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Grover Lee Hunt, Jr v. Marcus Hardy

June 27, 2012


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge Joan H. Lefkow


Grover Lee Hunt, Jr. brings a 42 U.S.C. § 1983 claim against Illinois Department of Corrections Director Salvador Godinez, Stateville Correctional Center Warden Marcus Hardy, Lieutenant Ralph Burkybile, Sergeant Rebecca Hunter, Sergeant Lewis Kovac, and the current and former Medical Directors for Stateville, Drs. I. Carter and Parthasarathi Ghosh. Hunt's claim arises from defendants' alleged failure to provide him with proper medical care during his incarceration at Stateville. Before the court is Godinez, Hardy, Burkybile, Hunter, and Kovac's motion to dismiss Hunt's amended complaint pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). For the following reasons, the motion [#38] will be granted in part and denied in part.*fn1


Hunt is an inmate at Stateville and is approximately forty-nine years old. In September 2008, Hunt sustained a back injury while exercising at Stateville. Though virtually unable to move, and despite repeated requests, he was not allowed to see a doctor for three days.

In January 2009, Hunt was referred to an outside specialist at the University of Illinois Medical Center (the "University"), who diagnosed him with a severely herniated disc in the lumbar region of his spine. In February 2009, the specialist prescribed Vicodin and ordered Hunt to return for further testing and treatment. Stateville's Medical Director refused to dispense the Vicodin. Between April and July 2009, Hunt had three appointments at the University His doctors at the University determined that the treatment Hunt had received was not alleviating his severe pain.

In December 2009, a University physician ordered an MRI and recommended surgery on Hunt's herniated disk. The MRI occurred in February 2010. Despite the doctor's recommendation that Hunt undergo surgery, Stateville's Medical Director did not allow Hunt to return to the University until September 2010. Instead, the Director ordered that Hunt be assigned to sleep in a low bunk and low gallery, or floor, so that he would not have to climb into a top bunk or up stairs. The Director also prescribed that Hunt use a crutch while walking.

Burkybile, Hunter, and Kovac prevented Hunt from receiving this prescribed treatment. Burkybile, who oversaw Hunt's housing unit, ordered his subordinates to take Hunt's crutch away. Hunter and Kovac were the unit sergeants for Hunt's housing unit. They were responsible for carrying out the order that Hunt be assigned to a low bunk on a low gallery so that he would not have to climb up and down. Hunter and Kovac refused to reassign Hunt to a low bunk or a low gallery and instead required him to sleep in a top bunk on an upper-level gallery. Hunt had to climb multiple flights of stairs to access the upper-level gallery. In order to get into bed, Hunt had to first climb onto a sink and then hoist himself to the upper bunk. To get out of bed from a top bunk, Hunt had to jump down or climb to the sink and to the floor. The pain associated with Hunt's severely herniated disc made climbing onto a top bunk extremely difficult. Hunt made multiple requests to be assigned to a low bunk and a low gallery, which Hunter and Kovac ignored.

In September 2010, Hunt fell while attempting to climb down from his bed. He hit the ground and lost consciousness. After this fall, Hunt was given a low bunk and low gallery assignment. He has since been returned to the third level of galleries (out of four levels). No medical evaluation was performed to determine whether Hunt's condition warranted this change. He was returned to the upper gallery because his low bunk "permit" expired.

On September 20, 2010, University doctors determined that Hunt's herniated disc had degenerated and required surgery and indicated that Hunt should return as soon as possible for the surgery. Hunt received no additional treatment until February 18, 2011, when he was taken back to the University. A new doctor recommended a six-month physical therapy regimen prior to any surgery. As of the filing of this suit in September 2011, Hunt had not received any additional diagnostic tests, physical therapy, or a follow-up appointment at the University. As a result, Hunt has been suffering from an untreated severely herniated disc and his pain continues unabated.

Hunt filed multiple grievances regarding the denial of medical treatment. Hardy ignored the grievances. Hunt spoke with Hardy regarding a grievance that he had filed as a result of the removal of his crutch. Hardy indicated that he had approved Burkybile's decision to take the crutch away.

There is a widespread custom among Godinez, Hardy, Burkybile, Hunter, Kovac, Drs. Carter and Ghosh, and Illinois Department of Corrections ("IDOC") employees of ignoring inmates' serious medical conditions and ignoring inmate grievances that relate to the failure to receive medical treatment. Hardy and Godinez were aware of this custom and ignored it. Hardy is responsible for supervising Burkybile, Hunter, Kovac, and Drs. Carter and Ghosh. Godinez is responsible for supervising all of the other defendants.

Hardy, Burkybile, Hunter, and Kovac are sued in their individual and official capacities. Godinez is sued only in his official capacity.


A motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) challenges a complaint for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6); Gen. Elec. Capital Corp. v. Lease Resolution Corp., 128 F.3d 1074, 1080 (7th Cir. 1997). In ruling on a motion to dismiss, the court accepts as true all well-pleaded facts in the plaintiff's complaint and draws all reasonable inferences in the plaintiff's favor. Nixon v. Page, 291 F.3d 485, 486 (7th Cir. 2002). In order to survive a 12(b)(6) motion, the complaint must not only provide the defendant with fair notice of the claim's basis but must also establish that the requested relief is plausible on its face. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678, 129 S. Ct. 1937, 173 L. Ed. 2d 868 (2009); see also Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555, 127 S. Ct. 1955, 167 L. Ed. 2d 929 (2007). The allegations in the complaint must be "enough to raise a ...

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