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Timothy D. Jones v. Dr. Adrian Feinerman

September 28, 2011

TIMOTHY D. JONES, PLAINTIFF,
v.
DR. ADRIAN FEINERMAN, DR. STEPHEN CULLINAN, DR. SETH OSAFO, DR. PARTHA GHOSH, WEXFORD HEALTH SOURCES, INC., HEALTH PROFESSIONALS, LTD.,*FN1 DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge Edmond E. Chang

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Plaintiff Timothy Jones filed this suit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Dr. Adrian Feinerman, Dr. Stephen Cullinan, Dr. Seth Osafo, Dr. Partha Ghosh, Wexford Health Sources, Inc., and Health Professionals, Ltd. (HPL), seeking compensatory and punitive damages for alleged violations of Jones's Eighth and Fourteenth Amendment rights.*fn2 Feinerman, Osafo, and Wexford [R. 36]*fn3 , as well as Cullinan and HPL [R. 46], have moved to dismiss the complaint pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6).*fn4 For the reasons stated below, Feinerman, Osafo, and Wexford's motion is granted, and HPL and Cullinan's motion is granted in part and denied in part.

I.

At this stage of the litigation, we accept Plaintiff's allegations as true and draw reasonable inferences in Plaintiff's favor. Ashcroft v. al-Kidd, 131 S. Ct. 2074, 2079 (2011). From November 26, 2003 until October 9, 2009, Timothy Jones was incarcerated at various Illinois correctional facilities, including Pinckneyville Correctional Center and Illinois River Correctional Center. R. 26 ¶ 2. Wexford and HPL contracted with the Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC) to provide health care services to inmates at Pinckneyville and Illinois River. Id. ¶¶ 7-8. Dr. Adrian Feinerman, a physician and Wexford employee, was the medical director at Pinckneyville during Jones's incarceration there. Id. ¶ 3. Beginning in February 2005, Jones complained to Feinerman on multiple occasions of pain on his left side, but Feinerman refused to examine him. Id. ¶¶ 15-16. In or about July 2005, Jones's spleen ruptured. Id. ¶ 17. Jones was then transported to a hospital, where he underwent an emergency splenectomy. Id. ¶¶ 18-19. Upon awaking from surgery, hospital staff diagnosed Jones for the first time with Stage 3 Non-Hodgkin's Mantle Cell Lymphoma. Id. ¶ 20. Based on conversations with hospital staff, Jones expected to receive chemotherapy upon his return to Pinckneyville. Id. ¶ 21. Jones repeatedly requested chemotherapy treatment from Feinerman, but Feinerman ignored these requests. Id.

¶¶ 22-23. Jones went two months without receiving any treatment for his lymphoma by the end of 2005. Id. ¶ 23.

In late 2005, Jones was transferred to Illinois River so that he could receive cancer treatment. Id. ¶ 24. Dr. Seth Osafo and Dr. Stephen Cullinan provided health care services to inmates at Illinois River. Id. ¶¶ 4-5. Osafo was the medical director at Illinois River and Cullinan co-founded HPL. Id. Beginning in January 2006 and lasting over a period of six to seven weeks, Jones received his first lymphoma treatment, which Cullinan administered. Id. ¶ 26. Afterward, Cullinan did not provide additional care to Jones, administer any tests of his condition, and or tell him that the lymphoma was in remission. Id. ¶¶ 26-28. Jones received no medical treatment or testing at all until months later, in June or July of 2007, when he underwent a biopsy and a Computerized Tomography (CT) scan that revealed that his cancer had metastasized to his bone marrow. Id. ¶¶ 29-30.

Jones filed a complaint in June 2009. R. 1. The exact date of filing will be discussed in greater detail below. Jones alleges that Feinerman and Wexford displayed deliberate indifference to his medical needs by recklessly failing to diagnose his diseased lymphoma and spleen, which caused him personal injury. Id. ¶¶ 34, 36, 38. Jones also alleges that Feinerman, Wexford, Cullinan, Osafo, and HPL all displayed deliberate indifference to his medical needs by recklessly failing to effectively treat his diseased lymphoma and spleen, which caused him personal injury. Id. ¶¶ 41, 44, 46. Because Defendants acted under the color of state law, Jones alleges that they violated his Eighth Amendment right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment (as incorporated through the Fourteenth Amendment). Id. ¶¶ 37, 45.

II.

Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)(2), a complaint generally need only include "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2). This short and plain statement must "give the defendant fair notice of what the claim is and the grounds upon which it rests." Bell Atl. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). The Seventh Circuit has explained that this rule "reflects a liberal notice pleading regime, which is intended to 'focus litigation on the merits of a claim' rather than on technicalities that might keep plaintiffs out of court." Brooks v. Ross, 578 F.3d 574, 580 (7th Cir. 2009) (quoting Swierkiewicz v. Sorema N.A., 534 U.S. 506, 514 (2002)).

"A motion under Rule 12(b)(6) challenges the sufficiency of the complaint to state a claim upon which relief may be granted." Hallinan v. Fraternal Order of Police Chicago Lodge No. 7, 570 F.3d 811, 820 (7th Cir. 2009). "[W]hen ruling on a defendant's motion to dismiss, a judge must accept as true all of the factual allegations contained in the complaint." Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007); McGowan v. Hulick, 612 F.3d 636, 637 (7th Cir. 2010) (courts accept factual allegations as true and draw all reasonable inferences in plaintiff's favor). A "complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to 'state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'" Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. --, 129 S. Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570). These allegations "must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level." Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. And the allegations that are entitled to the assumption of truth are those that are factual, rather than mere legal conclusions. Iqbal, 129 S. Ct. at 1950.

III.

Jones's allegations all advance a theory of deliberate indifference to his serious medical needs. Section 1983 provides a cause of action against a person, who, acting under color of state law, deprives an individual of any "rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws" of the United States. Livadas v. Bradshaw, 512 U.S. 107, 132 (1994) (quoting 42 U.S.C. § 1983). It provides the procedural vehicle for bringing suit as a "method for vindicating federal rights elsewhere conferred." Graham v. Connor, 490 U.S. 386, 393-94 (1989). Thus, job one is to identify the specific constitutional right allegedly infringed. Id. at 394. Here, deliberate indifference to the serious medical needs of a prisoner violates the Eighth Amendment's prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment. Duckworth v. Ahmad, 532 F.3d 675, 679 (7th Cir. 2008). Jones alleges that each Defendant knew of his serious medical conditions but recklessly disregarded them. R. 26 ¶¶ 34, 36, 41, 44.

As detailed below, however, Jones's claims with respect to the failure to diagnose and treat his diseased spleen are barred by the statute of limitations, as are his claims that Feinerman failed to effectively diagnose or treat his lymphoma. His allegations against Osafo fail because they are too speculative, and fail to plausibly state a claim. His allegations against Wexford and HPL fail because they do not plausibly allege a policy of unconstitutional acts. Only Jones's allegation against Cullinan survives the motion to dismiss because the statute of limitations, ...


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