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Sanford v. Madison County Jail

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

March 7, 2017




         This matter comes before the Court on the Report and Recommendation (“Report”) (Doc. 116) of Magistrate Judge Stephen C. Williams recommending that the Court grant in part and deny in part the defendant's motion for summary judgment (Doc. 82). All parties have objected to the Report (Docs. 122, 123 & 124) and have responded to their adversaries' objections (Docs. 125, 126, 128 & 130).

         I. Report Review Standard

         The Court may accept, reject or modify, in whole or in part, the findings or recommendations of the magistrate judge in a report and recommendation. Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b)(3). The Court must review de novo the portions of the report to which objections are made. Id. “If no objection or only partial objection is made, the district court judge reviews those unobjected portions for clear error.” Johnson v. Zema Sys. Corp., 170 F.3d 734, 739 (7th Cir. 1999).

         II. Background

         Sanford filed this lawsuit because of events and conditions that occurred while he was a pre-trial detainee at the Madison County Jail from August 2, 2013, to August 13, 2014. Remaining in this case are:

Count I: a claim against defendants Bost, Bunt and Hertz (in his individual and official capacities) for unconstitutional conditions of confinement due to an unhealthy diet;
Count II: a claim against defendants Bost, Bunt, Hill and Hertz in their individual capacities for unconstitutional conditions of confinement due to cold showers in a cold facility;
Count III: a claim against defendants Bost, Bunt, Hill, Hollenbeck and Hertz (in his individual and official capacities) for unconstitutional conditions of confinement due to lack of exercise;
Count IV: a claim against defendant Hertz in his official capacity for unconstitutional conditions of confinement due to routinely cold cells; and
Count V: a claim against defendants Bost, Bunt and Hertz in their individual capacities for deliberate indifference to medical safety due to Hepatitis-C exposure.

         Defendant Madison County remains a party solely to fund any judgment against the Sheriff of Madison County in his official capacity. The Court further notes that Hertz is no longer the Sheriff of Madison County. See (visited Feb. 28, 2017). Accordingly, pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 24(d), the Court substitutes the new Sheriff, John D. Lakin, as defendant in Sanford's official capacity claims.

         III. Report and Objections

         As a preliminary matter, the Court has reviewed the legal standards Magistrate Judge Williams sets forth in the Report and finds them to be correct and not in need of repetition in this order.

         A. Count I: Jail Diet

         Magistrate Judge Williams recommended the Court grant summary judgment for defendants Bost, Bunt, Hertz and Lakin on Count I. In this count, Sanford claims that the jail served him foods high in salt and sugar, which contributed to his high blood pressure and weight gain, and that Bost and Bunt ignored his requests for a different diet. Instead, the healthcare unit gave him blood pressure medicine on and off as needed.

         Magistrate Judge Williams found no evidence that the jail's diet posed an objectively serious harm to Sanford, who had been diagnosed with high blood pressure long before he arrived at the jail, although he was not taking blood pressure medicine at the time of his arrival. He was given medication within days of his arrival when his high blood pressure was detected, medical staff monitored his blood pressure throughout his detention, and the blood pressure medication was discontinued when his blood pressure reached the normal range in May 2014 and then reinstated when it was found to be high again in July 2014.

         Magistrate Judge Williams also found no evidence that Bost or Bunt, non-medical jail employees, were deliberately indifferent to Sanford's blood pressure needs where his blood pressure was being monitored and treated by healthcare unit personnel, who did not request a special diet for Sanford.

         Magistrate Judge Williams further found there was no evidence Hertz was personally involved in or had personal knowledge of the actions of his subordinate with respect to Sanford's blood pressure or his diet. In other words, there was no evidence Hertz actually knew of and disregarded Sanford's dietary complaints. Additionally, Magistrate Judge Williams found there could be no official capacity liability absent an underlying constitutional violation.

         1. Bost and Bunt

         Sanford objects to the finding that the jail's diet did not pose an objectively serious risk to Sanford's health. He points to the sodium, fat and sugar content of the breakfast provided every day during his detention, which he claims is high. He also points to the fact that he was not on blood pressure medication and was not experiencing problems associated with high blood pressure when he arrived at the jail in support of his argument that his need for medication arose during his detention. He also points to his gaining nearly 40 pounds in the first month of his detention, which he believes should have alerted Bost and Bunt that there was a problem with his diet, and the beginning of symptoms (headaches, dizziness and an irregular heartbeat) associated with high blood pressure.

