United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Robert Blakey, United States District Judge.
Courtney McFields, Pierre Brunt, Anthony Dixon, and Walter
Williams, detainees at the Cook County Jail (CCJ) filed this
putative class action challenging the way in which CCJ
handles health service requests from detainees complaining of
dental pain. Plaintiffs claim that CCJ’s policy fails
to provide detainees complaining of dental pain with a
face-to-face assessment by a registered nurse or higher-level
practitioner. As a result, Plaintiffs claim, CCJ’s
policy violates the Fourteenth Amendment because it is
unreasonable and reflects a deliberate indifference to pain.
The case is currently before this Court on Plaintiffs’
motion for class certification . For the reasons
explained below, the Court denies the motion.
certified, a proposed class must first satisfy all four
requirements of Rule 23(a): (1) the class must be so numerous
that joinder of all members is impracticable
(“numerosity”); (2) there must be questions of
law or fact common to the class (“commonality”);
(3) the claims or defenses of the representative parties must
be typical of the claims or defenses of the class
(“typicality”); and (4) the representative
parties must fairly and adequately protect the interests of
the class (“adequacy”). Fed.R.Civ.P. 23(a).
Additionally, where, as here, a Plaintiff seeks certification
under Rule 23(b)(3), Plaintiff must show: (1) that issues
common to the class members predominate over questions
affecting only individuals, and (2) that a class action is
superior to other available adjudication methods. Messner
v. Northshore University HealthSystem, 669 F.3d 802, 811
(7th Cir. 2012). The Plaintiff also bears the burden of
proving all of these requirements by a preponderance of the
evidence. Priddy v. Health Care Service Corporation,
870 F.3d 657, 660 (7th Cir. 2017). District Courts possess
broad discretion in deciding whether to certify a class.
Reiter v. Sonotone Corp., 442 U.S. 330, 345 (1979).
Background & Procedural History
complaint names as Defendants the Sheriff of Cook County and
Cook County. The Sheriff operates CCJ and is charged,
together with Cook County, with providing medical care,
including dental care, to CCJ detainees. , ¶¶
4–6. Defendants require that detainees with dental pain
complete a “health service request form” before
receiving treatment. Id. at ¶ 11. Plaintiffs
allege that the “standard of care for processing a
health service request” requires review by a registered
nurse or higher-level provider and a face-to-face evaluation
within 48 hours. Id. at ¶ 12. Plaintiffs
further allege that CCJ’s policies do not conform to
this standard; rather, under CCJ policy, nursing staff
members forward dental pain health service forms directly to
dental staff without evaluating patients and without
providing pain medication. Id. at ¶ 17.
Plaintiffs allege that CCJ’s failure to provide the
face-to-face assessments “deviates so radically from
accepted professional judgment, practice, or standards that
it is not medical judgment at all.” Id. at
¶ 15. Plaintiffs allege that CCJ has “acted
unreasonably and with deliberate indifference in refusing to
ensure timely screening and analgesia through nursing triage
of dental complaints.” Id. at ¶ 18.
their amended complaint, Plaintiffs state that they planned
to assert this claim on behalf of:
All persons confined at the Cook County Jail from October 31,
2013 to the date of entry of judgment in this case who,
having submitted a written complaint of dental pain, were not
examined by a registered nurse or higher level practitioner
within 48 hours of submission of the written complaint.
Id. at ¶ 41. Subsequently, they moved to
certify a slightly different class:
All persons who, while detained at the Cook County Jail
between November 1, 2013 and April 30, 2018, submitted a
written “Health Service Request Form” complaining
of dental pain and did not receive a face-to-face assessment
by a registered nurse or higher-level practitioner after
submitting the request.
, p. 1. Plaintiffs, who seek only damages, seek to
certify the case under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
23(b)(3). See , p. 7.
four named plaintiffs all fall within the proposed class.
Plaintiff McFields entered CCJ on September 10, 2014.
Id. at ¶ 20. On October 29, 2014, McFields
submitted a written health service request form complaining
about dental pain; the next day, a registered nurse reviewed
the form and referred it to a dentist, without conducting a
face-to-face assessment. Id. at ¶¶
21–22. McFields submitted a second health service
request form on November 14, 2014; he saw a dentist six days
later, on November 20, 2014. On that date, the dentist
extracted McFields’ infected tooth. Id. at
Brunt began experiencing dental pain at CCJ in the fall of
2016; he submitted several health service request forms and
filed several grievances complaining of dental pain but did
not receive a face-to-face assessment. Id. at
¶¶ 25–27. Brunt waited 60 days before he was
finally treated by a dentist. Id. at ¶ 27.
Dixon began experiencing dental pain at CCJ in May of 2014;
he submitted several health service request forms and filed
several grievances complaining of dental pain but did not
receive a face-to-face assessment. Id. at
¶¶ 28–30. Dixon, like Brunt, waited ...