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Horton v. Guzman

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

April 4, 2017

WILLIAM HORTON, Plaintiff,
v.
GERARDO GUZMAN, M.D., in his individual and official capacities, EVARISTO AGUINALDO, M.D., in his individual and official capacities, JOHN E. ZARUBA, in his official capacity as Sheriff of DuPage County, and DUPAGE COUNTY, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          John Z. Lee United States District Judge

         Plaintiff William Horton is an inmate at the DuPage County Jail who suffers from liver disease, Hepatitis C, and esophageal varices. He brings suit pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Defendants Dr. Gerardo Guzman, Dr. Evaristo Aguinaldo, Sheriff John Zaruba, and DuPage County, alleging deliberate indifference to his medical needs. Defendants have moved to dismiss the claims in Plaintiff's Fourth Amended Complaint. For the reasons set forth below, Guzman and Aguinaldo's motion to dismiss [56] is denied, Zaruba's motion to dismiss [55] is denied, and DuPage County's motion to dismiss [59] is granted in part and denied in part.

         Factual Background [1]

         Plaintiff is a detainee at the DuPage County Jail (hereinafter, “the Jail”). 4th Am. Compl. ¶ 3. Defendant Gerardo Guzman is a doctor and serves as the medical director of the Jail. Id. ¶ 7. Similarly, Defendant Evaristo Aguinaldo is a doctor who provides medical care at the Jail. Id. ¶ 8. Plaintiff is suing Guzman and Aguinaldo in their individual and official capacities. Id. ¶¶ 7-8. Defendant John Zaruba is the Sheriff of DuPage County and is being sued in his official capacity. Id. ¶¶ 9-10.

         On September 22, 2015, before Plaintiff was booked at the Jail, he was evaluated by Dr. Joseph Vicari, a gastroenterologist, who concluded that Plaintiff has cirrhosis secondary to chronic Hepatitis C. Id. ¶¶ 12, 14. Vicari also noted that Plaintiff had undergone multiple endoscopies to remedy internal bleeding caused by esophageal varices. Id. ¶ 15. Vicari recommended that Plaintiff make an appointment with a liver clinic for a transplant evaluation. Id. ¶ 16. He also recommended an additional endoscopy and banding to address the internal bleeding. Id. ¶ 17. Furthermore, on November 30, 2015, Vicari instructed Plaintiff to begin taking a drug called Harvoni to treat his Hepatitis C, to obtain another endoscopy with possible additional banding, and to “follow up with Loyola liver clinic” regarding a transplant evaluation. Id. ¶ 23.

         On December 9, 2015, Plaintiff was booked at the Jail. Id. ¶ 12. Soon thereafter, Plaintiff visited Defendants Guzman and Aguinaldo for medical appointments. Id. ¶¶ 26, 31. Guzman and Aguinaldo were provided with Vicari's medical reports, which contained all of the medical information described above. Id. ¶¶ 27, 29, 31. According to Plaintiff, Guzman told him during an appointment on December 11, 2015, that “Plaintiff ‘should get out [of jail] as soon as possible' because the Jail would not pay for the treatment of Plaintiff's liver disease and Hepatitis C.” Id. ¶ 49. In addition, employees of the DuPage County Sheriff's Office stated on January 15, 2016, that they were not required to provide Harvoni to treat Plaintiff's Hepatitis C because the treatment cost $90, 000 and Plaintiff's condition was not life-threatening. Id. ¶ 50.

         On January 22, 2016, Plaintiff was evaluated by Dr. Scott Cotler of Loyola University Medical Center, who ordered tests to determine whether Plaintiff needed an evaluation for a liver transplant. Id. ¶¶ 32-33. On January 25, 2016, Plaintiff was seen again by Vicari, who ordered Plaintiff to begin taking Harvoni “as soon as possible.” Id. ¶ 34. Plaintiff alleges that, despite their awareness of these recommendations from Cotler and Vicari, Defendants Guzman and Aguinaldo refused to permit Plaintiff to obtain a liver function test or to receive further diagnosis and treatment. Id. ¶¶ 39, 56, 67.

         In addition, around February 29, 2016, Vicari instructed Guzman to begin treating Plaintiff with Harvoni. Id. ¶ 40. On March 21, 2016, Plaintiff again met with Cotler, who recommended that Plaintiff obtain a liver transplant evaluation at the University of Illinois Hospital. Id. ¶ 44. Still, however, Defendants continued to refuse to procure Harvoni and also refused to refer Plaintiff for a transplant evaluation anywhere. Id. ¶¶ 41, 44.

         On July 14, 2016, Plaintiff collapsed and became unconscious at the Jail as a result of his degenerating liver disease. Id. ¶ 45. Plaintiff was transported to the Central DuPage Hospital's intensive care unit and placed on a ventilator to assist his breathing. Id. Plaintiff alleges that, shortly thereafter, the Jail “furloughed” him until December 5, 2016, so that it would not be responsible for the cost of the medical care that Central DuPage Hospital provided. Id. ¶¶ 4, 52.

         Based on these allegations, Plaintiff claims that Guzman and Aguinaldo were deliberately indifferent to his serious medical needs. Id. ¶¶ 56-77. He also claims that the DuPage County Sheriff's Department, under the control of Zaruba and DuPage County, has a policy and practice of unreasonably denying medical care to detainees based on the cost of such care and without regard to the severity of detainees' medical conditions. Id. ¶¶ 47-48. Defendants have moved to dismiss the claims against them pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure (“Rule”) 12(b)(6).

         Legal Standard

         A motion under Rule 12(b)(6) challenges the sufficiency of the complaint. Bell v. City of Country Club Hills, 841 F.3d 713, 716 (7th Cir. 2016). Under the federal notice pleading standards, “[a] plaintiff's complaint need only provide a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief, sufficient to provide the defendant with fair notice of the claim and its basis.” Tamayo, 526 F.3d at 1081 (internal quotation marks omitted); Fed R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2). When considering a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), the Court must “accept[ ] as true all well-pleaded facts alleged, and draw[ ] all possible inference in [the plaintiff's] favor.” Tamayo, 526 F.3d at 1081.

         Additionally, a complaint must allege “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 Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). To have facial plausibility, a claim must plead “factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Id. “The plausibility standard is not akin to a ‘probability requirement, ' but it asks for more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully.” Id. Plausibility, however, “does ...


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