Robinson v. Midland County, Texas, No. 22-50673 (5th Cir. 2023)Annotate this Case
Savion Hall, an inmate at Midland County Jail, suffered severe breathing issues that were known to prison officials. The jail contracted with Soluta, Inc., a private company, for medical services, but Soluta employees failed to provide standard medical care to Hall and fabricated his medical reports. Eventually, Hall required urgent medical attention, but when he asked Daniel Stickel, a prison guard, for help, Stickel followed set protocol: Hall was only supposed to receive “breathing treatments” every four hours; because less than four hours had elapsed since Hall’s last treatment, Stickel sent him back to his cell. Eventually, Hall was seen by a doctor, who called Emergency Medical Services (“EMS”). Hall died in the hospital. Plaintiffs, various relatives and representatives of Hall’s estate appealed the dismissal of his constitutional claims against Midland County and Stickel.
The Fifth Circuit affirmed. The court explained that municipalities such as Midland County cannot be held liable unless plaintiffs can show “(1) an official policy (or custom), of which (2) a policymaker can be charged with actual or constructive knowledge, and (3) a constitutional violation whose ‘moving force’ is that policy or custom.” The court explained that there are no allegations that anyone other than the Soluta employees was aware, or should have been aware, of the nurses’ failure to provide adequate medical care. The court reasoned that this implies that neither Soluta nor Midland County4 knew of the “policy” of failing to follow the proper medical procedures. Further, the court held that Plaintiffs have not plausibly pleaded deliberate indifference predicated on a delay in medical treatment.