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Duffin v. Dart

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

January 18, 2018

WILLIAM M. DUFFIN, Plaintiff,
v.
THOMAS J. DART, ET AL., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION & ORDER

          Honorable Thomas M. Durkin United States District Judge.

         After suffering a slip and fall injury in his cell in Cook County Jail, plaintiff William M. Duffin sued two sets of defendants: (1) Thomas H. Dart in his official capacity as the Sheriff of Cook County, the Cook County Sheriff's Office, Cook County, an unknown correctional officer (an employee of the Cook County Sheriff's Office), John Doe (an employee of the Cook County Sheriff's Office), and other unknown employees of the Cook County Sheriff's Office (collectively, the “Cook County defendants”); and (2) four medical providers at Stroger Hospital (Andre Ting, Trevor Lewis, Neera Khattar, and Stephanie Campbell) (collectively, the “Stroger defendants”).

         Currently before the Court is defendants' motion for judgment on the pleadings with respect to Counts III and IV of Duffin's third amended complaint. R. 44. Count III alleges that the Stroger defendants and unknown employees of the Cook County Sheriff's Department were deliberately indifferent in their treatment of Duffin's fractured clavicle resulting from the slip and fall. Count IV is a Monell claim against Dart, the Cook County Sheriff's Office, and Cook County based on an alleged widespread practice of failing to provide adequate medical care at Cook County Jail. For the reasons explained below, the Court grants without prejudice defendants' motion for judgment on the pleadings with respect to Counts III and IV.

         STANDARD

         Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(c), a party may move for judgment on the pleadings “[a]fter the pleadings are closed-but early enough not to delay trial.” “Failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted” is properly raised in “a motion under Rule 12(c).” Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(h)(2).

         The standard applied to motions under Rule 12(c) is the same standard applied to dismissals under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). Buchanan-Moore v. Cnty. of Milwaukee, 570 F.3d 824, 827 (7th Cir. 2009). The complaint must provide “a short plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Fed. Civ. P. 8(a)(2). Through this statement, defendants must be provided with “fair notice” of the claim and the basis for it. Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). This means the 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 (2009) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570). “‘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.'” Mann, 707 F.3d at 877 (quoting Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678). In applying this standard, the Court accepts all well-pleaded facts as true and draws all reasonable inferences in favor of the non-moving party. Mann, 707 F.3d at 877.

         BACKGROUND

         In late February 2015, while housed at Cook County Jail as a pretrial detainee, Duffin reported a leaking sink in his cell to an unknown correctional officer and John Doe, a maintenance worker. R. 29 ¶¶ 1, 21. Doe told Duffin that he would return to repair the leaking sink. Id. ¶ 22.

         As of March 2, 2015, the sink had not been repaired, and Duffin slipped and fell in a puddle of water coming from the leaking sink. Id. ¶¶ 23, 25. After Duffin fell, he was transported to Cermak Hospital. Id. ¶ 27. A doctor at Cermak evaluated Duffin's injuries, administered x-rays, and determined that Duffin had fractured his clavicle bone. Id. ¶ 28.

         Duffin was then transported to Stroger Hospital for treatment, where he spent approximately ten hours. Id. ¶¶ 29-30. Duffin alleges that the Stroger defendants evaluated his injuries and confirmed that he had suffered a fractured clavicle. Id. ¶¶ 31-38. Duffin also alleges that in their evaluations, none of the Stroger defendants reset his bone. Id. Defendant Ting told Duffin not to use his arm for five weeks, and unidentified individuals gave Duffin a sling and prescribed ibuprofen, muscle relaxants, and calcium. Id. ¶ 40.

         Since his discharge from Stroger, Duffin has continued to experience extreme pain in his shoulder, neck, and back. Id. ¶¶ 39, 41. Over a nineteen-month period, Duffin filed twelve medical slips requesting medical attention and pain medication Id. ¶ 42. In response to his requests, Cermak medical staff examined him and prescribed ibuprofen or acetaminophen, which Duffin alleges failed to relieve his pain. Id. ¶ 43.

         Duffin filed suit on June 2, 2016. R. 1. On July 22, 2016, this Court dismissed Duffin's complaint without prejudice and appointed counsel. R. 7. In that order, the Court explained that Duffin's allegations regarding the maintenance worker's failure to fix the leaking sink amount at most to negligence, and even gross negligence does not give rise to a constitutional violation. Id. at 3. The Court further determined that Duffin had not stated a deliberate indifference claim. Duffin's allegations that doctors treated his fracture by putting his arm in a sling and telling him to rest it did not rise to the level of disregarding an excessive risk to Duffin's health. Id. The Court noted that “depending on the severity of the fracture, placing the arm in a sling to restrict movement may be proper.” Id. (citing Mayo Clinic, Diseases and Conditions, Broken Collarbone, http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/broken-collarbone/diagnosistreat ment/drc-20370316 (last visited January 16, 2018)). Duffin also had alleged, however, that his clavicle bone healed improperly. Id. The Court explained that “[i]f Plaintiff's bone failed to heal properly and he made complaints of pain that went unaddressed, Plaintiff may be able to state a claim for deliberate indifference to his serious medical needs.” Id. The Court recruited counsel to investigate whether Duffin may be able to state a claim for deliberate indifference. Id. at 3-4.

         Duffin filed a pro se amended complaint (R. 15), which was stricken because he had appointed counsel (R. 18). Duffin's counsel filed a second amended complaint (R. 19), and subsequently moved for leave to amend and file a third amended complaint (R. 26). The Court granted that motion (R. 28), and Duffin filed his third amended complaint (R. 29). Defendants subsequently moved ...


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