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Varela v. Lake County

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

July 16, 2019

LAKE COUNTY, et al., Defendants.


          Ruben Castillo United States District Court Judge

         Vincent Varela ("Plaintiff) brings this action against Lake County Correctional Officer Kontagiannis ("Kontagiannis"), Lake County Correctional Officer Rivera ("Rivera"), Lake County, Illinois ("Lake County"), and Lake County Jail Nurse "Nicole," whose last name is unknown ("Nicole"), alleging deprivation of Plaintiff s constitutional rights in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and a claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress. (R. 17, Am. Compl.) Kontagiannis, Rivera, and Lake County (collectively "Defendants") move to dismiss Plaintiffs amended complaint pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). (R. 18, Defs.' Mot.) For the reasons stated below, the Defendants' motion is granted in part and denied in part.


         On January 27, 2017, Plaintiff was incarcerated as a pretrial detainee in the Lake County Department of Corrections Facility ("LCJ"). (R. 17, Am. Compl. ¶ 7.) Prior to his arrival at LCJ, Plaintiff suffered from severe asthma, a condition which causes him to periodically experience severe difficulty breathing. (Id. ¶ 6.) Plaintiff has been prescribed a rescue inhaler since around 2012, which he uses to facilitate his breathing. (Id.) When Plaintiff was processed into LCJ, he received a medical intake screening and examination. (Id. ¶ 7.) During the screening, Plaintiff advised an LCJ medical care provider of his asthma and need for a rescue inhaler. (Id. ¶ 8.) Plaintiffs condition was confirmed by examination and his previous LCJ medical records. (Id.) After the screening, Plaintiff was told that an inhaler would be made available to him each morning between 7:00-8:00 a.m., and each evening between 7:00-8:00 p.m., but that Plaintiff was not permitted to retain the inhaler. (Id. ¶ 9.) Plaintiff was also informed that if an emergency arose, he could request the inhaler at other times. (Id. ¶ 10.)

         On the night of March 2, 2017, Plaintiff experienced persistent difficulty breathing. (Id. ¶ 13.) He alleges that he informed Kontagiannis about his medical condition and requested access to the rescue inhaler. (Id.) He alleges that Kontagiannis told Plaintiff that he was faking and refused to provide an inhaler or notify an LCJ medical care provider. (Id.)

         That same evening, Nicole visited Plaintiff and listened to his breathing. (Id. ¶ 14.) Plaintiff alleges that Nicole also accused Plaintiff of faking and refused to consult a doctor or provide an inhaler. (Id.) Plaintiff alleges that Nicole instructed that Plaintiff be put on lock down for malingering (Id. ¶ 15), and that Kontagiannis wrote a ticket charging Plaintiff with malingering. (Id. ¶ 16.) Plaintiff remained in his cell on lock down during the night where he continued to suffer severe difficulty in breathing. (Id. ¶ 17.)

         On March 3, 2017, at approximately 7:00 a.m., Plaintiff was taken for a chest x-ray at LCJ which revealed that his lung had collapsed. (Id. ¶ 18.) Plaintiff alleges that despite the fact that he complained of great pain and difficulty breathing, Rivera returned him to his cell where he remained for over eight hours. (Id. ¶ 19.) At 3:00 p.m., Plaintiff was taken by ambulance to the emergency room at Vista Medical Center where he received an additional chest x-ray which confirmed that his left lung was 85% collapsed. (Id. ¶ 20.) Plaintiff was diagnosed with acute respiratory insufficiency secondary to spontaneous pneumothorax, and underwent a painful procedure to re-inflate his lung. (Id. ¶¶ 20-21.) Following the procedure, Plaintiff was admitted into the intensive care unit for four days. (Id. ¶ 22.) Plaintiff complains that he continues to suffer from chest pain associated with the procedure, which required an incision on the left side of his chest, (Id.¶ 23.)


         Plaintiff filed his original complaint on October 10, 2018, asserting three claims: Count I sought recovery against Kontagiannis, Rivera, and Nicole under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for deliberate indifference to Plaintiffs medical condition; Count II sought recovery against Lake County under Monell v. Department of Social Services of New York, 436 U.S. 658 (1978); and Count III sought recovery against Kontagiannis, Rivera, Nicole, and Lake County under state law for intentional infliction of emotional distress. (R. 1, Compl.) On December 10, 2018, Defendants moved to dismiss all claims against them. (R. 10, Defs.' Mot.)

         On February 28, 2019, Plaintiff filed an amended complaint, which removed the Monell claim and altered some factual allegations. (R. 17, Am. Compl.) On March 13, 2019, Defendants moved to dismiss Plaintiffs amended complaint. (R. 18, Defs.' Mot.) Defendants assert that Plaintiffs Section 1983 claim must be dismissed because they were entitled to reasonably rely on the judgment of medical staff at LCJ concerning Plaintiffs treatment. (Id. at 2.) As to Rivera, Defendants further argue that Plaintiff has failed to allege specific conduct showing that Rivera was personally responsible for a constitutional violation. (Id.) Additionally, Defendants argue Plaintiffs intentional infliction of emotional distress claim must be dismissed since it was filed beyond the one-year limitations period of 745 ILL. Comp. Stat. § 10/8-101 (a). (Id. at 2-3.)

         In response, Plaintiff maintains that the facts pleaded in the amended complaint support a Section 1983 claim. (R. 21, Pl's Resp. at 2.) Plaintiff concedes that his intentional infliction of emotional distress claim is untimely. (Id. at 2, n.1.) In reply, Defendants maintain that Plaintiff has failed to allege any facts which support a cause of action under Section 1983 against either Kontagiannis or Rivera. (R. 22, Defs.' Reply at 5.)


         To survive a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), a complaint must "state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (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." Ashcroft v. Iqbal,556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). "Determining whether a complaint states a plausible claim for relief will... be a context-specific task that requires the reviewing court to draw on its judicial experience and common sense." Id. at 679. "[T]o rise above the speculative level of plausibility, the complaint must make more than threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements." Oakland Police & Fire Ret. Sys. v. Mayer Brown. LLP, 861 F.3d 644, 649 (7th Cir. 2017) (internal quotations omitted). In deciding a motion to dismiss ...

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