The opinion of the court was delivered by: WAYNE ANDERSEN, District Judge
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
This matter is before the Court on the motions of Defendants
Stephanie Brennan, Edward Hospital, Linden Oaks Hospital, Bruce
Anderson, DuPage County Health Department, Jennifer Beisner,
Illinois Department of Children and Family Services, Debbie
McEvilly, Gloriana Acolatse, and Margaret Jones to dismiss the
Plaintiffs' First Amendment Complaint pursuant to Fed.R. Civ. P.
12(b)(6). For the following reasons, the motions are granted in
part and denied in part. BACKGROUND
Plaintiffs Benjamin Binkley ("Benjamin"), a minor, and Rebecca
Binkley ("Mrs. Binkley"), his mother (hereinafter collectively
referred to as "Plaintiffs") have filed their First Amended
Complaint ("Complaint"). In this Complaint, the Plaintiffs allege
that on March 23, 2003, Benjamin presented to the emergency room
at Linden Oaks Hospital, where he was examined by the on-call
physician, Dr. Shoba Sinha ("Dr. Sinha"). Dr. Sinha allegedly
determined that Benjamin had an emergency medical condition and
that such a condition was mental illness or emotional disturbance
of such severity that hospitalization was necessary. At
approximately 2:30 a.m. on March 23, 2003, Benjamin was admitted
to the locked adolescent inpatient unit at Linden Oaks Hospital.
The next day, Mrs. Binkley allegedly reported to Diana Halley
("Halley"), an employee of Linden Oaks Hospital, that Benjamin's
health insurance would expire at midnight on the tenth day of
admission and that Mrs. Binkley believed Benjamin was in need of
long term residential care for his severe mental illness. Halley
allegedly noted in Benjamin's medical chart that his insurance
would soon be exhausted. Plaintiffs further allege that, due to
Mrs. Binkley's inability to pay for extended medical care, Linden
Oaks ceased all efforts to provide reasonable and necessary
medical care to Benjamin. In addition, Plaintiffs contend that
Dr. Sinha and Dr. Riaz Baber ("Dr. Baber") falsified Benjamin's
medical record in order to make Benjamin's severe mental illness
appear stabilized, when in fact it was not. During the time that
Benjamin was admitted in Linden Oaks Hospital, Mrs. Binkley
allegedly made multiple requests to Drs. Baber, Sinha, and Bruce
Anderson ("Anderson"), the facility director of Linden Oaks
Hospital, for a transfer of Benjamin to a state operated mental health
facility; however, these requests were refused.
On April 5, 2000, Benjamin's attending physician, Dr. Baber,
informed Mrs. Binkley that Benjamin's medical condition was
stable and that Benjamin would be discharged from Linden Oaks
Hospital the next day. Plaintiffs, however, allege that Benjamin
was on suicide and assault precautions and was receiving fifteen
minute checks by the hospital staff to ensure his safety and the
safety of others.
Mrs. Binkley refused to accept Benjamin for discharge on April
6, 2000 believing that he suffered from severe unstabilized
mental illness. On April 7, 2000, Mrs. Binkley was notified by
Anderson and Paula Albright ("Albright"), associate general
counsel for Edward Hospital, that if Mrs. Binkley did not accept
Benjamin for discharge on that date, Albright would notify the
Illinois Department of Children and Family Services ("DCFS") that
Mrs. Binkley was neglecting her child. Plaintiffs further allege
that Albright and Anderson notified Mrs. Binkley that they would
pursue her for present and future unpaid medical bills.
On April 8, 2000, allegedly at the request of Anderson and
Albright, DCFS investigator Margaret Jones ("Jones") recommended
that Mrs. Binkley be "indicated for child abuse, child
abandonment, and medical neglect of Benjamin," and that Benjamin
be discharged from the hospital and placed in jail. Furthermore,
Plaintiffs allege that Sheryl Duer ("Duer"), an employee of
Linden Oaks Hospital, contacted Stephanie Brennan ("Brennan"), an
employee of the DuPage County Health Department ("Health
Department"), to evaluate Benjamin for a transfer to a state
operated mental health facility. According to the complaint,
Brennan allegedly recommended that Benjamin have no further inpatient hospitalization, and no further
psychological assessment for continuing hospitalization, despite
the fact that Benjamin's medical record was allegedly replete
with behaviors consistent with severe mental illness. Thereafter,
on April 10, 2000, Dr. Baber discharged Benjamin from Linden Oaks
Hospital. Upon discharge, Benjamin was then taken to jail, where
Plaintiffs allege that he was deprived of his right to medical
care and education.
