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Bobby Lee Harrison v. County of Cook

September 12, 2011


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Matthew F. Kennelly, District Judge:


Bobby Lee Harrison, a pretrial detainee in the custody of the Cook County Department of Corrections (CCDOC), has sued Sheriff Thomas J. Dart, Cook County, and Dr. Ann Dunlap under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. He contends that the defendants were deliberately indifferent to his serious medical needs. He also asserts a state law claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress.

Defendants have moved for summary judgment on Harrison's claims. Harrison, who is proceeding pro se, has also filed a motion for leave to amend his complaint, a motion to strike the depositions of two doctors employed by defendants and to re-depose those witnesses, and a motion for a preliminary injunction.

For the reasons stated below, the Court grants in part and denies in part defendants' motions for summary judgment; denies the motion for leave to amend; denies the motion to strike; and enters and continues the motion for a preliminary injunction pending the Court's appointment of counsel to represent Harrison.


Harrison is a pretrial detainee at the CCDOC. Dart is the Sheriff of Cook County and has supervisory responsibility over the CCDOC. Dunlapwas a staff physician with Cermak Health Services (Cermak), the health care provider for all detainees housed at the CCDOC, at times relevant to this lawsuit.Harrison has sued Dart in his official capacity and Dunlap in her individual and official capacities.

Harrison has been detained at the CCDOC since September 7, 2004. He asserts that on numerous occasions throughout his confinement, defendants denied him medical treatment, provided him with inadequate or delayed care for his serious health problems, or otherwise ignored substantial risks to his health.In particular, Harrison claims to suffer from six medical conditions that, in his view, were either caused or inadequately addressed by defendants during his period of detention. See Am. Compl. ¶ 83.

First, Harrison contends that from approximately mid-2007 until the end of 2008, defendants denied him adequate treatment for his deteriorating vision. See Am. Compl. ¶¶ 11-18; Harrison Dep. 39:12-20. During this period of time, Harrison testified, he had only a single functioning lens from a pair of glasses. Id. According to Harrison, defendants repeatedly denied his repeated requests to see an ophthalmologist to obtain new, functioning glasses. Am. Compl. ¶¶ 13, 16, 17. Additionally, he asserts that officials at CCDOC intentionally deprived him of a pair of glasses sent to him by his appointed attorney. Id. ¶¶ 19-24.

Second, Harrison argues that he received inadequate treatment for severe pain, bleeding, and infections in his mouth. Id. ¶¶ 34-39. Although he concedes that he saw dentists and other medical professionals for these afflictions on numerous occasions, Harrison argues that these providers refused to treat certain of his dental problems because of budget cuts, which prevented them from providing him with certain types of dental care that he desired. Id. ¶¶ 35, 39.

Third, Harrison asserts that he suffers from a gastrointestinal disorder that has been inadequately treated for approximately five years. Id. ¶¶ 40-48. Harrison began noticing blood in his stool in approximately July 2006. Id. ¶ 40. On December 19, 2006, following gastrointestinal tests, doctors at Cermak determined that Harrison suffered from a colon disease and prescribed him a medication known as sulfasalazine. Id. ¶ 41. He contends that defendants canceled or delayed several subsequent appointments for treatment in 2007 and 2008. Id. ¶¶ 42-45. Additionally, Harrison testified during his deposition that subsequent medical tests have shown that he had been misdiagnosed and did not have colon problems but instead suffered from an acid-related stomach disorder. See Harrison Dep. 73:21-74:4, 97:8-24. Harrison contends that he suffered for years because Cermak prescribed him the wrong medication for his gastrointestinal problems. Id. 74:6-14.

Fourth, Harrison contends that defendants consistently ignored his requests for a modified diet based on a supposed allergy to high-protein foods. Am. Compl. ¶¶ 49-56. As a result, Harrison, argues, he lost weight, experienced stomach cramps and loss of appetite, and suffered other unspecified health problems. Id. ¶¶ 52, 56. Harrison's dietary complaints appear to be related to his gastrointestinal disorder, for which he is currently being treated. See Harrison Dep. 102:23-103:4.

Fifth, Harrison asserts that defendants denied him treatment for back pain that he suffers as a result of an automobile accident that occurred in approximately 1995. See Am. Compl. ¶¶ 76-82. He argues that on July 28, 2008, CCDOC officials took from his cell a back belt that he wore to mitigate his back pain. Id. ¶ 76. Harrison admits that he has received pain medications on various occasions but nevertheless contends that defendants have injured him by denying him a new back belt and other unspecified treatment, as well as by requiring him to sit on uncomfortable steel benches in the jail. Id. ¶¶ 77-78, 80-81; Harrison Dep. 125:8-22.

Finally, Harrison argues that he contracted hepatitis C as a result of defendants' continuous deliberate indifference to his physical health. See Am. Compl. ¶¶ 57-67, 75. Harrison identifies three possible sources of his hepatitis C infection. First, he asserts that in either 2006 or 2007, he was forced to walk through blood after a fight involving other detainees. Id. ¶ 57; Harrison Dep. 108:6-7. Second, defendants placed Harrison in a cell with another detainee who frequently bled onto Harrison's belongings, including milk containers from which he regularly drank. See id. 108:12-111:21; Am. Compl. ¶ 57. Third and perhaps most importantly, Harrison asserts that for years, defendants regularly provided detainees at the CCDOC with used razor blades. Id. ¶¶ 59-63; Harrison Dep. 115:1-116:1. Harrison was diagnosed with hepatitis C in July 2008 or August 2008. Id. 112:13-19; Am. Compl. ¶ 67.

Harrison filed his amended complaint on December 19, 2008. Following discovery, defendants moved for summary judgment on November 19, 2010.


1. Motions for summary judgment

On a motion for summary judgment, the Court "view[s] the record in the light most favorable to the non-moving party and draw[s] all reasonable inferences in that party's favor." Trinity Homes LLC v. Ohio Cas. Ins. Co., 629 F.3d 653, 656 (7th Cir. 2010). Summary judgment is appropriate "if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(a). In other words, a court may grant the motion "where the record taken as a whole could not lead a rational trier of fact to find for the non-moving party." Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986).

In support of their motions for summary judgment, defendants contend that Harrison has failed to show the existence of a genuine issue of fact regarding (1) whether defendants were personally involved in the alleged violations of Harrison's constitutional rights or maintained policies, practices, or customs that caused those violations; (2) whether Harrison suffered from objectively serious medical conditions; and (3) whether defendants were deliberately indifferent to those medical conditions. They also argue that Harrison's state law claims fail because they are immune from liability under Illinois law and Harrison has failed to show a triable issue of fact on these claims.

As an initial matter, defendants suggest that due to Harrison's failure to strictly comply with Local Rule 56.1, the Court should disregard any facts he has offered. See, e.g.,Dart Reply at 3. Though the Court has "discretion to strictly enforce compliance with its local rules regarding summary judgment motions," Patterson v. Indiana Newspapers, Inc., 589 F.3d 357, 360 (7th Cir. 2009), it concludes that it should not do so in this case. Harrison is proceeding pro se, and he appears to have made a genuine effort to comply with Local Rule 56.1 in his responsive submissions by referring to and disputing specific facts contained in defendants' Local Rule 56.1 ...

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