United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
E. Chang, Judge
Caruth has long suffered from lower back pain, numbness, and
a large lump in his left buttock. Caruth brought this
complaint challenging his medical treatment at a number of
different Illinois prisons, dating back to
1997. The Defendants all moved to dismiss the
current version of Caruth's complaint. See R.
110, Wexford Mot. Dismiss; R. 130, Sood and Schwarz Mot.
Dismiss. They argue that some of his
deliberate-indifference claims are barred by the statute of
limitations, and that his medical malpractice allegations
fail to state a claim upon which relief can be granted and
are not properly supported by affidavits as required by
Illinois law. Id. For the reasons stated below, the
motions to dismiss are denied, except as to certain claims
related to treatment by Defendants Tilden and Ojelade before
1997, Caruth has bounced back and forth among a number of
different Illinois prisons. See Second Am. Compl. at
¶¶ 22-136. Caruth's health problems (at least
the ones relevant to this case) began at Pontiac Correctional
Center in 1997 or 1998. Id. ¶ 23. While at
Pontiac, Caruth experienced severe lower back pain and
numbness to his neck and arms. Id. ¶ 23. X-rays
of Caruth's lower back were taken, and Caruth was
examined by a bone specialist. Id. ¶ 24. The
specialist recommended surgery to treat Caruth's back
issues. Id. ¶ 24. The specialist submitted his
findings to Pontiac's medical director and recommended
that Caruth undergo surgery, but the medical director denied
the request. Id. ¶¶ 25-26. Instead, Caruth
was provided with Ibuprofen and a back brace, which Caruth
says was severely damaged. Id. ¶ 27.
the next decade or so, Caruth continued to experience lower
back pain and numbness. Id. ¶¶ 30-44.
Caruth never got surgery for his condition. Id.
¶¶ 22-136. He did have a back brace during some of
this time, but sometimes the brace was damaged, and sometimes
he did not get a brace at all. See id. ¶¶
32, 37-40. In September 2012, a doctor at Stateville
requested an MRI or CAT scan for Caruth, but that request was
denied. Id. ¶ 43. Instead, physical therapy was
ordered, but the physical therapy never took place.
Id. ¶ 44.
2012, Caruth had developed another painful medical condition:
a large lump in his buttock. Id. ¶ 46. At the
time, Caruth was again incarcerated at Pontiac. See
id. ¶¶ 45-46. Riliwan Ojelade, who is a
physician's assistant, diagnosed the lump as a fatty
tumor. Id. ¶ 46. Caruth asked Ojelade to remove
the lump, but she denied his request and prescribed
Ibuprofen. Id. ¶ 46.
the next four years or so, Caruth complained of his medical
conditions- that is, the lower back pain and related
numbness, and the painful lump-to many medical providers
(some of whom are now defendants in this case) at the various
prisons where he was housed. See Id. ¶¶
47-136. He alleges that each of these providers failed to
properly evaluate, diagnose, or treat his conditions.
Id. Indeed, he alleges that some of the treatment he
did receive was actually inappropriate and caused
other health problems. Id. ¶¶ 29, 107.
Caruth also filed numerous grievances and sick-call requests
seeking treatment, to no avail. See, e.g.,
id. ¶¶ 51, 55-56, 59, 66, 69-70, 86-88. In
2015 and 2016, Caruth did, however, receive an MRI and
x-rays, which showed that his back condition was worsening.
Id. ¶¶ 72, 83. Caruth alleges that he
never received appropriate treatment for his back
pain, numbness, and lump, and that he was deprived of
medications that help with his condition. See id.
¶¶ 19, 136.
motion under Rule 12(b)(6) challenges the sufficiency of the
complaint to state a claim upon which relief may be
granted.” Hallinan v. Fraternal Order of Police of
Chi. Lodge No. 7, 570 F.3d 811, 820 (7th Cir. 2009).
“[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 (2009) (quoting
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570). The Seventh Circuit has
explained that this rule “reflects a liberal notice
pleading regime, which is intended to ‘focus litigation
on the merits of a claim' rather than on technicalities
that might keep plaintiffs out of court.” Brooks v.
Ross, 578 F.3d 574, 580 (7th Cir. 2009) (quoting
Swierkiewicz v. Sorema N.A., 534 U.S. 506, 514
(2002)). The allegations “must be enough to raise a
right to relief above the speculative level.”
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. The allegations that are
entitled to the assumption of truth are those that are
factual, rather than mere legal conclusions. Iqbal,
556 U.S. at 678-79.
motion to dismiss based on the statute of limitations, on the
other hand, is properly characterized as a motion for
judgment on the pleadings under Rule 12(c). Brownmark
Films, LLC v. Comedy Partners, 682 F.3d 687, 690 (7th
Cir. 2012) (citing Brooks v. Ross, 578 F.3d 574, 579
(7th Cir. 2009)). Like a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, the
allegations must be taken as true. Ollison v. Wexford
Health Sources, Inc., 2016 WL 6962841, at *4 (N.D. Ill.
Nov. 29, 2016). Although a plaintiff is not required to plead
around affirmative defenses, dismissal can be appropriate if
the complaint's own allegations reveal that the statute
of limitations expired before the suit's filing. Jay
E. Hayden Found. v. First Neighbor Bank, N.A., 610 F.3d
382, 383 (7th Cir. 2010).
Statute of Limitations
Defendants argue that Caruth's claims based on his back
pain and numbness must be narrowed based on the statute of
limitations. The claims arise out of injuries he suffered
while imprisoned in Illinois, so Illinois's two-year
statute of limitations for medical malpractice governs, even
for the § 1983 claims. See Devbrow v. Kalu, 705
F.3d 765, 768-69 (7th Cir. 2013); 735 ILCS 5/13-212(a).
Federal law, on the other hand, governs the date on which the
claim accrues. Devbrow, 705 ILCS at 768.
When a deliberate-indifference claim is premised on refusal
to provide treatment, the claim does not accrue until either
the prisoner gets treatment or until the defendant no longer
“had the power to do something about [the
prisoner's] condition”-for example, when the
prisoner leaves the prison. Heard v. Sheahan, 253
F.3d 316, 318 (7th Cir. 2001).