United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Honorable Edmond E. Chang United States District Judge.
Abigail Grason was involuntarily committed to the Elgin
Mental Health Center after a jury found her not guilty by
reason of insanity at the conclusion of a criminal trial. R.
21, Am. Compl. ¶ 26. Grason has since filed a civil-rights
suit, 42 U.S.C. § 1983, against thirteen Elgin
employees,  alleging that they violated her
Eighth and Fourteenth Amendment
rights. Am. Compl. ¶¶ 81-85. The
Defendants now move to dismiss the Eighth Amendment claim for
failure to state a claim. Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6); R. 35,
Defs.' Mot. Dismiss. For the reasons stated below, the
partial motion to dismiss is granted and Grason's Eighth
Amendment claim is dismissed with prejudice.
purpose of deciding this motion to dismiss, Grason's
factual allegations are accepted as true. Erickson v.
Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007). Grason was initially
admitted to the Elgin Mental Health Center in October 2006.
Am. Compl. ¶ 22. At that time, she was diagnosed with
hypothyroidism and prescribed medication for treatment.
Id. ¶ 23-24. A few months later she was
transferred to Cook County Jail. Id. ¶ 25.
March 2008, Grason was involuntarily committed to Elgin after
a criminal jury found her not guilty by reason of insanity.
Am. Compl. ¶ 26. Four years later, she was placed under
the care of the Hartman unit treatment team. Id.
¶ 27. The treatment team met weekdays to discuss and
make decisions (as a unified body) about Grason's medical
care. Id. ¶¶ 28-29.
March and June 2012, Defendant Jacqueline Jordan
(Grason's psychiatrist at the time) began increasing
Grason's dosage of the medication Tegretol. Am. Compl.
¶¶ 30, 32-33. Jordan allegedly threatened Grason
with indefinite confinement in order to get her to agree to
the increase. Id. ¶ 35.
2012, Grason began experiencing episodes of double vision.
Am. Compl. ¶ 36. These episodes lasted for hours and
occurred as often as two times per day, five days per week.
Id. ¶ 39. The treatment team did not tell
Grason that these episodes could be a consequence of the
increased dosage of Tegretol; instead, Grason was referred to
a neuro-ophthalmologist. Id. ¶ 38.
was not actually seen by a neuro-ophthalmologist, however,
until December 2014-nearly two years after she first started
experiencing double vision. Am. Compl. ¶ 54. The
neuro-ophthalmologist did not find any neurological
abnormalities that would cause Grason to experience double
vision, and so recommended that Grason's dosage of
Tegretol be lowered. Id. ¶¶ 54, 56. Only
then did the treatment team act. Id. ¶ 57.
after her dosage was lowered, Grason stopped experiencing
double vision. Am. Compl. ¶ 58. Grason's
hypothyroidism, however, had worsened by this time.
Id. ¶ 59. The treatment team had not told
Grason that Tegretol is not recommended for patients with
thyroid disorders. Id.
January 2014, Defendant Ulsa Kartan (who had replaced Jordan
as Grason's psychiatrist, Am. Compl. ¶ 43) proposed
that Grason take lithium as a mood stabilizer. Id.
¶ 62. Grason did not want to take lithium, but Kartan
told Grason that refusing to take lithium would negatively
impact her ability to be released from Elgin in the future.
Id. Defendant Daniel Hardy (Elgin's Medical
Director) ultimately directed Kartan to prescribe the
lithium. Id. ¶ 63. Hardy had never examined
Grason, nor was he familiar with Grason's medical
requested a second opinion regarding the prescription but
that request was rejected. Am. Compl. ¶ 66. Because
Grason felt coerced and threatened, she decided to take the
lithium. Id. ¶ 67. At no point in time did a
member of the treatment team inform Grason of the possible
side effects of lithium, or of the dangers of lithium to
patients with hypothyroidism. Id. ¶¶
she started taking lithium, Grason experienced abnormal
thyroid readings, general neck pain, soreness in her throat,
and difficulty swallowing. Am. Compl. ¶ 68. As a result,
she was sent to an endocrinologist who ordered an ultrasound.
Id. The ultrasound revealed a goiter and multiple
nodules on Grason's thyroid. Id. ¶ 69. The
endocrinologist initially diagnosed Grason with
Hashimoto's disease, but a biopsy of her thyroid later