar disorder,
unexplained weight loss, and a host of health issues.
Id. ¶ 45. When Ms. Benton arrived at the
Detention Center. Certified Nursing Assistant
("CNA") Penny King conducted an intake
examination. ECF No. 4 ¶ 48. Ms. King noted that
Ms. Benton suffered from high blood pressure, bipolar
disorder, unexplained weight loss, an enlarged colon, and
drug addiction. Id. Ms. King further noted that Ms.
Benton was supposed to receive follow-up medical care for her
enlarged colon, Id. Ms. King also reported that Ms.
Benton was an intravenous drug user and had taken
unprescribed Oxycodone the previous day. Id. Ms.
King's report stated that Ms. Benton "will be placed
on Benzo protocol per Conmed." Id.
about October 9. 2013. Ms. Benton underwent a second health
assessment by members of the medical staff, a Suicide
Prevention Screening by Defendant Licensed Clinical Social
Worker ("LCSW") Winkler, and an interview by the
inmate services coordinator. ECF No. 4 at 16. The health
assessment noted that Ms. Benton had a long history of
addiction to heroin. Xanax, and Oxycodone and was currently
experiencing opioid withdrawal. Id. ¶¶ 49.
51. Physician's Orders signed at the time stated that
staff were to "notify clinician if possible
deterioration occurs such as unstable blood pressure . . .
persistent vomiting, or dehydration." Id.
¶ 51. Following the Suicide Prevention Screening, LCSW
Winkler did not recommend immediate action for Ms. Benton,
but scheduled her for a further mental health assessment for
the week of October 14. 2013.
of Ms. Benton's detox protocol, she was prescribed
Librium. Phenergan, Clonidine, vitamins, and
Imodium. ECF No. 4 ¶ 53. Despite these
instructions, however, the Amended Complaint identifies a
number of instances in which Ms. Benton received sporadic
doses of these medications, or none at all. Id.
¶ 54. 55. 57. 67. For example. Ms. Benton was to receive
4 mg of Imodium three times a day for her abdominal cramps,
yet no Imodium was administered. Id. ¶ 55.
Phenergan was allegedly withheld for two days. Id.
¶ 57. Clonidine was administered only once. Id.
¶ 54. Ms. Benton informed medical staff of her stomach
pains, but her complaints were dismissed without examination.
Id. ¶¶ 55. 58.
October 11, 2013. Ms. Benton began experiencing severe
symptoms, including repeat vomiting and tremors. ECF No. 4
¶ 56. Her blood pressure had elevated to 153/106.
Id. ¶ 57. Although Ms. Benton was supposed to
receive 0.1 mg of Clonidine to treat the high blood pressure,
that order was not carried out. Id. ¶ 57. Ms.
Benton refused all of her meals on October 12 and 13. 2013.
Id. ¶ 58. She also complained of chest pain and
suffered from diarrhea. Id. ¶ 59. Her pulse was
48 beats per minute and her oxygen saturation was 90%.
indicating an abnormally low level. Id. Despite Ms.
Benton's condition, the health and correctional staff
simply told her "to relax." and gave her some
"Gatorade to hydrate." Id. Under the
Physician's Order from October 9th. if Ms. Benton's
oxygen saturation level fell below 92%. care providers were
instructed to call 911. Id. ¶ 51. But no one
number of Detention Center health care providers and
correctional officers conducted numerous cell checks on Ms.
Benton over the course of two days, and witnessed her
"vomiting profusely, having abdominal cramps,
complaining of chest pains, and refusing all meals."
See ECF No. 4 ¶¶ 60-62. 64-69. However,
none of them took any measures to ensure that Ms. Benton
received additional medical care or intervention.
Id. On October 12. 2013. Defendant CNA Beaumont
checked Ms. Benton"s vital signs and noted that Ms.
Benton's pulse was a "dangerously low" 36 beats
per minute. Id. ¶ 62; ECF No. 4-4 at 13.
17.'' Ms. Benton asked if she could go to the
hospital, hut her request was denied as "not
indicated." Id. ¶ 63. On October 12.
