Haywood v. Wexford Health Sources, Inc et al
MEMORANDUM Opinion and Order Signed by the Honorable Amy J. St. Eve on 7/26/2017:Mailed notice(kef, )
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF ILLINOIS
WEXFORD HEALTH SOURCES, et al.,
Case No. 16-CV-3566
Hon. Amy St. Eve
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
AMY J. ST. EVE, District Court Judge:
Defendant Wexford Health Sources (“Wexford”) has moved to dismiss Plaintiff Donald
Haywood’s Second Amended Complaint pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6).
(R. 72, Mot. to Dismiss Second Am. Compl.) For the following reasons, the Court denies
On March 23, 2016, Donald Haywood, an inmate within the Illinois Department of
Corrections (“IDOC”), sued Wexford, certain Wexford employees, and several members of the
IDOC medical staff (collectively, “Defendants”) under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging that they
violated his constitutional rights by exhibiting deliberate indifference to his mental health needs.
On March 1, 2017, the Court granted Wexford’s motion to dismiss Plaintiff’s First Amended
Complaint without prejudice pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) on the grounds that Plaintiff’s complaint
contained insufficient Monell allegations with conclusory, boilerplate claims about Wexford’s
policies and practices regarding its treatment of other inmates. (R. 66, First Order 7-8.) On
March 15, 2017, Plaintiff filed a Second Amended Complaint, which Wexford has moved to
dismiss in the instant motion.1
In considering this motion, the Court presumes familiarity with the background of this
action as set forth in the First Order and does not recite a detailed background here. The
Court will, however, provide a brief factual background, particularly as it pertains to the new
allegations in Plaintiff’s Second Amended Complaint.
Plaintiff, a prisoner at the Pontiac Correctional Center (“PCC”) and formerly at the
Stateville Correctional Center (“SCC”), alleges that, prior to his incarceration, he had a long
history of diagnosed mental illness, including five suicide attempts. (Id. ¶¶ 1, 23-25.) Plaintiff
has been diagnosed with depression, antisocial personality disorder, and post-traumatic stress
disorder, and as a result, IDOC classified him as “seriously mentally ill” (“SMI”). (Id. ¶¶ 2627.) Plaintiff alleges that, since June 2014, Defendants have failed to treat his mental illnesses,
and have instead attempted to punish him when he has requested treatment. (Id. ¶¶ 140-41.)
Specifically, he alleges that Wexford employees have failed to visit him or provide him with
mental treatment and have instead falsified reports indicating that they visited him and that he
received medical care. (Id. ¶¶ 42-45, 49-52.) Plaintiff also claims that Wexford employees
have responded to his requests for medical treatment with repeated hostility—in particular, he
asserts that, when he complained to two employees that he had not received treatment, one
employee filed a disciplinary report against him and another threatened to discontinue his
prescription medications. (Id. ¶¶ 62-64, 70-71.) Plaintiff alleges that his mental health disorders
have worsened as a result of the inadequate treatment he has faced. (Id. ¶¶ 88.)
In its First Order, the Court dismissed Plaintiff’s respondeat superior claim with prejudice. (First Order
8-9.) Although Plaintiff repeated that claim in his Second Amended Complaint, he has since asked the
Court to dismiss his respondeat superior claim. Accordingly, the Court dismisses Count II (Plaintiff’s
respondeat superior claim) with prejudice.
According to Plaintiff, many other inmates at SCC and PCC are SMI, and Wexford is
responsible for ensuring that those inmates receive adequate mental health treatment while
incarcerated. (Id. ¶ 31.) Plaintiff alleges that Wexford “maintains a widespread custom or
practice among its employees of providing [SMI] inmates with inadequate mental health
treatment.” (Id. ¶ 32.) In support of this allegation, Plaintiff claims that, although SMI inmates
often request treatment and file grievances in an effort to obtain treatment, Wexford employees
(1) consistently deny or intentionally and erroneously find that mental health treatment requests
from SMI inmates have no merit, (Id. ¶ 33); (2) place SMI inmates in (oftentimes prolonged)
segregation; (3) falsify records to indicate fraudulently that SMI inmates have been provided
mental health treatment; (4) delay mental health treatment; (5) intentionally exacerbate SMI
inmates’ mental health disorders and instigate their triggers to create a pretext for placing them
in segregation, (Id. ¶ 34, 36); and (6) intentionally fail to investigate whether SMI inmates’
alleged misconduct resulted in part or in whole from their mental illnesses. (Id. ¶ 35.)
“A motion to dismiss pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) challenges the
viability of a complaint by arguing that it fails to state a claim upon which relief may be
granted.” Camasta v. Jos. A. Bank Clothiers, Inc., 761 F.3d 732, 736 (7th Cir. 2014). Under
Rule 8(a)(2), a complaint must include “a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the
pleader is entitled to relief.” Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2). The short and plain statement under Rule
8(a)(2) must “give the defendant fair notice of what the claim is and the grounds upon which it
rests.” Bell Atlantic v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (citation omitted). Under the federal
notice pleading standards, a plaintiff’s “factual allegations must be enough to raise a right to
relief above the speculative level.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. Put differently, a “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).
