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Murphy v. Walker

April 5, 1995




Appeal from the United States District Court for the Central District of Illinois. No. 93 C 3113--Richard Mills, Judge.

Before BAUER, COFFEY, and FLAUM, Circuit Judges.




Richard Murphy filed a pro se complaint against Mason and Tazwell County officials and officers under 42 U.S.C. sec. 1983 alleging violations of his constitutional rights during his pretrial detention at the Mason County Jail and Tazwell County Jail. The alleged deprivations began on November 9, 1992, when Keith Grant, a Mason County corrections officer, accidentally closed a chuck hole door on Murphy's hand, fracturing his fourth and fifth metacarpals. *fn1 After this incident, Murphy claims that Mason County officials provided him with inadequate medical care. He further states that Mason County officials improperly shackled him to the floor of his cell and revoked his telephone privileges as punishment for accusing Grant of breaking his hand. Finally, Murphy alleges unconstitutional conditions of confinement and inadequate medical care after his transfer to the Tazwell County Jail. The district court dismissed Murphy's suit for failure to state a claim.

I. Jurisdiction

The defendants argue that we do not have jurisdiction to hear this case because Murphy filed an untimely notice of appeal. On October 28, 1993, the district court dismissed Murphy's complaint with prejudice based on its mistaken belief that Murphy had not responded to its order to show cause why his complaint should not be dismissed. *fn2 Murphy filed a motion to reconsider, which the district court granted on December 8. The court granted Murphy leave to amend his complaint and stated that "the case will be reopened if the plaintiff submits an amended complaint within 21 days." Minute Entry of December 8, 1993. Murphy, however, failed to submit an amended complaint within the 21-day deadline. On March 30, 1994, the district court denied Murphy's request for an extension of time to file his amended complaint and stated that "[t]he case shall remain closed." Minute Entry of March 30, 1994. On April 11, Murphy filed a notice of appeal.

The defendants urge that the aforementioned facts allow only three possibilities, any one of which, they claim, give us no jurisdiction to hear this appeal. First, the defendants argue that if the appeal refers to the order of October 28, it is untimely. Second, the defendants argue that the district court's decision became final on December 29 (after Murphy failed to submit an amended complaint within 21 days), and an appeal to the December 29 final decision would be untimely. Finally, the defendants concede that the appeal is timely as to the March 30 order. They argue, however, that because the case became final on December 29, far more than 30 days prior to the filing of the notice of appeal, the scope of such an appeal would be limited to a review of the district court's refusal to grant an extension of time to amend the complaint--an issue that Murphy does not raise.

We believe that Murphy's appeal was directed toward the March 30 order and was thus timely. In addition, the March 30 order constituted a final decision. A final decision is one that "en[ds] the litigation on the merits." Firstier Mortgage Co. v. Investors Mortgage Co., 498 U.S. 269, 273, 111 S. Ct. 648, 651 (1991), quoting Catlin v. United States, 324 U.S. 229, 233, 65 S. Ct. 631, 633-34 (1945). By stating on March 30 that the case would "remain closed," the district court declared that Murphy would not be allowed to further amend his complaint, signalling the end of the litigation in the district court. Contrary to the defendants' assertion, the scope of Murphy's appeal is not limited to the issue of whether the district court improperly denied Murphy leave to amend his complaint. An "appeal brings up not only the final decision but also all prior rulings that affect the validity of that decision." Asset Allocation and Management Co. v. Western Employees Ins. Co., 892 F.2d 566, 569 (7th Cir. 1989). The validity of the March 30 order depends, at least in part, on the validity of the dismissal that became effective on December 29. *fn3 In addition, the district court never entered a Rule 58 judgment confirming that the case was terminated on December 29. *fn4 Therefore, Murphy's appeal to the March 30 order brings up the December 29 dismissal for review. *fn5

II. Claims Against Mason County Officials

The district court dismissed Murphy's complaint for failure to state a claim. We review dismissals under Rule 12(b)(6) de novo, accepting as true "all factual allegations in the complaint and "draw[ing] all reasonable inferences from these facts in favor of the plaintiff." Arazie v. Mullane, 2 F.3d 1456, 1465-66 (7th Cir. 1993).

A. Inadequate Medical Care

Murphy alleges that Mason County Sheriff Richard Walker, Deputy Sheriff Leland Keith, and officers Kelly Noble and Keith Grant violated a number of his constitutional rights. First, he claims that after he suffered a broken hand he received inadequate medical care based on the two-hour delay between the time of the injury and the time he was taken to the hospital.

Pretrial detainees, who are protected by the Due Process Clause, will state a claim for inadequate medical treatment if they allege "deliberate indifference to the[ir] serious medical needs." Brownell v. Figel, 950 F.2d 1285, 1289 (7th Cir. 1991); Salazar v. City of Chicago, 940 F.2d 233, 239 (7th Cir. 1991). Murphy does not allege that the defendants delayed taking him to a doctor for two hours in knowing disregard of an excessive risk to his health or well-being. Cf. Farmer v. Brennan, 114 S. Ct. 1970, 1979 (1994). Apparently, the wait occurred because the corrections officers needed to get Sheriff Walker's permission to take him to the hospital. R. 8, Complaint at 4. Moreover, two hours does not seem like an unreasonably long wait ...

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