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Scott-Pitts v. County of Cook

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

July 30, 2018

LASHONNA SCOTT-PITTS, Administrator of the Estate of Jordan Scott, Plaintiff,


          Hon. Virginia M. Kendall United States District Judge

         After Jordan Scott died while detained at the Cook County Jail, Plaintiff LaShonna Scott-Pitts, the Administrator of Scott's Estate, brought a civil rights, wrongful death, and medical malpractice action against Cook County; Sheriff Tom Dart; physician's assistant Paul Skrivan; physician Dr. Doe; nurses Marva Douglas, Dalfanita Moore, and Felicia Ogbuli; Corrections Officer Antonio Hughes; and Sargent Stephen Maglaya. Defendants Dart, Hughes, and Maglaya have moved to dismiss Counts I, II, III, and VI as asserted against them. (Dkt. 38). For the reasons set forth below, Defendants' motion is granted in part and denied in part.

         BACKGROUND [1]

         On December 21, 2016, Jordan Scott, a 26-year-old who had recently been arrested, was processed into the Cook County Jail ("CCJ"). (Dkt. 1) at ¶¶ 12-31. As part of this processing, Scott underwent intake health screening procedures and he was referred for a second assessment due to his past history with asthma. At this second screening, he was prescribed a rescue inhaler by CCJ medical staff and referred for routine primary care in the upcoming weeks. Id. at ¶¶ 14-15. Yet, Scott "exhibited obvious symptoms of difficulty breathing" and he unsuccessfully requested additional medical care, doing so by submitting written health service requests on at least five occasions in January 2017, some of which requested immediate medical attention and some of which requested additional and/or different medications to treat his asthma. Id. at ¶¶ 16-21. Scott was not provided with any additional or different medications.

         Around 7:40 a.m. on January 20, 2017, Scott collapsed in his cell. Defendant Hughes was the first to arrive at the cell, and he observed Scott lying on his side and breathing. Hughes did not render any assistance to Scott. Id. at ¶¶ 23-24. Defendant Maglaya next arrived at the cell. He opened the door but provided no assistance. Id. at ¶ 25. Next, two nurses arrived and performed CPR on Scott at 7:54 a.m. Scott was pronounced dead at 8:35 a.m., and bronchial asthma was later determined to have been the cause of death. Id. at ¶ 26. Plaintiff alleges that Defendants were "specifically on notice as to concerns regarding asthmatic detainees at the CCJ" by way of, among other things, the United States Department of Justice's July 11, 2008 investigative findings into the conditions at the CCJ. Id. at ¶ 34; see also United States v. Cook County, 10 C 2946 (Dkt. 1-3) (N.D. 111.) (7/11/08 Letter from Grace Chung Becker and Patrick J. Fitzgerald to Todd Stroger and Thomas Dart). In particular, Plaintiff alleges that the DOJ's 2008 findings indicated that follow-up care and regular monitoring of "peak expiratory flow" are critical for asthmatic persons and that CCJ detainees were not receiving adequate care for their chronic asthma conditions. (Dkt. 1) at ¶¶ 34(a). (b).

         Plaintiff filed a nine-count Complaint, asserting a Fourteenth Amendment claim for deliberate indifference to Scott's serious medical needs against all Defendants (Count I); a claim for violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA"), 42 U.S.C. § 12101, et seq. against Defendants Dart and Cook County for their failure to accommodate Scott's chronic asthma condition (Count II); a municipal 42 U.S.C. § 1983 claim pursuant to Monell v. Dep't of Soc. Servs. of City of N.Y., 436 U.S. 658 (1978) against Defendants Dart and Cook County for their failure to establish numerous policies, practices, and procedures and/or supervise or train employees in providing adequate and necessary medical care (Count III); an Illinois wrongful death claim under 740 ILCS § 180/1 against all Defendants (Count IV); an Illinois survival claim against all Defendants (Count V); an intentional infliction of emotional distress claim against all Defendants (Count VI); a respondeat-superior claim against Dart and Cook County (Count VII); a claim for indemnification under the Local Government and Governmental Employees Tort Immunity Act, 745 ILCS 10/9-102, against Dart and Cook County (Count VIII); and an Illinois medical malpractice claim under 735 ILCS 5/2-622 against Defendants Skrivan, Doe, Douglas, Moore, and Ogbuli (Count IX). See (Dkt. 1). Defendants Dart, Hughes, and Maglaya move to dismiss Counts I, II, III, and VI. (Dkt. 38).


         For a claim to survive a motion to dismiss brought pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6), it must contain sufficient factual matter to state a claim for relief that is plausible on its face. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). A claim is plausible on its face when the complaint contains factual content that supports a reasonable inference that the defendants are liable for the harm. Id. That said, a "pleading that offers 'labels and conclusions' or a 'formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do.'" Id. (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)). In making the plausibility determination, the Court relies on its "judicial experience and common sense." McCauley v. City of Chicago, 671 F.3d 611, 616 (7th Cir. 2011) (quoting Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679). For purposes of this motion, the Court accepts as true all well-pleaded allegations in the complaint and draws all reasonable inferences in favor of the non-moving party, Plaintiff. See Killingsworth, 507F.3dat6l8.


