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Merritte v. County of Lasalle

United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division

March 13, 2014

COUNTY OF LASALLE, et al., Defendants.



This matter is before the court on Defendants' motions for summary judgment and motion to strike. For the reasons stated below, the motions for summary judgment are granted and the motion to strike is denied.


Plaintiff Calvin Merritte (Merritte) is a convicted felon and is currently incarcerated in an Illinois Department of Corrections facility. On September 16, 2010, Merritte was temporarily transferred to the LaSalle County Jail (Jail), while he attended certain civil court proceedings unrelated to his felony convictions. Merritte remained at the Jail for six days until September 22, 2010. Merritte claims that he was denied access in the Jail to certain prescription medication, and that he suffered allergic reactions while in the Jail that resulted in hives. Merritte also contends that he filed grievances relating to his allergic reactions and that Defendants failed to respond to the grievances. Merritte further contends that he was placed in segregation at the Jail, was denied access to legal materials, and was unable to make copies. Merritte filed a pro se amended complaint in this action and seeks to bring federal constitutional claims pursuant to 42 U.S.C. ยง 1983 (Section 1983). Merritte names as Defendants the County of LaSalle, Thomas Templeton, Shelley Kessler, James Fultz, Jason Edgcomb, and Karen Edgcomb (collectively referred to as "County Defendants"). Merritte also names as Defendants Correctional Healthcare Companies, Inc. (CHC), Synthia Peterson (Peterson), Diane Strack (Strack), Tina Craig (Craig), and Virginia Black (Black) (collectively referred to as "CHC Defendants"). County Defendants and CHC Defendants now move for summary judgment on all claims. CHC Defendants also move to strike Merritte's response to their motion for summary judgment. The record reflects that Merritte was provided with a pro se summary judgment notice consistent with Local Rule 56.2.


Summary judgment is appropriate when the record, viewed in the light most favorable to the non-moving party, reveals that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c); Smith v. Hope School, 560 F.3d 694, 699 (7th Cir. 2009). A "genuine issue" of material fact in the context of a motion for summary judgment is not simply a "metaphysical doubt as to the material facts." Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co., Ltd. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986). Rather, a genuine issue of material fact exists when "the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986); Insolia v. Philip Morris, Inc., 216 F.3d 596, 599 (7th Cir. 2000). In ruling on a motion for summary judgment, the court must consider the record as a whole, in the light most favorable to the non-moving party, and draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the non-moving party. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 255; Bay v. Cassens Transport Co., 212 F.3d 969, 972 (7th Cir. 2000).


I. CHC Defendants' Motion to Strike

CHC Defendants move to strike Merritte's response to their motion for summary judgment. CHC Defendants argue that Merritte's response significantly exceeds the page limits for such a brief and that Merritte did not seek leave of court for such an oversized brief. Merritte is proceeding pro se in this case and although he is still bound by the rules of this court, the court, in its discretion, will allow Merritte to present the additional pages for his response since Merritte is not represented by counsel. Therefore, CHC Defendants' motion to strike is denied. The court also notes that Merritte has made a variety of filings in this case opposing Defendants' motions for summary judgment. The court has fully considered all such filings made by Merritte in ruling on the instant motions.

II. CHC Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment

CHC Defendants move for summary judgment on all claims brought against them. For a deliberate indifference claim, a plaintiff "must satisfy two elements, one objective and one subjective." McGee v. Adams, 721 F.3d 474, 480-81 (7th Cir. 2013)(explaining that the objective element requires the plaintiff to "present evidence supporting the conclusion that he had an objectively serious medical need")(internal quotations omitted)(quoting King v. Kramer, 680 F.3d 1013, 1018 (7th Cir. 2012)). The "deliberate indifference to serious medical needs of prisoners, " violates the Eighth Amendment prohibition against "cruel and unusual punishment...." McGowan v. Hulick, 612 F.3d 636, 640 (7th Cir. 2010)(stating that "[a] delay in treatment may constitute deliberate indifference if the delay exacerbated the injury or unnecessarily prolonged an inmate's pain"). However, mere negligence, "even gross negligence, does not violate the Constitution." Id.

A. Serious Medical Need

CHC Defendants argue that there is not sufficient evidence that shows that Merritte was suffering from a serious medical need during the relevant six-day period. A serious medical need is defined as a medical need "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." Foelker v. Outagamie County, 394 F.3d 510, 512-13 (7th Cir. 2005)(quoting Jackson v. Illinois Medi-Car, Inc., 300 F.3d 760, 765 (7th Cir. 2002)); Freeman v. Quinn, 2010 WL 2402917, at *2 (S.D. Ill. 2010)(stating that "[i]n attempting to define serious medical needs, ' the Seventh Circuit has held that they encompass not only conditions that are life threatening or that carry risks of permanent, serious impairment if left untreated, but also those in which the deliberately indifferent withholding of medical care results in needless pain and suffering").

Merritte contends that beginning on September 16, 2010, and through September 20, 2010, he was suffering "severe allergic reactions" for what Merritte claims is a "life threatening chronic problem, " and that he had "difficulty breathing, lip and face swellings, and hives covering his entire body...." (R MDSF Med. Tr. Par. 16); (DE 99: 6); (DE 9 Par. 30). Although Merritte contends that his "life threatening severe allergic" reactions that began on September 16, 2010, were "self-reported" by Merritte, the Sick Call Request Forms submitted by Merritte during the time in question indicate no such condition. (DE 99: 6). The undisputed record shows that on September 16, 2010, Merritte submitted a Sick Call Request Form (9/16 Form). (9/16/10 Form). Although Merritte now claims that he was suffering from a severe allergic reaction at that point, he failed to provide any such information on the 9/16 Form on the lines that were provided for him to explain the reason for his request. (9/16/10 Form). Also, although ...

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