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Roland v. Dart

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

August 11, 2016

TYRESE T. ROLAND, Plaintiff,
THOMAS DART, Sheriff of Cook County, Defendant.


          REBECCA R. PALLMEYER United States District Judge

         In June 2014, Plaintiff Tyrese T. Roland, then a detainee at the Cook County Department of Corrections (CCDOC), injured his right eye during a basketball game. Roland slowly lost vision in the eye. By June 2015, his vision had deteriorated to the point that he could no longer perceive light out of his right eye. Plaintiff has sued the County of Cook and Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart in his official capacity (collectively, "Defendants"), pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and Monell v. Department of Social Services, 436 U.S. 658 (1978), alleging that their policies and practices demonstrated deliberate indifference to Plaintiff's medical needs and exacerbated the severity of his eye injury. Plaintiff also brought suit against one of his treating physicians, Dr. Muhammad Rafiq, but all claims against Dr. Rafiq have since been dismissed. Defendants have each filed motions for summary judgment [74] [77]. For the reasons discussed below, the court denies Defendants' motions.


         The parties have filed statements of material facts in accordance with Local Rule 56.1(a)(3). Where the parties have failed to cite to support in the record to dispute directly facts set forth in the statements, the court deems those facts to be admitted. See Local Rule 56.1(b) ("All material facts set forth in the statement required of the moving party will be deemed to be admitted unless controverted by the statement of the opposing party."); see also F.T.C. v. Bay Area Bus. Council, Inc., 423 F.3d 627, 633 (7th Cir.2005) ("Because of the important function local rules like Rule 56.1 serve in organizing the evidence and identifying disputed facts, we have consistently upheld the district court's discretion to require strict compliance with those rules.").

         I. Plaintiff's Injury and Treatment

         Plaintiff was incarcerated at CCDOC, primarily in Division XI, from April 2014 until his transfer to the Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC) in December 2014. (Defs.' Jt. Rule 56.1 Stmt. of Mat. Facts [78], hereinafter "Defs.' 56.1, " ¶¶ 1-2.) While playing basketball on June 28, 2014, Plaintiff suffered an injury when he was poked in his right eye. (Id. ¶ 20.) The following day, Plaintiff had watery, crust-covered eyes and vision difficulties, and he requested medical assistance. (Dep. of Tyrese Roland, Ex. A to Defs.' 56.1 [78-2], hereinafter "Roland Dep., " 34:24-35:14.) A CCDOC officer transported Plaintiff to the Division XI dispensary, where Elizabeth Santos, a registered nurse (RN), evaluated him and sent him to the emergency room at Cermak Health Services, CCDOC's on-site medical facility. (Defs.' 56.1 ¶¶ 21-22.) During Dr. Rafiq's evaluation of Plaintiff at Cermak, Plaintiff told him about the injury he suffered the previous day. (Id. ¶ 23.) After examining Plaintiff, Dr. Rafiq diagnosed conjunctivitis, an eye infection that usually resolves on its own, and prescribed the antibiotic ointment erythromycin. (Id. ¶¶ 24-25.) Plaintiff asserts that following this visit with Dr. Rafiq, he made at least two oral requests to CCDOC staff members to be taken to the division dispensary to visit a doctor. Each time, he asserts, the officer denied his request and instructed him to fill out a health service request ("HSR") form instead. (Pl.'s Rule 56.1 Stmt. of Add'l Facts [80], hereinafter "Pl.'s 56.1, " ¶ 21; Roland Dep. 43:1-16.) Defendant denies that officers ever refused Plaintiff’s requests, and assert that detainees' requests to be taken to the dispensary are never refused. (Defs.' Resp. to Pl.'s 56.1 [84] ¶ 21.)

