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Cruz v. Dart

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

March 16, 2017

WILLIAM CRUZ, Plaintiff,
THOMAS DART, et al., Defendants.



         “A priapism is ‘a prolonged persistent erection which is painful and last[s] for greater than four hours.'” Defs.' Rule 56 Statement Material Facts (“Defs.' SOF”) ¶ 64, ECF No. 124 (quoting Dep. of Dr. Christopher Lodowsky 41:4-7, id. Ex. 7). Plaintiff William Cruz (“Cruz”) developed a priapism in separate incidents on April 19 and 25, 2012, while he was being held as a pretrial detainee at the Cook County Jail (“CCJ”). See Defs.' SOF ¶ 1 (Cruz entered CCJ on Feb. 20, 2012). He brought this action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for deliberate indifference to his serious medical needs against Cook County; Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart; and three correctional officers, Michal Burkart (“Burkart”), Phillip Martin (“Martin”), and Sharon Cox (“Cox”) primarily for delaying treatment of his priapisms. Cruz alleges that he experienced excruciating pain, had two avoidable surgical procedures, and suffered tissue damage, impotence, and psychological harm as a result of defendants' deliberate indifference.

         Defendants move for summary judgment. For the following reasons, the court grants the motion in part, finding that a genuine factual dispute exists over whether Cox was deliberately indifferent to Miller's complaints of severe pain on April 25, 2012.


         Local Rule 56.1(a)(3) requires a party moving for summary judgment to submit “a statement of material facts as to which the moving party contends there is no genuine issue and that entitle the moving party to judgment as a matter of law.” Cracco v. Vitran Express, Inc., 559 F.3d 625, 632 (7th Cir. 2009) (citing N.D.Ill. L.R. 56.1(a)(3)). Under Local Rule 56.1(b)(3), the nonmoving party then must submit a “concise response” to each statement of fact, “including, in the case of any disagreement, specific references to the affidavits, parts of the record, and other supporting materials relied upon.” N.D.Ill. L.R. 56.1(b)(3)(B). The party opposing summary judgment may also present a separate statement of additional facts “consisting of short numbered paragraphs, ” with citations to the record, that require the denial of summary judgment. N.D.Ill. L.R. 56.1 (b)(3)(C); see also Ciomber v. Coop. Plus, Inc., 527 F.3d 635, 643-44 (7th Cir. 2008). For summary judgment purposes, Local Rule 56.1(a) requires the court to “deem admitted those facts that are not contested in the parties' submissions related to the motion for summary judgment.” Robinson v. Bandy, 524 F. App'x 302, 305 (7th Cir. 2013) (citing Raymond v. Ameritech Corp., 442 F.3d 600, 608 (7th Cir. 2006)).

         In their reply, the defendants raise a number of objections to Cruz's Rule 56.1 statement and his response to their Rule 56.1 statement. Most of these defects do not affect the outcome here. The court disregards certain argumentative or unsupported responses regarding material facts, most notably Cruz's unsupported assertion that priapism is a well-known reaction to certain medications, see Pl.'s Resp. to Defs.' SOF ¶ 27, ECF No. 139. See, e.g., Ciomber, 527 F.3d at 643-4 (affirming exclusion of unsupported, argumentative statements in a plaintiff's Rule 56.1 response); Bolden v. Dart, No. 11 C 8661, 2013 WL 3819638, at *1 (N.D. Ill. July 23, 2013) (collecting cases and deeming some of the movant's Rule 56.1 statements admitted because opposing party did not cite record evidence disputing them in Rule 56.1(b)(3) response). Except where otherwise noted, the court accepts the following undisputed facts as true for the purpose of deciding defendants' summary judgment motion.

         A. The April 19 Incident

         Burkart was assigned to work the overnight shift on the unit where Cruz was housed beginning at 11:00 p.m. on the 18th and lasting through 7:00 a.m. on the 19th. Defs.' SOF ¶ 26. Cruz began banging loudly on his cell door and demanding medical attention shortly after his symptoms developed on April 19, 2012. Pl.'s SOF ¶ 3. Cruz testified at his deposition that his door was “right by the officer's section.” Cruz Dep. at 28:23-24. The parties direct the court to no evidence of Burkart's whereabouts during this time period, however.

