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Jones v. Bunt

United States District Court, Seventh Circuit

January 29, 2014

JOSHUA JARED JONES, #63582, Plaintiff,
v.
DONALD BUNT and BOBBIE UNFRIED, Defendants.

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

J. PHIL GILBERT, District Judge.

This matter comes before the Court for consideration of Plaintiff Joshua Jones' amended complaint (Doc. 6). Plaintiff filed the amended complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. In it, he claims that two Madison County Sheriff's Department employees, Donald Bunt and Bobbie Unfried, refused to treat his brain hemorrhage. Plaintiff now sues Defendants Bunt and Unfried for denying him medical care (Doc. 6, p. 5). He seeks compensatory damages (Doc. 6, p. 6).

This Court dismissed Plaintiff's original complaint (Doc. 1) without prejudice in an Order dated November 18, 2013 (Doc. 5). Plaintiff was granted leave to file an amended complaint by December 23, 2013. He has done so in a timely manner (Doc. 6).

Accordingly, this case is now before the Court for a preliminary review of the amended complaint. In the amended complaint, Plaintiff alleges that he was a convicted prisoner at the time of the events giving rise to this action and at the time he filed this lawsuit. Accordingly, the Court must review the amended complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A.

Under § 1915A, the Court is required to promptly screen prisoner complaints to filter out nonmeritorious claims. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). The Court is required to dismiss any portion of the amended complaint that is legally frivolous, malicious, fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or asks for money damages from a defendant who by law is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b). Upon careful review of the amended complaint, the Court finds that Plaintiff has stated a colorable medical needs claim against Defendants Bunt and Unfried as set forth below.

Amended Complaint

In August 2013, Plaintiff suffered severe head injuries after being beaten by an unknown individual (Doc. 6, p. 5). He sought treatment at Barnes-Jewish Hospital, where he was diagnosed with a brain hemorrhage. Immediate treatment was recommended. However, after medical staff described the recommended procedure, Plaintiff became scared and left the hospital. He did so against the advice of his care providers.

Plaintiff was convicted of an unspecified offense on October 9, 2013 (Doc. 6, p. 5). He was sentenced to two years of imprisonment in the Illinois Department of Corrections ("IDOC"). Plaintiff was ordered to report for this commitment on October 21, 2013. When he failed to do so, he was arrested on October 22, 2013. Plaintiff has since been held at Madison County Jail ("Jail") in Illinois, where he now faces additional charges for escape.

Upon his arrival at the Jail, Plaintiff informed Defendant Unfried, the Jail's head nurse, and Defendant Bunt, a Jail captain, about his medical condition and the need for prompt treatment (Doc. 6, p. 5). He continued to request treatment, in writing, on a daily basis thereafter. Although the Jail's medical staff ordered Plaintiff's medical records and confirmed his diagnosis, Defendants Unfried and Bunt ignored his requests for treatment. Plaintiff continues to suffer from pain and pressure in his brain.

According to the amended complaint, Barnes-Jewish personnel continue to call Plaintiff's house and urge his family to have Plaintiff treated (Doc. 6, p. 5). They have warned Plaintiff's family that permanent brain damage and even death are possible. Further testing and treatment are necessary. Plaintiff now seeks compensatory damages from Defendants Unfried and Bunt for their failure to treat his condition.

Discussion

After fully considering the allegations in the amended complaint, the Court finds that it states a colorable medical needs claim (Count 1) against Defendants Unfried and Bunt. As explained in the Court's original dismissal order (Doc. 5, pp. 4-5), different legal standards apply to medical claims of an arrestee (Fourth Amendment), pretrial detainee (Fourteenth Amendment), and prisoner (Eighth Amendment). The allegations in the amended complaint indicate that Plaintiff was a convicted prisoner at all relevant times.

The Eighth Amendment applies to medical claims brought by prisoners.[1] To state a medical claim, a detainee or prisoner must show that (1) he suffered from an objectively serious condition which created a substantial risk of harm, and (2) the defendants were aware of that risk and intentionally disregarded it. Minix v. Canarecci, 597 F.3d 824, 831 (7th Cir. 2010); Jackson v. Ill. Medi-Car, Inc., 300 F.3d 760, 764-65 (7th Cir. 2002).

The allegations in the complaint satisfy the objective prong of this test. A medical need is objectively "serious" if it is "one that has been diagnosed by a physician as mandating treatment or one that is so obvious that even a lay person would easily recognize the necessity for a doctor's attention." Gutierrez v. Peters, 111 F.3d 1364, 1371 (7th Cir. 1997). Plaintiff's unresolved brain hemorrhage was diagnosed in August 2013. Plaintiff alleges that the condition remains ...


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