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Thompson v. Davis

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

September 9, 2019

Timothy D. Thompson, Plaintiff,
v.
P.A. Barbara Davis and Dr. Taiwo Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          Honorable Thomas M. Durkin, United States District Judge.

         Plaintiff Timothy D. Thompson brings this action against Dr. Taiwo and physician's assistant Barbara Davis for their deliberate indifference to his serious medical needs based on their failure to timely administer pain medication. The defendants filed a motion for judgment on the pleadings under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(c), arguing that Thompson's claim is barred by a settlement agreement he signed in 2017. For the following reasons, the motion is granted in part and denied in part.

         Legal Standard

         Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(c), a party may move for judgment on the pleadings “[a]fter the pleadings are closed-but early enough not to delay trial.” The standard applied to motions under Rule 12(c) is the same standard applied to dismissals under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). Buchanan-Moore v. Cnty. of Milwaukee, 570 F.3d 824, 827 (7th Cir. 2009). The complaint must provide “a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). Through this statement, defendants must be provided with “fair notice” of the claim and the basis for it. Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). This means that the 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). “‘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.'” Boucher v. Fin. Sys. of Green Bay, Inc., 880 F.3d 362, 366 (7th Cir. 2018) (quoting Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678). In applying this standard, the Court accepts all well-pleaded facts as true and draws all reasonable inferences in favor of the non-moving party. Tobey v. Chibucos, 890 F.3d 634, 646 (7th Cir. 2018).

         Background

         Plaintiff Timothy D. Thompson is an inmate of the Cook County Department of Corrections who suffers from degenerative disc disease, osteoarthritis, bulging discs, and narrowing of bilateral neural foramina. R. 9 ¶ 1. Following a 2014 diagnosis by pain specialists at Stroger Hospital, Thompson was given a course of treatment including two prescription pain medications, Gabapentin and Tramadol, and regular injections of epidural steroids. Id. ¶ 3.

         Defendant Barbara Davis, a physician's assistant, became Thompson's primary care provider in early 2016. Id. ¶ 4. Thompson alleges that Davis intentionally caused him pain and suffering by routinely allowing his Tramadol prescription to expire and then refusing to renew it, causing him to go extended periods of time without the medication. Id. ¶ 5. He also says that Davis refused his requests to see his specialists at the pain clinic and prevented him from obtaining epidural injections with the frequency that his specialists had recommended. Id. ¶¶ 6-7. According to Thompson, Davis denied that he had back problems requiring special treatment, id. ¶¶ 6, 8, and declined to prescribe him a cane, which caused him to miss appointments with his pain specialists. Id. ¶ 18.

         Defendant Dr. Taiwo became Thompson's primary care provider in September or October of 2017. Id. ¶ 10. Thompson alleges that Dr. Taiwo intentionally caused his Tramadol prescription to expire, in part based on Davis's recommendation. Id. ¶¶ 10-11. As of March 2018, Thompson's prescription had been expired since December 2017, when Dr. Taiwo allowed it to expire. Id. ¶ 14. Thompson also alleges that Dr. Taiwo responded dismissively when asked why he made that decision and when asked what Thompson should do to manage his increasing pain. Id. ¶¶ 10, 12.

         Thompson filed this action on May 7, 2018. R. 9 at 1. He previously filed two other lawsuits under 28 U.S.C. § 1983 relating to his treatment at the Cook County Department of Corrections.[1] In the first case, Thompson v. Khan, No. 14 C 2287 (N.D. Ill. filed Mar. 28, 2014), Thompson alleged acts of excessive force and deliberate indifference by numerous officers and medical staff members in early 2013. The complaint included allegations that medical staff members denied him his pain medication and allowed his prescription to expire. In the second case, Thompson v. Soto, No. 14 C 4644 (N.D. Ill. filed June 18, 2014), Thompson brought an excessive force claim against officers who allegedly mistreated him in 2014.

         Thompson eventually settled both Soto and Khan through an agreement with the State's Attorney of Cook County, dated December 5, 2017 (the “Settlement Agreement”). R. 30-1.[2] The Settlement Agreement contained a release that provides, in relevant part:

Plaintiff for himself, his heirs and personal representatives, fully and forever releases, acquits and discharges Defendants, and their agents, employees and former employees and agents, either in their official or individual capacities, from any and all actions suits, debts, sums of money, accounts and all claims and demands of whatever nature, in law or in equity, including but not limited to any and all claims for Constitutional violations against Plaintiff and/or any damaged or destroyed property, and any costs accrued arising out of Plaintiff's interaction with Defendants, Cook County, the Cook County Sheriff's Office, and/or any employees or agents of Defendants or Cook County or the Cook County Sheriff's Office which is the subject of Thompson v. Khan, et al., 14-cv-2287 or Thompson v. Soto, et al., 14-cv-4644, or any claim or suit which Plaintiff, his heirs, assigns and legal representatives, may heretofore or hereafter have had by reason of said incidents, including but not limited to any and all claims for Constitutional violations against Plaintiff, state law claims, injunctive relief claims, and/or any damaged or destroyed property, as well as other claims, known or unknown, against Defendants, Cook County, the Cook County Sheriff's Office, or their respective current or former agents or employees which occurred prior to the execution date of this Agreement (hereinafter collectively referred to as “Claims”) and any costs accrued in connection with the Claims against Defendants. This is a general release.

R. 30-1 ¶ 6 (bold in original). Thompson brings this action against Davis and Dr. Taiwo for deliberate indifference to his serious medical needs. The defendants now move for judgment on the pleadings, contending that the Settlement Agreement precludes Thompson's claim.

         Analysis

         a) Applicability of the ...


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