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ELECTRONICALLY FILED - 2019 May 30 6:01 PM - HORRY - COMMON PLEAS - CASE#2019CP2603411

STATE OF SOUTH CAROLINA ) IN THE COURT OF COMMON PLEAS


) FIFTHTEENTH JUDICIAL CIRCUIT
COUNTY OF HORRY ) C/A NO. 2019-CP-26-
)
Michael Bland, individually and as Personal )
Representative of the Estate of Bryon Bland, )
)
Plaintiff, ) SUMMONS
)
vs. )
)
City of Myrtle Beach, Myrtle Beach Police )
Department, Horry County, Horry County )
Sheriff’s Office, and J. Reuben Long )
Detention Center, )
)
Defendants. )

TO: THE DEFENDANTS ABOVE NAMED:

YOU ARE HEREBY SUMMONED and required to answer the Complaint in this action,

of which a copy is herewith served upon you, and to serve a copy of your answer to the said

Complaint on the subscriber or subscribers at his or their office at Suite 209, The Courtyard,

1500 U.S. Highway 17 North, Post Office Drawer 14547, Surfside Beach, South Carolina 29587

within thirty (30) days after the service hereof; exclusive of the day of such service; and if you

fail to answer the Complaint within the time aforesaid; the Plaintiff in this action will apply to

the Court for the relief demanded in the Complaint and judgment by default will be rendered

against you for the relief demanded in the Complaint.

s/ C. Carter Elliott, Jr.


C. Carter Elliott, Jr. (S.C. Bar No. 12954)
Elliott & Phelan, LLC
P.O. Box 1405
Georgetown, SC 29442
Telephone: (843) 546-0650
Facsimile: (843) 546-1920
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KELAHER, CONNELL & CONNOR, P.C.

s/ Gene M. Connell, Jr.


Gene M. Connell, Jr. (S.C. Bar No. 1358)
The Courtyard, Suite 209
1500 U.S. Highway 17 North
Post Office Drawer 14547
Surfside Beach, South Carolina 29587-4547
(843) 238-5648 (phone)
(843) 238-5050 (facsimile)
gconnell@classactlaw.net

May 30, 2019 Attorneys for Plaintiff


Surfside Beach, South Carolina

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STATE OF SOUTH CAROLINA ) IN THE COURT OF COMMON PLEAS
) FIFTHTEENTH JUDICIAL CIRCUIT
COUNTY OF HORRY ) C/A NO. 2019-CP-26-
)
Michael Bland, individually and as Personal )
Representative of the Estate of Bryon Bland, )
)
Plaintiff, ) COMPLAINT
)
vs. ) Jury Trial Requested
)
City of Myrtle Beach, Myrtle Beach Police )
Department, Horry County, Horry County )
Sheriff’s Office, and J. Reuben Long )
Detention Center, )
)
Defendants. )

The Plaintiff, Michael Bland, individually and as Personal Representative of the Estate of

Byron Bland, complaining of the Defendants would respectfully show unto this Honorable

Court:

PARTIES, JURISDICTION, AND VENUE

1. The Plaintiff, Michael Bland, is a citizen and resident of the County of Horry,

State of South Carolina. As the natural father of the Decedent, he is the properly appointed

Personal Representative of the Estate of Byron Bland by Order of the Horry County Probate

Court dated September 7, 2017 under case number 2017-ES-26-01927.

2. The Defendant, City of Myrtle Beach, is a political subdivision of the State of

South Carolina as defined in Section 15-78-10 et seq. of the Code of Laws of South Carolina

(1985), as amended. At all times hereinafter mentioned in this Complaint, this Defendant owned

and/or operated the Myrtle Beach Police Department, and it acted or carried on its business by

and through its agents, servants, and/or employees. Additionally, during the time period set out
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in the Complaint, these employees were operating within the scope of their officially assigned

and/or compensated duties.

3. The Defendant, Myrtle Beach Police Department (hereinafter referred to as

“MBPD”), is a governmental agency and/or political subdivision of the State of South Carolina,

existing under the laws of the State of South Carolina (as defined by Section 15-78-10 et seq. of

the Code of Laws of South Carolina (1985), as amended) and has facilities located in the County

of Horry, South Carolina. At all times hereinafter mentioned in this Complaint, this Defendant

owned and/or operated its own Detention Section and acted and carried on its business by and

through its agents, servants, and/or employees. Additionally, during the time period set out in

the Complaint, these employees were operating within the scope of their officially assigned

and/or compensated duties.

