United States District Court, D. Maryland
REGINA SHIELDS Individually and as the Personal Representative of the Estate of Samuel Shields Plaintiff,
PRINCE GEORGE'S COUNTY, MARYLAND, et al., Defendants.
J. HAZEL, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Shields died while detained at the Prince George's County
Correctional Facility on June 17, 2014 after being arrested
for failing to pay a bus fare. Mr. Shields's spouse,
Plaintiff Regina Shields, filed this action, individually and
on behalf of Mr. Shields's estate, against Prince
George's County, Maryland (PG County) and Correctional
Officers Chandler Hines, Andrew Jackson, Erik Wood, Keith
Funderburk, Emmanuel Odion, and Armando Rodriguez
(collectively, the “Correctional Defendants”);
and against Corizon Health Inc. and Nurses Zewdiensh Admassu
and Gbemisola Adebayo (collectively, the “Corizon
Defendants”). Plaintiff's Third Amended Complaint
alleges a variety of state and federal claims, including
violations of the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States
Constitution; violations of the American with Disabilities
Act (ADA) and § 704 of the Rehabilitation Act;
negligence; wrongful death pursuant to Md. Code Ann., Cts.
& Jud. Proc. § 3-901, et. seq.; assault and
battery; and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
the parties completed Phase I of a bifurcated discovery
process, the Defendants moved for summary judgment. ECF Nos.
131 & 139. Specifically, the Corizon Defendants filed
a motion for partial summary judgment as to Plaintiff's
deliberate indifference claims, ECF No. 131, and the
Correctional Defendants moved for summary judgment on all
claims brought against them, ECF No. 134. No hearing is
necessary. See Loc. R. 105.6 (D. Md. 2016).
now concedes that Counts XII, XIII, and XIV fail as a matter
of law, and that governmental immunity precludes negligence
claims asserted against Defendant PG County. ECF No. 150-1 at
11-12 ¶¶ 1-3. Based on these concessions, the Court
will grant the Correctional Defendants' Motion for
Summary Judgment as to these Counts and issues. Otherwise,
for the following reasons, the Correctional Defendants'
Motion for Summary Judgment will be granted in part and
denied in part; and the Corizon Defendants' partial
Motion for Summary Judgment will be denied.
Lead up to Mr. Shields's Arrest
Shields was forty-nine and suffered from several medical
conditions, including hypertension, congestive heart failure,
atypical chest pain, chronic renal insufficiency, diabetes,
asthma, psychosis, and schizophrenia. ECF No. 131-3 at
He weighed 347 pounds and was six feet tall. ECF No. 134-23.
symptom of his schizophrenia, Mr. Shields would sometimes
suffer from what his wife, Plaintiff Regina Shields,
described as manic episodes. ECF No. 131-4 at 45:1-3,
61:6-21. Around June 13, 2014, Plaintiff noticed that Mr.
Shields had begun to exhibit symptoms of another
“episode.” Id. at 59:21, 60:1, 61:4-5.
He began calling her “the devil” and acting
strangely. Id. at 60:2-25, 63:14-21, 64:1-6. They
were staying with Plaintiff's daughter at the time, and
when her daughter noticed Mr. Shields's strange behavior,
she asked that Mr. Shields go to his sister's house for a
while to give her a break. Id. at 66:13-16.
Plaintiff and Mr. Shields ended up sleeping in the hallway of
the apartment building. Id. at 71:14-21. The next
morning, Plaintiff and Mr. Shields started to walk together
to McDonald's for breakfast. Id. at 73:8-17.
Plaintiff thought that Mr. Shields was following her because
he would often walk behind her, but when she arrived, she
realized Mr. Shields had not followed her. Id. For
the next several hours, Plaintiff tried to locate her
husband. Id. at 74:3-17. She continued to look for
him for the next few days. Id. 74:20-21.
Detention Center Processing and Isolation
17, 2014, Mr. Shields was arrested for failing to pay a bus
fare. ECF No. 134-13 at 2. He was pepper sprayed and
eventually transported to the Prince George's County
Detention Center. Id.; ECF. 131-4 at 12-21, 80:1.
arrived at the detention center around 12:38pm. ECF No. 147-5
at 2. Correctional officers inventoried his personal effects,
including multiple prescription drugs. Id.; ECF No.
