United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division
August 22, 2005.
TALMON HEGWOOD, JR., Plaintiff,
CHARLES LEACH, JILL STEVENS, RICHARD DORONIUK, MAHMAUD SHAMAH, JOHN M. CHAVEZ, SARGENT SHIELDS, RICK SCHMITZ, FRANK DEBONI, THOMAS RILEY, DIANA GARCIA-CARMILLO, WEST SUBURBAN HOSPITAL, and SIX UNKNOWN CHICAGO POLICE OFFICERS, Defendants.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: JOHN W. DARRAH, District Judge
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Talmon Hegwood Jr. ("Hegwood"), a pro se Plaintiff, filed
suit in the Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois, against
Defendants Charles Leach, Jill Stevens, Richard Doroniuk,
Mahmaud Shamah, John M. Chavez, Sargent Shields, Rick Schmitz,
Frank DeBoni, Thomas Riley, Diana Garcia-Carmillo, West Suburban
Hospital, and six unknown Chicago police officers alleging
conspiracy to violate Plaintiff's civil rights under
42 U.S.C. §§ 1983, 1985, and 1986. Subsequently, West Suburban Hospital
removed the action to the United States District Court for the
Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division. Presently
pending before the Court is West Suburban Hospital's Motion to
A reading of Hegwood's Complaint supports the following summary
of the alleged conduct of the parties. Hegwood, an African American, was arrested for allegedly
possessing less than fifteen grams of cocaine. Following
Hegwood's arrest and booking, Chicago Police Officers Charles
Leach and Jill Stevens brought Hegwood to West Suburban
Hospital's emergency room. Hegwood observed two of the
Defendants, Sargent Shields and Dr. Rick Schmitz, engaged in a
conversation when he arrived to the emergency room. Dr. Schmitz
would later treat Hegwood in West Suburban Hospital's emergency
room. Hegwood requested that Schmitz take x-rays of his jaw. Dr.
Schmitz refused to order the x-rays. After examining Hegwood's
jaw and prescribing Tylenol, Dr. Schmitz discharged Hegwood from
West Suburban Hospital. Hegwood alleges West Suburban Hospital
participated with the Chicago police and other defendants in a
conspiracy to violate Hegwood's civil rights.
In reviewing a motion to dismiss, the court reviews all facts
alleged in the complaint and any inferences reasonably drawn
therefrom in the light most favorable to the plaintiff.
Marshall-Mosby v. Corporate Receivables, Inc., 205 F.3d 323,
326 (7th Cir. 2000). A plaintiff is not required to plead the
facts or the elements of a claim, with the exception found in
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 9. See Swierkiewicz v. Sorema,
534 U.S. 506, 511 (2002); Walker v. Thompson, 288 F.3d 761, 764
(7th Cir. 2002). A filing under Federal Rules of Civil Procedure
need not contain all the facts that will be necessary to prevail.
It should be "short and plain," and it suffices if it notifies
the defendant of the principal events. See Hoskins v. Poelstra,
320 F.3d 761, 764 (7th Cir. 2003). Dismissal is warranted only if
"it appears beyond a doubt that the plaintiff can prove no set of
facts in support of its claims that would entitle him to relief."
Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 45-46 (1957). The "suit should
not be dismissed if it is possible to hypothesize the facts,
consistent with the complaint that would make out a claim."
Graehling v. Village of Lombard, Ill, 58 F.3d 295, 297 (7th Cir. 1995). The simplified notice pleading relies upon
liberal discovery and summary of motions to define disputed
issues and facts and to dispose of unmeritorious claims. See
Swierkiewicz, 534 U.S. at 513.
West Suburban Hospital presents several arguments as to why
most of Plaintiff's Complaint should be dismissed.
Section 1983 Claim
West Suburban Hospital argues that the § 1983 claim should be
dismissed because Hegwood fails to state a claim upon which
relief can be granted.
"In order to state a claim under § 1983 a plaintiff must allege
that the defendants deprived him of a right secured by the
Constitution or laws of the United States, and that the
defendants acted under color of state law." Brokaw v. Mercer
County, 235 F.3d 1000, 1009 (7th Cir. 2000); Starnes v. Capital
Cities Media, Inc., 39 F.3d 1394, 1396 (7th Cir. 1994). To
determine whether Hegwood's stated a cause of action under §
1983, the Court must determine whether West Suburban Hospital's
alleged conduct deprived Hegwood of a right secured by the
Constitution. Hegwood alleges West Suburban Hospital
"intentionally, willfully, and maliciously failed to provide
Hegwood with x-rays for his visible injury" because he is an
African-American. Hegwood sufficiently alleges West Suburban
Hospital deprived him of equal protection under the Fourteenth
West Suburban Hospital also argues the § 1983 claim should be
dismissed against it because Hegwood has not alleged that West
Suburban Hospital acted under the color of law.