4. The Defendant, Horry County (hereinafter referred to as “County”), is a

governmental agency and/or political subdivision of the State of South Carolina, existing under

the laws of the State of South Carolina (as defined by Section 15-78-10 et seq. of the Code of

Laws of South Carolina (1985), as amended) and has facilities located in the County of Horry,

South Carolina. At all times hereinafter mentioned in this Complaint, this Defendant owned

and/or operated the J. Reuben Long Detention Center and acted and carried on its business by

and through its agents, servants, and/or employees. Additionally, during the time period set out

in the Complaint, these employees were operating within the scope of their officially assigned

and/or compensated duties.

5. The Defendant, Horry County Sheriff’s Department (hereinafter referred to as

“Sheriff’s Department”), is a governmental agency and/or political subdivision of the State of

South Carolina, existing under the laws of the State of South Carolina (as defined by Section 15-

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78-10 et seq. of the Code of Laws of South Carolina (1985), as amended) and has facilities

located in the County of Horry, South Carolina. At all times hereinafter mentioned in this

Complaint, this Defendant owned and/or operated the J. Reuben Long Detention Center and

acted and carried on its business by and through its agents, servants, and/or employees.

Additionally, during the time period set out in the Complaint, these employees were operating

within the scope of their officially assigned and/or compensated duties.

6. The Defendant, J. Reuben Long Detention Center (hereinafter referred to as

“Detention Center”), is a political subdivision of the State of South Carolina as defined in

Section 15-78-10 et seq. of the Code of Laws of South Carolina (1985), as amended. At all times

hereinafter mentioned in the Complaint, this Defendant owned and/or operated the Detention

Center, located in Horry County, South Carolina, and carried on its business by and through its

agents, servants, and/or employees. Additionally, during the time period set out in the Complaint,

these employees were acting within the scope of their officially assigned and/or compensated

duties.

7. Plaintiff is unable to comply with S.C. Code Section 15-36-100 because the

statute of limitations is about to expire. That pursuant to S.C. Code Section 15-36-100(C)(1) the

contemporaneous filing requirement of subsection (B) does not apply to any case in which the

period of limitation will expire if the Plaintiff, because of time constraints, alleges that an

affidavit of an expert could not be prepared. That Plaintiff on information and belief is unable to

prepare an affidavit of an expert and, accordingly, asserts he has 45 days from the filing of the

Complaint to supplement the pleadings with the affidavit. For clarification the Plaintiff is filing

claims against the above-named Defendants for their negligent/grossly negligent actions

regarding security and medical issues. These claims are spelled out in this Complaint as well as

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in the Notice of Intent which is being filed contemporaneously herewith. However, with regard

to the medical issues (and because the statute of limitations is about to expire) the Plaintiff is

unable to fully comply with SC Code Section 15-36-100 by including an affidavit from a

medical expert. Specifically, pursuant to SC Code Section 15-36-100(C)(1) the

contemporaneous filing requirement of subsection (B) does not apply to any case in which the

period of limitation will expire if the Plaintiff, because of time restraints, alleges that an affidavit

of an expert could not be prepared. The Plaintiff on information and belief is unable to prepare

an affidavit of an expert prior to the running of the applicable statute of limitations therefore he

asserts he has 45 days from the filing of the Complaint to supplement the Pleadings with an

affidavit. In the meantime, please see the Affidavit of Gene M. Connell, Jr. filed

contemporaneously herewith and with the Notice of Intent.

8. Further Plaintiff asserts that the contemporaneous filing requirement of Section

(B) is not required to support a pleaded specification of negligence involving subject matter that

lies within the ambit of common knowledge and experience. The Plaintiff alleges that this may

be the case here; however, Plaintiff reserves the right to file an affidavit of an expert within 45

days.

9. Plaintiff is informed and believes that venue is proper in Horry County as a

substantial portion of the actions and/or occurrences took place in Horry County.

FACTS

10. Bryon Bland was arrested by MBPD officers on or about May 28, 2017 and at the

time of his arrest had ingested a quantity of drugs to include fentanyl. At this time the Plaintiff

is informed and believes that the Decedent was exhibiting obvious signs and symptoms of being

intoxicated and severely impaired by drugs/alcohol. Therefore, the MBPD officers knew or

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should have known that the Decedent required immediate medical care and treatment before

taking him to a detention facility for incarceration. Further their conscious failure to have the

Decedent seen treated and medically cleared for incarceration is a gross deviation from the

appropriate standard of care. Incident reports and arrest warrants indicate that the Decedent was

living at 4502 N. Kings Highway, Unit B-7, Myrtle Beach and at the time of arrest had ingested

a quantity of drugs. Plaintiff is informed and believes that at this time MBPD officers knew or

should have known that the Decedent required immediate medical clearance before taking him to

a detention facility for placement. Failure to have someone in the Decedent’s condition

medically cleared prior to incarceration is a gross deviation from the appropriate standard of

care.