148-10 at 3; ECF No. 148-7 at 19:2-5. The medications that
were in Mr. Shields's possession included carvedilol,
torsemide, hydralazine, isosorbide, spironolactone,
lisinopril, and an inhaler. ECF No. 148-7 at 20:4-6. These
medications are for high blood pressure, heart failure, chest
pain, and respiratory problems, respectively. Id. at
20:9-21:2. The correctional officer who checked in Mr.
Shields's personal effects noted that “he had a lot
of medication.” ECF No. 148-10 at 3. This raised a
concern for her that Mr. Shields might have preexisting
medical conditions. Id. Based on this concern, she
asked Mr. Shields, who was loudly singing in the processing
area, whether he had any injuries from his arrest and for his
medical history. Id. at 2. He “kept singing,
” rather than answering her questions. Id.
Other correctional officers at intake also observed Mr.
Shields singing to himself and speaking indiscernibly. ECF
No. 134-14 at 2; ECF No. 134-15 at 2.
expert in emergency medical care, Andrew Lawson, M.D.,
reviewed video of Mr. Shields during this period and noted
that Mr. Shields was “talking to himself loudly, and it
was hard to understand what he was saying” because it
“sounded like gibberish.” ECF No. 48-4 at
11:23-12:1. According to Dr. Lawson, Mr. Shields was possibly
experiencing “auditory hallucinations”; appeared
“withdrawn”; was not making eye contact; and was
“distracted by the singing and thoughts, or at least
the things he [was] saying to himself.” Id. at
12:2-6. He appeared, “just by the way he [was] holding
himself and the lack of his ability to follow basic
commands” to be “mentally ill.”
Id. at 14:20-15:4.
someone comes into the detention center and is demonstrating
symptoms of a mental health issue, correctional offices
“do a psych form, ” contact the mental health
providers with the medical unit, and “expedite”
the detainee to a “safer environment.” ECF No.
145-2 at 37:21-38:3. Sometimes if a detainee is
“agitated and combative and unable to stay” in
the processing area, he will be brought to the medical unit.
ECF No. 145-3 at 137:7-12. The nurses “call the doctor
or the psychiatrist” for an order, which allows medical
to keep the detainee. ECF No. 145-3 at 137:7-15. Drawing all
reasonable inferences in Mr. Shields's favor, no one
filled out a mental health form in reference to Mr. Shields.
ECF No. 134-10 at 18:4-7.
after he arrived, correctional officers decided to place Mr.
Shields in full restraints because he continued being loud
and singing. ECF No. 134-15 at 2; ECF No. 148-10 at 2; ECF
No. 147-4 at 49:1-12. Mr. Shields was moved to an isolation
cell without incident, ECF No. 134-15 at 2, and he was left
in the restraints in isolation for approximately eight hours.
ECF No. 147-4 at 46:9-12, 49:1-12. Drawing all reasonable
inferences in Plaintiff's favor, during this time, Mr.
Shields did not have access to his medications. ECF No. 148-4
time, Alesia Burr was employed as the shift commander
responsible for the detention center's processing and
reception area. ECF No. 134-10 at 10:13-22, 11:1-13. Around
8:45pm, Burr and another officer removed Mr. Shields's
restraints and let him out of the isolation cell, returning
him to the processing area. ECF No. 147-5 at 2. For the next
hour or so, Mr. Shields moved around various chairs in the
processing area, getting up and sitting back down often.
Id. Burr noticed that Mr. Shields came in with a lot
of medication and called the center's medical desk. ECF
No. 134-10 at 18:22-19:3. She “read off the
medicines” and someone told her “to get him to
the medical unit.” Id. at 19:2-3. Mr. Shields
was not combative towards Burr and she observed him to be
“a compliant person.” ECF No. 145-2 at 43:20,
44:6-7. However, he was not complying with her order to get
up from the processing area and get dressed in a detention
center uniform. Id. 45:12-13. Burr cannot recall
whether Mr. Shields said anything in response to her order.
