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Ritz v. Lake County

May 21, 2010


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge James B. Zagel


Plaintiff filed his Second Amended Complaint ("SAC") alleging violations of 42 U.S.C. Section 1983 and Illinois state law. Following the filing of Plaintiff's first amended complaint, I ordered Plaintiff to conduct discovery in the hopes of clarifying his claims. Plaintiff has conducted written discovery and taken several depositions.*fn1 Defendants Health Professionals, Ltd. and Venkata Vallury, as well as Defendants Lake County, Mark C. Curran, Jr., and Scott Fitch now move to dismiss the SAC in its entirety pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). For the foregoing reasons, Defendants' motions to dismiss are granted in part and denied in part.


Plaintiff Robert Ritz has diabetes and suffered from diabetic retinopathy requiring open eye surgery on August 29, 2007. On September 6, 2007, Ritz became a pretrial detainee at the Lake County Jail. Lake County contracted with Defendant Health Professionals Ltd. ("HPL") to provide medical services to detainees at the jail. Defendant Scott Fitch is a registered nurse and served as the Sheriff's Heath Services Coordinator at the Jail. Dr. Vallury, a general practitioner, was HPL's Medical Director at the Jail.

On September 7, 2007, Plaintiff's eye surgeon, Dr. Garoon, contacted HPL regarding Ritz's condition, and informed HPL that if Ritz did not keep his head elevated at a 45-degree angle he could lose his eye sight. Defendant Fitch was informed of Plaintiff's condition. Dr. Garoon faxed letters to Jail authorities emphasizing the need to keep Ritz's head in the proper position, noting that Ritz had missed several post-operative appointments, and warning that Ritz could lose his vision. Although Dr. Vallury, HPL's Jail Medical Director did see Ritz, Plaintiff alleges that he was not qualified to provide proper care because Dr. Vallury is not an eye specialist.

The Jail Policy and Procedures Manual states that inmates with chronic diseases like diabetes, and those who require specialty care services will receive appropriate care. Plaintiff alleges that he failed to receive adequate care for his eye and his diabetes. Plaintiff asserts that Dr. Garoon was not allowed to see Ritz until October 4, 2007. At that time, Dr. Garoon determined that his left retina had detached again, and more surgery was required. Plaintiff underwent a second surgery in October 2007 because of complications with the healing process.

Further, Plaintiff alleges that he did not receive care for his diabetic condition until November 11, 2007.

On October 10, 2007 Judge Bridges of the 19th Judicial Circuit entered an Order requiring the Lake County Jail to comply with Defendant's diabetic and post-operative medical needs. On October 16, 2007 Fitch was summoned to State court by Judge Bridges. Following the hearing, the Judge entered an Order directing Fitch and Jail authorities to give Ritz the necessary medical care. On October 23, 2007 the parties returned to court and Plaintiff filed an Inmate Grievance complaining of his lack of proper medical care. The Lake County Sheriff's Office denied Ritz's Grievance.

Following Ritz's second corrective surgery, he underwent a third surgery on December 5, 2008. This operation was unsuccessful. Ritz is now totally and permanently blind in his left eye.


A motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) requires that I analyze the legal sufficiency of the complaint, and not the factual merits of the case. Autry v. Northwest Premium Servs., Inc., 144 F.3d 1037, 1039 (7th Cir. 1998). I must take all facts alleged in Plaintiff's complaint as true and draw all reasonable inferences from those facts in favor of the Plaintiff. Caldwell v. City of Elwood, 959 F.2d 670, 671 (7th Cir. 1992). Plaintiff, for his part, must do more than solely recite the elements for a violation; he must plead with sufficient particularity so that his right to relief is more than a mere conjecture. Bell Atl., Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). Plaintiff must plead his facts so that, when accepted as true, they show the plausibility of his claim for relief. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009). Plaintiff must do more than plead facts that are "consistent with defendants' liability" because that only shows the possibility, not the plausibility,of his entitlement to relief. Id. (internal quotations omitted).


A. Motion to Strike Exhibits

Defendants Lake County, Curran and Fitch argue that the exhibits attached to Plaintiff's response to Defendants' motions to dismiss should be struck as not part of the pleadings and outside of the Courts 12(b)(6) analysis. When ruling on a motion to dismiss, a court must generally consider only the Plaintiff's complaint. Rosenblum v. Ltd., 299 F.3d 657, 661 (7th Cir. 2002). However, Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 10(c) provides, that "[a] copy of any written instrument which is an exhibit to a pleading is a part thereof for all purposes." FED. R. CIV. P. 10(c). The Seventh Circuit has "make[d] clear that this rule includes a limited class of attachments to Rule 12(b)(6) motions." Rosenblum, 299 F.3d at 661. Specifically, "documents attached to a motion to dismiss are considered part of the pleadings if they are referred to in the plaintiff's complaint and are central to his claim." Wright v. Assoc. Ins. Cos. Inc., 29 F.3d 1244, 1248 (7th Cir.1994) (emphasis added). This rule "logically extends to documents attached to a plaintiff's response." Metz v. Joe Rizza Imports, Inc., No. 09 c 3178, 2010 WL 1253922, at * 3 (N.D. Ill. March 23, 2010). Here, all of exhibits attached to Plaintiff's response were cited to in his complaint and are central to Plaintiff's claim. Accordingly, I decline to strike the exhibits attached to Plaintiff's response.

B. Claims Asserted Pursuant to Section 1983

Pretrial detainees are protected by the Fourteenth Amendment's substantive due process clause, rather than the Eighth Amendment's prohibition ...

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