United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
MATTHEW F. KENNELLY, District Judge:
Ghaliah Obaisi, executor of the estate of Dr. Saleh Obaisi,
has moved to dismiss the claim against her brought by
plaintiff Thomas Williams. Williams, an inmate in the
Illinois Department of Corrections, alleges that Dr. Obaisi
and the other defendants were deliberately indifferent to his
serious medical needs, in violation of the Eighth Amendment
to the Constitution. The Obaisi estate (which the Court will
refer to as Dr. Obaisi from here on in) has moved to dismiss,
contending that Williams's claim against him is barred by
the statute of limitations. The Court will not require a
response to the motion, because it is wholly lacking in
merit-it isn't even close. The Court denies the motion
for the reasons stated below.
alleges in his amended complaint that he started having chest
pains and felt a lump in his chest in 2011. He reported this
to prison medical staff at Menard Correctional Center,
including physicians employed by Wexford Health Sources, but
says they ignored his complaints. In 2014 through 2016, while
incarcerated at Stateville Correctional Center, Williams says
that he repeatedly reported his pain and the lump to Dr.
Obaisi, who also worked for Wexford. Williams says that he
repeatedly implored Dr. Obaisi to conduct appropriate medical
testing-which might have included an MRI or CT scan or a
biopsy-literally begging to be sent for appropriate
examination to determine the reason for his pain and the
nature of the lump "[b]efore it's too late for me
and I have irreparable damage or worse." Am. Compl.
¶ 5. Dr. Obaisi, however, ignored his complaints and
requests for appropriate treatment. Williams was transferred
to a different prison in 2016, and the same indifference to
his plight took place there.
in 2018, after Williams was transferred to Dixon Correctional
Center, he was sent to a local hospital for a CT scan. The
scan showed "abnormal severe and extensive adenopathy
throughout the neck, chest, abdomen, and pelvis" that
"most likely represents lymphoma with secondary
malignant adenopathy also be considered." A biopsy
conducted in early 2019 confirmed that Williams has stage IV
lymphoma, putting him in a category of persons with a reduced
life expectancy. Williams alleges that if Dr. Obaisi had not
steadfastly ignored his complaints, grievances, and pleas for
treatment, his lymphoma would have been discovered much
sooner, he could have gotten appropriate treatment years
earlier, and this would have added years to his life
Obaisi has moved to dismiss. He contends that Williams's
Eighth Amendment claim against him accrued, at the latest, in
2016 when Williams was transferred out of Stateville and thus
was no longer under Dr. Obaisi's care. Dr. Obaisi relies
on Heard v. Sheahan, 253 F.3d 316, 318 (7th Cir.
2001), which he contends establishes as a matter of law that
"plaintiff's claims agains Dr. Obaisi began to
accrue on April 20, 2016, because it was on this date that
[plaintiff] left Stateville; and thus, said Defendant lost
the power to intervene in his medical care. Def.'s Mot.
to Dismiss at 4.
year 2016 was two and one-half years before Williams was
diagnosed with cancer and got medical confirmation that the
lump he felt represented a serious medical condition, rather
than the non-issue that Dr. Obaisi treated it as. If Dr.
Obaisi's argument were correct, and Williams' claim
accrued under the law before he even became aware that the he
suffered an injury from Dr. Obaisi's deliberate
indifference, the law would quite rightly be viewed as
monstrous. But Dr. Obaisi and his counsel have it wrong. As
the Seventh Circuit held in Devbrau v. Kalu, 705
F.3d 765 (7th Cir. 2013)-a case that Dr. Obaisi's counsel
could have found by simply Shepardizing or Key-Citing
Heard-the limitations period on an Eighth Amendment
claim of the sort asserted by Williams "does not begin
any earlier than the date on which the plaintiff
knows of his physical injury and its cause."
Id. at 769. The court read Heard-a case in
which the plaintiff's claim of continuing failure to
provide surgery for a diagnosed ruptured hernia was found
timely-as simply applying the "continuing
violation" doctrine, which is not at issue on
Williams's claim against Dr. Obaisi. Devbrau,
705 F.3d at 760. And the court rejected an argument identical
to the one made by Dr. Obaisi here. It summed up the rule for
Eighth Amendment claims of the sort asserted by Williams in
the present case as follows:
[P]laintiff contends that the defendants' deliberate
indifference delayed the diagnosis of his cancer until after
it metastasized, foreclosing successful medical intervention.
He learned of that injury no earlier than October 21, 2005,
when he received his cancer diagnosis. He filed this suit on
October 19, 2007, almost two years later and just before the
statute of limitations expired.
same is true here. Williams's claim against Dr. Obaisi
for deliberate indifference accrued when Williams learned he
had cancer. He filed suit well within two years of that date.
His claim against Dr. Obaisi is not time-barred. The motion
to dismiss  is ...