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Smith v. Harvey

March 29, 2010


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Blanche M. Manning United States District Judge


Plaintiff Wallace R. Smith sued eleven county and federal officials in their individual capacities under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 based on allegedly sub-par medical care he received while incarcerated at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Chicago and the Kankakee County Jail, Jerome Combs Detention Center. Federal defendants Kim Widup, Eric Wilson, James Henry, and Candra Symonds have moved to dismiss Mr. Smith's second amended complaint pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6), contending that he cannot sue federal officials under § 1983 and that, in any event, he has failed to allege that they were personally involved in the alleged constitutional violations. For the following reasons, the motion to dismiss is granted.

I. Background

The following facts are taken from the second amended complaint and are deemed true for the purposes of the motion to dismiss. Mr. Smith was in the custody of the United States Marshals Service beginning on April 16, 2007, when he was held at the Kankakee County Jail, Jerome Combs Detention Center ("JCDC"). On September 6, 2007, he was transferred to the Metropolitan Correction Center ("MCC"), where he remained until his release on April 23, 2008.

While he was incarcerated, Mr. Smith suffered from a variety of medical conditions and physical disabilities, including coronary artery disease, hypertension, gastroesophogeal reflux disease, pancreatitis, osteaoarthritis, spinal stenosis, type II diabetes, Barrett Disease, left shoulder impingement and torn rotator cuff, panic attacks, major depression, basal cell melanoma, and degenerative disc disease.

On October 26, 2007, while at the MCC, Mr. Smith began complaining of chest pains and shortness of breath. From that point until January 11, 2008, Mr. Smith filed at least twenty inmate requests to staff requesting urgent medical attention. In these requests, he explained that he had a history of heart related problems and stated that he had previously undergone an angioplasty to treat similar symptoms. According to Mr. Smith, defendants Paul Harvey (the MCC's Clinical Director) and Debi Lamping (the MCC's Health Services Administrator) questioned the seriousness of Mr. Smith's requests for treatment, and Ms. Lamping told Mr. Smith, "I don't care about you, you are a con." On another occasion, Mr. Smith contends that Mr. Harvey and Ms. Lamping told Mr. Smith to "stop faking."

Two months later, on January 11, 2008, unspecified MCC employees sent Mr. Smith to Thorek Hospital for an examination. He was diagnosed with severely clogged arteries and remained in the hospital until January 18, 2008, when he was transferred to Swedish Covenant Hospital in Chicago and underwent angioplasty surgery.

After his surgery, Mr. Smith returned to the MCC. On at least eight occasions following his surgery, he asserts that he told staff that he was vomiting blood but did not receive medical services or an examination. Staff also allegedly failed to provide Mr. Smith with his prescription medications, which caused him to suffer from severe stomach pain and lose the ability to eat. He thus was unable to take insulin, which led to muscle cramps, headaches, and anxiety.

On April 23, 2008, Mr. Smith was released from federal custody. His second amended complaint is before the court. He filed suit against the JCDC defendants -- Kim Widup (the United States Marshal for the Northern District of Illinois at the time of the events alleged in the complaint), Michael Downey (the Chief of Corrections for the JCDC), Clyde Dayhoff (the Medical Director at the JCDC), Jean Richmond, née Flageole (the head of nursing at the JCDC), Sue Lecuyer (a nurse at the JCDC), and Kristy Patterson (a physician's assistant at the JCDC). He also sued the MCC defendants -- Paul Harvey (the Clinical Director of the MCC's medical department), Eric Wilson (the MCC's Warden), Assistant Warden Henry, and Lt. Commander Lamping (the supervisor of the MCC's medical department). Candra Symonds (the Assistant Director of the Prisoner Operations Division for the Marshals Service) is also named as a defendant.

Mr. Smith seeks relief under § 1983 against the JCDC defendants, the MCC defendants, Marshal Widup (Counts I, II, and III respectively), alleging that the lack of care constitutes deliberate indifference to his serious medical needs. He also contends that Ms. Symonds is liable under § 1983 for the denial of medical care due to systemic deficiencies in staffing and procedures at the MCC (Count IV). The federal defendants seek dismissal of all of the claims against them.

II. Discussion

A. Standard on 12(b)(6) Motion to Dismiss

A plaintiff's complaint must provide a "short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief" and "fair notice" of the plaintiff's claims and the basis for those claims. Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2); Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). According to the Seventh Circuit, this language imposes two hurdles. First, the complaint must describe the claim in sufficient detail to give the defendant "fair notice of what the... claim is and the grounds upon which it rests." E.E.O.C. v. Concentra Health Servs., 496 F.3d 773, 776 (7th Cir. 2007), quoting Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. Second, the factual allegations must "plausibly suggest that the plaintiff has a right to relief, raising that possibility above a 'speculative level'; if they do not, the plaintiff pleads itself out of court." Id.; Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009) (to survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint's request for relief must be facially plausible).

However, "[a] complaint need not allege all, or any, of the facts logically entailed by the claim, and it certainly need not include evidence." Tamayo v. Blagojevich, 526 F.3d 1074, 1081 (7th Cir. 2008). Instead, a complaint contains enough details if it includes allegations that show that "it is plausible, rather than merely speculative, that he is entitled to relief." Id. at 1083 (internal quotations and citations omitted); Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. at 1949 (the alleged facts must "allow the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged" so "naked assertions devoid of further factual enhancement" are insufficient). Meanwhile, the court is neither bound by the plaintiff's ...

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