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Jose Cruz v. Thomas Dart

November 13, 2012


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge Robert M. Dow, Jr.


Plaintiff Jose Cruz alleges that he was repeatedly denied treatment for his mental illnesses while he was detained in the Cook County Jail. In his amended complaint [37], he asserts that "one or more of" Defendants Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart, Dr. Avery Hart, Dr. Terry Marshall, Dr. Naneeka Jones, Salvador Godinez, Dr. David Kelner, Sergeant Carter, unknown Cook County medical personnel, and unknown Cermak Health personnel violated his Fourteenth Amendment due process rights (Count I) and intentionally inflicted emotional distress upon him (Count II) by remaining deliberately indifferent to his medical needs. In Count III, Plaintiff invokes Monell v. Department of Social Services of City of New York, 436 U.S. 658 (1978) and alleges that Dart and Cook County -- which he has not named as a defendant -- violated his Fourteenth Amendment due process rights pursuant to five "interrelated informal policies, practices and/or customs of the Sheriff of Cook County and his CCDOC personnel." [37 ¶ 47]. In Count IV, Plaintiff alleges that Cook County, as the employer of the individual defendants and pursuant to 745 ILCS 10/9-102, should be responsible for any compensatory damages he may be awarded. Plaintiff purports to sue all Defendants in both their individual and official capacities [37 ¶ 14].

The named Defendants have moved to dismiss portions of Plaintiff's amended complaint. [47]. Defendants Hart, Marshall, Jones, and Godinez seek dismissal of the § 1983 claims asserted against them in their individual and official capacities. Defendants Kelner and Carter seek to dismiss only those § 1983 claims sounding against them in their official capacities. All Defendants sued in their official capacities seek dismissal of claims for punitive damages under 42 U.S.C. § 1983.

I. Background

The following allegations are taken from Plaintiff's amended complaint [37]. The Court accepts as true all well-pleaded facts alleged and all reasonable inferences in Plaintiff's favor that can be drawn from them. See Barnes v. Briley, 420 F.3d 673, 677 (7th Cir. 2005).

Plaintiff was diagnosed with attention deficit disorder, hyperactivity, and depression ("mental illnesses") during his childhood and has been hospitalized for these mental illnesses "on numerous occasions during his lifetime." [37 ¶ 15]. Psychiatrists have determined that he needs both medication and other forms of treatment (collectively "treatment") to control his mental illnesses, which if untreated impair Plaintiff's concentration and foment aggressive behavior and suicidal tendencies. [37 ¶ 16].

In July 2010, Plaintiff was detained at the Cook County Jail. [37 ¶ 18]. He had been held there "several times previously," and had always received treatment for his mental illnesses during these stays. [37 ¶ 17]. When Plaintiff felt "mentally sick" during his July 2010 detention at the facility, he sought treatment for his mental illnesses by submitting a "request slip" to Detainee Health Services. [37 ¶ 18]. Later that summer Plaintiff was transferred to Jefferson County Jail. [37 ¶ 19]. He received treatment there after filing a grievance. [37 ¶ 19]. Prior to Plaintiff's transfer back to the Cook County Jail, medical personnel at the Jefferson County Jail informed the Cook County Jail Cermak Health Services ("Cermak") that Plaintiff needed treatment to control his mental illnesses. [37 ¶ 19].

Upon his return to Cook County Jail, Plaintiff did not receive any treatment, [37 ¶ 20], so he took steps both within and outside Jail channels to rectify the situation. On November 13, 2010, he sent a letter to the Cook County Sheriff, Defendant Tom Dart, "seeking help." [37 ¶ 20]. Dart did not respond. [37 ¶ 20]. Plaintiff also submitted additional "request slips" for treatment; those too were ignored. [37 ¶ 20]. On November 27, Plaintiff filed a grievance against Cermak and the Cook County Department of Corrections ("CCDOC"). [37 ¶ 21]. On November 30, Plaintiff was evaluated -- he does not specify by whom -- and diagnosed as mentally ill. [37 ¶ 22].

On December 1, Plaintiff's criminal defense attorney spoke to a social worker about Plaintiff's medical needs, and the social worker in turn informed the CCDOC division superintendent about them. [37 ¶ 28]. The superintendent did not authorize treatment for Plaintiff. [37 ¶ 28]. On December 6, Plaintiff submitted another grievance. [37 ¶ 23]. On December 13, Plaintiff's November 27 grievance was answered and he was referred to treatment. [37 ¶ 21]. Plaintiff was still denied "adequate" treatment, however. [37 ¶¶ 21, 23]. On December 21, Plaintiff's attorney sought an order from a Cook County court "demanding Treatment for the Plaintiff." [37 ¶ 29]. The court ordered treatment, but Plaintiff still did not receive any. [37 ¶ 29]. On December 30, Defendant Dr. David Kelner prescribed medication to Plaintiff. [37 ¶ 27].

Plaintiff's quest to receive treatment continued into the new year. On January 4, 2011, he filed a third grievance. [37 ¶ 24]. He was still denied "adequate treatment," [37 ¶ 24], and his attorney sought and obtained a second court order for treatment on January 6. [37 ¶ 30]. When the CCDOC divisional chief came to his cell to conduct a routine search on January 8, Plaintiff showed him the court orders and prescriptions. [37 ¶ 25]. The chief and Defendant Sergeant Carter promised to get Plaintiff an evaluation, but they failed to do so. [37 ¶ 25]. On January 12, Plaintiff's attorney reminded the divisional superintendent about Plaintiff's "serious medical needs." [37 ¶ 31]. Plaintiff still did not receive treatment. [37 ¶ 31].

On January 18, Plaintiff told a jail officer that he was having chest pains. [37 ¶ 26]. Plaintiff was taken to Cermak, where he begged for treatment for his mental illnesses. [37 ¶ 26]. On January 31, Plaintiff received a response rejecting his grievances. It stated, "per patient care, patient was seen by psychiatrist -- no meds were ordered." [37 ¶ 27]. Plaintiff alleges the response was false because Defendant Dr. Kelner prescribed him medication on December 30. [37 ¶ 27].

On February 7, a jail officer rescued Plaintiff from an attempt to hang himself. [37 ¶ 32]. "On a later date," Plaintiff took "scores of pills" in a second suicide attempt. [37 ¶ 33]. He was rushed to Cermak and given medication for his mental illnesses. [37 ¶ 33]. Upon his return to the Jail, however, he did not receive further treatment. [37 ¶ 35].

II. Legal Standard

The purpose of a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss is not to decide the merits of the case; a Rule 12(b)(6) motion tests the sufficiency of the complaint. Gibson v. City of Chi., 910 F.2d 1510, 1520 (7th Cir. 1990). In reviewing a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), the Court takes as true all factual allegations in Plaintiff's complaint and draws all reasonable inferences in his favor. Killingsworth v. HSBC Bank Nev., N.A., 507 F.3d 614, 618 (7th Cir. 2007). To survive a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, the claim first must comply with Rule 8(a) by providing "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief" (Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2)), such that the defendant is given "fair notice of what the * * * claim is and the grounds upon which it rests." Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (quoting Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 47 (1957)). Second, the factual allegations in the claim must be sufficient to raise the possibility of relief above the "speculative level," assuming that all of the allegations in the complaint are true. E.E.O.C. v. Concentra Health Servs., Inc., 496 F.3d 773, 776 (7th Cir. 2007) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555). "A pleading that offers 'labels and conclusions' or a 'formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do.'" Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555). However, "[s]pecific facts are not necessary; the statement need only give the defendant fair notice of what the * * * claim is and the grounds upon which it rests." ...

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