Apparently while Benjamin was in jail, Gloriana Acolatse
("Acolatse"), a DCFS caseworker, recommended that Benjamin be
placed in shelter care at the Center House for Boys. Plaintiffs
allege that Benjamin was deprived of his right to medical care
and education while at the Center House for Boys. Debbie McEvilly
("McEvilly"), another DCFS caseworker, took over Benjamin's case,
and recommended that Benjamin remain in shelter care at the
Center House for Boys instead of obtaining the in-patient
psychiatric treatment that Benjamin allegedly required. Benjamin
remained at the Center House for Boys until May 10, 2000, when
Benjamin's treating physician, Dr. Schwartz, allegedly ordered
that Benjamin be admitted to Glen Oaks Hospital. However,
Plaintiffs allege that Jennifer Beisner ("Beisner"), a DCFS
evaluator, blocked Benjamin's admission into Glen Oaks Hospital.
According to Plaintiffs, Beisner then called the police and had
Benjamin put back in jail, where Benjamin spent two weeks,
allegedly without the necessary medical care or education. On May
24, 2000, Benjamin was admitted to Maryville Academy.
Plaintiffs further allege that on September 11, 2001, the
Honorable Stanley Austin of the Eighteenth Judicial Circuit,
DuPage County, Illinois entered an order finding that, at the
time of Benjamin's discharge from Linden Oaks Hospital, Benjamin
was a dependent minor and was without proper medical or other remedial
care recognized under State law, or other care necessary for his
well-being, through no fault, neglect or lack of concern by his
parents, guardian, or custodian.
Count III of the First Amended Complaint alleges a medical
malpractice claim against Anderson. Count IV alleges that Edward
Hospital, Linden Oaks Hospital, and Anderson violated provisions
of the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act,
42 U.S.C. § 1395dd(b)(1) when they "dumped" Benjamin from Linden Oaks
Hospital. In Count V, Plaintiffs allege that Brennan violated
42 U.S.C. § 1983. Under Count VI, Plaintiffs further allege
violations of 42 U.S.C. § 1983 by the Health Department. Counts
VII, VIII, IX, and X each allege a violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1983
against Jones, Acolatse, McEvilly, and Beisner respectively.
Count XI presents a pendent state medical malpractice claim
against Linden Oaks Hospital. Count XII alleges a pendent state
civil conspiracy claim against all Defendants. Count XIII alleges
a pendent claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress
against all Defendants. Count XIV requests injunctive relief
against DCFS. Lastly, Count XV alleges a violation of
42 U.S.C. § 1983 against DCFS employees, Jones, Acolatse, and McEvilly.
When deciding a motion to dismiss, this Court accepts as true
all "well-pleaded factual allegations and view[s] them, along
with the reasonable inferences to be drawn from them, in the
light most favorable to [the plaintiff]." Cornfield v.
Consolidated High School Dist. No. 230, 991 F.2d 1316, 1324 (7th
Cir. 1993). Moreover, we must keep in mind that a "complaint does
not fail to state a claim merely because it does not set forth a
complete and convincing picture of the alleged wrongdoing."
American Nurses' Association v. State of Illinois, 783 F.2d 716, 727 (7th Cir.
1986). At the same time, a court must grant a motion to dismiss
if it "appears beyond doubt that the plaintiff can prove no set
of facts in support of his claim which would entitle him to
relief." Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 45-46 (1957); see also
Jackson v. E.J. Brach Corp., 176 F.3d 971, 978 (7th Cir. 1999)
("a complaint which consists of conclusory allegations
unsupported by factual assertions fails even the liberal
standard" of federal notice pleading requirements). In addition,
a court is not bound by the legal characterizations that the
plaintiff assigns to those facts. Republic Steel Corp. v.
Pennsylvania Engineering Corp., 785 F.2d 174, 183 (7th Cir.
In Count IV, the Plaintiffs allege a claim under the Emergency
Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act ("EMTALA"),
42 U.S.C. § 1395(dd) et seq. against Defendants Edward Hospital, Linden
Oaks Hospital, and Anderson. Furthermore, Plaintiffs appear to
allege violations of EMTALA by other individual defendants in
this action in their claims brought under 42 U.S.C. § 1983.
A. EMTALA Claim Against Individual Defendants
As an initial matter, EMTALA "creates a cause of action only
against a participating hospital. The statutory definition of
participating hospital does not encompass an individual
physician." King v. Ahrens, 16 F.3d 265, 271 (8th Cir. 1994).
