United States District Court, S.D. Illinois
HUBERT D. HILL, Plaintiff,
JOHN LAKIN, CHRISTOPHER EALES, DR. LOCKARD, and KAREN DEEMS, Defendants.
MEMORANDUM & ORDER
PHIL GILBERT UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Hubert Hill, who is currently being held at the Madison
County Jail, filed this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §
1983 for deliberate indifference to serious medical needs in
violation of his constitutional rights. He seeks declaratory
judgment, money damages, and injunctive relief.
Complaint is now before the Court for preliminary review
under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, which requires the Court to
screen prisoner Complaints and filter out non-meritorious
claims. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). Any portion of the
Complaint that is legally frivolous or malicious, fails to
state a claim for relief, or requests money damages from an
immune defendant must be dismissed. 28 U.S.C. §
1915A(b). At this juncture, the factual allegations are
liberally construed. Rodriguez v. Plymouth Ambulance
Serv., 577 F.3d 816, 821 (7th Cir. 2009).
Plaintiff makes the following allegations in the
Complaint: On September 25, 2018, following arrest,
Plaintiff was transported to Madison County Jail. (Doc. 1, p.
7). Due to an injury which occurred in early September,
Plaintiff at the time of arrest was wearing a medical boot
and had the following injuries to his right ankle and foot:
(1) a displaced transverse fracture of the right distal
fibula with soft tissue swelling; (2) Achilles tendon
enthesopathy; and (3) a bone spur. Id. While in
custody, Plaintiff was seen by Nurse Practitioner Karen
Deems, who ordered x-rays, which showed the fracture and soft
tissue swelling. Id. While showering without his
medical boot, on October 7, 2018, Plaintiff twisted his right
foot, heard a “pop” sound, and pain shot through
his foot area. Id., p. 8. The next day x-rays were
again taken, and it was believed that Plaintiff had a new
fracture. Id. However, after a follow up visit to
Dr. Paul Scherer's office, where another set of x-rays
were taken, it was determined that there was no new fracture
and that the existing fracture had healed. Id.
Plaintiff was also allowed to remove the medical boot and
given instructions to do various stretches and rehabilitative
movements. Id. Despite doing the required movements
twice a day for two weeks, Plaintiff experienced severe and
lasting pain and so he submitted a sick call slip.
Id. He was given Motrin, and when he requested that
Deems do further testing such as an MRI she responded that
“Madison County does not do MRI's.”
submitting another sick call slip a few days later, Plaintiff
was seen again by medical personnel on November 2, 2018.
Id. He was informed by a nurse that “Madison
County does not treat pre-existing conditions, ” and
his complaints of pain were ignored. Id. Later in
the month, Plaintiff submitted another call slip informing
the medical staff that his pain was worsening and that the
pain medication was no longer helping. Id., p.
9. The following day Deems reviewed his file and her
only response was, “Okay noted[.]” Id.
Plaintiff then filed an emergency grievance with the Jail
Administrator, Christopher Eales. Id. Eales
responded that he would contact Dr. Scherer. Id. Dr.
Sherer's office declined to see Plaintiff, but stated
that if complaints of pain continued then further testing
should be considered. Id. On December 3, 2018, Deems
ordered x-rays, which continued to show soft tissue swelling
of the Achilles tendon, but no new fracture, and long term
pain medication was ordered. Id. On January 25,
2019, Plaintiff again filed a grievance with Eales, informing
Eales of his continued pain and stating that no one seemed
concerned or to be doing anything to find out the cause.
Id. Five days later, without notice, Plaintiff was
taken off the pain medication. Id., p. 10. After
submitting a sick call slip, Plaintiff was informed that Dr.
Lockard was now in charge of the medical care at the jail,
and he decided that Plaintiff no longer needed the pain
medication. Id. Plaintiff submitted another
grievance regarding the issue to Eales, who responded that
Dr. Lockard was in charge of Plaintiff's medical care.
Id. Plaintiff was seen by medical staff on February
7, 2019, who told him that Dr. Lockard would be willing to
give him Tylenol. Id. When Plaintiff informed the
staff that he has advanced stage cirrhosis of the liver and
that he could not take that medicine, no other medicine or
treatment option was offered. Id. In March, while
Plaintiff was being seen by Dr. Lockard on a matter unrelated
to his foot injury, Plaintiff again brought up his chronic
pain and was told to do foot stretches and full motion
movement. Id. After following the instructions of
Dr. Lockard, Plaintiff was in severe pain and submitted a
sick call slip. Id. He again was only offered
Tylenol, which he declined due to his liver condition.
on the allegations in the Complaint, the Court designates a
single count. The parties and the Court will use this
designation in all future pleadings and orders, unless
otherwise directed by this Court:
Count 1: Lakin and Eales, in their official
capacities, and Lockard and Deems, in their individual
capacities, were deliberately indifferent to Plaintiff's
other claim that is mentioned in the Complaint but not
addressed in this Order is considered dismissed without
prejudice as inadequately pled under
Twombly. Applicable Legal
screening the Plaintiff's constitutional claims, the
Court must first consider what legal standard applies. The
applicable legal standard for Plaintiff's claims depends
on his status as a pretrial detainee or convicted prisoner
during his detention at the jail. The Eighth Amendment
deliberate indifference standard articulated in Farmer v.
Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 834 (1994), is applicable if
Plaintiff was a convicted prisoner during the relevant time
period. Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 91 (1976). On
the other hand, if Plaintiff was a pretrial detainee, the
Fourteenth Amendment and the objective unreasonableness
standard articulated in Miranda v. County Lake, No.
17-1603, 2018 WL 3796482, at *11 (7th Cir. Aug.
10, 2018), govern Plaintiff's claims.
Complaint does not indicate whether Plaintiff was in the
Madison County Jail to serve a sentence pursuant to a
criminal conviction, or whether he was held there as a
pretrial detainee.Regardless, the Complaint survives
screening because the allegations support a constitutional
claim under the most stringent of these standards, i.e., the
Eighth Amendment. For purposes of this screening order, the
Court looks to Eighth Amendment case law. Count 1 survives
screening under this standard and the less stringent
standards available to detainees. Accordingly, the Court need
not resolve Plaintiff's legal status at this time.
Eighth Amendment has been held to prohibit deliberate
indifference to a prisoner's serious medical need. To
state a claim for deliberate indifference to a serious
medical need, an inmate must show: (1) that he suffered from
an objectively serious medical condition; and (2) that the
defendant was deliberately indifferent to a risk of serious
harm from that condition. Petties v. Carter, 836
F.3d 722, 727 (7th Cir. 2016). A medical professional's
actions may also reflect deliberate indifference if he
“chooses an easier and less efficacious treatment
without exercising professional judgment or simply continues
with a course of ...