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Kugler v. Rao

United States District Court, C.D. Illinois, Springfield Division

March 24, 2017

DEVIN M. KUGLER, Plaintiff,
RAO, et al. Defendants.



         Plaintiff, proceeding pro se and presently civilly committed at Rushville Treatment and Detention Facility, brought the present lawsuit alleging claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and the Fourteenth Amendment and the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act, 42 U.S.C. § 2000cc-1, related to the forced administration of psychotropic medication. The matter comes before this Court for ruling on the Defendants' Motions for Summary Judgment. (Docs. 88, 91, 100, 102). The motions are granted.


         Summary judgment should be granted “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.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). All facts must be construed in the light most favorable to the non-moving party, and all reasonable inferences must be drawn in his favor. Ogden v. Atterholt, 606 F.3d 355, 358 (7th Cir. 2010). The party moving for summary judgment must show the lack of a genuine issue of material fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). In order to be a “genuine” issue, there must be more than “some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts.” Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986). “Only disputes over facts that might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law will properly preclude the entry of summary judgment.” Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986).


         Plaintiff is civilly committed at Rushville Treatment and Detention Facility (“Rushville” or “TDF”) pursuant to the Illinois Sexually Violent Persons Commitment Act, 725 Ill. Comp. Stat. § 207/1 et seq. Defendants were employed at the facility in the following capacities: Defendant Vallebhaneni (also known as “Dr. Rao”), Defendant Bednarz, and Defendant Tinwalla were psychiatrists; Defendant Walker was the Director of Nursing; Defendant Rhoades was a nurse; and Defendants Louck and Lodge were psychologists.

         On February 12, 2014, Plaintiff was removed from his therapy group for reasons that included his use of derogatory language towards other group members and an admitted infatuation with his primary therapist. Shortly thereafter, Plaintiff was placed in a mental health observation cell after he threatened to kill staff members and attempted to leave the facility. (Doc. 102-3 at 2-14). In Plaintiff's words, “I was crying. I was screaming….I kicked on doors, made a couple of threats…threatened self-harm….” Pl.'s Dep. 99:13-15.

         Defendant Bednarz prescribed Ativan, an anxiety medication, and Haldol, an antipsychotic medication, at that time. (Doc. 113-1 at 9). Plaintiff initially took the Ativan, but later refused it. (Doc. 113 at 10). On February 13, 2014, he threatened to kill another resident. (Doc. 88-6 at 13). On February 15, 2014, staff observed Plaintiff to have scratches on his wrist, presumably from a suicide attempt. (Doc. 113 at 10).

         Between mid-February and March 25, 2014, Defendant Vallabhaneni and Defendant Tinwalla met with Plaintiff separately on several occasions. Defendant Tinwalla met with Plaintiff on February 16, 2014, and they discussed Plaintiff's attempts to walk out of the facility. Plaintiff stated his recollection of the events leading to his placement on mental health status was “fuzzy.” Id. at 15.

         Defendant Vallabhaneni met with Plaintiff on three occasions (February 22 and 28; March 7, 2014). Each time, Defendant Vallabhaneni noted Plaintiff's refusal to take his medications. Id. at 15-17; (Doc. 113-1 at 20-21). Defendant Vallabhaneni diagnosed Plaintiff with manic bipolar disorder with psychotic breaks. (Doc. 113-1 at 20-21). He also noted Plaintiff's history of loss of self-control, self-injurious behavior, agitation, and threats towards others. Defendant Vallabhaneni concluded that Plaintiff had the potential to cause self-inflicted harm or harm to others, and he recommended enforced medication. Defendant Vallabhaneni referred Plaintiff to Defendant Tinwalla for a second opinion. After meeting with Plaintiff on March 9, 2014, Defendant Tinwalla concluded that Plaintiff “would benefit from psychotropic medication (voluntary or enforced) at this time.” Id. at 23.

         On March 14, 2014, Plaintiff threatened to kill staff members and harm himself. Plaintiff had struck a window with his hand until the shatterproof glass cracked. Plaintiff also had scratched his left wrist, drawing blood in an apparent suicide attempt.

         Plaintiff was notified on March 24, 2014, that a hearing before the Treatment Review Committee had been scheduled for the next day. (Doc. 91-4 at 2). The notice informed Plaintiff of the reasons for the hearing and also indicated that Defendant Rhoades, a nurse, had been appointed as Plaintiff's Staff Assistant. Plaintiff testified at his deposition that he was allowed to submit a list of witnesses to testify on his behalf.

         On March 25, 2014, Plaintiff appeared before the Treatment Review Committee (“Committee”). The Committee consisted of three Rushville officials: Defendant Bednarz, Defendant Louck, and another non-defendant official. According to the documentation provided, the Committee noted Plaintiff's then-recent suicide attempt, threats against staff, and the window Plaintiff cracked in the healthcare unit. Plaintiff also stated, according to the exhibit, that he would not take “psychiatric medications.” Plaintiff's witnesses were not called to testify, but Plaintiff testified in his deposition that they would not have offered any new information. Pl.'s Dep. 45:3-13; (Doc. 113-1 at 25).

         The Committee “concur[ed] with [the] Involuntary Administration of Psychotropic Medication.” (Doc. 91-4 at 1). As the basis for this decision, the Committee found that Plaintiff suffered from a mental illness or mental disorder, that medication was in his best interests, and that a substantial risk that Plaintiff would harm himself or others existed because of his mental condition. Plaintiff was then placed on a forced regimen of psychotropic medication (Zyprexa) until November 2014. Plaintiff was subsequently placed on blood pressure medication to treat the side effects of ...

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