11. However, instead of taking him to the nearest medical facility MBPD took the

decedent to the Horry County Detention Center for booking and placement. After arrival at the

Detention Center the Decedent was transferred into the care and custody of J. Reuben Long

Detention Center. Correctional officers who performed the booking and screening of the

Decedent should have easily been able to determine that the Decedent was highly impaired and

under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol. Additionally, the correctional and any medical

personnel working for these Defendants should have ensured that the Decedent was properly

examined and assessed by a properly trained medical professional and further the Decedent

should have been immediately transferred to the nearest medical facility for treatment care and

cleared to be incarcerated. Their conscious failure to ensure that the Decedent received this

care and treatment was a gross breach in the appropriate standard of care.

12. The Decedent was transported and booked into the J. Reuben Long Detention

Center on or about May 28, 2017 and still complained of not feeling well. After the Decedent

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was screened and booked the Plaintiff is informed and believes that the Decedent was assigned

to a unit with the Detention Center where he continued to exhibit outward signs and symptoms of

severe impairment and drug withdrawal. At this time the medical and correctional staff

employed by the Defendants knew or should have known that the Decedent needed to be seen

and assessed by a physician or sent to the nearest medical facility for evaluation, treatment and

assessment. Their failure to take these actions was a gross breach in the appropriate standard of

care. Additionally, the Plaintiff is informed and believes that the Decedent may have been

allowed to ingest additional fentanyl while a detainee in the facility. Allowing the Decedent to

obtain access to additional narcotic medication was a gross breach in the appropriate standard of

care.

13. That on May 30, 2017, the Decedent died at the J. Reuben Long Detention Center.

That the death occurred on May 30, 2017 at 4:10 p.m. and an autopsy was performed on May 31,

2017 at 3:30 p.m. That the pathology results indicated a positive drug screen at a toxic level for

fentanyl.

14. That at all times prior to his death, the Decedent was in the care, custody and

control of the Defendants who had a legal responsibility and duty to provide the Decedent with

24 hour medical care to include sending him to the nearest medical facility to have him assessed

and examined by a physician who would likely have administered immediate life-saving medical

care.

15. That the Plaintiff is informed and believes that it is more likely than not that the

actions and/or inactions of the Defendants caused the Decedent to needlessly suffer which led

directly and contributed to his untimely death. Additionally, it is more likely than not that had

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the Decedent been properly diagnosed, assessed and monitored by the jail and medical staff of

the Defendants, his death would have been prevented.

FOR A FIRST CAUSE OF ACTION AGAINST THE DEFENDANTS


(Gross Negligence - Survival)

16. The Plaintiff reiterates each and every allegation stated above as if repeated

verbatim herein.

17. The Defendants were acting under the color or pretense of State law, customs,

practices, usage or policy at all times mentioned herein as correctional officers, medical

personnel, supervisors or other such personnel and/or employees and had certain duties imposed

upon them with regard to the Decedent.

18. The above set forth incidents which resulted in the conscious suffering of the

Decedent (both mentally and physically) were proximately caused by the negligent, grossly

negligent, reckless, willful and wanton acts of the Defendants in the following particulars:

AS TO THE DEFENDANTS CITY OF MYRTLE BEACH, MYRTLE BEACH POLICE


DEPARTMENT, HORRY COUNTY SHERIFF’S OFFICE AND J. REUBEN LONG
DETENTION CENTER
(Gross Negligence – Survival)

a) In failing to properly care for the Decedent, when the Defendants and/or their
personnel, agents, and/or employees knew or should have known that the Decedent
was in dire need medical assistance and/or treatment;

b) In failing to provide the appropriate, reasonable and necessary medical care, and
medications;

c) In failing to ensure that the Decedent was seen by a physician;

d) In failing to properly oversee and monitor the Decedent’s medical care;

e) In failing to have a proper medical examination performed by a physician to


determine the Decedent’s medical needs and provide appropriate medical care and
treatment;

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f) Repeatedly failing to ensure that the Decedent was seen and evaluated by a
physician or immediately sent to a hospital;

g) In failing to properly train and/or supervise its employees, agents, and/or staff, so as
to ensure that detainees/inmates (including the Decedent) are provided with proper
medical care and attention while incarcerated;

h) In failing to have the proper policies and/or procedures in place regarding the
administration of proper medical care;

i) If such a policy and/or procedure exists, in failing to follow the same in providing
for the medical care necessary to ensure the Decedent’s well-being;

j) In failing to take the appropriate steps to provide medical care and treatment to the
Decedent when they had actual and constructive notice of the Decedent’s medical
condition;

k) In failing to have the proper policies and procedures in place regarding recognition
of medical needs of new detainees;

l) In failing to draft and/or institute proper policy and procedure necessary to ensure
that inmates are provided basic and/or appropriate medical care and protection from
abuse;

m) If said procedures do exist, in failing to follow same;

n) In failing to comply with national, state, and local standards and guidelines with
regard to the provision of medical care in detention facilities;

o) In failing to provide and/or administer appropriate physical and/or mental health


exams in a timely manner to the detainees;

p) In failing to train their employees, agents, and/or staff to recognize the medical
needs of detainees;

q) In failing to properly treat and/or care for the Decedent, Bryon Bland;

r) In failing to properly recognize the signs and symptoms of the Decedent’s medical
conditions;

s) In failing to provide, order, seek, and/or maintain emergency medical care;

t) In failing to refer and/or bring in the proper specialist and/or medical doctor;

u) In abandoning the Decedent when he was in desperate need of medical care;