         Five weeks after seeing Dr. Rafiq at Cermak, Plaintiff continued to have vision problems. On August 3, 2014, he filled out and submitted an HSR form, which is the primary method by which CCDOC inmates request non-emergency healthcare. (Id. ¶¶ 4, 26.) Inmates at CCDOC place HSR forms in lock boxes that only Cermak personnel can access. (Id. ¶ 6.) According to a Cermak written policy (Policy # E-07), which is dated November 2, 2012 and entitled "NONEMERGENCY HEALTH CARE REQUESTS AND SERVICES, " HSR forms must be picked up daily and reviewed by a nurse or other qualified health care professional within 24 hours of collection. (Id. ¶ 5; Cermak Policy E-07, Ex. K to Defs.' 56.1 [78-12], hereinafter "Policy E-07.") If the HSR form describes a "clinical symptom, " a "qualified health professional" must conduct a face-to-face evaluation of the patient on the next business day in the division's dispensary or other clinical setting. (Id.) "Qualified health care professionals" include RNs and licensed nurse practitioners (LPNs). (Id. ¶ 19.) Any medical symptom, such as a headache, constitutes a "clinical symptom." (Pl.'s Rule 56.1 Stmt. of Additional Facts [80], hereinafter "Pl.'s 56.1, " ¶ 4.) In Division XI, Nurse Santos typically collects and reviews the HSR forms and determines whether the detainees who submitted the forms should be transported to the dispensary for evaluation. (Defs.' 56.1 ¶ 15.). If she is not working on a particular day, other Cermak employees can collect the forms, and all Cermak personnel working in Division XI share the responsibility of entering HSR forms into detainees' electronic medical records. (Id. ¶¶ 16, 18.)

         Lisa Locke, an LPN at Cermak, reviewed Plaintiff's August 3 HSR form on August 10, 2014 and entered the form into his electronic medical record.[1] (Id. ¶ 30; Defs.' Answer to Pl.'s First Request to Admit, Ex. 5 to Pl.'s Resp. to Defs.' 56.1 [80-2], ¶ 3.) On the form, Plaintiff stated that he had been given erythromycin to treat his vision but that his vision was getting worse. (Defs.' 56.1 ¶ 26.) Though vision loss is a "clinical symptom, " Nurse Locke did not conduct a face-to-face evaluation of Plaintiff. (Defs.' 56.1 ¶ 30.) Instead, she requested a "routine" appointment for Plaintiff to see the optometrist at Cermak on October 10, 2014. (Id. ¶ 31.) It is unclear from the record whether such an appointment was ever scheduled, nor is it clear why Nurse Locke requested an appointment date two months away. Defendant asserts that October 10 was the optometry department's next available date. (Defs.' 56.1 ¶ 30.) Nurse Locke testified at her deposition that she "just came up with that date . . . a couple of weeks out" because she could see the optometry's department schedule and could see that they were "booked up." (Dep. of Lisa M. Locke, Ex. D to Defs.' 56.1 [78-5], hereinafter "Locke Dep." 72:24-73:6.).[2] Plaintiff avers that he submitted another HSR form at the end of August 2014 in which he repeated his complaint of vision loss. (Pl.'s 56.1 ¶ 25; Roland Dep. 30:14-20.) Defendants have no record of any such form and deny that it was submitted.

         It is undisputed, however, that Plaintiff completed and submitted another HSR form on October 1. On the October 1 form, he stated, "My vision is going out due to trauma, " and reported that he had had the problem for five months. (Defs.' 56.1 ¶ 37.) Nurse Locke reviewed that form on October 3 (Id. ¶ 38), and requested an appointment with the optometrist for December 10, 2014. (Pl.'s Medical Records, Ex. M to Defs.' 56.1 [78-14], at CCU 27.) Plaintiff submitted two additional HSR forms, dated October 4, 2014, in which he complained of symptoms unrelated to his eye. (Defs.' 56.1 ¶ 40.) Nurse Santos picked up these forms on October 5, and conducted a face-to-face evaluation of Plaintiff that day. (Id.) She made a note that Plaintiff reported having blurry vision in his right eye since May 2014 and that he had occasional headaches but no nausea, vomiting, or dizziness. (Pl.'s 56.1 ¶ 33.) On October 14, the optometrist at Cermak examined Plaintiff and made a referral to Cermak's on-site ophthalmologist; the medical record called the referral “urgent.”[3] (Defs.' 56.1 ¶ 42; Pl.'s Medical Records CCU 50.) The next day, Plaintiff visited an ophthalmologist, who observed that his retina was detached and initiated a request for Plaintiff to see a retinal specialist. (Def.'s 56.1 ¶ 43-44.) The following day, October 16, Plaintiff visited the Stroger Hospital eye clinic and was diagnosed with "chronic retinal detachment with the macula off." (Id. ¶ 45.) Plaintiff visited the Stroger eye clinic again on October 20 and 22. (Id. ¶ 47.) At his October 20 evaluation, he was still able to count fingers and see motion. (Pl.'s 56.1 ¶ 35.)

