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Saunders v. Baltimore County Detention Center Medical Department

United States District Court, D. Maryland

June 24, 2019

RICARDO SAUNDERS, Plaintiff
v.
BALTIMORE COUNTY DETENTION CENTER MEDICAL DEPARTMENT, et al., Defendants

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          DEBORAH K. CHASANOW UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Plaintiff Ricardo Saunders, formerly an inmate at Baltimore County Detention Center, has filed a civil rights complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 alleging that Defendants were deliberately indifferent to his medical needs. Defendants Amaefule and Figueroa filed a motion to dismiss or, in the alternative, motion for summary judgment. Although Mr. Saunders was advised of his right to respond to the motion, he has not done so. Having reviewed the submitted materials, the court finds that no hearing is necessary. See D. Md. Local Rule 105.6. For the reasons set forth below, Defendants Amaefule and Figueroa's dispositive motion, construed as a motion for summary judgment, shall be granted, and the remaining Defendants shall be dismissed.

         BACKGROUND

         I. Plaintiff's Allegations

         Mr. Saunders alleges that he suffers from sleep apnea, requiring him to use a “CPAP Machine” when sleeping. ECF No. 1 at 3. On January 23, 2018, while Mr. Saunders was confined to the Baltimore County Detention Center (BCDC), he “was sent to the medical department due to vomiting (during a flu outbreak).” Id. at 2. Although the medical tests that Mr. Saunders was given indicated that he did not have the flu, Defendant Dr. Barnes ordered him to be quarantined for 24 hours. Id. at 2-3.

         Based on the quarantine instruction, Mr. Saunders “was placed in a cell without [his] equipment (CPAP Machine)[.] This cell had nothing in it, but a[] toilet and sink. With constant air conditioning blowing from a[] vent[, Mr. Saunders] began to start feeling an[xi]ety, depression, hypertension, and sleep deprivation.” Id. at 3. Mr. Saunders alleges that he notified correctional staff of his need for his CPAP machine. Specifically, Mr. Saunders states that he informed Defendant Sgt. Amaefule, who simply responded by saying “‘I know, I know' . . . [but] never did help [Mr. Saunders], and went home after his shift was over.” Id. Thereafter, Mr. Saunders informed Defendant Sgt. Figueroa that he needed his CPAP machine; “Figueroa said ‘ok,' and then continued on his shift” without getting Mr. Saunders' CPAP machine for him. Id. Mr. Saunders was released from quarantine on January 24, 2018, after spending 16 hours in the cell without his CPAP machine. Id. Aside from the above-noted mental stress, sleep deprivation, and hypertension, Mr. Saunders does not allege that he suffered any specific ill-effects from being without his CPAP machine, though he conclusorily alleges that he “could have died in that cell.” Id. At 3.

         II. Defendants Amaefule and Figueroa's motion

         Defendants Amaefule and Figueroa filed a motion to dismiss or, in the alternative, motion for summary judgment supported with affidavits and other materials. See ECF Nos. 26, 26-7, 26-9. In relevant part, Amaefule avers that he does “not recall hav[ing] any conversation regarding CPAP equipment with Mr. Saunders” and that “Mr. Saunders would not have been able to use his CPAP equipment in Zone 1 holding cells because the cells do not have electric outlets.” ECF No. 26-7. Further, Amaefule references and has attached a copy of an email he sent roughly a month after the incident in response to an inquiry “about Mr. Saunders complaint that he was not allowed to use his CPAP machine, ”; Amaefule responded that he “did not transport Mr. Saunders to Zone 1 housing and did not know about the CPAP machine.” Id.; see also ECF No. 26-3.

         Defendant Figueroa avers that

11. Between approximately 11:30 PM and 12:30 PM [sic] on January 23-24, 2018, I had a brief 20-30 second conversation with inmate Ricardo Saunders (Mr. Saunders) in which he inquired about his Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) device. He informed me that his CPAP device was not brought with him to the isolation cell and that he needed it. He asked if I would look into getting it brought to his isolation cell. I told him I would;
12. I did not find any information in the Jail Management System computer and did not find any paper work for the CPAP equipment. I called medical to see if a CPAP was authorized for Mr. Saunders and if so where was it presently located. Medical staff said they would call me back; 13. Medical staff subsequently called me and advised that Mr. Saunders was authorized to have the CPAP equipment but that they did not know where it was presently located;
14. I checked on Mr. Saunders during the night and each time I checked on him I observed that he was breathing without difficulty and asleep;
15. I saw Mr. Saunders at approximately 4:15-4:30 AM at breakfast and told him that I had checked on the CPAP equipment but had not been able to locate it; 16. During the time I spoke to Mr. Saunders, he was calm and ...

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