United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
ST. EVE, District Court Judge:
March 23, 2016, Plaintiff Donald Haywood, an inmate within
the Illinois Department of Corrections (“IDOC”),
brought the present Complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §
1983 alleging that the defendants violated his constitutional
rights by exhibiting deliberate indifference to his mental
health needs. Plaintiff has sued Wexford Health Sources
(“Wexford”), certain Wexford employees, and
several members of the IDOC medical staff (collectively,
“Defendants”). Before the Court is Wexford's
motion to dismiss brought pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 12(b)(6). For the following reasons, the Court
grants Defendant's motion to dismiss.
is a prisoner currently in the custody of IDOC at Pontiac
Correctional Center (“PCC”). (R. 16, Am. Compl.
¶ 1.) At all times relevant to this complaint, Plaintiff
was incarcerated at either PCC or Stateville Correctional
Center (“SCC”). (Id.) Wexford is a
Pennsylvania corporation with a place of business in St.
Charles, Illinois. (Id. ¶ 2.) Wexford provides
health care services on behalf of IDOC to prisoners at PCC
and SCC. (Id.) Wexford also has the responsibility
for the implementation and oversight of health care policies
at PCC and SCC. (Id.)
alleges that prior to his incarceration, he had a long
history of diagnosed mental illness, including five suicide
attempts. (Id. ¶¶ 23-25.) Plaintiff has
been diagnosed with depression, antisocial personality
disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder, and as a
result, IDOC classified him as “seriously mentally
ill” or “SMI.” (Id. ¶¶
26-27.) Plaintiff alleges that, since June 2014, Defendants
have failed to treat Plaintiff's mental illnesses and
have instead punished him when he requested treatment.
(Id. ¶¶ 30, 32.)
Plaintiff alleges that while in segregation at SCC in June
2014, Catherine Larry, the Wexford doctor assigned to provide
medical care to inmates in segregation, failed to visit
Plaintiff or provide him with mental health treatment.
(Id. ¶¶ 33-34.) Beth Hart, a Wexford
employee, also failed to provide treatment to Plaintiff or
visit him in segregation. (Id. ¶¶ 38-40.)
Plaintiff alleges that he filed multiple complaints and
grievances in response to Larry and Hart's failure to
treat him, and in response, Larry and Hart falsified reports
indicating that they had in fact visited Plaintiff and that
he was receiving medical care. (Id. ¶¶
35-36, 41-42.) Plaintiff alleges that Larry and Hart commonly
failed to provide mental health treatment to SMI inmates or
other mentally ill inmates at SCC for whom they had a
personal dislike. (Id. ¶ 44.) Plaintiff alleges
that Larry and Hart personally disliked Plaintiff, and as a
result, they denied him mental health treatment.
(Id. ¶ 45.)
about June 11, 2015, Plaintiff sought assistance from Jason
Berry, a “Crisis Team” member, but Berry filed a
disciplinary report against Plaintiff instead of providing
him with treatment. (Id. ¶¶ 55-56.) On or
about June 15, 2015, Plaintiff informed Charles Best and
Lakeisha Acklin, members of the “Adjustment Committee,
” that Berry filed a disciplinary report against him in
order to deny him mental health treatment. (Id.
¶¶ 57, 59.) Plaintiff alleges that Best and Acklin
also failed to provide him with mental health treatment.
(Id. ¶ 60.) On December 1, 2015, eighteen
months after his initial request for treatment, Dr. Conrad, a
Wexford employee, met with Plaintiff to provide medical
treatment. (Id. ¶ 61.) Plaintiff alleges that
he complained to Conrad about his lack of treatment, and
Conrad threatened to discontinue Plaintiff's prescription
medications. (Id. ¶¶ 62-63.) In response,
on January 1, 2016, Plaintiff filed a written complaint
seeking assistance in the treatment of his mental illnesses.
(Id. ¶ 64.) Plaintiff alleges that, as a result
of this complaint, various SCC correctional officers
physically assaulted him. (Id. ¶ 65.)