In determining the sufficiency of a complaint under the plausibility standard, courts must “accept
all well-pleaded facts as true and draw reasonable inferences in the plaintiffs’ favor.” Roberts v.
City of Chicago, 817 F.3d 561, 564 (7th Cir. 2016).
Plaintiff alleges that Wexford had policies and customs in effect that allowed
Defendants to exhibit deliberate indifference to his mental health needs, causing him physical
injuries and mental anguish in violation of the Eighth Amendment. In its motion to dismiss,
Wexford makes two arguments: (1) Plaintiff has failed to state a claim under Monell v. Dep’t of
Soc. Servs. of N.Y.C., 436 U.S. 658 (1978); and (2) Plaintiff is not entitled compensatory
damages because he has not sustained any physical injury.2 The Court addresses each
argument in turn.
Wexford argues that Plaintiff’s Monell claims regarding Wexford’s widespread custom
and practice “amount to nothing more than conclusory boilerplate,” that his allegations are still
based on Wexford employees’ personal issues with him, and that allowing Plaintiff’s claim to
proceed would effectively allow him to sue on a respondeat superior basis. Plaintiff responds
that his Second Amended Complaint contains specific allegations that show a widespread policy,
including Wexford’s intentional and erroneous findings that requests for treatment have no merit,
its placement of SMI inmates in segregation, its falsification of records to indicate that treatment
As noted above, Wexford also argues that the Court should dismiss Plaintiff’s respondeat superior claim.
The Court need not address this issue because it has already dismissed this claim with prejudice, and
Plaintiff has withdrawn his respondeat superior claim.
has been provided, its delays in mental health treatment, and its intentional exacerbation of
mental health disorders.
In Monell, 436 U.S. at 693-94, the Supreme Court established that municipalities may be
held liable for constitutional violations under § 1983. A plaintiff must show, however, that the
alleged violation resulted from either (1) an official policy adopted and promulgated by its
officers; (2) a governmental practice or custom that, although not officially authorized, is
widespread and well settled; or (3) the decision of a public official possessing final policymaking
authority on the issue in question. Glisson v. Indiana Dep’t of Corr., 849 F.3d 372, 379 (7th
Cir. 2017) (citing Monell, 436 U.S. at 690-91). Wexford, a private corporation with whom
IDOC contracts to provide healthcare services, may be held liable under Monell. See, e.g., Minix
v. Canarecci, 597 F.3d 824, 832 (7th Cir. 2010). “To establish municipal liability, a plaintiff
must show the existence of an ‘official policy’ or other governmental custom that not only
causes but is the ‘moving force’ behind the deprivation of constitutional rights.” Teesdale v. City
of Chicago, 690 F.3d 829, 833-34 (7th Cir. 2012). Thus, to prevail on his Monell claim against
Wexford, Plaintiff must show that “his injury was caused by a Wexford policy, custom, or
practice of deliberate indifference to medical needs, or a series of bad acts that together raise the
inference of such a policy.” Shields v. Ill. Dep’t of Corr., 746 F.3d 782, 796 (7th Cir. 2014). In
addition, a plaintiff asserting a policy or practice claim ultimately “must demonstrate that there is
a policy at issue rather than a random event.” Thomas, 604 F.3d at 303. “This may take the
form of an implicit policy” or “a series of violations to lay the premise of deliberate
indifference.” Id. (internal citations and quotations omitted).
The Seventh Circuit has not adopted bright-line rules regarding the quantity, quality, or
frequency of conduct sufficient to constitute a widespread custom or practice such that Monell
liability attaches. See id.; see also Arita v. Wexford Health Sources, Inc., No. 15-CV-01173,
2016 WL 6432578, at *2 (N.D. Ill. Oct. 31, 2016). The conduct complained of, however, must
have occurred more than once, or even three times. Thomas, 604 F.3d at 303. Importantly, while
“it is not impossible for a plaintiff to demonstrate the existence of an official policy or custom by
presenting evidence limited to [one individual’s] experience,” it is difficult because “what is
needed is evidence that there is a true municipal [or corporate] policy at issue, not a random
event.” Grieveson v. Anderson, 538 F.3d. 763, 774 (7th Cir. 2008).
Several courts in this District have denied Rule 12(b)(6) motions to dismiss Monell claims
when the plaintiff factually alleged the specific ways in which a defendant carried out policies
affecting multiple individuals. In Ford v. Wexford Health Sources, Inc., No. 12 C 4558, 2013
WL 474494, *1-3 (N.D. Ill. Feb. 7, 2013), for example, the plaintiff, an inmate at SCC, injured
his back and made near daily requests for medical attention. Despite filing three formal
grievances in one month, the plaintiff did not attend physical therapy until nearly two years after
the injury. Id. The plaintiff then filed an emergency grievance, which was denied. Id. at *3.
