United States District Court, C.D. Illinois, Springfield Division
TIFFANY WALKER, as Independent Administrator, of the Estate of JAVON WALKER, Deceased, Plaintiff,
WEXFORD HEALTH SOURCES, INC., a Florida Corporation doing business in the State of Illinois, et al., Defendants.
MYERSCOUGH, U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE.
cause is before the Court on the Motion for Judgment on the
Pleadings (d/e 79) filed by Defendants Lori Baker, Patricia
Eddington, and Doris Miller. For the following reasons, the
motion is DENIED.
September 22, 2017, Plaintiff Tiffany Walker, the Independent
Administrator of the Estate of Javon Walker, filed a 21-count
Complaint at Law (d/e 1). Among the claims asserted in the
Complaint at Law are wrongful death claims pursuant to 740
ILCS 180/2 against Defendants Lori Baker, Patricia Eddington,
and Doris Miller (formerly Doris Blunt) in their individual
capacities (Counts VIII, XIII, and XVIII) and survival
actions pursuant to 755 ILCS 5/27-6 against Miller,
Eddington, and Baker (hereinafter, Defendants) in their
individual capacities (Counts X, XV, and XX).
September 21, 2018, Defendants filed their Motion for
Judgment on the Pleadings, asking the Court to dismiss
Plaintiff's wrongful death claims and survival actions
against them. Defendants assert that Counts VIII, X, XIII,
XV, XVIII, and XX of Plaintiff's Complaint at Law fail to
state claims upon which relief can be granted. Motion (d/e
79), at 1. Defendants contend that the duty they owed to
Javon Walker emanated from their employment with the State of
Illinois. Id. at 4-5. The result, according to
Defendants, is that Plaintiff's wrongful death claims and
survival actions against Defendants are actually claims
against the State, meaning that sovereign immunity deprives
the Court of jurisdiction over the claims. Id. at 5.
December 5, 2018, Plaintiff filed a Memorandum in Opposition
to Defendants' Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings (d/e
82). Plaintiff asserts that “Defendants' duty is
not derived from their employment as a contractor for IDOC
but rather [the duty emanates from] their status as medical
professionals” and that “when a defendant's
duty is derived independently from their employment with the
State then the cause of action is not considered one against
the State and the defendant cannot claim sovereign
immunity.” Memorandum (d/e 82), at 2.
following facts come from Plaintiff's Complaint at Law.
The Court accepts these facts as true in ruling on the motion
for judgment on the pleadings. See Adams v. City of
Indianapolis, 742 F.3d 720, 727-28 (7th Cir. 2014).
Health Sources, Inc. (Wexford), is a Florida corporation
contracted by the State of Illinois to provide medical care
to persons incarcerated in the Illinois Department of
Corrections (IDOC). Complaint (d/e 1), ¶ 7. Defendants
are nurses licensed and registered in the State of Illinois
and employed by Wexford or the State. Id.
September 23, 2015, Javon Walker (Walker) died, suffering
extreme pain and discomfort leading up to his death.
Id. ¶¶ 39, 40. Prior to his death, Walker
had been diagnosed with peritonitis and had experienced a
continuous decrease in blood pressure. Id.
¶¶ 27, 33. At the time of Walker's death,
Walker was incarcerated in IDOC at Graham Correctional Center
in Hillsboro, Illinois. Id. ¶ 13. Defendants
were Walker's registered nurses, treating him and
measuring his blood pressure. Id. ¶¶ 28,
44. However, Defendants failed to screen, diagnose, or treat
Walker's sepsis. Id. ¶ 36.
to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(c), a party may move
for judgment on the pleadings after the filing of the
complaint and answer. Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(c); Moss v.
Martin, 473 F.3d 694, 698 (7th Cir. 2007). “A
motion for judgment on the pleadings under Rule 12(c) of the
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure is governed by the same
standards as a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim
under Rule 12(b)(6).” Adams, 742 F.3d at
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).
“Factual allegations are accepted as true at the
pleading stage, but allegations in the form of legal
conclusions are insufficient to survive a Rule 12(b)(6)
motion.” Adams, 742 F.3d at 728 (internal
quotation marks omitted). The court must draw all inferences
in favor of the non-moving party. In re march FIRST
Inc., 589 F.3d 901, 904 (7th Cir. 2009).
Illinois Court of Claims possesses sole jurisdiction over
tort claims made against the State. Nelson v.
Miller, 570 F.3d 868, 885 (7th Cir. 2009). In
determining whether or not a claim is made against the State,
the issues raised and relief sought must be examined.
Currie v. Lao, 592 N.E.2d 977, 980 (Ill. 1992). A
claim will be found to be against the State if “a