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Padilla v. Perez

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

January 24, 2017



          John Z. Lee, United States District Judge

         This case arises from events that took place while Plaintiff George Padilla was being held as a pretrial detainee at the Adult Justice Center of Kane County, Illinois (hereinafter, “the Jail”). Padilla has sued Sheriffs of Kane County Patrick Perez and Donald Kramer, as well as Directors of Corrections Corey Hunger and James Lewis (collectively, “the Supervisory Defendants”). He has also sued correctional officers Jacob Watson and Justin Hunt. Each Defendant has been sued in both his individual and official capacities.

         In his Third Amended Complaint, Padilla brings federal claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for failure to protect and deliberate indifference to medical needs (Counts I-III), a state law claim for negligence (Count IV), and a state law claim against the Supervisory Defendants for respondeat superior liability (Count V). Defendants have moved to dismiss Counts IV and V and to dismiss Padilla's request for punitive damages with respect to the same. For the reasons provided herein, Defendants' motion is granted in part and denied in part.

         Factual Background[1]

         On February 19, 2014, Padilla was locked inside of a cell in an area of the Jail where correctional officer Watson was on duty. 3d Am. Compl. ¶¶ 14, 23, ECF No. 78. Meanwhile, an inmate named Lopez was mopping up an area of the Jail and had propped open a nearby door. Id. ¶ 21. Padilla asked for the door to be closed because cold air was blowing through it. Id. ¶ 23. When Watson closed the door in response to Padilla's request, Lopez became angry with Padilla. Id. He walked over to Padilla's cell and threatened to burn off his tattoos. Id. Intending to make good on this threat, Lopez then walked to a nearby microwave and began heating up a cup of water. Id. ¶ 24. Watson heard Lopez's threat and saw him heating the water for use as a weapon, but he “simply smirked and stayed seated at his desk computer” rather than intervening. Id. ¶¶ 25-26.

         While Lopez continued heating water in the microwave, correctional officer Hunt came to take over Watson's duties. Id. ¶ 27. Written policy required all inmates to be locked inside of their cells during correctional officers' shift changes. Id. ¶ 16. Contrary to this policy, however, Watson allowed Lopez to remain outside of his cell during the shift change. Id. ¶ 18. Also contrary to written policy, Watson did not inform Hunt that Lopez had confronted and threatened Padilla. Id. ¶ 29. According to Padilla, these deviations from written policy were part of a broader pattern of favoritism that Watson and other correctional officers frequently showed toward Lopez. Id. ¶¶ 19-20, 29.

         Once Watson and Hunt completed their shift change, Padilla left his cell and went into a common area. Id. ¶ 32. He told Hunt that Lopez had threatened him and was heating water to use as a weapon, but Hunt declined to intervene. Id. ¶¶ 30-31. Shortly thereafter, Lopez again confronted Padilla and threw the cup of boiling water onto Padilla's chest, face, and arms. Id. ¶ 32. The boiling water caused blistering and severe burns all over Padilla's chest and face. Id. ¶¶ 32-33.

         Later that day, Padilla was sent to the emergency room, where doctors determined that his burns were so severe that he needed to be transported to the Loyola Burn Center. Id. ¶ 34. After spending a night at Loyola, Padilla was sent back to the Jail. Id. ¶ 35. The doctor who saw Padilla at Loyola ordered that he be given two tablets of Norco every six hours for the next ten days and that he return to Loyola in seven days for a follow-up visit. Id. The doctor warned that if Padilla did not timely return for the follow-up visit, “the wounds could improperly heal and the new skin that was being regenerated could grow into [the] bandages.” Id.

         A few days after returning to the Jail, Padilla's wounds became very painful and began leaking a puss-like discharge. Id. ¶ 36. Padilla repeatedly requested medical attention, but Jail staff denied his requests. Id. Jail staff also refused to give him the pain medication his doctor had prescribed. Id. ¶ 37. Instead, they gave him only Tylenol and Aleve, which were insufficient to abate his pain. Id.

         On February 27, 2014, seven days after Padilla left the Loyola Burn Center, he requested that he be transported back to Loyola for the follow-up visit as ordered by his doctor. Id. ¶ 38. Jail staff refused to transport him, stating that “it was not necessary for him to go back to Loyola.” Id. Still in extreme pain, Padilla commenced a hunger strike, which finally provoked Jail staff to transport him to Loyola after lunchtime on February 28, 2014. Id. ¶¶ 39-40. By then, Padilla's burns had grown into the bandages as his doctor had warned. Id. ¶ 41. The doctor therefore had to reopen Padilla's wounds in order to remove his dressing, which caused Padilla further severe pain. Id. Padilla alleges that Jail staff's refusal to give him the prescribed medication and to timely transport him to Loyola were part of a broader practice or custom of deliberate indifference to inmates' medical needs. Id. ¶¶ 65-66.

         Legal Standard

         A motion under Rule 12(b)(6) challenges the sufficiency of the plaintiff's complaint. Christensen v. Cnty. of Boone, Ill., 483 F.3d 454, 457 (7th Cir. 2007). To survive a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), a complaint must “state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face. Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). The complaint “need only provide a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief, sufficient to provide the defendant with fair notice of the claim and its basis.” Tamayo v. Blagojevich, 526 F.3d 1074, 1081 (7th Cir. 2008); see also Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2). In reviewing a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), a court must accept as true all well-pleaded allegations in the complaint and must draw reasonable inferences in the plaintiff's favor. See Tamayo, 526 F.3d at 1081.


         I. Count IV: State Law Negligence

         In Count IV, Padilla brings a claim for negligence under Illinois law. This claim is premised both upon Defendants' failure to protect Padilla from other inmates as well as upon the Supervisory Defendants' failure to provide Padilla with adequate medical care. 3d Am. Compl. ¶¶ 74-76. Defendants contend that Padilla's negligence claim should be dismissed for three reasons. First, they argue that the claim is barred by Illinois's statute of limitations. Second, they argue that they are immune from liability for negligence under Illinois's Local Governmental and Governmental Employees Tort Immunity Act, 745 Ill. Comp. Stat. 10/1 et seq. (“Tort Immunity Act”). Finally, they argue that the claim should be ...

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