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Green v. Kaupas

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

December 5, 2014

EDWARD GREEN, Plaintiff,
v.
SHERIFF PAUL KAUPAS, DR. H. HARMSTON, DR. ELAZEGUI ROZEL, NURSE BARBARA MILLER, JOHN DOES 1-4, and CORRECT CARE SOLUTIONS, LLC, Defendants.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

JAMES F. HOLDERMAN, District Judge.

On June 28, 2013, plaintiff Edward Green ("Green"), who is currently incarcerated at the Dixon Correctional Center in Dixon, Illinois, filed a pro se complaint (Dkt. Nos. 1, 10) against defendants Dr. H. Harmston, Dr. Elazegui Rozel, Nurse Barbara Miller, and Sheriff Paul Kaupas. Green's original complaint alleged that he received inadequate medical care for a lung condition while he was housed at the Will County Jail.[1] ( Id. at 6-8.) Although Green filed his complaint more than a year ago, the case failed to get off the ground because of Green's repeated failure to respond to the defendants' motions to dismiss. (Dkt. Nos. 16, 27.) On July 28, 2014, however, after receiving a letter from Green, the court denied defendants' motions to dismiss and revisited its previous denials of Green's requests for counsel. (Dkt. No. 55.) The court appointed Green pro bono counsel, who on October 3, 2014 filed an amended complaint ("Amended Complaint") (Dkt. No. 64 ("Am. Compl.")) naming Correct Care Solutions, LLC ("Correct Care") and John Does 1-4 as additional defendants. On October 24, 2014, Correct Care filed a motion to dismiss Green's Amended Complaint pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). (Dkt. No. 71.) Although the court set a briefing schedule on November 13, 2014, (Dkt. No. 76), Green need not file a response. For the reasons explained below, Correct Care's motion to dismiss (Dkt. No. 71) is denied.

RELEVANT FACTUAL BACKGROUND

Green is an Illinois state prisoner who is currently incarcerated at the Dixon Correctional Center. (Am. Compl. ¶ 3.) Between November 1, 2011 and August 30, 2012, which is the time period of the events underlying the Amended Complaint, Green was a pretrial detainee in the custody of the Will County Jail in Joliet, Illinois. ( Id. ) Correct Care was, at least at all times relevant to the allegations, a Kansas limited liability company that provided health services to inmates at the Will County Jail pursuant to an Agreement for Inmate Health Services dated January 12, 2007, as amended on November 1, 2009. ( Id. ¶ 5.)

On November 1, 2011, Green was arrested and detained in the Will County Jail pending trial for various charges in Will County and DuPage County. (Am. Compl. ¶ 17.) During his intake at the Will County Jail, Green informed the jail staff of the prescription medications he was taking at the time. These included Letairis to treat his pulmonary arterial hypertension ("PAH"). ( Id. ¶ 18.) PAH is a chronic, life-threatening lung condition that causes the pulmonary arteries in the lungs to narrow and places Green at high risk for pulmonary embolisms. ( Id. ¶¶ 10-13.) PAH can result in serious and, if untreated, fatal medical conditions. ( Id. ¶¶ 12, 14.) Green told the intake staff that he had been taking Letairis for approximately four months prior to his incarceration to treat his lung condition, and emphasized that it was the most important of all his medications. ( Id. ¶ 18.)

Over the next several months, Green repeatedly asked the Will County Jail medical staff to be given Letairis and emphasized that without the drug, he was likely to suffer serious medical complications. ( Id. ¶ 20.) Despite his "dozens of pleas, " the medical staff refused to provide Letairis, purportedly because Will County Jail did not have a license to dispense the drug. ( Id. ¶¶ 21-22.) On January 20, 2012, Green was examined by his personal pulmonologist, Dr. Labadidy, who recommended that Green receive Letairis. ( Id. ¶ 42.) On January 27, 2012, Green began violently coughing up blood and was taken to the hospital by ambulance. ( Id. ¶ 43.) He remained in the hospital for eight days during which he was examined by Dr. Labadidy and prescribed Letairis. ( Id. ¶ 7.) Even after his discharge, in contravention of his doctor's prescription, Will County Jail refused to provide Letairis until late July or early August of 2012 because of the purported licensing issue. ( Id. ¶ 31.) According to Green's Amended Complaint, however, there was no special licensing issue at the time that would have prevented Will County Jail from prescribing and dispensing Letairis. ( Id. ¶ 32.) Green regularly coughed up blood and suffered from shortness of breath until he finally received Letairis in the summer of 2012. ( Id. ¶ 33-34.) He filed a grievance about his inadequate medical care at Will County Jail but did not receive a ruling before his transfer to Dixon Correctional Center. ( Id. ¶¶ 36-41, 54.)

As discussed above, Green filed his original complaint in the Western Division on June 28, 2013. (Dkt. No. 1.) His case progressed slowly-largely because of Green's own delays- until the court appointed Green counsel on July 28, 2014. (Dkt. No. 55.) On October 3, 2014, Green's counsel filed the Amended Complaint, naming Correct Care as a defendant for the first time. (Am. Compl. at 1.) Correct care has moved to dismiss Green's claims against the company pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) because, according to Correct Care, Green's claims are time-barred. (Dkt. No. 71.)

LEGAL STANDARD

Under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, a complaint need contain only "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). The complaint must "give the defendant fair notice of what the... claim is and the grounds upon which it rests." Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (quoting Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 47 (1957)). Although "detailed factual allegations" are not required, "labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do." Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. The complaint must "include sufficient facts to state a claim for relief that is plausible on its face.'" Cole v. Milwaukee Area Tech. Coll. Dist., 634 F.3d 901, 903 (7th Cir. 2011) (quoting Justice v. Town of Cicero, 577 F.3d 768, 771 (7th Cir. 2009)). "A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). In ruling on a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, the court "construe[s] the... [c]omplaint in the light most favorable to Plaintiff, accepting as true all well-pleaded facts and drawing all possible inferences in his favor." Cole, 634 F.3d at 903.

ANALYSIS

Correct Care's motion to dismiss provides only one basis for dismissal, which is that Green's claims against the company are barred by the applicable statute of limitations. (Dkt. No. 71 at 2-3.) The statute of limitations is an affirmative defense and typically inappropriate as a basis for dismissal under Rule 12(b)(6). Doe v. GTE Corp., 347 F.3d 655, 657 (7th Cir. 2003). There is an exception to this general rule, however, if the allegations set forth in the complaint plainly reveal that an action is untimely. United States v. Lewis, 411 F.3d 838, 842 (7th Cir. 2005).

Green's claims arise under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Because Section 1983 itself does not provide an explicit statute of limitations, courts adopt the statute of limitations for personal injury in the state where the injury occurred. See Savory v. Lyons, 469 F.3d 667, 672 (7th Cir. 2006) (collecting cases). In Illinois, the limitations period for § 1983 claims like Green's is two years. Id.

Green's alleged injury began on November 1, 2011 and ended, at the latest, on August 30, 2012. So the limitation period expired on August 30, 2014, a little more than one month before Green filed his Amended Complaint naming Correct Care for the first time as a defendant. Thus, absent a basis to toll the limitations period or otherwise extend the statute, Green's claims against Correct Care are time-barred.

Correct Care's concise motion fails to address the most obvious means of extension- relation back. Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15(c)(1), an amendment to a pleading ...


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