Id. at 45:14-15. And he did not make any movements
towards her. Id. at 45:16-18. He appeared agitated
and was speaking loudly. ECF No. 147-5 at 2.
Emergency Response Team Incident
9:56pm, Burr called the Emergency Response Team (ERT) to help
Mr. Shields get dressed in a detention center uniform so that
he could be taken to the medical unit. ECF No. 145-2 at
44:16-17, 48:5-8. The ERT team sometimes helps inmates with
mental health challenges get changed. Id. 48:9-14.
As Burr explained, “[e]veryone has to get dressed one
way, ” so sometimes the ERT team observes while
“the detainees do it on their own, ” and other
times they “help them and assist them getting their
clothes changed.” Id. at 45:5-14. Typically,
inmates must change into a detention center uniform before
they can leave the processing area to go to the medical unit.
ECF No. 134-10 at 55:10-14, 57:4-6, 58:15-19. But exceptions
are made when appropriate. ECF No. 145-3 at 137:7-15,
unit that responded to Burr's signal of a “minor
disturbance” consisted of Emanuel Odion, Erik Wood,
Andrew Jackson, Keith Funderburk, Chandler Hines, and Armando
Rodriguez. ECF No. 134-4 at 26:9-13, 60:13-16; ECF No. 134-5
at 31:22-32:1-5, 46:6-13, 50:14-16; ECF No. 134-6 at
37:13-15; ECF No. 134-7 at 13:1-17, 14:9-11, 38:7-14; ECF No.
134-8 at 25:17-20; ECF No. 134-9 at 17:3-7, 17:19-22, 18:2.
was the unit's supervisor and responsible for the team.
ECF No. 134-4 at 60:7-10; ECF No. 134-8 at 76:10-19, 80:7-14.
Rodriguez outranked Funderburk, Wood, and Jackson. ECF No.
146-2 at 206:13-14. Hines was also a superior officer to
Funderburk, Wood, and Jackson. Id. at 206:15-17; ECF
No. 147-2 at 130:4-131:15.
the ERT officers arrived in the processing area, Burr told
them that personnel from the medical unit had asked that Mr.
Shields be expedited to the medical unit. ECF No. 145-2 at
104:14-20. Rodriguez began filming the encounter with Mr.
Shields. ECF No. 134-5 at 138: 6- 9; ECF No. 134-9 at 66:1-8;
ECF No. 145-8. Odion ordered Mr. Shields to get on the
floor and place his hands behind his back, but Mr. Shields
did not comply and continued to sit in a chair and speak
loudly. ECF No. 147-6 at 6. Wood, Funderburk, and Odion then
used two pairs of handcuffs (because of Mr. Shields's
size) to restrain Mr. Shields, securing his wrists behind his
back. Id.; ECF No. 145-8 at 00:30. Wood and
Funderburk then escorted him to a search room. ECF No. 145-8
at 1:05. Mr. Shields continued to speak in a loud voice and
passively resisted the officers, not moving along with them.
Id. Wood and Funderburk therefore used knee strikes
to Mr. Shields's peroneal nerve to make him walk.
Id. at 2:42; ECF No. 147-6 at 6.
Mr. Shields was moved into the search room, the video of the
encounter no longer shows a clear view of him. ECF No. 145-8
at 2:48. Instead, the video shows a view of what is going on
outside the search room. Id. Officers inside the
search room slapped and struck Mr. Shields and commanded him
to lift his arms up and stand up. Id. at 3:28, 4:18,
6:40. Mr. Shields yelled things like “blood clot,
” which is a Jamaican slang showing disgust,
id. at 4:18; ECF No. 147-6 at 6, “aiyee,
” ECF No. 145-8 at 8:11, and “murder, ”
id. at 11:08. Officers cursed at Mr. Shields,
including calling him a “stupid mother fucker”
and asking, “what's wrong with your ass.”
Id. at 2:55, 5:21; EF No. 149-3 at 268:18-22. Hines
handed Jackson a shoe and the next moment slapping sounds
consistent with Mr. Shields being struck by the shoe can be
heard in the video. ECF No. 145-8 at 3:18. Odion testified at
his deposition that it would not have been permissible for
the ERT unit to use shoes as a weapon. ECF No. 145-6 at
point, in response to a command that he stand up, Mr. Shields
said that he could not get up because of his knee. ECF No.
