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Degrado v. Carter

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

March 31, 2017

THOMAS PAUL DEGRADO, Plaintiff,
v.
IMHOTEP CARTER, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER

          Andrea R. Wood United States District Judge.

         Defendants Terri Anderson, Shaun Bass, Royce Brown-Reed, Marcus Hardy, Sarah Johnson, and Anna McBee's motion to dismiss [74] is denied. Status hearing set for 4/19/2017 at 9:00 AM. See accompanying Statement for details.

         STATEMENT

         Plaintiff Thomas Degrado, a prisoner in the custody of the Illinois Department of Corrections (“IDOC”) who is currently incarcerated at Menard Correctional Center, has brought this lawsuit pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Degrado alleges that Defendants were deliberately indifferent to his serious medical needs. Specifically, Degrado claims that he injured his wrist several times in August 2011 while he was imprisoned at Stateville Correctional Center (“Stateville”), but that he received unsatisfactory medical attention resulting in debilitating pain and physical deformity. Defendants Terri Anderson, Shaun Bass, Royce Brown-Reed, Marcus Hardy, Sarah Johnson, and Anna McBee (collectively, “IDOC Defendants”) have moved this Court to dismiss the claims against them pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). (Dkt. No. 74.) The Court denies the motion for the reasons that follow.

         I. Background

         The Court takes the following facts from Degrado's Amended Complaint. (Dkt. No. 69.) When analyzing a this motion, made under Rule 12(b)(6), the Court must “construe [the complaint] in the light most favorable to the plaintiffs, accepting as true all well-pleaded facts alleged and drawing all permissible inferences in their favor.” Fortres Grand Corp. v. Warner Bros. Entm't Inc., 763 F.3d 696, 700 (7th Cir. 2014).

         On August 1, 2011, Degrado tripped and fell on his left hand and wrist. (Am. Compl. ¶ 16, Dkt. No. 69.) Degrado requested to be sent to the infirmary but was sent back to his unit instead. (Id. ¶ 18.) In the next couple of days, swelling deformed Degrado's hand and wrist, causing him such pain that he vomited. (Id. ¶ 19.) Nonetheless, he was not admitted to the infirmary, but rather was sent back to his own cell. (Id.) Thereafter, Degrado did not see a doctor until August 8, 2011. (Id. ¶¶ 20-24.) The doctor told him that his wrist was simply dislocated- not broken-although an X-ray taken four days later indicated that his wrist was in fact broken. (Id. ¶¶ 25-26.) On August 12, Degrado fell and again landed on his injured left wrist. (Id. ¶ 27.) His request to go to the health care unit was denied. (Id. ¶ 28.) On or about November 1, 2011, Degrado was sent to an orthopedic specialist outside the prison, who diagnosed him with a fractured and improperly reunited wrist. (Id. ¶ 33.)

         After Degrado's second request to go to the medical unit was denied, in late August 2011, Degrado filed his first grievance under Stateville's grievance procedure. (Id. ¶ 29.) This grievance was denied. Then, on October 26, 2011, Degrado wrote Defendant Marcus Hardy, Stateville's Chief Administrative Officer, to explain that his pain had not stopped and that he had not seen an orthopedist. (Id. ¶ 32.) In addition, Degrado had other “conversations [with and] letters and grievances filed or delivered to” Hardy among others. (Id. ¶ 39.) But Hardy “refused to grant [Degrado] emergency medical treatment or properly treat [his] broken left wrist.” (Id. ¶ 28.) Degrado also directed letters and other communications to Royce Brown-Reed, Chief Administrator of Stateville's Health Unit “responsible for the care and humane treatment of inmates.” (Id. ¶ 47.)

         Ultimately, Degrado's grievances did not get him his desired medical relief, leading to his claims against the IDOC Defendants. As noted, the Amended Complaint sets forth that Hardy and Brown-Reed were aware of Degrado's grievances about his medical condition and care and failed to take any action, leading to his prolonged pain and injury. In a similar vein, the Amended Complaint alleges that Bass and McBee were grievance officers “responsible for the proper administration and care of the inmates at Stateville” and knew of Degrado's complaints about his medical treatment, but denied and disregarded those complaints. (Id. ¶¶ 40, 51-53.) Finally, the Amended Complaint alleges that Anderson and Johnson, members of Stateville's Administrative Review Board, reviewed Degrado's grievances and denied them, thereby also causing him prolonged pain and injury. (Id. ¶¶ 29, 54-57.)

         II. Discussion

         To survive a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, “a complaint must contain sufficient factual allegations, 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 Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). This pleading standard does not necessarily require a complaint to contain detailed factual allegations. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. Rather, “[a] claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Adams v. City of Indianapolis, 742 F.3d 720, 728 (7th Cir. 2014) (quoting Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678).

         A “person who, under color of any statute, ordinance, regulation, custom, or usage, of any State” deprives another “person within the jurisdiction of [the United States] . . . of any [constitutional] rights . . . shall be liable to the party injured . . . .” 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Prisoners enjoy a constitutional right not to be subjected to cruel and unusual punishment. U.S. Const. amend. VIII. That right includes “a right to adequate medical care.” See Berry v. Peterman, 604 F.3d 435, 439 (7th Cir. 2010). To state a claim for constitutionally deficient medical care, a plaintiff “must demonstrate two elements: (1) an objectively serious medical condition; and (2) an official's deliberate indifference to that condition.” Arnett v. Webster, 658 F.3d 742, 750 (7th Cir. 2011).

         The objective seriousness of Degrado's medical condition is not at issue here. Rather, the IDOC Defendants move to dismiss Degrado's claim on the grounds that he has failed to allege facts sufficient to allow the Court reasonably to infer that they were deliberately indifferent. The IDOC Defendants also argue that they are entitled to qualified immunity for any of their alleged constitutional violations. The Court considers these arguments in turn.

         A. ...


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