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Corbier v. St. Clair County Sheriff Watson

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

July 21, 2017

DAWN CORBIER, as Administrator of the ESTATE OF JOSHUA B. JURCICH, Plaintiff,
v.
ST. CLAIR COUNTY SHERIFF RICHARD WATSON, et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          STACI M. YANDLE DISTRICT JUDGE.

         This matter comes before the Court on Defendants Wexford Health Sources, Inc. (“Wexford”), Doctor Muddasani Reddy, Nurse Sandra Thurman, Nurse Jana Reuter, and Nurse Brandy Nichols (collectively, the “individual Defendants”) motions to dismiss Counts I, II, and VI of Plaintiff's Complaint pursuant to F.R.C.P. 12(b)(6) (Docs. 122, 124, 126, 128, 130, 132). The individual defendants move to dismiss Count I on the grounds that Plaintiff failed to plead facts necessary to state a claim. The individual defendants also move to dismiss Count VI on the grounds that Plaintiff failed to attach the requisite affidavit for medical malpractice claims in Illinois. Wexford moves to dismiss Count II on the grounds that Plaintiff failed to plead facts that allege that Wexford employees violated Plaintiff's decedent's constitutional rights. Plaintiff opposes the motions (Doc. 153). For the following reasons, the motions are GRANTED.

         Background

         Plaintiff's Complaint alleges the following facts. Plaintiff's decedent, Joshua Jurcich, was arrested for possession of a controlled substance and taken to the St. Clair County Jail on March 6, 2014. Jurcich had been detained at the St. Clair County jail many times over a 16 year period. On at least seven occasions, Jurcich had informed the jail staff that he suffered from mental health problems. On at least one of those occasions, an unspecified booking officer noted that Jurcich was suicidal.

         During the most recent detention, Defendant Officer Steven J. Frierdich gave Jurcich a mental health screening and referred him for further mental health evaluation. Jurcich informed Defendant Nurse Thurman that he was “dope sick” and had been diagnosed with scabies. Nurse Thurman placed Jurcich in medical segregation.

         On March 11, 2014, Defendant Officers James D. Wagner, Mark J. Harris, Dante S. Beattie, Thomas Mesey and Eric L. Walter beat Jurcich for refusing to return to his medical segregation cell. Jurcich was then examined by Defendant Nurse Reuter who cleared him to be placed in general population. Jurcich was placed in a maximum security cell where he verbalized suicidal thoughts to fellow detainees. On the evening of March 11, 2014, jail staff found Jurcich unconscious in his cell from a suicide attempt. He succumbed to his injuries and died two days later.

         Among others, Plaintiff asserts the following claims as the Administrator of Mr. Jurcich's estate: Count I, brought under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleges that the individual defendants violated Jurcich's constitutional rights by knowingly disregarding the risk that he would commit suicide; Count II, brought under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleges that Wexford is liable for the actions alleged in Count I because Wexford's policies allow its employees to routinely deny detainees with mental health issues access to proper treatment; and Count VI asserts a wrongful death claim under Illinois state law based on the aforementioned actions of Wexford employees.

         Discussion

         When reviewing a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, the Court must accept all allegations in the Complaint as true. Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007) (citing Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)). In order to state a claim for which relief can be granted, a plaintiff need only provide a “short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). However, the allegations must be “more than labels and conclusions.” Pugh v. Tribune Co., 521 F.3d 686, 699 (7th Cir. 2008). The requirements of Rule 8 are satisfied if the Complaint (1) describes the claim in sufficient detail to give the defendant fair notice of what the claim is and the grounds upon which it rests and (2) plausibly suggests that the plaintiff has a right to relief above a speculative level. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555; see Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009); EEOC v. Concentra Health Servs., 496 F.3d 773, 776 (7th Cir. 2007). “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.” Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. at 1949 (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556).

         Count I

         To properly plead a failure to protect claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, Plaintiff must allege facts showing that (1) Mr. Jurcich was “incarcerated under conditions posing substantial risk of serious harm” and (2) “the defendants acted with deliberate indifference to his health or safety.” Santiago v. Walls, 599 F.3d 749, 756 (7th Cir. 2010) (internal quotations omitted). Deliberate indifference means “actual knowledge . . . of the existence of the substantial risk and that the [defendant] considered the possibility that the risk could cause serious harm.” Washington v. LaPorte Cty. Sheriff's Dep't, 306 F.3d 515, 518 (7th Cir. 2002).

         Brandy Nichols

         Plaintiff alleges that Brandy Nichols was “responsible for the medical care, treatment, and welfare of Mr. Jurcich while he was detailed at the Jail, and failed in that responsibility.” (Doc. 118, p. 5). Plaintiff further alleges that Brandy Nichols was “working at the Jail that night and responded to Officer Knyff's request for assistance after he found Mr. Jurcich hanging in the cell[, ]” and that she “had knowledge of the fact that Mr. Jurcich was a suicide risk and failed to take any measures to monitor and protect him.” (Doc. 118, p. 11).

         Defendant Nichols argues that Plaintiff alleges only the vague legal conclusion that she knew Jurcich was a suicide risk. She further argues that Plaintiff fails to allege that Nichols had any interaction with Jurcich, that she knew he had been in an altercation or that she knew that he had been placed in a maximum security cell. Plaintiff maintains that it is reasonable to infer that Nichols had access to Jurcich's mental health records and “therefore must have known about his mental health issues.” (Doc. 153, ...


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