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Fly v. Care

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

December 2, 2014

GEORGE FLY, # K-88451, Plaintiff,


STACI M. YANDLE, District Judge.

Plaintiff is currently incarcerated at Robinson Correctional Center ("Robinson"), where he is serving a seven-year sentence for a drug offense. He brings this pro se civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, based on alleged violations of his constitutional rights while he was a pretrial detainee at the Jefferson County Jail ("the Jail"). He claims that Defendants, health care providers at the Jail, were deliberately indifferent to his serious medical condition and violated his rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA"), 42 U.S.C. § 12132.

According to Plaintiff's complaint, he had surgery in 2010 or 2011 followed by a lengthy hospitalization and a stay in a nursing facility for rehabilitation. When he returned home, he was prescribed oxygen and several medications. Plaintiff has continued to need and use oxygen since that time (Doc. 1, p. 6). He says the oxygen is essential in helping him to breathe.

Plaintiff was arrested in November 2013 and taken to the Jail, where he informed Defendant Brown (the head nurse) about his need for oxygen and his other medications. However, she did not check with his doctor, refused to put Plaintiff on oxygen, and refused to provide some of his medications (Doc. 1, p. 7). Plaintiff's cellmate, however, received oxygen. When Defendant Brown overheard Plaintiff complaining to a visitor about this problem, she told him, "I do not have to go by what your doctor says." Id.

Three months went by before Plaintiff was allowed to see the Jail's doctor, Defendant Williams. He also failed to provide Plaintiff with the oxygen he needed. Plaintiff argues that the Defendants' refusal to give him oxygen was cruel and unusual punishment and violated the ADA.

At some point, Defendant Brown changed Plaintiff's blood pressure medication. Later, when Plaintiff was transferred to Graham Correctional Center, the doctor there said he should never have been on that medicine and switched him to a different prescription (Doc. 1, pp. 7-8).

Finally, Plaintiff complains that Defendant Vance Correctional Health Care, the medical provider for the jail, has a policy to charge Jefferson County Jail inmates for the cost of their medications (Doc. 1, p. 8). In contrast, he claims that inmates in other county jails such as Will, DuPage, and Cook Counties, are not charged for medications. He argues that this differential treatment is discriminatory and violates his Fourteenth Amendment rights to equal protection and due process.

Plaintiff seeks compensatory damages.

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 Plaintiff has articulated a colorable federal cause of action against Defendants Brown and Williams for deliberate indifference to medical needs, for their refusal to provide Plaintiff with oxygen that he needed in order to breathe (Count 1). He may also proceed on his ADA claim against Defendants Brown and Williams, in their official capacities, for the same conduct (Count 2).

However, Plaintiff fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted against Defendant Brown for refusing to provide him with other prescription medicines (Count 3) or for changing his blood pressure medication (Count 4). Likewise, no constitutional claim is stated against Defendant Vance Correctional Health Care for charging a fee for prescriptions (Count 5). Those claims shall be dismissed.

Count 1 - Deliberate Indifference to Serious Medical Needs

Civil rights claims by pretrial detainees arise under the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. See Budd v. Motley, 711 F.3d 840, 842 (7th Cir. 2013) (citing Rice ex rel. Rice v. Corr. Med. Servs., 675 F.3d 650, 664 (7th Cir. 2012)). See also Klebanowski v. Sheahan, 540 F.3d 633, 637 (7th Cir. 2008). Pretrial detainees are afforded " at least as much protection as the constitution provides convicted prisoners, " yet the Seventh Circuit has "found it convenient and entirely appropriate to apply the same standard to claims arising under the Fourteenth Amendment (detainees) and Eighth Amendment (convicted prisoners) without differentiation.'" Board v. Farnham, 394 F.3d 469, 477-78 (7th Cir. 2005) (emphasis in original) (quoting Henderson v. Sheahan, 196 F.3d 839, 845 n.2 (7th Cir. 1999), and citing Cavalieri v. Shepard, 321 F.3d 616, 620 (7th Cir. 2003)). Thus, in order to state a claim for deliberate indifference to his medical needs, Plaintiff's complaint must show that: (1) he suffered from an objectively serious condition which created a substantial risk of harm, and (2) the defendants were ...

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