United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
E. Chang, Judge
Steven Luellen is an inmate at Dixon Correctional Center. R.
87, Second Am. Compl. ¶ 24. Right before going to prison
(he was first imprisoned at Stateville Correctional Center),
he suffered a serious injury to both of his ankles.
claims that he received inadequate medical treatment from
prison medical staff, which-combined with Illinois Department
of Corrections (IDOC) officials' disregard for his
grievances about the lack of treatment-caused one ankle to
heal improperly, limiting his mobility and causing him daily
pain. See Id. Asserting violations of his Eighth and
Fourteenth Amendment rights, Luellen filed this suit under 42
U.S.C. § 1983 against a number of defendants: eight
medical professionals who oversaw his care in prison; four
corrections officials at the facilities where Luellen was
held (including the wardens of those facilities); the
Director and the Chief of Programs at IDOC; the medical
records director at one facility; and Wexford Health Sources,
Inc., a private-company contractor that provides health care
to IDOC inmates and employs the medical professionals named
in this suit.
defendants employed by IDOC (the IDOC Defendants) and the
defendants employed by Wexford (the Wexford Defendants) filed
separate motions to dismiss. See R. 69, Wexford Mot.
to Dismiss; R. 74, IDOC Mot. to Dismiss. Both the Wexford and
IDOC Defendants moved to dismiss Luellen's procedural due
process claims (Counts Eleven and Ten), which alleged that
the Defendants deprived Luellen of his liberty interest in
adequate medical treatment without due process of law in
violation of the Fourteenth Amendment. See Wexford
Mot. to Dismiss; IDOC Mot. to Dismiss. The IDOC Defendants
further sought dismissal of Luellen's claims against
senior IDOC officials on the grounds that those officials had no
personal knowledge of Luellen's situation. IDOC Mot. to
Dismiss. For the reasons stated below, the Wexford
Defendants' motion is granted and the IDOC
Defendants' motion is granted in part and denied in part.
purpose of deciding this motion to dismiss, Luellen's
factual allegations are accepted as true. Erickson v.
Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007). Luellen was incarcerated
at Stateville Correctional Center in June 2014. Second Am.
Compl. ¶ 27. Shortly before his incarceration, Luellen
had been in a serious car accident. Id. ¶ 24.
He fractured both of his ankles in the accident, and
underwent surgery to realign them. Id. ¶ 25.
After the surgery, Luellens doctors placed his legs in casts
and gave him a wheelchair to help him keep weight off of his
ankles while they healed. Id. ¶ 26.
was still in a wheelchair when he arrived at Stateville.
Second Am. Compl. ¶ 27. But upon his arrival, his
wheelchair was taken away by Wexford personnel and replaced
by one with a broken wheel that wobbled during use.
Id. ¶¶ 28-29. Although Luellen notified
Wexford medical staff about this problem, no one did anything
about it. Id. ¶ 29. Over the next five days,
the wheelchair's broken wheel jammed or became dislodged
three times, each time ejecting Luellen onto the ground and
causing pain to his ankles. Id. ¶¶ 30-32.
Although Luellen filed a number of IDOC grievances, his
complaints initially went unanswered and he was forced to
remain in the defective wheelchair. Id. ¶ 34.
After Luellens third fall, Wexford replaced the defective
replacement was, if anything, worse. Wexford gave Luellen a
reclining chair that lacked the hand-drive wheels normally
attached to wheelchairs. Second Am. Compl. ¶ 34. Luellen
asked how he was to move about in the reclining chair without
hand-drive wheels. Id. A Wexford staffer told him to
use his feet to push himself forward and back. Id.
But this required Luellen to put weight on his ankles, which
the surgeons who had operated on his ankles had specifically
instructed him not to do. Id. ¶¶ 34-35.
Luellen's verbal complaints fell on deaf ears.
Id. ¶ 35.
2014, Luellen went on a medical call to Defendant Schwartz, a
physician's assistant employed by Wexford. Second Am.
Compl. ¶ 37. Luellen explained that his ankles were
causing him extreme pain and asked to see an orthopedic
doctor. Id. Instead of granting the request,
Schwartz allegedly reduced the strength of
Luellen's pain medication. Id. But Luellen
continued to complain to Wexford staff and, after two weeks,
he received permission to see Dr. Stephen Perns at Midland
Orthopedic Associates. Id. ¶¶ 38-39. Dr.
Perns examined Luellens ankles and informed him that one of
the ankles had not healed properly and would need to be
surgically repositioned. Id. ¶ 40. Luellen
claims that the cause of the failed healing was that neither
of the “wheelchairs” that Wexford provided
allowed him to consistently keep weight off of his ankles.
Id. ¶ 91. Dr. Perns instructed Luellen to come
back in three weeks to schedule the surgery and discuss its
risks, complications, and benefits. Id.
Luellen was not able to return. Although his follow-up
appointment was approved by a Wexford practitioner, neither
Stateville officials nor Wexford staff ever sent Luellen back
to Dr. Perns. Second Am. Compl. ¶ 41.
August 2014, Luellen was transferred to Kane County Jail.
Second Am. Compl. ¶ 42. When he arrived at Kane, Luellen
immediately executed a release allowing Kane officials to
receive his medical records from Stateville, so he could
continue treatment for his ankle and receive the
repositioning surgery. Id. ¶ 43.
Medical Administrator confirmed that he had sent
Luellen's release form to Stateville; however, Stateville
never responded and the records never arrived. Id.
¶¶ 44-47. As a result, Luellen still has not
received the repositioning surgery and his mis-aligned ankle
continues to cause him pain. Id. ¶¶ 45,
effort to retrieve his medical records, Luellen filed
multiple grievances against prison officials at Stateville
and Dixon (where he is now incarcerated), as well as an
appeal to the IDOC's Administrative Review Board (ARB).
Second Am. Compl. ¶¶ 49-63. Although most of his
grievances were addressed to Defendant Gomez, a counselor and
grievance officer at Stateville, Luellen also wrote a letter
to Defendant Williams, the Warden at Stateville, explaining
his medical situation, need for corrective surgery, and lack
of medical records. Id. ¶ 57. In the letter,
Luellen implored Williams to release his medical records to
Kane. Id. Luellen never received a response to this
letter or to any other grievances. Id. ¶¶
to obtain his medical records from Stateville, and unable to
receive the repositioning surgery without those records,
Luellen sued the Wexford and IDOC Defendants under 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983 for injunctive relief and compensatory and
punitive damages stemming from ...