United States District Court, S.D. Illinois
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
M. YANDLE United States District Judge.
Dameon Cole is an inmate with the Illinois Department of
Corrections (“IDOC”) and brought this action
alleging that she is being provided inadequate medical care
in violation of her constitutional rights. Cole is a
transgendered individual and is currently receiving sex
reassignment therapy to transition from male to female. She
initiated this action on November 17, 2014 by filing a
Petition for Preliminary Injunctive Relief with then
co-plaintiff Jarvis Postlewaite. See Postlewaite v.
Godinez, et al., 3:14-cv-01281-JPG-PMF (S.D. Ill). The
Court later severed Cole's claims to create the instant
December 12, 2014, Cole filed her First Amended Complaint
(Doc. 6). The First Amended Complaint was screened by Judge
Gilbert pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A on January 29,
(Doc. 10). In the screening order, Judge Gilbert held that
Cole articulated a colorable Eighth Amendment deliberate
indifference to serious medical needs claim against Dr. Coe
for failing to provide adequate treatment in regards to
Cole's sex reassignment therapy. Because Cole also seeks
injunctive relief, the Warden of Lawrence Correctional Center
(“Lawrence”) was added as a defendant in their
official capacity. Dr. Coe and the warden now seek summary
judgment (Docs. 31 and 34). Cole did not file a response to
either motion. For the following reasons, the motions are
entered IDOC custody in 2010 (Doc. 32-2, p. 10). According to
the IDOC “Offender Search” website, she has a
mandatory supervised release (parole) date of December 5,
2016. Cole was also in IDOC custody from 2002 to
2009 on another unrelated conviction.
stated at her deposition that she has experienced gender
identity issues since she was about 15 years old (Doc. 32-2,
p. 11). The gender dysphoria issue is also complicated by the
fact that Cole has a history of depression, suicidal ideation
and at one point was hospitalized for psychiatric reasons
(Doc. 32-2, pp. 8-9). Cole began receiving treatment for her
gender dysphoria at Lawrence in 2012 (Doc. 32-2, p. 11).
Around this time period, Cole notified Lawrence healthcare
staff that she was experiencing suicidal ideations associated
with her gender identity issues. Id. Her healthcare
file was then reviewed by the IDOC “Gender Identity
Disorder Committee” to determine whether Cole was a
suitable candidate for sex reassignment therapy (Doc. 32-2,
Gender Identity Disorder Committee eventually approved Cole
for gender dysphoria treatment and she began sex reassignment
related counseling sessions in January 2014. Id.
Cole completed the one-on-one counselling sessions and was
prescribed hormone therapy on July 2, 2014 by Dr. Coe (Doc.
32-2, p. 16, Doc. 32-4, p. 1). The medication consisted of
two milligrams of Estradiol (female hormone) twice per day
and 50 milligrams of Aldactone (medication that suppresses
testosterone) twice per day. Id. Aside from a brief
period of experimentation with street drugs in 2009, this was
the first time that Cole had ever used hormone therapy (Doc.
32-2, p. 13). In the latter half of 2014, Cole was also
taking asthma medication and Depakote (bipolar disorder
medication) (Doc. 32-4, p. 1, Doc. 32-5, p. 1).
medical records indicate that on July 20, 2014, she was
examined by a nurse at the Lawrence Health Care Unit
(“HCU”) for dry skin (Doc. 32-6, p. 1).
Cole's next appointment at the HCU occurred on September
11, 2014 after she complained of hip pain (Doc. 32-7, p. 1).
A nurse examined Cole on that date and Cole was seen by Dr.
Coe for a follow up appointment on September 16, 2014 (Doc.
32-8, p. 1). Dr. Coe and Cole discussed the hip pain issue,
Cole's dry skin and Cole's concerns regarding HIV
exposure. Id. At the examination, Cole had a weight
of 255 pounds, blood pressure of 120/66 and a pulse of 76.
October 9, 2014, Cole was examined by a nurse at the HCU
after she complained of cold symptoms (Doc. 32-9, pp. 1-2).
Medical records indicate that Cole was prescribed
acetaminophen. Id. She was then examined by Dr. Coe
on October 22, 2014 after her cold symptoms persisted (Doc.
32-10, pp. 1-2). Dr. Coe prescribed Guafenesin and Coldonyl.
Id. Cole then returned to the HCU on November 18,
2014 for a visit at the asthma chronic clinic (Doc. 32-11, p.
1). Cole's vital signs were taken at the asthma clinic
noting a height of 6' 00”, weight of 244 pounds and
a blood pressure of 110/70. Id. On November 21,
2014, Cole submitted a request to have a blood test performed
to review her hormone levels (Doc. 32-12, p. 1). The nurse
reviewing the request discussed it with Dr. Coe and Dr. Coe
told the nurse that Cole would be seen in February 2015.
deposition, Cole stated that around November, 2014, an issue
arose where the nurses would not bring her the hormone
medication (Doc. 32-2, p. 17). As a result, Cole decided to
go on a hunger strike. IDOC records indicate that she
declared a hunger strike on November 30, 2014 (Doc. 32-13, p.
1). Cole was also in the Lawrence segregation unit at the
time and notes that during period, there were problems
between the inmates and staff (Doc. 32-2, p. 17).
Specifically, Cole testified during her deposition that
“there was [a] big thing going on in segregation with
the officers and the inmates and them playing with food trays
and playing with the meals and playing with grievances. And
it just got to the point to where I needed to talk to
somebody. So I went on a hunger strike.” Id.
Sometime later, the Health Care Unit Administrator visited
Cole to discuss her concerns and the medication issue was
corrected a few days after their discussion. (Doc. 32-2, pp.
17-18). In total, Cole estimates that she was without her
hormone medication for about three weeks (Doc. 32-2, p. 32).
However she also admits that she has no information that
would indicate that Dr. Coe was aware of or involved in the
three week lapse of medication (Doc. 32-2, p. 38).
Cole stated at her deposition that there are possible side
effects associated with hormone therapy and that she was
aware of the possible side effects prior to starting therapy
(Doc. 32-2, p. 18). Those side effects include a heightened
risk of hypertension, blood clots, elevated liver enzymes,
breast cancer, weight gain and others. Id. When the
deposition was taken (January 27, 2016), Cole stated that she
had not experienced the negative side effects from hormone
therapy, but that she had started to develop feminine
physical characteristics and that she was happy with her
physical progression (Doc. 32-2, p. 22).
addition to monetary damages, Cole seeks injunctive relief in
this lawsuit. Specifically, She would like to be transferred
to another prison and for Dr. Coe to be replaced by a
different physician more knowledgeable in the area of gender
dysphoria (Doc. 32-2, p. 37).
56(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure states in part
that “[t]he Court shall grant summary judgment if the
movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any
material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a
matter of law.” At this stage of the litigation, the
Court views the record in a light most favorable to the
nonmoving party and draws all reasonable inferences in their
favor. Rosario v. Brawn, 670 F.3d 816, 820 (7th Cir.
2012). When presented with a motion for summary judgment,
“the court has one task and one task only: to decide,
based on the evidence of record, whether there is any
material dispute of fact that requires a trial.”
Waldridge v. Am. Hoechst Corp., 24 F.3d 918, 920
(7th Cir.1994). However, “[t]he mere ...