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Taylor v. Couture

October 12, 2010


Name of Assigned Judge Amy J. St. Eve Sitting Judge if Other or Magistrate Judge than Assigned Judge


The Court grants Defendants' motion for summary judgment [121] and dismisses this lawsuit in its entirety. All pending dates and deadlines are stricken.

O[ For further details see text below.] Notices mailed by Judicial staff.

*Mail AO 450 form.


On April 23, 2010, Plaintiff John E. Taylor, who was a pretrial detainee at the Cook County Department of Corrections ("CCDOC") during the relevant time period, filed an Amended Complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. In his Amended Complaint, Taylor alleges a due process claim based on inadequate medical care against Defendants Dr. Eileen Couture and Dr. Ann Marie Dunlap of Cermak Health Services of Cook County ("Cermak"), which is the healthcare provider for detainees housed at the CCDOC. Cook County is not a party to this lawsuit nor is there a claim based on Monell v. Dep't of Soc. Servs., 436 U.S. 658, 98 S.Ct. 2018, 56 L.Ed.2d 611 (1978), at issue, therefore, Taylor is suing Drs. Dunlap and Couture in their individual capacities. Before the Court is Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(c). For the following reasons, the Court grants Defendants' motion and dismisses this lawsuit in its entirety.


Taylor, a former pretrial detainee, was housed at the CCDOC from the date of his arrest in 2003 until November 15, 2007. (R. 123-1, Defs.' Rule 56.1 Stmt. Facts ¶¶ 2, 3.) Taylor is suing Defendants for refusing to dispense medications to him before he went to court during the time period of April through October 2007. (Id. ¶ 17, Ex. A, Taylor Dep., at 7-8.) Taylor is also suing Dr. Dunlap for reducing his pain medication during the relevant time period.*fn1 (Id. ¶ 4.)

The dispensing of medications in the relevant division, Division X, of the CCDOC was part of the nursing protocol. (Id. ¶ 5.) Although Dr. Couture was the Medical Director and Director of Nursing at Cermak during the relevant time period, she did not directly supervise the nurses. (Id. ¶ 6; Ex. C, Couture Dep., at 4; R. 140-1, Pl.'s Stmt. Facts ¶¶ 2, 4.) Instead, a registered nurse, Shawn Withers -- who is not a named Defendant in this lawsuit -- directly supervised the nurses. (Defs.' Stmt. Facts ¶ 7.) As Medical Director, however, Dr. Couture's duties included overseeing current practices and improving services. (Pl.'s Stmt. Facts ¶ 3.) The only medical record showing that Dr. Couture treated Taylor is dated September 11, 2007, at which time Dr. Couture examined Taylor and wrote him a prescription for Robaxin, a non-narcotic muscle relaxant, for his lower back pain. (Defs.' Stmt. Facts ¶¶ 8, 9, 10, Couture Dep., at 27, 30; Ex. B, Dunlap Dep., at 47.) At that time, Dr. Couture made no changes to Taylor's existing prescriptions, including a powerful nerve medication, Neurontin, which Taylor took for neuropathy and pain associated with his previous radiation therapy. (Id. ¶¶ 9, 11, Dunlap Dep., at 47.) Meanwhile, Taylor admits that between April 2007 and his criminal trial in August 2007, he did not have any conversations with Dr. Couture. (Taylor Dep., at 44.)

Dr. Dunlap was one of the doctors who treated Taylor while he was housed in Division X at the CCDOC. (Id. ¶ 14.) On Division X, nurses distributed medications three times a day -- morning, midday, and evening. (Pl.'s Stmt. Facts ¶ 8.) On February 27, 2007, Dr. Dunlap wrote Taylor a prescription for (1) Elavil 50 milligrams at night for eight weeks, (2) Neurontin 900 milligrams three times a day for eight weeks, and (3) clindamycin (a moisturizing cream) to affected areas twice daily. (Id. ¶ 11, Dunlap Dep., at 23; Defs.' Stmt. Facts ¶ 16.) Dr. Dunlap prescribed the Neurontin and Elavil for pain. (Dunlap Dep., at 20-21.) On April 20, 2007, Dr. Dunlap reduced Taylor's Neurontin prescription from 900 milligrams three times a day to 900 milligrams two times a day. (Pl.'s Stmt. Facts ¶ 13.) On May 31, 2007, Physician Assistant Manisha Patel wrote a prescription changing Taylor's dosage of Neurontin back to 900 milligrams three times a day. (Id. ¶ 14.) On July 20, 2007, Dr. Dunlap reduced Taylor's Neurontin from 900 milligrams three times a day to 600 milligrams three times a day. (Id. ¶ 15; Defs.' Stmt. Facts ¶ 18.)


Summary judgment is appropriate when "the pleadings, the discovery and disclosure materials on file, and any affidavits show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(2). A genuine issue of material fact exists if "the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 2510, 91 L.Ed. 2d 202 (1986). In determining summary judgment motions, "facts must be viewed in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party only if there is a 'genuine' dispute as to those facts." Scott v. Harris, 550 U.S. 372, 380, 127 S.Ct. 1769, 167 L.Ed.2d 686 (2007). The party seeking summary judgment has the burden of establishing the lack of any genuine issue of material fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 2552, 91 L.Ed.2d 265 (1986). After "a properly supported motion for summary judgment is made, the adverse party 'must set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial.'" Anderson, 477 U.S. at 255 (quotation omitted); see also Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e)(2) (requiring adverse party to "set out specific facts").


In his Amended Complaint, Taylor alleges that Drs. Couture and Dunlap were deliberately indifferent to his serious medical need, namely, his chronic pain. The Fourteenth Amendment's Due Process Clause applies to pretrial detainees' conditions of confinement claims and entitles pretrial detainees to at least the same protections against deliberate indifference as available to convicted prisoners under the Eighth Amendment. See Minix v. Canarecci, 597 F.3d 824, 831 (7th Cir. 2010). Thus, under both the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments, a prison or jail official violates the Constitution if she is deliberately indifferent to a prisoner's serious medical needs. See McGowan v. Hulick, 612 F.3d 636, 640 (7th Cir. 2010) (citing Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 104, 97 S.Ct. 285, 50 L.Ed.2d 251 (1976)). The test for the deliberate indifference to a serious medical need has both objective and subjective elements. See Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 834, 114 S.Ct. 1970, 128 L.Ed.2d 811 (1994); Rodriguez v. Plymouth Ambulance Serv., 577 F.3d 816, 829 ...

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