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Wojcik v. County of Cook

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

August 30, 2019



          John J. Tharp, Jr. United States District Judge

         Plaintiff Cezary Wojcik, also known as Anthony Avado, alleges that the defendants were deliberately indifferent to his serious medical needs during his four-day incarceration at the Cook County Jail (“CCJ”) in June 2013. A Cook County judge had ordered that Wojcik serve his term of incarceration at Cermak Memorial Hospital (“Cermak”) and receive certain prescription medications while incarcerated. It is undisputed that the judge's order was not implemented, but the evidence of record does not establish that any defendant named in this suit was responsible for that failure, much less that any defendant violated the Constitution by failing to see that the order was carried out. Accordingly, the defendants' motion for summary judgment is granted.


         On June 27, 2013, Cook County Circuit Judge Sharon Sullivan sentenced Wojcik to serve four[2] days of incarceration at the Cermak Memorial Hospital (“Cermak”) on a DUI conviction. Judge Sullivan attached to the sentencing order (also, “mittimus”) a letter from a medical doctor listing the medications that Wojcik was then taking and ordered “that during his incarceration, Anthony Avado a/k/a Cezary Wojcik is to be administered the medications listed on the attached letter as per the orders of Jerry A. Jakimiec, M.D.” Defs.' Statement of Facts (“DSOF”) Ex. B Wojcik Dep. Ex. 2, Order & Letter from Jerry A. Jakimiec, M.D., ECF No. 129-3 (capitalization omitted). These medications consisted of: Alprazolam (Xanax), Clonazepam, Depakote ER, Prozac, Mysoline, and Norvace. Defendant Sheriff's Deputy Steve Kaloudis processed Wojcik at the courthouse and placed Judge Sullivan's order with the doctor's letter in a plastic bag along with Wojcik's other property. Wojcik was not allowed to personally carry the plastic bag with him to CCJ, but the plastic bag was processed by CCJ and held there until Wojcik was released on June 30.

         Defendant Sheriff's Deputy Ali is one of the transport officers who drove Wojcik from the courthouse to CCJ. Wojcik contends that he was handcuffed with no safety belt and broke his back during the bus ride to CCJ. To support the contention that he broke his back, Wojcik cites to non-pertinent paragraphs of the amended complaint; a doctor's note that says Wojcik reported that he was having constant low back pain after he fell when a bus suddenly stopped, but that mentions no broken bone; and X-rays, at least one of which appears to be from 2018 (nearly five years after the incident), unsupported by any medical interpretation of those X-rays. Wojcik does not allege or provide evidence that Ali or any other defendant knew he had fallen in the bus and injured his back.

         Wojcik was using the alias “Anthony Avado” during his June 2013 incarceration at CCJ. But Wojcik claims that “[a]rriving at intake CCJ [he] stated [his] name as Cezary Wojcik and complained to the officer about [his] court order and health issues and concerns.” Pl.'s Statement of Additional Facts (“PSOF”)[3] ¶ 4, ECF No. 138. Wojcik does not, however, allege to whom he voiced his health issues and concerns, to whom he mentioned his court order, or to whom he stated his name as Cezary Wojcik. On June 27, the date of his arrival, and the next day, June 28, Wojcik was seen by the four individual CCJ defendants: Nurse Drucilla Kilgore, Rebecca Masi, [4] Physician Assistant Paul Skrivan, and Nurse Dawn Howell.

         Nurse Kilgore performed Wojcik/Avado's[5] initial intake screening. Wojcik/Avado reported to Kilgore that he had a history of seizures, hypertension, and heart problems including irregular heartbeat. Kilgore noted that Wojcik/Avado “appeared normal” and that his vital signs were stable. Defs.' Statement of Facts (“DSOF”) ¶ 17, ECF No. 129.[6] Kilgore also noted that Wojcik/Avado took medication for Parkinson's disease and Alzheimer's disease, and Wojcik/Avado recalls telling someone when he was being processed that he had Parkinson's and Alzheimer's. Pl.'s Resp. to DSOF ¶ 19, ECF No. 138. Kilgore's intake summary reflects that, at the outset of the assessment, Wojcik denied that he had ever been treated for mental health issues or prescribed medications for mental health problems. Several pages later, however, the intake report reflects that Wojcik/Avado's “current medication list” included “Psych Meds, Other: MEDS FOR PARKINSON, ALHEIMER.” [sic]. DSOF Ex. D, SAO WOJCIK 00009, ECF No. 129-5. Wojcik/Avado does not allege, and the intake form does not reflect, that he told Kilgore about Judge Sullivan's order or the prescription list from his doctor. Because Wojcik/Avado indicated that he had previously been prescribed medications to address psychiatric problems, Kilgore referred Wojcik/Avado for a mental health assessment.