         Dr. Demitra Skondra, Plaintiff's retinal specialist, determined that he did not require urgent surgery. (Defs.' 56.1 ¶ 48.) At that time in October 2014, Plaintiff was on trial for his criminal charges and faced the possibility that he would be sentenced to serve time at an IDOC correctional facility. (Id. ¶ 46.) Because of the complicated nature of the surgery and recovery Plaintiff required, Dr. Skondra believed it was more important that Plaintiff have surgery at a time when he could stay in one place afterward (either by having his sentencing continued or by having surgery after transfer to the IDOC) than to perform the surgery as soon as possible. (Id. ¶¶ 48-52.) Dr. Skondra eventually scheduled the surgery for December 16, believing that the judge would keep Plaintiff in Chicago.[4] (Id. ¶ 54.) Dr. Skondra eventually had to reschedule the surgery for December 30 to address a more urgent case. (Id. ¶¶ 54-55.) Despite Plaintiff's attempts to stay the sentencing to allow him to recover from surgery at CCDOC, Plaintiff was sentenced on December 18 and transferred to the IDOC the following day. (Pl.'s 56.1 ¶ 40.) Plaintiff's medical records were emailed to IDOC on December 22. (Defs.' 56.1 ¶ 58.) Though Plaintiff informed IDOC staff about his eye condition, as of the date of briefing in this case he had still not had surgery, and he no longer has vision (including perception of light) in his right eye. (Pl.'s 56.1 ¶ 37.)

         II. Defendants' Alleged Policies and Practices

         The Sheriff of Cook County (the "Sheriff") is responsible for operating CCDOC. (Inter-Agency Agreement Between the Office of the Sheriff of Cook County and the Cook County Health and Hospitals System, Ex. 6 to Pl.'s 56.1 [80-2], hereinafter "Inter-Agency Agreement, " at 1.) Cook County itself (the "County"), specifically the Cook County Health and Hospitals System (CCHS), is responsible for operating Cermak, an entity separate from CCDOC. (Id.) See also Boyce v. Moore, 314 F.3d 884, 887 n.1 (7th Cir. 2002). Though they are separate entities, the Sheriff and CCHS have signed an inter-agency agreement, under which CCDOC must "[p]articipate with Cermak in a coordinated approach to the delivery of health care to detainees [and] [d]evelop mutually acceptable policies and procedures to accommodate both security requirements and clinical needs for professional practice . . . ." (Pl.'s 56.1 ¶ 2; Inter-Agency Agreement at 4-5.) A representative from the Sheriff's office attends meetings with representatives from Cermak, Judge Kendall of this court, and a medical monitor appointed in connection with litigation concerning medical conditions at CCDOC, United States v. Cook Cnty., No. 10 C 2946. (Pl.'s 56.1 ¶ 8.)

         Plaintiff asserts that the County and the Sheriff were aware that Cermak had a shortage of nurses, which resulted in delayed access to care for CCDOC inmates, including delayed responses to inmates' HSR forms and delayed face-to-face evaluations of inmates. At meetings and in reports issued in connection with the litigation mentioned above, the medical monitors appointed in that case expressed concerns regarding nursing staff shortages and delays in access to care for CCDOS inmates. (See Id. ¶¶ 9-13.) In addition, the former head nurse at Cermak, Cynthia Kienlen, made recommendations to the monitors that staffing be increased to improve collection and processing of HSR forms. (Id. ¶ 14.) The Sheriff's Office acknowledged the findings made by the medical monitors (see Id. ¶ 16), but Defendants dispute the contents and reliability of both Nurse Kienlen's testimony and the monitors' reports. (See Defs.' Resp. to Pl.'s 56.1 ¶¶ 6, 9-16.) Defendants argue that Nurse Kienlen's testimony may be unreliably biased because Cermak fired her in April 2014 and that the monitors' reports are inadmissible hearsay generated in the adversarial context of another litigation. (See id.)

         III. Alleged Connection Between Defendants' Policies and ...

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