         Sanford also objects to the finding that no evidence shows Bost and Bunt were deliberately indifferent to the harm the jail diet posed to Sanford. He points to his unanswered complaints to Bost and Bunt about the impact of the jail meals on his health and the lack of any evidence that Bost or Bunt actually knew Sanford was being treated by jail's medical staff or investigated his complaints with that staff.

         Having conducted a de novo review of the matter, the Court agrees with Magistrate Judge Williams. It is true that the evidence shows that the jail's diet may contain a fair amount of salt and sugar and that Sanford believed the diet was harming his blood pressure and causing adverse symptoms. However, there is no evidence from which a reasonable jury could determine the salt and sugar content caused or exacerbated his pre-existing high blood pressure or caused symptoms. Sanford showed up at the jail with high blood pressure (although he was not treating it at the time), was given medication to control it, and was monitored throughout his detention. Under such medical care, no reasonable jury could find the diet served to Sanford at the jail posed an objectively serious risk to his health.

         This is especially true considering the nature of high blood pressure as noted by medical authorities, as the Court was encouraged to consider in Jackson v. Pollion, 733 F.3d 786, 789 (7th Cir. 2013). Information from the Mayo Clinic suggests Sanford's speculation about the symptoms caused by his high blood pressure is unfounded:

Most people with high blood pressure have no signs or symptoms, even if blood pressure readings reach dangerously high levels.
A few people with high blood pressure may have headaches, shortness of breath or nosebleeds, but these signs and symptoms aren't specific and usually don't occur until high blood pressure has reached a severe or life-threatening stage.

         Mayo Clinic, High blood pressure (hypertension), Symptoms, diseases-conditions/high-blood-pressure/basics/symptoms/con-20019580 (visited Feb. 28, 2017). Here, Sanford testified that he controlled his blood pressure by diet and exercise before he was detained, and when he was detained, his blood pressure was only marginally high. The upper limit of normal blood pressure is 139/89, see Mayo Clinic, High blood pressure (hypertension), Tests and diagnosis, high-blood-pressure/basics/tests-diagnosis/con-20019580 (visited Feb. 28, 2017); see also Jackson, 733 F.3d at 788 (“‘Ideal'” blood pressure is considered to be below 120/80, but the top of the normal range is 140/90.”). Sanford's readings in his first week at the prison were 158/100, 138/100 and 137/88, and his blood pressure was controlled through medication as needed thereafter for the approximately one year he was detained. He was clearly not at a “severe or life-threatening stage” where symptoms were likely to emerge. No reasonable jury could find based on these facts that Sanford's diet caused him headaches, dizziness and an irregular heartbeat or, indeed, any serious impact on his health long-term.

         Additionally, no reasonable jury could find based on the evidence in the file that Sanford's approximate 40-pound weight gain in one month was attributable to the diet served by the jail. In fact, it is virtually impossible for that to have occurred. The evidence shows the jail's diet complied with the Illinois County Jail Standards, 20 Ill. Admin. Code § 701.110(a)(1), which required a minimum of 1800 to 2000 calories per day for an adult. Sample menus show the daily diet at the jail contained between 2, 000 and 3, 000 calories. The Mayo Clinic teaches that “3, 500 calories equals about 1 pound.” Mayo Clinic, Weight loss, Counting calories: Get back to weight-loss basics, calories/art-20048065 (visited Feb. 28, 2017). Thus, for Sanford to have gained 40 pounds, he would have had to have consumed 140, 000 calories more than the energy he expended. For him to have done so in one month, he would have had to have consumed 4, 666 calories a day over the energy he expended. Considering he expended at least 2, 300 calories per day just existing and eating[1], he would have had to have consumed approximately 6, 966 calories a day to have gained 40 pounds in a month. In light of the evidence of what was actually served at meals, no reasonable jury could believe the jail actually fed Sanford more than three times the mandated number of calories.[2] Sanford is patently incredible when he claims to have gained 40 pounds in one month because of jail meals, and it is completely unfounded to connect any weight gain to Sanford's blood pressure.

         Finally, as the Seventh Circuit realized in Jackson, unless extremely high, mild high blood pressure generally causes harm over a long period of time. Jackson, 733 F.3d at 789 (quoting 2 Dan J. Tennenhouse, Attorneys Medical Deskbook § 24:4 (4th ed. 2012) (“The prolonged elevation of either the systolic or the diastolic blood pressure causes damage. If mildly elevated over a long period of time, or if highly elevated over a short period of time, damage results to a variety of different ‘target' organs in the body, primarily due to arterial injury.” (emphasis added)). No evidence suggests the diet Sanford received for the approximately one-year period while detained in the jail, while simultaneously being treated ...

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