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Kincaid v. Sangamon County

United States District Court, C.D. Illinois, Springfield Division

March 10, 2014

PAUL E. KINCAID, Plaintiff,
SANGAMON COUNTY, et al., Defendants.


SUE E. MYERSCOUGH, District Judge.

Plaintiff, proceeding pro se from his incarceration in Marion Penitentiary, pursues claims for deliberate indifference to his serious medical needs during his detention as a federal pretrial detainee held in the Sangamon County Jail.

Defendants move for summary judgment. At the summary judgment stage, the Court must resolve material disputes of fact in Plaintiff's favor. Deciding whether to believe Plaintiff is the jury's job. Stokes v. Board of Educ. of the City of Chicago , 599 F.3d 617 (7th Cir. 2010)("In deciding a motion for summary judgment, neither the district court nor this court may assess the credibility of witnesses, choose between competing reasonable inferences, or balance the relative weight of conflicting evidence.") Summary judgment must be denied if a reasonable jury could find in Plaintiff's favor. Milwaukee Deputy Sheriff's Ass'n v. Clarke , 574 F.3d 370, 376 (7th Cir. 2009).

Defendants' evidence shows that a reasonable jury could certainly find in Defendants' favor. Defendants have evidence that they reasonably responded to Plaintiff's need for medical treatment and that Plaintiff's description of his medical conditions are exaggerated.

However, a reasonable jury could also find in Plaintiff's favor. According to Plaintiff, Plaintiff essentially languished at death's door while Defendants ignored his repeated pleas. Thus, the resolution of this case belongs to the jury, not the judge. Summary judgment must be denied.


The facts in this section are set forth in the light most favorable to Plaintiff. The Court sets forth only the facts necessary to demonstrate that material disputes exist for the jury.

According to Plaintiff, he lost over 85 pounds from the beginning of his detention at the jail on September 6, 2006, to about the end of March, 2007, because of what he understood to be gastrointestinal reflux disease and a hiatal hernia. Plaintiff says that he had difficulty digesting the jail food, which caused him to vomit and experience digestive pain. (Pl.'s Aff. ¶ 5.) Plaintiff avers that he had been taking Prilosec/Nexium before his arrest and continued to do so in jail until Dr. Cullinan discontinued the medicine. Dr. Cullinan is not a Defendant in this case, but Plaintiff avers that he repeatedly informed Defendants Dr. Maurer and Nurse Brauer, both orally and in writing, about Plaintiff's problems digesting food, weight loss, and vomiting. (Pl.'s Aff. ¶¶ 6, 8.) According to Plaintiff, Dr. Maurer and Nurse Brauer effectively shrugged, told Plaintiff he needed to lose weight anyway, and refused to change Plaintiff's diet. Id.

On or around March 30, 2007, Plaintiff, 66 years old at the time, fell ill with a severe sore throat. Plaintiff avers that he could not swallow, was vomiting, had diarrhea, and could not eat or drink.

On April 1, 2007, Plaintiff informed Defendant Nurse Brauer, both orally and in writing, that Plaintiff was getting sicker, vomiting, coughing up blood, could not drink or eat, had diarrhea, and believed he had a sinus infection. (Pl.'s Aff. ¶ 16.) According to Plaintiff, Nurse Brauer admonished Plaintiff that he "whined too much" and sent Plaintiff away with no exam or treatment. By that evening, Plaintiff avers that his fever reached 104 degrees. (Pl.'s Aff. ¶ 18.) Defendant Dr. Maurer prescribed Cipro, an antibiotic, but Plaintiff asserts that he received nothing for his pain or dehydration. Dr. Maurer avers that Tylenol was prescribed for Plaintiff's pain, but Plaintiff diputes this, asserting the Tylenol prescription was temporary and only helped with his fever.

Dr. Maurer saw Plaintiff on April 2, 2007. Nurse Ramsey was present as well. According to Plaintiff, by this time Plaintiff was extremely and visibly ill, with excruciating pain, vomiting, diarrhea, bloody mucous from heavy coughing, and an inability to eat or drink. (Pl.'s Aff. ¶ 23.) According to Plaintiff, Dr. Maurer did nothing other than tell Plaintiff to take the Cipro with a glass of water, despite Plaintiff's obvious dehydration, reported inability to drink, and throat pain so severe Plaintiff had difficulty swallowing. (Pl.'s Aff. ¶ 24.)

Also on April 2, 2007, Plaintiff's criminal defense attorney, Jon Gray Noll, sent a letter to Defendant U.S. Marshal Cowdrey, expressing extreme concern about Plaintiff's condition and asking the U.S. Marshals Service to address Plaintiff's apparent failing health. Mr. Noll wrote about Plaintiff's 85 pound weight loss, difficulty maintaining fluids, and Plaintiff's belief that he had strep throat and a sinus infection.

In response to Attorney Noll's letter, Defendant Cowdrey spoke to Licensed Practical Nurse Nicey, an employee at the jail. Defendant Cowdrey's notes from that conversation, dated April 2, 2007, state that Plaintiff had been prescribed antibiotics, had no temperature, clear lungs, a sore throat, and would see Dr. Maurer on April 9, 2007. According to Defendant Cowdrey, Nurse Nicey told Cowdrey that Plaintiff's medical issues were being addressed, that no medical emergency was present, and that the weight loss was being monitored. However, two days later Plaintiff's friend, Steve Collins, phoned the Marshal's Office around 8:00 p.m. to report Plaintiff's worsening condition. Mr. Collins spoke to a female operator who told Mr. Collins that the message would be forwarded to Defendant Cowdrey. (Collins Aff. ¶ 39.) This is hearsay as to whether Cowdrey actually received the message, but a reasonable inference arises that Cowdrey would have received the message in the normal course of business.

According to Plaintiff, his condition continued to worsen. On April 4, 2007, Dr. Maurer and Nurse Ramsey saw Plaintiff again. Dr. Maurer avers that his examination of Plaintiff was unremarkable, but Plaintiff disputes this. Plaintiff describes himself as "in an emaciated state, in complete medical distress, " with severe dehydration and throat pain and an inability to eat or drink. (Pl.'s Aff. ¶ 39.) Plaintiff's sister, Judy Cooke, and a nearby cellmate of Plaintiff's, Stephen Puckett, offer their own affidavits to corroborate Plaintiff's own account of his severe and obvious deterioration during this time. Judy Cooke avers that Plaintiff looked like a "dead man walking" when she visited him-that "anyone who would have seen Paul on that day would have to be blind not to see a man in crisis and total distress." (Cooke Aff. ¶ 6, 11.) ...

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