145-8 at 6:45; see also ECF No. 145-6 at
165:8-167:6. Based on the way Mr. Shields was “talking
just real loud, yelling and stuff, ” Rodriguez
“knew something was wrong” with Mr. Shields
mentally or emotionally, but “didn't know what it
was.” ECF No. 145-5 at 70:9-11, 72:4-5. However, Wood,
Hines, and Funderburk claim that they either did not know
that Mr. Shields suffered from a mental illness, could not
make that determination, or could not recall Mr.
Shields's demeanor. ECF No. 134-5 at 132:2-5, 132:14- 16;
ECF No. 134-7 at 107:20-21, 149:22-150:20 ECF No. 134-8 at
92:22-93:1-6. The record does not include evidence about
whether Jackson knew that Mr. Shields had a mental illness.
point, Hines took out a pepper spray canister and began to
shake it, stating “if you do not comply you will be
sprayed.” ECF No. 147-6 at 7; ECF No. 145-8 at 11:55.
However, Odion had talked to a personnel officer and learned
that Mr. Shields was asthmatic, ECF No. 145-6 at 168:4-7; he
conveyed this information to Hines, and Hines holstered the
spray canister. ECF No. 145-8 at 12:55. Shields continued to
yell, at times incomprehensibly. Id. at 13:04.
that Mr. Shields may not be understanding the ERT unit's
commands, Hines called over Officer Junior Granville, who is
of Jamaican descent, to try to communicate with Mr. Shields.
Id. at 13:25; ECF No. 147-6 at 7. Speaking in the
same Jamaican dialect as Mr. Shields, Granville told Mr.
Shields to get dressed. ECF No. 134-22. However, Granville
told Odion that Shields did not comprehend the command. ECF
No. 145-6 at 182:6-7. Shields began to yell
“murder” again, ECF No. 145-8 at 14:18, and
eventually Granville walked away laughing, id. at
15:40. When asked at his deposition about what he does when
he determines or believes that a detainee does not understand
his orders, Funderburk responded that he would most likely
use physical force. ECF No. 149-3 at 156:11-18.
witness, Latonya Freeman, who had a “good visual of
everything” testified at her deposition that after ten
or fifteen minutes of back and forth between the officers and
Mr. Shields “that's when they started hitting him
and kicking him, they literally was hitting them with their
fists, kicking them with their feet, or their boots, which
were huge, and then they were taking their sticks or whatever
was on them and hitting him with it.” ECF No. 145-4 at
42:7-12; see also ECF No. 145-8 at 16:48-19:52. Wood
admitted at his deposition that he did punch Mr. Shields in
the dressing room. ECF No. 146-2 at 201:17-21. Funderburk
says that he used “brachial stuns” on Mr.
noted that from her vantage point, Mr. Shields
“wasn't a danger, ” and “never tried to
do anything to anybody” before he entered the dressing
room. ECF No. 145-4 at 49:19- 21. She saw that “he was
just sitting” and “wouldn't get up.”
Id. 49:19-50:1. Once Mr. Shields was in the dressing
room, Freeman recalls that “he wasn't fighting
back” but he also was not “just laying there,
” id. 72:7-14; instead, he did
“squirm” the way a child might if they were
trying to get away. Id.
opinion of Plaintiff's correctional expert, Tim Gravette,
“[i]t's not necessary to strike someone to make
them change their clothes.” ECF No. 147-4 at 30:21-25.
As he explained, “if Mr. Shields was fighting with
them, lunging at them, all kinds of different things,
that's different, but he wasn't doing that.”
Id. According to Gravette, there was no basis for
the officers to strike Mr. Shields once he was inside the
dressing room “because none of the officers reported
that he was striking or attempting to strike them, ”
and their goal was to change his clothes. Id. at
103:14-104:5. The “common-sense thing and practical
thing” would have been for the ERT unit to
“restrain him, ” “lay him on a bed, ”
and use “safety scissors” to “cut his
clothes off him.” Id. at 29:12-18.