2016, Plaintiff was transferred to PCC. (Id. ¶
69.) Plaintiff alleges that on July 29, 2016, he met with
Kelly Haag, a Wexford mental health therapist, but that Haag
did not provide any mental health treatment. (Id.
¶¶ 70-71.) Plaintiff alleges that he requested
additional treatment, but Haag did not meet with him again
until the September or October 2016, at which point, Haag
revoked Plaintiff's SMI status and placed him on suicide
watch. (Id. ¶¶ 72-73.) Plaintiff alleges
that he has since made multiples requests for mental health
assistance, but PCC psychologists have refused to treat him
and instead approved the revocation of his SMI status.
(Id. ¶¶ 38-40.) Plaintiff alleges that no
one at PCC has provided him with a mental health evaluation,
and as a result, his mental health disorders have worsened.
(Id. ¶¶ 77, 80.)
motion to dismiss pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
12(b)(6) challenges the viability of a complaint by arguing
that it fails to state a claim upon which relief may be
granted.” Camasta v. Jos. A. Bank Clothiers,
Inc., 761 F.3d 732, 736 (7th Cir. 2014). Under Rule
8(a)(2), a complaint must include “a short and plain
statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled
to relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). The short and plain
statement under Rule 8(a)(2) must “give the defendant
fair notice of what the claim is and the grounds upon which
it rests.” Bell Atlantic v. Twombly, 550 U.S.
544, 555 (2007) (citation omitted). Under the federal notice
pleading standards, a plaintiff's “factual
allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above
the speculative level.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at
555. Put differently, a “complaint must contain
sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to ‘state
a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'”
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570). In determining the
sufficiency of a complaint under the plausibility standard,
courts must “accept all well-pleaded facts as true and
draw reasonable inferences in the plaintiffs'
favor.” Roberts v. City of Chicago, 817 F.3d
561, 564 (7th Cir. 2016).
Count I of his complaint, Plaintiff alleges that Wexford had
policies and customs in effect that allowed Defendants to
exhibit deliberate indifference to Plaintiff's mental
health needs causing him physical injuries and mental anguish
in violation of the Eighth Amendment. In Count II, Plaintiff
seeks to hold Wexford liable under a theory of respondeat
superior for the deliberately indifferent actions of the
various individuals that denied Plaintiff mental health
treatment. In its motion to dismiss, Wexford makes three
arguments: (1) the Court should dismiss Count I because
Plaintiff has failed to state a claim under Monell v.
Department of Social Services of City of New York, 436
U.S. 658 (1978); (2) the Court should dismiss Count II
because there is no respondeat superior liability
for § 1983 actions against private corporations; (3)
Plaintiff is not entitled compensatory damages because he has
not sustained a physical injury. The Court addresses each
argument in turn.
Count I-Monell Claim
Monell, the Supreme Court established that a
municipality may face liability for money damages under
§ 1983 only if the unconstitutional act about which the
plaintiff complains was caused by (1) an official policy
adopted and promulgated by its officers; (2) a governmental
practice or custom that, although not officially authorized,
is widespread and well settled; or (3) an official with final
policy-making authority. Thomas v. Cook Cnty.
Sheriff's Dep't, 604 F.3d 293, 303 (7th Cir.
2010) (citing Monell, 436 U.S. at 690). Wexford, a
private corporation contracted by IDOC, is subject to a
Monell claim just like any municipality would be.
See, e.g., Minix v. Canarecci, 597 F.3d 824, 832
(7th Cir. 2010). “To establish municipal liability, a
plaintiff must show the existence of an ‘official
policy' or other governmental custom that not only causes
but is the “moving force” behind the deprivation
of constitutional rights.” Teesdale v. City of
Chicago,690 F.3d 829, 833-34 (7th Cir. 2012). Thus, to
prevail on his Monell claim against Wexford,
Plaintiff must show that “his injury was caused by a
Wexford policy, custom, or practice of deliberate
indifference to medical needs, or a series of bad acts that
together raise the inference of such a policy.”
Shields v. Ill. Dep't of Corr., 746 F.3d 782,
796 (7th Cir. 2014). In addition, a ...