         Defendant Masi performed the mental health assessment of Wojcik/Avado after Kilgore's initial screening. Wojcik/Avado claims that he “[a]dmitted to taking medications including Xanax 2 mg and Clonazepam 2 mg which was explained to Rebecca Masi that the documents were in a placed in sealed plastic bag with [his] clothes on June 27, 2013.” PSOF ¶ 6 (grammatical errors preserved). Wojcik/Avado also “complained to Masi[] about experiencing a panic attack, confusion, palpitations, pounding of the heart, chest pain, discomfort, and anxiety.” Id. ¶ 8. Masi noted that Wojcik/Avado said he had been prescribed Xanax and Clonazepam to be taken twice daily. Masi consulted a psychiatrist who checked the Illinois Controlled Substance Database to verify that Wojcik/Avado had the prescriptions he reported. The medications did not appear in the database under “Anthony Avado, ” however, because they were listed under “Cezary Wojcik.” (Wojcik does not allege or provide evidence that he told Masi that his name was Cezary Wojcik.) Before referring Wojcik/Avado back to the general population, Masi advised him that if his symptoms worsened before his follow-up appointment, he should fill out a Health Services Request Form.

         Physician Assistant Skrivan performed another assessment of Wojcik/Avado shortly after Masi's. Wojcik/Avado told Skrivan that he took multiple medications but was unable to provide the names of those medications. Skrivan's assessment report describes Wojcik/Avado as a “poor historian” of his medical history, DSOF Ex. D, SAO WOJCIK 00014, [7] and that he attempted but was unable to verify Wojcik/Avado's prescriptions with Jewel's pharmacy; Skrivan also looked under the name “Avado” rather than “Wojcik.” Skrivan noted that Wojcik/Avado did not appear to be in any distress but that his blood pressure was slightly elevated. Skrivan prescribed Wojcik/Avado with two blood pressure medications, Amlodipine and Propranolol, referred him for follow-up counseling regarding his medications, and marked the referral as urgent. Skrivan completed Wojcik/Avado's intake on June 27 and referred him to the medical infirmary for his housing assignment.

         The next day, on June 28, Wojcik/Avado submitted the Health Services Request Form that Masi advised him to submit if his symptoms worsened. On that form, Wojcik/Avado hand wrote his name as “Anthony Avado”; the name “Cezary Wojcik” does not appear. Wojcik/Avado listed several medications he had taken the day before: Alprazolam, Clonazepam, Norvasc, Vicodin, and two other medications that are illegible. Nurse Howell responded to Wojcik/Avado's submission of the Health Services Request Form. Initially, Howell was unable to verify Wojcik/Avado's medication because it was listed under the name “Wojcik, ” but the medication was ultimately verified and needed to be delivered from the pharmacy. Wojcik/Avado also complained to Howell about back pain. Wojcik/Avado's medical records show that he was given Tylenol, but Wojcik, in his response to the defendants' statement of facts, denies being given Tylenol.

         Also on June 28, Wojcik's attorney visited CCJ with Judge Sullivan's order and complained that Wojcik had been placed in the general population at CCJ rather than at Cermak. Wojcik does not allege to whom his attorney complained, or who his attorney made aware of Judge Sullivan's order. Wojcik contends that as a result of not receiving his prescribed medications, he experienced withdrawal symptoms, including heart and neurological problems that caused him to fall on a staircase at CCJ, resulting in injury to his back (which, he says, had already been broken during transport from the courthouse the day before) and knees and a “broken” hernia. PSOF ¶¶ 16, 25. Wojcik says that he was required to use the stairs even though there was an elevator nearby. Wojcik does not allege that any defendant was aware of this fall.

         Wojcik did not seek medical attention at CCJ on June 29 or 30. When Avado was released from CCJ on June 30, however, he was experiencing shortness of breath, a racing heartbeat, and difficulty walking. After he was released, he took a taxi to Rush Hospital. Wojcik reported chest pain and shortness of breath at Rush, and his EKG performed there was abnormal, but Wojcik told his treating physician approximately two hours after arriving at Rush that he felt better.

         Wojcik was again incarcerated at the CCJ several years later, in 2016, this time for 120 days. Pl.'s Opp'n to Def.'s Mot. for Summ. J. ¶ 1, ECF No. 138.[8] The judge in that case also ordered that Wojcik be sent to Cermak. Id. In connection with his 2016 incarceration, Wojcik and his sentencing order were sent to Cermak, Wojcik was transported in a van for inmates with special needs, and Wojcik was given his prescription medication. Id. ¶¶ 1, 3, 5.

         Wojcik, initially with retained counsel, brought suit alleging that the defendants were deliberately indifferent to his need for his prescription medications while he was incarcerated at CCJ from June 27 to 30, 2013. Wojcik's retained counsel filed both the initial complaint and the amended complaint but later filed a motion to withdraw citing irreconcilable differences, a breakdown in communications, and concerns about the viability of Wojcik's claims. This Court granted Wojcik's retained counsel's motion to withdraw contingent on their contacting Wojcik to inform him that he must find new counsel or enter a pro se appearance within 21 days. About two months later, Wojcik's retained counsel filed a status report reporting that Wojcik had not responded to attempts to contact him by certified mail, email, or phone. Wojcik then failed to appear at a status hearing the following month, and his counsel reported that they still had not received any response from Wojcik despite ...

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