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Earl v. Howard

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

June 27, 2017

CLYDE EARL, Plaintiff,
JOHNATHAN HOWARD, et al., Defendants.


          Amy J. St. Eve United States District Court Judge

         The Court grants in part without prejudice and denies in part without prejudice Defendants' joint motion to dismiss brought pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). [21]. The Court grants Plaintiff leave to file a Second Amended Complaint in accordance with this ruling by no later than July 18, 2017.


         On January 12, 2017, Plaintiff filed the present lawsuit against employees of the Cook County Department of Corrections (“CCDOC”), Cermak Health Services of Cook County (“Cermak”), and Cook County Sheriff's Office employees, including Sheriff Thomas Dart, as well as Cook County, pursuant to the Court's original and supplemental jurisdiction.[1] Before the Court is Defendants' joint motion to dismiss brought pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6). For the following reasons, the Court grants in part without prejudice and denies in part without prejudice Defendants' motion.


         “A motion to dismiss pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) challenges the viability of a complaint by arguing that it fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted.” Camasta v. Jos. A. Bank Clothiers, Inc., 761 F.3d 732, 736 (7th Cir. 2014); see also Hill v. Serv. Emp. Int'l Union, 850 F.3d 861, 863 (7th Cir. 2017). Under Rule 8(a)(2), a complaint must include “a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). Pursuant to the federal pleading standards, a plaintiff's “factual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level.” Bell Atlantic v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 167 L.Ed.2d 929 (2007). Put differently, a “complaint must contain 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, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949, 173 L.Ed.2d 868 (2009) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570). When determining the sufficiency of a complaint under the plausibility standard, courts must “accept all well-pleaded facts as true and draw reasonable inferences in the plaintiffs' favor.” Roberts v. City of Chicago, 817 F.3d 561, 564 (7th Cir. 2016). Ordinarily, district courts will not dismiss a complaint based on a statute of limitations affirmative defense unless the action is clearly time-barred. See Cannon v. Newport, 850 F.3d 303, 306 (7th Cir. 2017); Khan v. United States, 808 F.3d 1169, 1172 (7th Cir. 2015).


         In his First Amended Complaint, Plaintiff alleges that since the early 1990s, he has suffered from mental illness causing him to experience severe symptoms, including psychosis, hallucinations, depression, and paranoia, when he is not taking his psychotropic medication. (R. 65, First Am. Compl. ¶ 16.) Plaintiff further alleges that his symptoms were well-controlled with psychotropic medication in the years prior to the events giving rise to this lawsuit, and, at times when he did suffer from symptoms of his mental illness, he either went to the hospital on his own or called to have an ambulance take him to the hospital. (Id. ¶ 17.) On January 12, 2015, Plaintiff was experiencing severe symptoms of his mental illness, so he attempted to go to a hospital to seek treatment. (Id. ¶ 18.) While on his way to the hospital, Chicago Police Officers arrested him. (Id. ¶ 19.) On January 14, 2015, officers placed him into the custody of the CCDOC. (Id. ¶ 20.) In addition, Plaintiff alleges that his bond was set at $10, 000, which he could not afford to pay. (Id. ¶ 21.) Plaintiff remained in custody until June 17, 2015. (Id. ¶ 22.)

         Plaintiff asserts that while he was a detainee during this time period, Defendants did not provide him psychotropic medication even though his prescriptions for these medications were current and active. (Id. ¶ 23.) Plaintiff asserts that while he was detained, his mental illness was so obvious that even a lay person would have easily recognized that immediate treatment, including but not limited to psychotropic medication, was necessary. (Id. ¶ 24.) He states that while he was detained he behaved bizarrely, refused to talk to people, refused to come out of his cell, refused to eat, displayed poor hygiene, and spoke incomprehensibly. (Id.) He also posits that Defendants knew of his mental illness because he previously had been hospitalized and treated with prescribed psychotropic medications. (Id. ¶ 25.) Also, Plaintiff alleges that representatives of the Sheriff's Office and Cook County discussed his illness and treatment during multi-disciplinary team meetings and that he was housed in Cermak's psychiatric infirmary. (Id. ¶ 26.) During his interactions with the individual Defendants, he directly requested psychiatric evaluations, stated that he needed psychiatric care, informed Defendants that he was prescribed specific psychotropic medications, stated that he was hearing voices, submitted written requests for medication/mental health care, and demonstrated his amenability to further treatment. (Id. ¶ 28.)

         Plaintiff alleges that on May 22, 2015, a Cook County judge declared him unfit for trial due to his mental illness, and, consequently transferred him to the custody of the Department of Mental Health. (Id. ¶ 30.) Plaintiff states that despite being found unfit for trial, Defendants took no further actions beyond simple checkups and continued to deny his psychotropic medications until June 17, 2015, at which time he was transferred to the Chester Mental Health Center. (Id. ¶ 31.)

         Based on these allegations, Plaintiff alleges that Defendants were deliberately indifferent to his serious medical needs in violation of his Fourteenth Amendment due process rights while he was a pretrial detainee (Count I). Further, Plaintiff brings a claim against the Sheriff and Cook County for indemnification (Count II). Plaintiff also alleges a Monell claim against the Sheriff's Office and Cook County (Count III). Last, Plaintiff alleges a state law intentional infliction of emotional distress claim and a willful and wanton conduct/aggravated negligence claim (Counts IV and V).


         I. Personal Involvement

         Although Plaintiff has generally alleged detailed facts raising his right to relief above a speculative level as to his Fourteenth Amended due process deliberate indifference medical care claim, see Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555, Defendants argue that he has failed to alleged sufficient facts as to their personal involvement or responsibility. When bringing constitutional claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, individual liability requires personal involvement in the alleged constitutional violation. See Colbert v. City of Chicago, 851 F.3d 649, 657 (7th Cir. 2017); Minix v. Canarecci, 597 F.3d 824, 833 (7th Cir. 2010). In other words, under § 1983, an individual is only liable for his or her own misconduct. See Perez v. Fenoglio, 792 F.3d 768, 781 (7th Cir. 2015). Also, a “defendant will be deemed to have sufficient personal responsibility if he directed the conduct causing the constitutional violation, or if it occurred with his knowledge or consent.” Rasho v. Elyea, 856 F.3d 469, 478 (7th Cir. 2017) (citation omitted). Put differently, to “show personal involvement, [a] supervisor must ‘know about the conduct and facilitate it, approve it, condone it, or turn a blind eye for fear of ...

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