Alternatively, it was not necessary for Mr. Shields to be
changed into the detention center's uniform before he was
seen by medical personnel. Id. at 118:5-20. In
Gravette's opinion, based on the characteristics
displayed by Mr. Shields, officers should have taken him to
get evaluated by a mental health professional. Id.
119:2-15. Gravette further opined that the ERT officers
should have changed their approach “[b]ecause it
wasn't working” and they were putting themselves
and Mr. Shields at risk of getting hurt. Id. at
114:3-6. Even with a disruptive inmate, it makes sense for
officers to change their approach within about six minutes of
realizing they are not successfully achieving their goal.
Gravette's opinion, only Funderburk, Jackson, and
Wood-“predominantly, Wood and Funderburk”-used
unreasonable force. ECF No. 147-4 at 79:23-80:3. Odion never
had physical contact with Mr. Shields once he was inside the
dressing room and the force used before that was reasonable.
ECF No 147-4 at 25:23-25. Hines only had physical contact
with Mr. Shields when he used a baton to strike Mr.
Shields's arm after Mr. Shields grabbed Odion's leg.
Id. at 25:13- 20, 80:5-9. This force was reasonably
deployed. Id. Gravette did not consider Mr.
Shields's behavior to be “physically
aggressive” and concluded that Mr. Shields did not
assault anyone. Id. at 53:2-20. He explained that
although the correctional officers reported that Mr. Shields
kicked Jackson and grabbed Odion's leg, “when you
got that type of situation going on, sometimes you do get
kicked in the shin or something like that. But I didn't
deem that as an assault, as an assaultive behavior.”
Id. at 53:11-20.
estimates members of the ERT unit “were just
beating” Mr. Shields as “he was just yelling and
screaming” for between five and ten minutes. ECF No.
145-4 at 43:1-4. During this time, Mr. Shields was yelling
“murder, ” ECF No. 145-8 at 17:10, and “no
no, ” id. at 17:52, and was moaning,
id. at 18:21. Then, “all of a sudden, ”
the yelling stopped because Mr. Shields had become
unconscious, and correctional officers “pulled [Mr.
Shields] out into the hallway” ECF No. 145-4 at
42:20-43:11; ECF No. 145-8 at 19:52. The other women
observing the situation from Freeman's position were
yelling “You killed him. You killed him.” ECF No.
145-4 at 48:16-17. Freeman remembers saying to them “Be
quiet before they come kill us.” Id. at
Signal 89 - Medical Emergency
Shields's handcuffs were removed after he became
unconscious. ECF No. 134-4 at 254:17-20. Once ERT officers
realized that Mr. Shields was unresponsive, they provided
emergency medical assistance, including CPR. ECF No. 134-5 at
168:8-14, 169:18-22, 170:2-8, 171:6-10, 172:2-173: 1-3,
174:2-4, 195:12-14, 208:4-10, 209:13-17, 210:9-13, 214:9-11,
215:2-10, 215:19-22; 216:12-217:1-22. All correctional
officers and ERT members are required to be certified in CPR.
ECF No. 131-4 at 284:4-9.
Shields was breathing when ERT officers were providing
emergency medical assistance. ECF No. 134-7 at 354:3-9. The
ERT officers called a “Signal 89” to indicate a
medical emergency two minutes after they began CPR. ECF No.
139-6 at 5; ECF No. 145-8 at 22:20. Two nurses-Nurses Admassu
and Adebayo-then arrived at the scene. ECF No. 139-6 at 5;
ECF No. 145-8 at 22:23; ECF No. 134-11 at 20: 1-17, 22:7-20,
30:6-8; ECF No. 134-12 at 11:1-6, 23:5-9, 24:11-22, 25:11-18.
About thirty seconds later, a correctional officer stated,
“call 911.” ECF No. 139-6 at 5; ECF No. 145-8 at
Nurses were employed by Corizon Inc, a medical contractor,
which provides medical and mental health treatment to
detainees at the detention center. ECF No. 134-10 at
101:17-22, 102:20-22, 103:1-5. When Nurse Admassu first
arrived at the scene, Mr. Shields was laying on the ground,
and correctional officers, whom she knew to be trained in
CPR, were performing chest compressions. ECF No. 131-7 at
8-19. She then checked his pulse and his breathing.
