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Atrill Joseph Haymon v. Rock Island County Jail and Dr. Peterson

January 18, 2012


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Sara Darrow United States District Judge


Wednesday, 18 January, 2012 01:58:15 PM

Clerk, U.S. District Court, ILCD


Plaintiff, currently detained in the Rock Island County Jail, has filed an amended complaint as directed by this Court. The amended complaint is before the Court for a merit review pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A.

Section 1915A requires the Court to identify cognizable claims and dismiss claims that are "frivolous, malicious, or fail[] to state a claim upon which relief may be granted." A merit review hearing was scheduled to aid the court in this review, but will be cancelled as unnecessary.

The merit review standard is the same as the motion to dismiss standard. To state a claim under federal notice pleading standards, the Complaint must set forth a "short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2). Factual allegations are accepted as true and need only give "'fair notice of what the . . . claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.'" EEOC v. Concentra Health Serv., Inc., 496 F.3d 773, 776-77 (7th Cir. 2007), quoting Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 1964 (2007)(other citation omitted). However, the factual "allegations must plausibly suggest that the plaintiff has a right to relief, raising that possibility above a 'speculative level.'" Id., quoting Bell Atlantic, 127 S.Ct. at 1965, 1973 n. 14. "A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949-50 (2009), citing Twombly, 127 S.Ct. 1955. The Court keeps in mind, however, that pro se pleadings are liberally construed. Bridges v. Gilbert, 557 F.3d 541, 546 (7th Cir. 2009).


Plaintiff alleges that he suffers from anxiety and panic attacks for which he takes prescribed medicine. In July, 2011, Plaintiff was booked into the Rock Island County Jail. He told the Jail staff that he urgently needed his anxiety medicine. He repeated this to Defendant Dr. Peterson the next month. Dr. Peterson replied that Plaintiff was not scheduled for "telepsyche," which the Court presumes is a way to visit with a psychiatrist via video conferencing. The next week, someone from the Robert Young Mental Health Center allegedly assured Plaintiff that Plaintiff would be seeing the doctor "real soon" to reinstate his prescription. However, nothing happened.

In November, 2011, Plaintiff became dizzy and light-headed, falling to the floor. He allegedly blacked out and awoke trying to catch his breath. His mouth was bleeding and the bottom half of his top front teeth had broken off. Plaintiff was taken to see Dr. Peterson, who refused to refer Plaintiff to a dentist, even though Plaintiff had "live nerves hanging in the bottom of my teeth." (Complaint, p. 5). Plaintiff was in pain and could not eat because his exposed teeth were too sensitive. Dr. Peterson allegedly informed Plaintiff that the dentist would only remove his teeth, not restore them, even though Plaintiff had offered to have his family pay for the restoration.

Plaintiff is now receiving his anxiety medicine, but he has still not been referred to a dentist. Plaintiff seeks to have the Jail pay for the restoration of his teeth and also seeks $1.9 million dollars in damages.


The Court assumes that Plaintiff is a pretrial detainee, meaning that his claim is governed by the Fourteenth Amendment, not the Eighth Amendment, but there is no practical difference in the analysis. Thomas v. Cook County Sheriff's Dept., 604 F.3d 293, 301 n.2 (7th Cir. 2010)("We apply the same legal standard to a claim alleging deliberate indifference to an inmate's medical needs, whether filed under the Eighth or Fourteenth Amendment."); Chapman v. Keltner, 241 F.3d 842, 845 (7th Cir. 2001). To state a claim, Plaintiff must allege facts which plausibly suggest that Defendants were deliberately indifferent to Plaintiff's serious medical or dental needs. Chapman, 241 F.3d at 845.

Whether Plaintiff's dental needs are serious is unclear. Cosmetic restoration would not be a serious need, but dental conditions can be serious if, left untreated, cause significant pain, difficulty functioning, or result in further deterioration. See Berry v. Peterman, 604 F.3d 435 (7th Cir. 2010)(failure to treat tooth decay that caused serious pain supported claim for deliberate indifference); Board v. Farnham, 394 F.3d 469, 480 (7th Cir. 2005)("At the outset, ...

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