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James v. Pelker

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

April 17, 2014

JULIUS JAMES, # R-19702, Plaintiff,
v.
SEARGENT PELKER, J. KILPATRICK, C/O MAYER, E. WENZEL, and HILLERMAN, Defendants.

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

MICHAEL J. REAGAN, District Judge.

Plaintiff, currently incarcerated at Pontiac Correctional Center ("Pontiac"), has brought this pro se civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. His claims arose while he was confined at Menard Correctional Center ("Menard"), where he alleges that Defendants forcibly injected him with psychotropic medication without his consent.

More specifically, Plaintiff states that on April 12, 2013, Defendant Sergeant Pelker held him while the Jane Doe Nurse[1] injected him with Haldol (Doc. 1, p. 5). The Defendant Nurse heard Plaintiff refuse the medication, but gave it to him anyway. Defendant Hillerman (psychologist or mental health professional) knew Plaintiff had refused the Haldol, but watched other Defendants administer the drug, and "lied about [Plaintiff] being on involuntary medication." Id.

Defendant Mayer (a correctional officer) "was in concert with defendants to bring [Plaintiff] under the illusion [he] was on involuntary medication." Id. Defendants Mayer, Kilpatrick, and Wenzel (also correctional officers), as well as Defendant Hillerman, "participated in influence or failed to intervene" when Defendants Pelker and Jane Doe gave Plaintiff the shot (Doc. 1, pp. 5-6).

Plaintiff asserts that his Eighth and Fourteenth Amendment rights were violated, and requests damages and unspecified injunctive relief (Doc. 1, pp. 6-7).

Merits Review Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A

Under § 1915A, the Court is required to conduct a prompt threshold review of the complaint, and to dismiss any claims that are frivolous, malicious, fail to state a claim on which relief may be granted, or seek monetary relief from an immune defendant.

Accepting Plaintiff's allegations as true, the Court finds that at this early stage of the litigation, Plaintiff has articulated a colorable federal cause of action against Defendants Pelker, Jane Doe Nurse, and Hillerman for violating Plaintiff's Fourteenth Amendment due process rights by administering psychotropic medication without his consent (Count 1). However, the complaint fails to state a claim that Defendants violated his Eighth Amendment right to be free of cruel and unusual punishment (Count 2).

Count 1 - Fourteenth Amendment

In Washington v. Harper, 494 U.S. 210 (1990), the Supreme Court held that a prisoner has "a significant liberty interest in avoiding the unwanted administration of antipsychotic drugs under the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment." Id. at 221-22. However, the "Clause permits the State to treat a prison inmate who has a serious mental illness with antipsychotic drugs against his will, if the inmate is dangerous to himself or others and the treatment is in the inmate's medical interest." Id. at 227. See also Fuller v. Dillon, 236 F.3d 876, 881-82 (7th Cir. 2001); Sullivan v. Flannigan, 8 F.3d 591 (7th Cir. 1993) (finding that decision to keep prisoner on Haldol against his will complied with due process requirements under Harper ).

Harper emphasized several aspects of an inmate's right to refuse drug treatment. First, to administer involuntary treatment the state must find that medication is in the prisoner's medical interest (independent of institutional concerns). 494 U.S. at 227 , 110 S.Ct. at 1039. Second, the tribunal or panel that reviews a treating physician's decision to prescribe forced medication must exercise impartial and independent judgment, taking account of the inmate's best interest. Id. at 222, 233, 110 S.Ct. at 1036, 1042; compare id. at 250-53, 110 S.Ct. at 1051-53 (Stevens, J., dissenting). Third, the prisoner must be able to argue capably before a review tribunal that he does not need forced medication. Id. at 233, 110 S.Ct. at 1042. If the state failed to meet these requirements in a particular case, the prisoner could argue that he was denied Harper's protections.

Sullivan, 8 F.3d at 598. The Illinois Administrative Code contains the procedures, adopted in the wake of Harper, which must be followed when a prison psychiatrist or doctor believes that psychotropic medication is necessary but the inmate refuses to consent. ILL. ADMIN. CODE tit. 20, § 415.70.

In Plaintiff's case, he alleges that the Jane Doe Defendant Nurse, along with Defendants Pelker and Hillerman, injected him with Haldol against his will and despite him telling them that he refused to consent to the medication. The complaint does not disclose whether the notice and hearing procedures in § 415.70 of the Code were followed, or whether there was an emergency that required immediate use of the drug before a hearing could be held. However, he does imply some lapse in this procedure by claiming that Defendant Hillerman "lied about [him] being on involuntary medication" (Doc. 1, p. 5). At this stage of the litigation, the Court must give liberal interpretation to Plaintiff's factual allegations. See Rodriguez v. Plymouth Ambulance Serv., 577 F.3d 816, 821 (7th Cir. 2009). Accordingly, Plaintiff's claim that Defendants Pelker, Hillerman, and the Jane Doe Nurse denied him due process when they forcibly gave him psychotropic medication is not subject to dismissal at this time.

However, Plaintiff's allegations do not indicate that the three other correctional officers, Defendants Kilpatrick, Mayer, and Wenzel, were personally involved in forcibly administering the medication. They are not medical providers, there is no indication that they were involved in the decision as to whether or not Plaintiff could be medicated, and it is not clear whether they were present at the time he had the injection. Even if they were on the scene, the Court cannot discern any duty on ...


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