Name of Assigned Judge Robert Dow, Jr. Sitting Judge if Other or Magistrate Judge than Assigned Judge
Before the Court are (1) Defendants' motion to bifurcate and to staydiscovery and trial as to Plaintiff's claims against Cook County under Monell v. Department of Social Services, 436 U.S. 658 (1976)  and Plaintiff's motion to take additional depositions . For the reasons set forth below, the Court respectfully denies Defendants' motion to bifurcate and stay  and refers the motion to take additional depositions , along with all further discovery motions and supervision, to the calendar of Magistrate Judge Cox. The notice of motion date of 4/19/2011 is stricken and no appearances in the district court are required on that date; however, the case remains set for status in the district court on 5/12/2011.
O[ For further details see text below.] Notices mailed by Judicial staff.
In this lawsuit, Plaintiff alleges that he was denied adequate medical treatment while he was incarcerated at the Cook County Jail and that this denial amounted to a deprivation of his rights under the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Plaintiff claims that the individual Defendants are liable for this deprivation pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 because they, and/or individuals under their supervision acting with their condonation, encouragement, or acquiescence, acted under color of state law to deprive Plaintiff of his constitutional rights. Plaintiff further claims that Cook County is liable under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 because his rights were violated as a result of an official Cook County custom or policy. See Monell v. Department of Social Services, 436 U.S. 658 (1976).
Defendants have moved for bifurcation of Plaintiff's Monell claims and a stay of discovery and trial on those claims until the claims against the individual Defendants are resolved.
The following allegations are taken from Plaintiffs' amended complaint . Plaintiff is a 60-year-old man who has a variety of chronic illnesses that require special medical attention. Most seriously, Plaintiff has chronic kidney disease and he was the recipient of a kidney transplant in 1997. Plaintiff must take anti-rejection medication every day to prevent his body from rejecting the donated kidney. Additionally, Plaintiff alleges that he must have laboratory tests performed monthly to monitor his kidney function and that he must visit a nephrologist (a kidney specialist) every two months.
On January 2, 2007, Plaintiff was admitted to the Cook County Jail as a pretrial detainee. Plaintiff alleges that during his admission and thereafter, he told Cook County personnel of his health conditions and medical needs. Plaintiff alleges that he received no anti-rejection medication for more than one week following his admission to the jail. Plaintiff was told that the medication that he required was not available in the jail's pharmacy. Further, Plaintiff was told that he could not use the medication that he had with him at the time of his arrest, as doing so would be in violation of the jail's policies. Plaintiff alleges that he experienced pain and mental anguish during the period that he was without his medication.
Plaintiff further alleges that despite numerous requests and written grievances, over the next year, he was repeatedly denied access to a kidney specialist. Plaintiff alleges that by October 2007, he was experiencing severe symptoms as a result of his untreated kidney disease. Plaintiff was eventually taken to a kidney specialist at Stroger Hospital, but due to some of Defendants' conduct, he was not able to receive treatment. When Plaintiff was taken back to the hospital in November 2007, lab tests showed that Plaintiff's kidney function was poor. Plaintiff was admitted to the hospital for approximately one week for treatments that included ultrasound testing and a kidney biopsy.
As discussed above, Plaintiff has sued the individual Defendants for failing to provide him with constitutionally adequate medical care. In addition, Plaintiff has brought a Monell claim against Cook County. Through this claim, Plaintiff "seeks to establish * * * that specific policies and practices, including those for medication administration and the handling of medical grievances [at the jail] caused him to be denied urgent and necessary medical care." (Pl. Mem. at 5).
In his brief, Plaintiff asserts that discovery conducted to date has identified a number of jail policies or practices that caused or contributed to his injuries. According to Plaintiff, "by longstanding custom," the pharmacy at the jail "keeps no records of inventory on hand at any given time." Id. at 3. Plaintiff further alleges that "[t]here is no established procedure for providing inmates with medications that are not available in the pharmacy." Id. Further, Plaintiff takes issue with the jail's policy that forbade him from taking his own medication that he had with him at the time of his arrest. Plaintiff also argues that the jail's process for handling medical grievances is deficient and contributed to the violation of his rights. Id. at 3-4. For example, Plaintiff argues that the jail has a policy in place to never treat medical grievances as emergencies. Id. Plaintiff asserts that his Monell claims are "no mere fishing expedition" (id. at 6 n. 10), pointing to a July 11, 2008 report in which the U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division addressed conditions at Cook County Jail and found, among other things, "numerous systemic problems with medication administration and management." ...