CNA/CMT Cawley and CNA Hosselrode both administered
medication to Ms. Benton "at least twice" and
witnessed her "vomiting profusely, having abdominal
cramps, and refusing all meals." but failed to call for
medical help. Id. ¶¶ 65-66.
morning of October 13. 2013. Defendant Cawley entered Ms.
Benton's cell to deliver her medication. ECF No. 4 ¶
71. Mr. Cawley stated that Ms. Benton "did not seem to
see him" and was in "an altered mental
status." Id. She reached out and crushed the
cups he was attempting to hand her. Id. Ms. Benton
finally took the medication, then grabbed her mattress and
began rocking back and forth. Id. Mr. Cawley
allegedly made no efforts to obtain medical attention for Ms.
Benton, but rather, issued a memorandum "that Ms. Benton
not be allowed out of her cell, except for her shower,
because she was unsteady on her feet." Id. By
October 13. Ms. Benton's blood pressure had reached
163/109 and her heart rate was 106 beats per minute.
Id. ¶ 73.
October 13. 2013 at approximately 5:55PM. Ms. Benton was
found non-responsive in her cell. ECF No. 4 ¶ 79. She
was not breathing and had no pulse. Id. Ms. Benton
was transported to St. Mary's Hospital a half hour later,
where she was pronounced dead. Id. The autopsy
report concluded that Ms. Benton "died of cardiac
arrhythmia due to myocardial fibrosis and hypertensive heart
disease. Chronic drug and alcohol abuse were contributing
causes of death." ECF No. 4-4 at 16.
Mae Benton's minor children, J.F. and D.F., bring this
action by their guardians and next friends, Craig and Deborah
Benton. Melissa's parents. Also named as a Plaintiff is
Brittany Fleshman. Melissa's adult daughter. The
Plaintiffs assert claims for: I) negligence. II) Eighth
and/or Fourteenth Amendment violations under 42 U.S.C. §
1983. and III) wrongful death against the Health Care
Provider Defendants, as well as IV) Eighth and/or Fourteenth
Amendment violations under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. V) gross
negligence, and VI) wrongful death against the Correctional
Defendants. ECF No. 4. Accompanying Plaintiffs' Complaint
is Plaintiffs" waiver of arbitration before the Maryland
Health Care Alternative Dispute Resolution Office, ECF No.
4-3. an Order of Transfer from the Maryland Health Care
Alternative Dispute Resolution Office to this Court, ECF No.
4-5. and a Certificate of Qualified Expert and Report from
Dr. Robert L. Cohen. ECF No. 4-4.
Defendants P. King. Hosselrode. T. King. Randolph, Beaumont,
and Winkler filed a Motion to Dismiss Plaintiffs"
Amended Complaint. ECF No. 14. Individual Defendant James
Cawley filed a separate Motion to Dismiss Plaintiffs'
Amended Complaint. ECF No. 21. All other Defendants have
tiled an Answer to the Amended Complaint. ECF Nos. 15. 16,
and 32. Plaintiffs filed a Consolidated Response in
Opposition on August 26. 2016. ECF No. 22. Defendants filed
their Reply on September 12. 2016. ECF No. 23. Defendants
request that the Court dismiss Counts II and III against P.
King. Hosselrode. T. King. Randolph. Cawley. and Beaumont,
dismiss all counts against Lisa Winkler. The Motions to
Dismiss are now ready for review.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
may "test the adequacy of a complaint by way of a motion
to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6)." Prelich v. Med
Res., foe, 813 F.Supp.2d 654. 660 (D. Md. 2011 >
(citing German v. Fox. 267 F.App'x 23 1. 233
(4th Cir. 2008)). Motions to dismiss for failure to state a
claim do "not resolve contests surrounding the facts,
the merits of a claim, or the applicability of
defenses." Prelich. 813 F.Supp.2d at 660
(citing Edwards v. City of Goldsboro,178 F.3d 231.
243 (4th Cir. 1999). To overcome a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, a
complaint must allege enough facts to state a plausible claim
for relief. Ashcrofi v. Iqbal,556 U.S. 662, 678
(2009). A claim is plausible when "the ...