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Johnson v. Godinez

United States District Court, Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division

January 9, 2015




Plaintiff Jerrold D. Johnson (“Johnson”) is proceeding with the assistance of recruited counsel. He filed an amended complaint on January 17, 2014, against S.A. Godinez, the Illinois Department of Corrections (“IDOC”), Marcus Hardy, Michael Magana, David Gomez, Arthur Funk, M.D., Imhotep Carter, M.D., Karen Robideau, K. Coakley, L. Dennis, Cyndi Garcia, R.N., Anna McBee, and Wexford Health Sources, Inc. (collectively, “Defendants”). Johnson alleges, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (Count I), Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C. § 12101, et seq. (Count II), and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, 29 U.S.C. § 794, et seq. (Count III), that Defendants exhibited deliberate indifference to his serious medical needs arising from his seizure disorder and have failed to reasonably accommodate his disability.

Defendants IDOC, Salvador Godinez, Marcus Hardy, Michael Magana, David Gomez, Karen Robideau, and Karemah Coakley (collectively, the “IDOC Defendants” or “IDOC”) seek to dismiss Johnson’s amended complaint pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6).

Additionally, because this motion to dismiss does not affect the counts against Defendants Funk, Carter, Garcia, or Wexford Health Sources, Inc. (collectively, the “Wexford Defendants”) or Count I (violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1983) against Defendants Hardy, Gomez, Robideau, Coakley, Dennis, and McBee, the IDOC Defendants request an extension of time in which to answer or otherwise plead to the remaining counts until thirty days after their motion to dismiss is resolved.

For the reasons stated below, the motion is denied in part and granted in part. IDOC’s motion to dismiss Johnson’s Amended Complaint is denied. IDOC’s requests that the court dismiss Johnson’s request for injunctive relief, Count I of the Amended Complaint against IDOC, and Counts II and III against IDOC are denied. The motion to dismiss individual defendants Godinez, Hardy, Magana, Gomez, Rabideau, Coakley, and Dennis in their official capacities is granted. The request for an extension of time to answer or otherwise plead on behalf of the Wexford Defendants and individual defendants for Count I is granted.

I. Facts

The court draws the following facts from Johnson’s amended complaint and accepts them as true for purposes of the motion to dismiss. See Cincinnati Life Ins. Co. v. Beyrer, 722 F.3d 939, 946 (7th Cir. 2013).

Johnson is an inmate at Stateville Correctional Center (“Stateville”), a correctional facility operated by the State of Illinois and IDOC. In approximately 2005, while in IDOC custody at an institution other than Stateville, Johnson developed a neurological condition called brain arteriovenous malformation. This condition results in frequent and severe seizures and impairs Johnson’s ability to walk without fear of falling.

Prior to being incarcerated at Stateville, Johnson underwent neurosurgery at the University of Illinois at Chicago Medical Center, received a prescription for anti-convulsant medication, and was issued a “low bunk/low gallery” permit to prevent injury in case of seizure during sleep. The low bunk/low gallery permit was also issued so Johnson could be housed in a ground floor cell that would allow for easy access to, and transportation from, Johnson’s cell during medical emergencies. Further, a ground floor cell would permit Johnson to freely participate in prison programs, services, and activities.

When Johnson began his incarceration at Stateville, his IDOC medical records confirmed his seizure disorder and that he continued to be prescribed anti-convulsant medication. He was also re-issued a low bunk/low gallery permit. Despite this medical permit, IDOC initially assigned Johnson to a cell on an upper gallery. After Johnson suffered a seizure, IDOC moved him to a ground floor cell.

Johnson spent the next two years in a ground floor cell before IDOC reassigned him to a cell in an upper gallery. Johnson ascended and descended stairs daily to reach his cell. Johnson filed repeated grievances regarding his cell location, which were denied or ignored. On March 22, 2011, in the presence of correctional officers, Johnson fell down a flight of stairs after experiencing a seizure, injuring his head and back. On March 28, 2011, Johnson submitted an emergency grievance regarding his recent injury and its connection with his housing assignment. He requested that his low bunk/gallery permit be honored. On April 4, 2011, Warden Hardy deemed Johnson’s emergency grievance a “non-emergency” and instructed Johnson to resubmit his grievance in the “normal manner.”

On May 12, 2011, a Stateville counselor, L. Dennis, responded to Johnson’s grievance by writing: “According to the placement officer, Karen Robideau, 2 gallery in unit F is considered a low gallery. OTS reflects offender Johnson is housed in F213.”[1]Because of this characterization, IDOC did not change Johnson’s housing assignment. A little less than a month later, on June 3, 2011, Johnson had a seizure in his cell and passed out. A nurse arrived at his cell, and when Johnson regained consciousness, she reportedly told Johnson that “he must be alright (sic)” and left.

On June 6, 2011, correctional officers again witnessed Johnson have a seizure and fall down the stairs while climbing the stairs to his gallery cell. Johnson was admitted to the Health Care Unit (“HCU”) for three days. On June 12, 2011, Johnson submitted a letter describing the events to Stateville’s medical director, Dr. Funk, to no avail. On November 13, 2011, Johnson submitted another emergency grievance requesting that his medical permit be honored and that he be moved to a ground floor cell. Warden Hardy again determined that Johnson’s grievance was a “non-emergency” and on November 18, instructed Johnson to file his grievance in the “normal manner.” The same day, Johnson also spoke with Warden Hardy, who, in response to Johnson’s requests to be transferred to ground floor housing and to receive medical treatment, stated, “[Y]ou look alright (sic) to me, ” and told Johnson to “be more careful” on the stairs.

On February 29, 2012 and March 6, 2012, Johnson submitted additional grievances regarding the injuries and mental anguish caused by his housing assignment. He again requested that his housing assignment be changed to ground floor housing. Johnson spoke to several others about his desire to be transferred to a ground floor housing assignment: IDOC Northern Director David Gomez, who responded “if Warden Hardy didn’t think it was an emergency, then it must not be” and Director of Nursing Cyndi Garcia, who told Johnson, “as far as placement of a specific cell/gallery, that is not [in] the medical unit’s control.” Johnson’s anxiety about having a seizure while climbing or descending stairs to his cell grew severe. On September 6, 2012, he saw Dr. Catherine Larry, a mental ...

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