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v) In failing to have proper communication by and between the detention officers and
the medical personnel contracted to provide medical assistance to the detainees;

w) In failing to keep sufficient records regarding inmates so as to have a proper


medical history, which would prevent repeat situations, such as the one described
herein, from occurring;

x) In failing to provide the appropriate number of detention staff at the various


locations in the J. Reuben Long Detention Center;

y) In failing to provide adequate and appropriate security officers at the J. Reuben


Long Detention Center;

z) In failing to properly monitor the detainees (including the Decedent) at the J.


Reuben Long Detention Center;

aa) In failing to properly train, monitor and supervise its personnel agents and/or
employees so as to ensure the safety of the detainees located at the J. Rueben Long
Detention Center;

bb) In failing to have appropriate policies and protocols in place to provide for the
safety and wellbeing of the detainee population at the J. Reuben Long Detention
Center;

cc) If such policies exist, in failing to follow the same;

dd) Failing to follow and adhere to the policies and protocols of the South Carolina
Minimum Standards for Local Detention Centers;

ee) In allowing the Decedent inappropriate access to contraband to include fentanyl.

19. As a result, and because of the Defendants’ reckless, willful, wanton and grossly

negligent conduct, the Decedent suffered (both mentally and physically) prior to his death. As a

result, the Plaintiff is entitled to actual, consequential and punitive damages in an amount to be

determined by a competent jury in accordance with the law and evidence in this case.

FOR A SECOND CAUSE OF ACTION AS TO THE DEFENDANTS


(Wrongful Death)

20. The Plaintiff reiterates each and every relevant allegation stated above as if

repeated verbatim herein.

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21. This action is brought for the wrongful death of Bryon Bland, pursuant to the

provisions of § 15-51-10 et seq., Code of Laws of South Carolina (1976, as amended), and is

brought for the statutory heir(s) of Bryon Bland, who died on the 30th day of May, 2017, as

follows: his one (1) natural child.

22. The death of the Decedent was caused and occasioned by the negligent and

grossly negligent acts on behalf of the Defendants as set forth above.

23. Prior to his death, Bryon Bland was 39 years of age. By reason of his untimely

death, his heir(s) has been deprived of all the benefits of his society and companionship and have

been caused great mental shock and suffering by reason of his death. He has and will forever be

caused grief and sorrow by the loss of Mr. Bland’s love, society, and companionship. He has

been deprived of his future experiences and judgments. He has incurred expenses for his funeral

and final expenses and, as a result of the foregoing, they have been damaged as follows:

(a) mental shock and suffering;


(b) wounded feelings;
(c) grief and sorrow;
(d) loss of his support;
(e) loss of companionship; and
(f) deprivation of the use and comfort of the Decedent’s society and loss of
his experience, knowledge, and judgment.

24. As a further result, and because of the Defendants’ reckless, willful, and grossly

negligent conduct, which ultimately caused the wrongful death of Bryon Bland, this Plaintiff is

entitled to actual, consequential, and punitive damages in an amount to be determined by a jury

in accordance with the law and evidence in this case.

WHEREFORE, the Plaintiff, in his fiduciary capacity as personal representative of the

Estate of Bryon Bland, prays for judgment against the Defendants, for ACTUAL and

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CONSEQUENTIAL damages, for the costs of this action, and for such other and further relief as

the Court may deem just and proper.

s/ C. Carter Elliott, Jr.


C. Carter Elliott, Jr. (S.C. Bar No. 12954)
Elliott & Phelan, LLC
P.O. Box 1405
Georgetown, SC 29442
Telephone: (843) 546-0650
Facsimile: (843) 546-1920

KELAHER, CONNELL & CONNOR, P.C.

s/ Gene M. Connell, Jr.


Gene M. Connell, Jr. (S.C. Bar No. 1358)
The Courtyard, Suite 209
1500 U.S. Highway 17 North
Post Office Drawer 14547
Surfside Beach, South Carolina 29587-4547
(843) 238-5648 (phone)
(843) 238-5050 (facsimile)
gconnell@classactlaw.net

May 30, 2019 Attorneys for Plaintiff


Surfside Beach, South Carolina

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