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Harper v. Dart

United States District Court, N.D. Illinois

October 20, 2014

Bednago Harper (#XXXX-XXXXXXX), Plaintiff,
Thomas J. Dart, et. Defendants.


JOHN J. THARP, Jr., District Judge.

The defendants' motion to dismiss [#42] is granted. The amended complaint is dismissed without prejudice pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). The plaintiff is granted thirty days in which to submit a second amended complaint curing pleading deficiencies. The clerk is directed to provide the plaintiff with an amended complaint form, instructions, and two blank USM-285 forms along with a copy of this order. Failure of the plaintiff to comply within thirty days will result in summary dismissal of this case in its entirety.


The plaintiff, an inmate in the custody of the Cook County Department of Corrections, has brought this pro se civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. ยง 1983. The plaintiff claims that correctional officials and a physician at the jail violated his constitutional rights by acting with deliberate indifference to his serious medical needs. More specifically, the plaintiff alleges that he was denied prompt and adequate care and treatment for an eye infection. The plaintiff additionally contends that the Cook County Sheriff has an "established policy and practice" of failing to provide prompt treatment to pretrial detainees with serious or potentially serious medical conditions. This matter is before the court for ruling on two defendants' motion to dismiss the amended complaint for failure to state a claim. For the reasons stated in this order, the motion is granted.

Legal Standards

It is well established that pro se complaints are to be liberally construed. Luevano v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., 722 F.3d 1014, 1027 (7th Cir. 2013). Pro se submissions are held to a less stringent standard than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers. Bridges v. Gilbert, 557 F.3d 541, 546 (7th Cir. 2009). Rule 8(a)(2) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure requires only "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief, " in order to "give the defendant fair notice of what the... claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.'" Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (quoting Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 47 (1957)); Windy City Metal Fabricators & Supply, Inc. v. CIT Tech. Fin. Servs., Inc., 536 F.3d 663, 667 (7th Cir. 2008).

To satisfy the notice pleading requirements of Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2), a plaintiff need only state his basic legal claim and provide "some indication... of time and place." Thompson v. Washington, 362 F.3d 969, 971 (7th Cir. 2004). In addition, when considering whether to dismiss a complaint for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted, the court assumes all factual allegations in the complaint to be true, viewing all factsBas well as any inferences reasonably drawn therefromBin the light most favorable to the plaintiff. Bell Atlantic Corp., 550 U.S. at 563 (citing Swierkiewicz v. Sorema N.A., 534 U.S. 506, 514 (2002)); Parish v. City of Elkhart, 614 F.3d 677, 679 (7th Cir. 2010). A well-pleaded complaint may proceed even if it appears "that actual proof of those facts is improbable, and that a recovery is very remote and unlikely." Bell Atlantic Corp., 550 U.S. at 556.

Nevertheless, the factual allegations in the complaint must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level. Id. at 555. While a complaint does not need detailed factual allegations, a plaintiff's obligation to provide the grounds of his entitlement to relief requires more than mere labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do. Bell Atlantic Corp., 550 U.S. at 555 (citations omitted). The court "need not accept as true legal conclusions, or threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements." Brooks v. Ross, 578 F.3d 574, 581 (7th Cir. 2009). "The complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Bonte v. U.S. Bank, N.A., 624 F.3d 461, 463 (7th Cir. 2010) (citing Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009)). Furthermore, a plaintiff can plead himself or herself out of court by pleading facts that undermine the allegations set forth in the complaint. See, e.g., Whitlock v. Brown, 596 F.3d 406, 412 (7th Cir. 2010) (citations omitted) ("A judicial admission trumps evidence. This is the basis of the principle that a plaintiff can plead himself out of court.").


The plaintiff is a pretrial detainee at the Cook County Jail. Defendant Thomas Dart is the Sheriff of Cook County. Defendant Salim Dawalibi is a staff physician at the jail.[1]

The plaintiff alleges the following facts, assumed true for purposes of the motion to dismiss:

The plaintiff was booked into the jail on November 12, 2011. On February 16, 2014, the plaintiff requested medical attention for a swollen and inflamed left eye. He was admitted to the dispensary, where a nurse [who is unidentified, and not named as a defendant] examined his eye and said she could find nothing wrong. The nurse sent the plaintiff back to his housing unit without providing treatment.

After spending three days experiencing "persistent redness, swelling, and irritation of inflamed left eye, " the plaintiff returned to the health care unit on February 19, 2014. Defendant Dawalibi examined the plaintiff and provided him with a topical ointment for dry eyes even though the plaintiff was not suffering from dry eyes. Rather, his eye was extremely red, visibly swollen, and discharging fluid.

Two days later, the plaintiff repeatedly asked defendant Keating for permission to go to the health care unit because his condition had deteriorated to the point that he was experiencing "intense burning pain" and his eye was still visibly red and swollen. Keating kept telling the plaintiff that he would "make a call, " but the officer did not do so during his shift. The plaintiff was unable to seek help at the medical unit until he pleaded with another officer during the next shift. At that time, a different doctor properly diagnosed and treated the plaintiff for an infection. The plaintiff maintains that he has ...

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