A plaintiff need only allege private individuals are jointly
engaged with state officials in the prohibited action. Adickes
v. S.H. Kress & Co., 398 U.S. 144, 152 (1970). "To act under
color of law does not require that the accused be an officer of
the State. It is enough that he is a willful participant in joint activity with the State or its agents."
Adickes, 398 U.S. at 152 (citing United States v. Price,
398 U.S. 787, 794 (1966)). Hegwood alleges West Suburban Hospital
"conspired with [Officers] Leach, Stevens, Sargent Shields, and
others known and unknown to Hegwood" to deprive Hegwood of equal
protection under the Fourteenth Amendment. Hegwood also alleges
he was refused a proper examination of his injuries because of
his race. Accordingly, Hegwood states a cause of action under §
Section 1985 Claim
West Suburban Hospital argues that the § 1985 claim should be
dismissed because Hegwood does not allege West Suburban Hospital
participated in the purported conspiracy.
To state a claim under § 1985, a complaint must allege a
conspiracy for the purpose of depriving any person of the equal
protection of the laws and an act in furtherance of the
conspiracy whereby a person is injured or deprived of any right
or privilege of a citizen of the United States.
42 U.S.C. § 1985(3); Majeske v. Fraternal Order of Police, Local Lodge No.
7, 94 F.3d 307, 311 (7th Cir. 1996). Hegwood alleges West
Suburban Hospital entered into a conspiracy with the Chicago
police officers to "deprive HEGWOOD of equal protection secured
to Hegwood by the Fourteenth Amendment." Hegwood further alleges
West Suburban Hospital took action in the conspiracy by failing
to provide him with medical attention whereby he was deprived of
equal treatment afforded to patients of other races.
West Suburban Hospital argues that Hegwood failed to allege
West Suburban Hospital itself had entered into the conspiracy.
Specifically, West Suburban Hospital contends that it is not
enough for a plaintiff to allege employees or agents of the
institution participated in the conspiracy. Plaintiff alleged in
the Complaint that he was denied an x-ray examination of his
injuries while being treated in the emergency room at West Suburban Hospital. Whether West
Suburban Hospital had acted to deprive Hegwood of his equal
protection rights is a question of fact that cannot be decided in
a motion to dismiss. Accordingly, Hegwood sufficiently alleges a
cause of action under § 1985.
Section 1986 Claim
West Suburban Hospital argues that the § 1985 claim should be
dismissed because Hegwood does not allege elements required to
state a claim under § 1986.
Liability under § 1986 rests upon "knowledge that any of the
conspiratorial wrongs are about to be committed, power to prevent
or to aid in preventing the commission of those wrongs, neglect
to do so, where the wrongful acts were committed, and the
wrongful acts could have been prevented by reasonable diligence."
Bell v. City of Milwaukee, 746 F.2d 1205, 1233 (7th Cir. 1984);
42 U.S.C. § 1986. West Suburban Hospital argues Hegwood failed to
allege that West Suburban Hospital had knowledge of the
conspiratorial wrongs, had power to prevent the commission of
those wrongs, or that the wrongful acts could have been prevented
by reasonable diligence. Hegwood is not required to plead the
facts or elements of a claim. Swierkiewicz, 534 U.S. at 511.
Hegwood is required to make a short, plain statement which
suffices if it notifies the defendant of the principal events.
Hoskins, 320 F.3d at 764. Hegwood alleges West Suburban
Hospital conspired with the Chicago police officers to deprive
Hegwood of "equal protection secured to Hegwood by the Fourteenth
Amendment." Hegwood alleges West Suburban Hospital took action in
the conspiracy by failing to provide him with medical attention
allegedly provided to similarly injured patients of different
races. Whether West Suburban Hospital had any knowledge of the
purported conspiracy is a question of fact that cannot be decided in a motion to dismiss.
Hegwood sufficiently alleges West Suburban Hospital's involvement
in the alleged conspiracy to violate his equal protection rights.
Accordingly, Hegwood states a cause of action under § 1986.
For the foregoing reasons, West Suburban Hospital's Motion to
Dismiss is denied.
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