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Jackson v. Illinois Medi-Car

August 07, 2002


Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division. No. 00 C 538--David H. Coar, Judge.

Before Bauer, Ripple and Kanne, Circuit Judges.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Ripple, Circuit Judge.


At the direction of the Chicago Police Department ("CPD"), Illinois Medi-Car ("Medi-Car"), a private corporation, transported Reshard Jackson to a South Side police station on October 5, 1998. After reaching the facility, Mr. Jackson collapsed from an overdose of medication. Mr. Jackson later filed this § 1983 action against Medi-Car and one of its drivers, Matthew Howard. He alleged that Medi-Car and Mr. Howard had denied him, a pretrial detainee, adequate medical care in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution of the United States. Medi-Car and Mr. Howard moved for summary judgment, submitting, among other arguments, that no deprivation of constitutional rights had occurred. The district court agreed and entered summary judgment in their favor. For the reasons set forth in the following opinion, we affirm the judgment of the district court.


A. Facts

Medi-Car is a private corporation that provides nonmedical transportation for disabled individuals. Its role is limited to providing transportation services; Medi-Car does not provide medical care to any of its passengers. Indeed, its drivers do not receive, nor are they required to obtain, any medical training. Rather, if a passenger develops a serious medical problem, Medi-Car instructs its drivers to contact an emergency medical care provider.

During 1995, the corporation entered into a one-year contract with the City of Chicago ("the City") to transport wheelchair-bound detainees for the CPD. Although the parties did not renew the contract upon its expiration, they continued to operate under its terms over the following years, including 1998. With the contract, the City also provided Medi-Car with CPD DSO 9506 ("the DSO")--a document establishing the procedures under which the parties would operate. Under the DSO, if an arrestee required medical assistance, CPD officers would not contact Medi-Car; rather, they would obtain medical assistance for the detainee from the Chicago Fire Department. Moreover, Medi-Car drivers, including Mr. Howard, had no authority over a detainee; they simply moved the individual from prearranged location to prearranged location. Consequently, the DSO required a CPD officer to accompany the detainee in the Medi-Car van to ensure the driver's safety, to prevent escape and to monitor the suspect. Notably, Medi-Car did not give any special instructions to its drivers concerning the transport of detainees. Rather, the corporation employed the same procedures whether transporting a detainee or non-detainee passenger.

On October 5, 1998, CPD officers arrested Mr. Jackson, who is confined to a wheelchair, at an apartment in Chicago. The arrest became confrontational; one of the officers not only choked Mr. Jackson but also destroyed the charging unit on the wheelchair. Mr. Jackson then was handcuffed to the front of the wheelchair and was pulled down the steps of the apartment building. Upon reaching ground level, the officers removed their detainee's restraints. While the officers talked amongst themselves, Mr. Jackson consumed roughly 114 pills of Baclofen, a prescription muscle relaxant.

Approximately fifteen to twenty minutes later, a MediCar vehicle driven by Mr. Howard arrived at the apartment building. While moving Mr. Jackson into the vehicle, one of the officers noticed an empty pill bottle on the ground, prompting her to ask her detainee whether he had consumed any pills. Mr. Jackson responded that he had taken the entire bottle and asked that he be taken to a hospital. *fn1 The officers declined Mr. Jackson's request, placed him in the Medi-Car vehicle and informed him that he would receive medical attention at the county jail. When placed in the vehicle, Mr. Jackson not only was speaking in full sentences, but also was sitting upright with his eyes open. According to Mr. Jackson, Mr. Howard was present while these events transpired.

The officers instructed Mr. Howard to take Mr. Jackson to a police station located at 71st Street and Cottage Grove on the South Side of Chicago. *fn2 Although an officer did not ride with Mr. Jackson, the CPD provided a police escort for the vehicle, placing a squad car in front of and behind the Medi-Car van. During the ten to fifteen minute ride to the police station, Mr. Jackson, who was upset, again asked to be taken to a physician. Mr. Howard, however, declined to do so, indicating that the CPD had instructed him to deliver Mr. Jackson to the police station. *fn3 Mr. Jackson also indicated that he wished his mother to know that he was sorry. Throughout the ride, Mr. Howard could observe his passenger; Mr. Jackson was sitting upright and was breathing regularly. Indeed, Mr. Jackson did not indicate that he was in pain nor did Mr. Howard perceive him to be in distress.

Upon arriving at the police station, Mr. Howard removed Mr. Jackson from the Medi-Car vehicle and placed him in an interrogation room. Once again, Mr. Jackson appeared to be alert and attentive. However, after spending five minutes in an interrogation room, Mr. Jackson became unconscious. The CPD called an ambulance, and Mr. Jackson was taken to the hospital where he lapsed into a three-day period of unconsciousness. Almost two weeks later, the hospital released Mr. Jackson after he sufficiently had recovered from an overdose of Baclofen.

B. District Court Proceedings

Soon after, Mr. Jackson initiated this § 1983 action against, among others, Medi-Car and its employee, Mr. Howard. *fn4 According to Mr. Jackson, Medi-Car and Mr. Howard functioned as state actors who had deprived him, a pretrial detainee, of ...

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