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Cooper v. Dart

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

August 6, 2014

LAMAR COOPER, Plaintiff,



Plaintiff, Lamar Cooper, filed a pro se complaint on July 1, 2010, and a later Amended Complaint, claiming that Nurse Judy Price, David Fagus (former Chief Operating Officer of Cermak Health Services of Cook County), and Thomas Dart, Sheriff of Cook County, violated his constitutional rights by providing deficient medical care and knowingly disregarded the risk of serious harm. Defendants move for summary judgment [116], arguing that Nurse Price was not deliberately indifferent to Cooper's medical needs, that Cooper failed to establish that the changing of his bandages constituted a serious medical need, the totality of Cooper's medical needs were adequately addressed, and Nurse Price is entitled to qualified immunity. For the reasons stated below, this Court grants defendants' motion as to Sheriff Dart and David Fagus in their individual capacities and denies the remainder of the motion.


The relevant facts are largely undisputed. Cooper is a pretrial detainee at the Cook County Department of Corrections ("CCDOC"). In September 2008, just prior to his arrest, he received multiple gunshot wounds and was in a coma at Stroger Hospital for over a month. While at Stroger hospital, Cooper had extensive surgeries. These surgeries included a sternotomy, thoracotomy, and tracheotomy. He also had the right lobe of his lung removed, pins placed in his wrist, and had repairs to his collarbone and femur. As a result of the wounds, Cooper's lungs, intestines, and colon were partially removed. Cooper also had other medical procedures to treat various wounds. Cooper's colostomy, was not precisely a colostomy, it was a natural forming enterocautaneous fistula ("fistula").

Cooper was wheelchair bound and dependent on wound vacuums when he transferred from the hospital to Division Eight of Cook County Jail in late December 2008. Approximately one year later, Cooper was transferred to Division Ten of the Jail. On December 3, 2008, Cooper was transferred to Cermak Heath Services ("Cermak") within Cook County Jail. During Cooper's stay at Cermak, he received medical care overseen by his primary care physician. She coordinated daily care for his ongoing medical needs, coordinated with specialists at Stroger hospital as well as emergent care when necessary. Cooper's daily medical care included wound care and dressings for one year: from December 2008 to December of 2009. On multiple instances, Cooper alleges that his fecal bag and dressings were not properly cared for and he suffered burns and permanent scarring on his abdomen and genital area from gastric acids leaking from the fecal bag. Cooper alleges inadequate medical care of his fistula on December 15, 19, 24, 2009.

On December 14, 2009, Cooper was transferred from Cermak to Division 10 of Cook County. Division 10 is a medical division that houses detainees with medical needs. Defendant Nurse Price was a charge nurse. As a charge nurse she had the authority to delegate to other nurses on a particular shift. Nurse Price's responsibilities included ensuring that detainees receive proper and adequate medical attention.

Enterocutaneous fistulas are common after major abdominal surgery. Fistulas develop when tissue from the intestine and the skin fuse together, providing a direct opening from the outside into the intestine. They are open wounds that require frequent dressing changes. A fistula presents a risk of skin irritation, infection, dehydration, and sepsis. Untreated, a fistula may result in severe and life threatening conditions. Cooper's fistula drained feces, gastric acid, and "stool colored stuff." It is undisputed that Dr. Mohamed Mansour, the primary care physician for the Division, had never seen Cooper's fistula with any sign of infection.

Daily care for Cooper's wound included cleaning the area, applying protective, paste affixing a bag to collect drainage using bandages and gauze and emptying the bag if needed. Cooper maintains that everyone was aware of the wound and its status, including Nurse Price. In order to arrange for any medical care, inmates had to either fill out a form or make a verbal request. At Division 10, physicians give orders regarding medical treatment, such as wound care, and the nurses carry them out. Health care providers see detainees in the dispensary. Nurses are not allowed into detainees' cells. Officers are not present for medical exams. Detainee visits to the dispensary are reflected in logbooks. According to procedure, sometimes detainees sign in themselves, sometimes detainees are signed in by Jail or Cermak personnel.

December 15, 2009-First Interaction between Nurse Price and Cooper

Cooper's first interaction with Nurse Price was on December 15, 2009, in the dispensary. He also met with Dr. Mansour, and was scheduled for a follow up exam on December 30, 2009. Cooper had issues with his bandage for approximately 18 hours prior to this visit to the dispensary. Nurse Price refused Dr. Mansour's request that she clean the area around the fistula. Nurse Price stated that she did not have any more bags and left to clock out. Cooper requested treatment, but was sent back to his cell without a bandage change. He had stool and gastric acid on his body and clothing, and stated that he felt burning. Nurse Hall changed Cooper's bandage approximately three hours later. Cooper is unsure if Nurse Price sent Nurse Hall to tend to his wounds on this date, but nurses can delegate duties to nurses beginning their shift.

December 16-18, 2009

Medical care providers at Cermak saw Cooper on December 16 and December 17, 2009, but did not receive a bandage change on December 16. Plaintiff did not complain about medical treatment in any grievance regarding the medical care he received on December 16. On December 17, when Cooper was in the Divisions 10 dispensary, Nurse Price told an officer to get Cooper out of the dispensary; Cooper did not receive any wound care at that time but cannot recall that date specifically. On December 18, 2009, Cooper received a bandage change at the dispensary from Nurse Austin. Nurse Austin, who was very familiar with his wound, said it was getting worse when she changed his bandage. The documents related to the wound care on December 18, 2009, reflect a surgical wound with a small amount of yellow discharge.

December 19 & 23, 2009

On December 19, 2009, Cooper went to the dispensary where Dr. Patel told Nurse Price to change his fecal bag and dressing. Nurse Price refused. A different nurse changed Plaintiff's fecal bag dressing ten minutes later. On December 23, Cooper makes the same allegations as he made on December 19: Nurse Price refused to change his bandage and then ten minutes later another nurse changed his bandages. On or around December 23, 2009, a similar incident occurred where Nurse Price refused to change his bandage and a ten-minute ...

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