Plaintiffs concede this point in their response briefs and have
agreed to withdraw the EMTALA claim as against Anderson.
Accordingly, Plaintiffs have failed to state an EMTALA claim
against Anderson, and this Court grants Defendant Anderson's
motion to dismiss Count IV against him. Furthermore, Plaintiffs
have agreed to withdraw their claims for a violation of EMTALA in Count X, which is brought
under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. While it is not entirely clear what
Plaintiffs allege. If Plaintiffs are attempting to allege a
violation of EMTALA through an action under 42 U.S.C. 1983
against individual defendant Beisner, that claim is also
dismissed with prejudice.
B. EMTALA Claim Against Edward Hospital and Linden Oaks
Because the EMTALA claims have been dismissed against the
individual defendants, the remaining EMTALA claims now properly
lie only against Edward Hospital and Linden Oaks Hospital.
Section 42 U.S.C. § 1395dd(b)(1) states as follows:
(b) Necessary stabilizing treatment for emergency
medical conditions and labor
(1) In general
If any individual (whether or not eligible for
benefits under this subchapter) comes to a hospital
and the hospital determines that the individual has
an emergency medical condition, the hospital must
(A) within the staff and facilities available at the
hospital, for such further medical examination and
such treatment as may be required to stabilize the
medical condition, or
(B) for transfer of the individual to another medical
facility in accordance with subsection (c) of this
Additionally, 42 U.S.C. § 1395dd(e)(3)(A) defines the term "to
stabilize" as follows:
`To stabilize' means, with respect to an emergency
medical condition . . . to provide such medical
treatment of the condition as may be necessary to
assure, within reasonable medical probability, that
no material deterioration of the condition is likely
to result from or occur during the transfer [which
includes the discharge of individuals] of the
individual from a facility.
Therefore, in order to state a claim under EMTALA, a plaintiff
must establish that he "(1) went to the defendant's emergency
room (2) with an emergency medical condition, and that the
hospital either (3) did not adequately screen him to determine
whether he had such a condition, or (4) discharged or transferred
him before the emergency condition had been stabilized." Deberry
v. Sherman Hospital Association, 741 F.Supp. 1302, 1305 (N.D.
In this case, Plaintiffs allege that Benjamin "presented to the
emergency department at Linden Oaks [Hospital]" on March 23,
2000. Furthermore, the Plaintiffs assert that Dr. Sinha examined
Benjamin, determined that he has an "emergency medical condition,
and that such condition was a mental illness or emotional
disturbance of such severity that hospitalization was necessary
and that as such Benjamin was likely to benefit from inpatient
treatment, as Benjamin was aggressive and threatening in
behavior." Benjamin was then treated for nineteen days at Linden
Oaks Hospital, the final nine of which were not covered by
Benjamin's insurance. Thereafter, on April 10, 2000, Linden Oaks
Hospital discharged Benjamin in an allegedly unstabilized
In sum, Plaintiffs have alleged that Benjamin went to Linden
Oaks Hospital's emergency room with an emergency medical
condition and that the hospital discharged him before the
emergency condition was stabilized. At this point in the
litigation, and viewing all of these asserted facts in a light
most favorable to the Plaintiffs, Count IV sufficiently states a
claim under EMTALA against Linden Oaks Hospital.
Furthermore, Plaintiffs have sufficiently stated a claim
against Edward Hospital for a violation of EMTALA because Edward
Hospital is the parent company of Linden Oaks Hospital.
Plaintiffs have alleged that Edward Hospital created and owns
Linden Oaks Hospital for the purpose of furnishing health care services
of a different type than those provided by Edward Hospital.
Accordingly, Defendants Edward Hospital's and Linden Oaks
Hospital's motion to dismiss Count IV is denied.
II. Counts Alleging Violations Under § 1983
Counts V X and XV are brought under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 ("§
1983"). These counts allege that various county and state workers
deprived both Benjamin and Mrs. Binkley of certain rights that
are protectable under § 1983.
In order to state a claim for a violation of 42 U.S.C. 1983, a
plaintiff must allege that a defendant's actions were taken under
color of state law and that those actions deprived plaintiff of a
constitutional right. Parratt v. Taylor, 451 U.S. 527
However, Section 1983 does not delineate constitutional rights.
In Gonzaga v. Doe, 536 U.S. 273 (2002), the Supreme Court
§ 1983 merely provides a mechanism for enforcing
individual rights `secured' elsewhere, i.e., rights
independently `secured by the Constitution and laws'
of the United States. `[O]ne ...