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Jones v. Dart

United States District Court, Seventh Circuit

September 11, 2013

QUINTIN JONES, Plaintiff,
v.
TOM DART, COOK COUNTY, OFFICER STAMPLEY, OFFICER TANKSON, and OFFICER HARRIS, Defendants.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

HARRY D. LEINENWEBER, District Judge.

Before the Court is Defendants Cook County and Tom Dart's Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff's Second Amended Complaint. For the reasons stated herein, the Motion is granted in part and denied in part.

I. BACKGROUND

Plaintiff Quintin Jones (hereinafter, "Plaintiff" or "Jones") brings the instant suit against Defendants Cook County, Sheriff Tom Dart, and Cook County Officers Stampley, Tankson, and Harris (collectively, the "Defendants"). In his Complaint, Plaintiff alleges Defendants are liable for violations of 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for deliberate indifference to his medical needs.

Specifically, Plaintiff alleges that he was a pretrial detainee at Cook County jail on November 20, 2010 when he broke his right fibula bone. He claims he reported his injury to Officer Tankson immediately, but Tankson informed Plaintiff he needed to complete a medical request form. Pursuant to these instructions, Plaintiff submitted three medical request forms seeking emergency medical care. Despite these submissions, Plaintiff states that he was not provided any medical assistance. Allegedly, he informed Defendants Tankson, Stampley, and Harris that he believed his leg was broken and that he needed immediate medical attention, but they failed to take action.

Plaintiff continued to seek medical assistance over the next few weeks. He filed at least two formal grievances, but did not receive any medical care until December 16, 2010. At this time, the attending physician told Plaintiff his fibular fracture may not heal completely. Plaintiff claims this was because of the delay in receiving treatment. Additionally, when he was treated in December 2010, Plaintiff states his physician prescribed him medication for his pain. Plaintiff also claims Defendants failed to provide him this medication even after he filed a formal grievance.

On November 19, 2012, Plaintiff filed a pro se Complaint, a Motion to proceed in forma pauperis and a Motion for appointment of counsel. See, ECF Nos. 1, 3, 4. The Court granted Plaintiff's Motion to proceed in forma pauperis, denied the Motion for appointment of counsel, and terminated Cook County Jail and Cermak Health Services as defendants pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. See, ECF No. 6. In February 2013, Plaintiff retained counsel and filed an Amended Complaint. In the Amended Complaint, Plaintiff added Defendant Cook County. See, ECF No. 22. Defendants Harris, Stampley, and Tankson ("the Individual Defendants"), answered the Second Amended Complaint while Defendants Cook County and Dart ("the Municipality Defendants") filed a Motion to Dismiss. See, ECF No. 27. Currently before the Court is Defendants Dart and Cook County's Motion to Dismiss.

II. LEGAL STANDARD

A motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) tests the sufficiency of the complaint, not the merits of the suit. See, Gibson v. City of Chicago, 910 F.2d 1510, 1520 (7th Cir. 1990). At the dismissal stage, the Court takes all well-pleaded allegations of the complaint as true and views them in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. Appert v. Morgan Stanley Dean Witter, Inc., 673 F.3d 609, 622 (7th Cir. 2012). To satisfy the notice-pleading standard of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8, a complaint must contain a "short and plain statement of the claim showing that the plaintiff is entitled to relief, " and provide the defendant fair notice of the claim and its basis. FED. R. CIV. P. 8(a)(2); Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 545, 555 (2007).

III. ANALYSIS

Defendants Dart and Cook County seek to dismiss Plaintiff's Complaint entirely. They argue his Section 1983 claim fails because it is time barred and fails to state a claim. They also ask the Court to strike Plaintiff's prayer for punitive damages.

Section 1983 provides litigants a cause of action for the deprivation of any right guaranteed by the Constitution or federal law by persons acting under color of state law. 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Correctional officers violate an inmate's constitutional rights by acting with deliberate indifference toward an inmate's serious medical needs. See, Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 104 (1976); Fields v. Smith, 653 F.3d 550, 554 (7th Cir. 2011).

The Supreme Court has recognized that "deliberate indifference to serious medical needs of prisoners" may constitute cruel and unusual punishment under the Eighth Amendment. Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 104 (1976); Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 832 (1994). Although the Eighth Amendment applies only to convicted persons, pretrial detainees, like Plaintiff, are entitled to the same basic protections under the Fourteenth Amendment's due process clause. See, Minix v. Canarecci, 597 F.3d 824, 831 (7th Cir. 2010). Accordingly, the same legal ...


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