         A. 42 U.S.C. § 1983 Claim (Count I)

         Plaintiff claims that Dart, Hughes, and Maglaya were deliberatively indifferent to Scott's serious medical needs by failing to procure care for his severe asthma in violation of his Fourteenth Amendment rights. Defendants move to dismiss this Count, arguing that Plaintiff cannot state a claim for a violation of Scott's procedural due process rights. (Dkt. 38) at 7. But Defendants misunderstand both Plaintiffs claim and the constitutional protections that are afforded to pretrial detainees, such as Scott. "[W]hen the State takes a person into its custody and holds him there against his will, the Constitution imposes upon it a corresponding duty to assume some responsibility for his safety and general well-being." See DeShaney v. Winnebago County Dep't of Soc. Servs., 489 U.S. 189, 199-200 (1989). Yet, "[a]s one moves through the criminal justice system, the constitutional provisions governing one's treatment shift." Sims v. Olszewski, 2017 WL 1903121, at *3 (N.D. 111. May 9, 2017). Specifically, the protections of the Fourth Amendment apply at arrest and until an arrestee has benefitted from a judicial determination of probable cause; then, the Fourteenth Amendment's due process principles apply to pretrial detainees; and finally, the Eighth Amendment applies following conviction. Ortiz v. City of Chicago, 656 F.3d 523, 530-31 (7th Cir. 2011); see also Lopez v. City of Chicago, 464 F.3d 711 (7th Cir. 2006); Sims, 2017 WL 1903121, at *3 (the distinction between arrestee and pretrial detainee is not simply whether a Gerstein[2] hearing has been held, but when the government has made a sufficient showing to justify holding the accused for an extended period).

         Therefore, because Plaintiff has alleged that Scott was a pretrial detainee, the deliberate-indifference claim falls under the Fourteenth Amendment's due process clause. Kingsley v. Hendrickson, 135 S.Ct. 2466, 2475 (2015); Burton v. Downey, 805 F.3d 776, 784 (7th Cir. 2015); see also Rosario v. Brawn, 670 F.3d 816, 820-21 (7th Cir. 2012) (detainees, who are protected by the Fourteenth Amendment, are entitled to at least as much protection as that given to prisoners, who are protected by the Eighth Amendment, even though some differences exist). As it happens, the standard for deliberate indifference under the Fourteenth Amendment is essentially the same as the Eighth Amendment standard. Burton, 805 F.3d at 784; see also Collins v. Al-Shami, 851 F.3d 727, 731 (7th Cir. 2017). In any event, Defendants' sole argument for dismissal of this claim-that Plaintiff cannot state a claim for a procedural due process violation-misses the mark and does not provide grounds for dismissal of Count I at this time. However, as a final point on Count I, the Court takes note of Plaintiff s response, which argues that Count I states a claim against Defendants Hughes and Maglaya. (Dkt. 51) at 9-10. Because Plaintiff appears to admit that she is not bringing Count I against Defendant Dart in his individual capacity, and because she has not levied any allegations of his personal involvement in Scott's medical care and death, Kuhn v. Goodlow, 678 F.3d 552, 556 (7th Cir. 2012) (to be held liable under § 1983, an individual must have caused or participated in a constitutional deprivation) (citations omitted), Count I is dismissed insofar as it is brought against Dart individually. See (Dkt. 1) at ¶ 3 (explaining that the Complaint is brought against Dart in his official and individual capacities).

         B. Monell Claim (Count III)

         Next, Plaintiff claims that Dart in his official capacity-that is, the Cook County Sheriffs Department itself, see Franklin v. Zaruba, 150 F.3d 682, 686 (7th Cir. 1998) ("§ 1983 suits against sheriffs in their official capacities are in reality suits against the county sheriffs department")-was deliberately indifferent to the serious risk that Scott would die from his severe asthma by way of inadequate policies, practices and training. A local government body such as a sheriffs department may not be held liable under § 1983 on a respondeat-superior theory. Monell v. Dep't of Soc. Servs., 436 U.S. 658, 690 (1978). However, it can be liable under § 1983 if (1) it had an express policy calling for constitutional violations, (2) it had a widespread practice of constitutional violations that was so permanent and well settled as to constitute a custom or usage with the force of law or (3) if a person with final policymaking authority for the county caused the constitutional violation. Id. at 694; McCormick v. City of Chicago, 230 F.3d 319, 324 (7th Cir. 2000). A governmental body is liable only when its "policy or custom, whether made by its lawmakers or by those whose edicts or acts may fairly be said to represent official policy," is the moving force behind the constitutional violation. Monell, 436 U.S. at 694; see also McCauley v. City of Chicago, 671 F.3d 611, 616 (7th Cir. 2011) (to adequately allege a Monell widespread practice claim, a plaintiff must plead factual content that allows the Court to draw the reasonable inference that the municipality maintained a policy, custom or practice that contributed to the alleged violation). In other words, "[t]he critical question under Monell... is whether a municipal (or corporate) policy or custom gave rise to the harm (that is, caused it), or if instead the harm resulted from the acts of the entity's agents." Glisson v. Indiana Dep 't of Corr., 849 F.3d 372, 379 (7th Cir. 2017).

         Here, Plaintiff alleges that Dart is liable under Monell for the following 11 widespread practices, in which Dart:

a. Failed to establish and/or implement policies, practices and procedures to ensure that detainees at CCJ receive appropriate medical care for serious medical needs, including ...

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