United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
JOHNSON COLEMAN, UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT JUDGE
Randy Norwood filed his Fourth Amended Complaint asserting
claims against defendants Cook County Sheriff Thomas Dart,
Cook County, Illinois, Sgt. Thomas Conley, Dr. Davis, Dr.
Terrence Baker, Mireya Guerrero, Kim Anderson, Susan Shebel,
and Torrence Gresham-Trotter, alleging that they were
deliberately indifference to his medical condition in
violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Defendants have filed a
motion to dismiss . For the following reasons, the Court
grants defendants' motion in part and denies it in part.
Norwood is an inmate in the Illinois Department of
Corrections and was housed at the Cook County Jail at all
relevant times in this case. In April 2016, Norwood began
suffering from swelling and extreme pain in his right groin
area, so on April 14 Norwood submitted a request for medical
attention. Kim Anderson, a registered nurse, evaluated
Norwood on May 29, 2016, where Norwood told her that his
symptoms included swelling and extreme pain in his right side
groin area, painful urination, painful defecation, limping,
and a knot in his groin area. Anderson informed Norwood that
he did not have a hernia and prescribed him 200 mg Advil.
Norwood submitted another request for medical treatment that
same day, which was denied by Sgt. Thomas Conley. Norwood
continued to submit medical requests, and Anderson
recommended that he be given special underwear to hold ice
packs, which Norwood never received. Anderson continued to
treat Norwood with Advil and placed Norwood on bed rest,
despite the “swelling and deformity” in
Norwood's groin area that had grown to the size of a
tennis ball. Norwood continued to receive pain medication,
and on July 18, 2016, Torrence Gresham-Trotter, also a
registered nurse, informed Norwood that a doctor would see
days later, on July 20, 2016, Dr. Davis diagnosed Norwood
with two hernias and determined that Norwood did not need
surgery. Norwood requested additional treatment methods,
which Dr. Davis denied. Norwood filed a grievance shortly
after, which Susan Shebel, another registered nurse, denied
because Norwood had recently seen a doctor related to the
hernia issue. Norwood filed another grievance on September 6,
2016; Shebel responded to Norwood, advising him to continue
submitting medical forms. Dr. Terrence Baker and
Physician's Assistant Mireya Guerrero examined Norwood on
September 13 and prescribed pain medication. Norwood
continued to file grievances and appeal their denial.
Guerrero again saw Norwood on November 8, 2016, where
Guerrero again prescribed Norwood pain medication and denied
filed another grievance in November 2016, which Shebel denied
on December 20 because Norwood was scheduled to see a doctor
in January 2017. Dr. Baker and Guerrero saw Norwood on
January 10, 2017, again denying his request for surgery. Dr.
Davis, Guerrero, and Anderson continued to see Norwood on
multiple occasions between January 10 and June 18, 2017. On
May 11, Anderson treated Norwood and denied his request to
see his medical file. Norwood filed a grievance on June 16
requesting an outside appointment regarding his hernia, which
was denied; Norwood appealed, which was also denied. Norwood
informed Dr. Davis on July 18 that he was having difficulty
urinating and continued to have extreme pain due to the
hernia. Norwood further alleges that he gained forty pounds
over the course of 18 months as a result of the hernias and
that he had difficulty with tasks associated with daily
living, including walking, bathing, and using the facilities.
Norwood ultimately received surgery for his two hernias in
considering a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, the Court
accepts all of the plaintiff's allegations as true and
views them in the light most favorable to the plaintiff.
Lavalais v. Vill. of Melrose Park, 734 F.3d 629, 632
(7th Cir. 2013). To survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint
must contain allegations that “state a claim to relief
that is plausible on its face.” Id. at 632
(internal quotations omitted). The plaintiff does not need to
plead particularized facts, but the allegations in the
complaint must be sufficient to “raise a right to
relief above the speculative level.” Bell Atl.
Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 167
L.Ed.2d 929 (2007). Threadbare recitals of the elements of a
cause of action and allegations that are merely legal
conclusions are not sufficient to survive a motion to
dismiss. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678, 129
S.Ct. 1937, 173 L.Ed.2d 868 (2009).
sufficiently allege a claim for deliberate indifference,
Norwood must allege that he had an objectively serious
medical need and that the defendants were aware of and
refused to take reasonable steps to address it. Dobbey v.
Mitchell-Lawshea, 806 F.3d 938, 940 (7th Cir. 2015)
(citing Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 101, 104, 97
S.Ct. 285, 50 L.Ed.2d 251 (1976)). As to medical
professionals, deliberate indifference only occurs when a
physician's treatment decision is such a departure from
accepted professional standards as to raise the inference
that it was not actually based on a medical judgment.
Norfleet v. Webster, 439 F.3d 392, 396 (7th Cir.
2006). When determining whether deliberate indifference can
be inferred from a physician's treatment decision, courts
focus on what the physician knew at the time of treatment.
Duckworth v. Ahmad, 532 F.3d 675, 680 (7th Cir.
2008). Nonmedical personnel, on the other hand, are generally
entitled to rely on the judgment of treating health
professionals, Berry v. Peterman, 604 F.3d 435, 440
(7th Cir. 2010), and generally will not be found to be
deliberately indifferent unless they have reason to believe
that the medical personnel are mistreating or not treating a
prisoner. Hayes v. Snyder, 546 F.3d 516, 527 (7th
whether Norwood's hernia pain constitutes an objectively
serious medical need, the factual allegations support the
claim that he had a serious medical condition that required
medical treatment. The Seventh Circuit has recognized hernias
as objectively serious medical conditions for the purposes of
deliberate indifference claims. See Johnson v.
Doughty, 433 F.3d 1001, 1010 (7th Cir. 2006). Therefore,
the Court focuses on whether Norwood sufficiently alleges
that defendants were deliberately indifferent.
assert that because Norwood's allegations against Conley
are limited to processing grievances, he should be dismissed.
The Seventh Circuit has recognized that “the law
encourages non-medical … and administrative personnel
at jails and prisons to defer to the professional medical
judgments of the physicians and nurses treating the prisoners
in their care without fear of liability for doing so.”
Berry, 604 F.3d at 440 (collecting cases). To allege
medical indifference, a plaintiff must contend that he gave
the defendant sufficient notice of an excessive risk to the
plaintiff's health or safety. Arnett v. Webster,
658 F.3d 742, 755 (7th Cir. 2011). At that point, an
official's “refusal or declination to exercise the
authority of his or her office may reflect deliberate
disregard.” Vance v. Peters, 97 F.3d 987, 993
(7th Cir. 1996).
alleges that Conley denied a medical request that Norwood
filed in May 2016. When Conley received the request, Norwood
had already been seen and treated by a medical professional
for the underlying issue the same day he filed the request.
As a sergeant employed by Cook County Jail, Conley was
permitted to rely on the expertise of the medical
professionals who were treating Norwood. Arnett, 658
F.3d at 755. Norwood does not sufficiently allege that he