         Before he entered the CCJ, Cruz had an experience similar to a priapism but not to the extent of the incidents on April 15 and 25, 2012. See Defs.' SOF ¶¶ 5, 7-8. Cruz alleges that he developed priapisms as a result of taking medication he was prescribed while at the CCJ. Cruz estimated that he began experiencing symptoms of a priapism “somewhere in the four--three to four range, maybe five.” Cruz. Dep. 55:8-10; see also Pl.s' Resp. to Defs.' SOF ¶ 12 (so admitting). According to Cruz's testimony, he was not taken to the dispensary (presumably on his tier of the CCJ) for “maybe two hours” after he first began complaining about his symptoms. Cruz Dep. 57:1-3; see also Id. at 25:17-18.

         The time at which Cruz first developed symptoms, spoke with Burkart, and was sent for further care is disputed. The medical logbook maintained by Burkart states that Cruz complained of a “reaction to medication.” Defs.' Ex. 3 at 1. The entry also indicates that Burkart called the dispensary in Division 10 at 4:30 a.m. Defs.' SOF ¶ 3; Defs.' Ex. 3 at 1 (copy of logbook). Another entry in the logbook states that Cruz was taken to the Cermak Health Facility (“Cermak”) by another officer at 5:00 a.m. See Defs.' Ex. 3 at 1. Burkart had no further contact with Cruz after Cruz was taken to the dispensary. Defs.' SOF ¶ 35. For present purposes, Cruz's testimony that he banged on his door for two hours after he developed symptoms demanding medical attention must be accepted as true.

         Cruz was eventually taken to Cermak. He testified that he talked to different “officer[s] who [were] in charge of the waiting room” at Cermak on April 19 and 25. Cruz. Dep. at 34:21- 24. Both officers told him that patients “were seen in the order they're received. First in/first out.” Id. at 35:1-6. He was transported to Stroger Hospital at 8:01 a.m. on April 19, 2012, where he received treatment.[1] See Pl.'s SOF ¶ 4.

         B. The April 25 Incident

         Martin “was assigned to work the 11:00 p.m. to 7:00 a.m. shift in 2012, ” and he was assigned to the tier and unit where Cruz was housed on April 24-25, 2012. Defs.' SOF ¶¶ 19- 20. Cox was assigned to the same tier on the 7:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. shift on April 25, 2012. Id. ¶ 21. “Neither Martin nor Cox knows what a priapism is.” Defs.' SOF ¶ 22.

         Cruz became aware of priapistic symptoms when he awoke around 4:00 or 5:00 a.m. on April 25, 2012, due to the pain he was experiencing. See Cruz Dep. 61:13-15. Cruz complained to a prison guard working the third shift, identified only as “John Doe” in Cruz's deposition, that Cruz “was in severe pain from a priapism and was told there was nothing [the guard] could do because it would delay [the guard] from leaving for the day.” Defs.' SOF ¶ 17 (citing Cruz Dep. 28:2-10).

         Cruz complained to Cox at or shortly after she came on duty at 7:00 a.m. that he was in severe pain and experiencing priapistic symptoms. See Defs.' SOF ¶ 10; Pl.'s SOF ¶ 8. Cox responded with words to the effect of, “You're still conscious, so that's not an emergency.” Pl.'s SOF ¶ 8. She told Cruz to fill out a health service request form and that she would send him for medical treatment later. Defs.' SOF ¶ 10.

         An unidentified nurse came onto the unit at approximately 8:30 a.m. Defs.' SOF ¶ 14. Cruz testified as follows about the interaction:

Q. And what did you tell this [nurse] and what did this [nurse] tell you?
A. Well, I told her, that I was having another episode of priapism. I told her that I previously had one on the 19th. I told her that I was actually in a lot of pain. And she told me that just by virtue of the priapism that it was an emergency and I should get down to the infirmary.
Q. Did she transfer you to the infirmary?
A. I 'm not really sure what happened there. There was some kind of miscommunication between her and Cox. But I was under the impression that I was supposed to be in the infirmary immediately. Ms. Cox, however, was under the impression when ...

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