Id. at 45:13-22, 46:1-7. However, she failed to
check his pulse for the necessary five to ten seconds, only
checking for a pulse for three seconds, and failing to
position his neck properly to determine a pulse. ECF No.
139-6 at 6. Because of Mr. Shields's size, placing
fingers on his neck for three seconds was “not an
effective way” to check his pulse. ECF No. 139-5 at
71:9-17. She also did not check his airway or to see if his
chest was rising. Id. at 72: 2-3. Nurse Admassu also
failed to to check for a pulse every two minutes. ECF No.
139-6 at 6. As a result, she could not know whether “he
was really oxygenating” such that CPR could have been
effective. ECF No. 139-5 at 71:25-72:5. Nurse Admassu
testified at her deposition that after checking Mr.
Shields's pulse, she then gave the correctional officers
instructions to continue chest compressions and was
“observing all over and assisting whatever help they
need[ed].” ECF No. 131-7 at 46:2-11.
Adebayo had never utilized an ambu bag, a medical device used
for aeration, prior to this incident but had received
specialized training on its proper usage during her nursing
training. ECF No. 131-8 at 68:3-20. Prior to this incident,
Nurse Adebayo had never responded to a scene of an individual
who was unconscious or not breathing, or of an individual who
did not have a pulse. Id. at 73:11-22, 74:1-3. Nurse
Adebayo substituted the ERT unit's rescue breaths by
using the ambu bag for aeration, but after thirty seconds, a
correctional officer yelled “pump it” because she
was not fully squeezing the bag. ECF No. 139-6 at 5; ECF No.
145-8 at 22:24. She also did not secure the ambu mask to
cover Mr. Shields's airway, meaning proper aeration could
not have been achieved. ECF No. 139-5 at 70:8-72:15; ECF No.
139-6 at 6. She failed to assess whether Mr. Shields's
chest was rising or aerating during breaths, and there were
several interruptions in ventilation. ECF No. 139-6 at 6.
Nurse Admassu testified that she supervised the use of the
ambu bag and believed it was properly used. ECF No. 131-7 at
47:12- 16. In the meantime, another nurse went to retrieve an
oxygen tank, which was attached to the ambu bag when she
returned. ECF No. 139-6 at 5; ECF No. 145-5 at 22:27.
expressed frustrations with the way the nurses handled the
medical emergency. ECF No. 139-4 at 98:2-4. He testified at
his deposition that he was concerned about “the way
they were doing the CPR.” Id. According to
him, “we, ” meaning the ERT unit, “were
doing everything, basically, ” even though the medical
staff “should have taken over.” Id. at
98:3-6. While the ERT staff “were doing the breathing,
the pumps, the 30 pumps, ” the nurses were “in
panic mode.” Id. at 99:5-8.
between seven and nine minutes of CPR, a correctional officer
suggested using the AED (defibrillator). ECF No. 139-5 at
74:18-19; ECF No. 145-5 at 22:27:03. Nurse Admassu and
another nurse took about two minutes to set up the AED, which
according to Plaintiff's expert in the nursing standard
of care, suggests that “they were uncomfortable with
how to use it.” ECF No. 139-5 at 76:18-22. The AED pads
were placed on Mr. Shields's left breast and upper
abdomen even though for someone of Mr. Shields's size
this was not the proper placement. Id. at 77:7-12.
The pads should have been placed to the left of Mr.
Shields's nipple and on the midline of his chest so that
he could get a shock. Id.
could not see precisely what medical staff were doing because
of Mr. Shields's position on the floor, ECF No. 131-9 at
116:19-20, but it appeared to her that the correctional and
medical staff were genuinely attempting to resuscitate Mr.
Shields, id. at 114:15-19, 123:8- 11. Consistent
with what Freeman witnessed, Plaintiff's expert in the
nursing standard explained that while watching the video of
the code response she “witnessed an attempt at
resuscitation” and ...