After finally getting an MRI, plaintiff was scheduled to go to a pain clinic at a Chicago hospital,
but was unable to visit the hospital because IDOC denied him sufficient medical restraints. Id.
The Court found that the plaintiff’s multiple, specific allegations regarding various Wexford
employees’ consistent indifference towards his medical needs—namely, delayed delivery of
medical permits, ineffective or inappropriate administration of medication, and delayed
scheduling of medical appointments—were sufficient to support an inference that Wexford had a
“widespread practice custom or practice of treating inmates’ medical needs with deliberate
indifference.” Id. at *9. Accordingly, the Court denied Wexford’s motion to dismiss the
plaintiff’s Monell claim. Id.
Similarly, in Baker v. Wexford Health Sources, Inc., No. 13 C 50193, 2014 WL
1346613, *1-2 (N.D. Ill. April 4, 2014), the plaintiff injured his arm and requested medical
treatment, which he received almost two months later. Thereafter, the plaintiff repeatedly
requested further treatment because his injury was worsening, but Wexford employees
repeatedly ignored his requests for over eight months. Id. at *2-3. The court determined that
the plaintiff had stated a plausible Monell claim because he alleged, based on his personal
experiences, that the defendant maintained a policy of deliberate indifference by denying and
delaying requests for referrals to outside specialists and maintaining inadequate staff levels.
Id. at *5. Likewise, in Quinn v. Hardy, No. 11 C 1173, 2013 WL 4836262, *1 (N.D. Ill. Sept.
10, 2013), the plaintiff injured his foot and back, and a Wexford employee denied his repeated
requests for treatment. As a result, the plaintiff underwent hunger strikes and became suicidal.
Id. The court found that Wexford’s treatment of the plaintiff was sufficient to support a
plausible Monell claim that Wexford had a wider policy of indifference towards inmates’
medical needs. Id. at *4; see also Harper v. Wexford Health Sources, Inc., No. 14-CV-04879,
2016 WL 1056661 (N.D. Ill. Mar. 17, 2016) (denying motion to dismiss where plaintiff’s
specific allegation that defendant maintained a widespread cost-cutting policy included
references to the experiences of other inmates); Neely v. Randle, No. 12 C 2231, 2013 WL
3321451, *6 (N.D. Ill. June 29, 2013) (“allegations of routine delays and denials of medical
care and non-responsiveness to requests for care, combined with . . . specific factual
allegations regarding how he was dealt with . . . are sufficient to state claims under Monell.”).
Here, like in the cases discussed above, Plaintiff’s allegations are sufficient to allege a
Monell claim. Plaintiff has not merely alleged isolated instances of mistreatment nor, as
Wexford argues, has he merely alleged with conclusory boilerplate that Wexford maintains a
policy of providing inadequate mental health treatment to SMI inmates. Instead, like the
plaintiffs in Ford, Baker, and Quinn, he has included specific factual allegations regarding
multiple Wexford employees’ repeated and consistent indifference to his and other inmates’
medical needs. Specifically, he has alleged that 11 different Wexford employees have not only
repeatedly failed to respond to or treat his mental illness, but also have responded to his requests
for treatment with hostility and punitive measures. (See, e.g. Second Am. Compl. ¶¶ 42-45, 4750, 55-58, 62-65, 68-73, 81-85.) Plaintiff has also specifically alleged that his consistent and
repeated mistreatment was the result of widespread Wexford customs and practices at SCC and
PCC to (1) deny mental health treatment requests from inmates; (2) place SMI inmates in
segregation; (3) intentionally and falsely indicate that SMI inmates have been provided
treatment; (4) delay treatment; (5) intentionally exacerbate SMI inmates’ mental health
disorders; and (6) intentionally fail to investigate whether SMI inmates’ alleged misconduct
resulted in part or in whole from their mental illnesses. (Id. ¶¶ 31-38.) Viewing the allegations
in the light most favorable to Plaintiff with all factual inferences and ambiguities resolved in his
favor, Plaintiff has sufficiently alleged a Monell claim that is plausible on its face under the
federal notice pleading standards. Twombly, 550 U.S. 570.
Compensatory Damages Under the PLRA
Wexford next argues that the Court should dismiss Plaintiff’s complaint because the
Prison Litigation Reform Act (“PLRA”) does not permit recovery for purely mental or emotional
injury without some prior showing of physical injury, and Plaintiff has failed to allege any
physical injury. As Plaintiff noted in response, Wexford’s argument fails for two reasons.3 First,
Plaintiff has in fact alleged a physical injury. Specifically, Plaintiff alleged that, as a result of his
Wexford fails to acknowledge Plaintiff’s arguments in its Reply. (See generally R. 81, Defs.’ Reply.)
complain regarding inadequate mental heal treatment “B-House” staff memb physica
assaulted him. (Seco Am. Com ¶ 73.) Although Pl
laintiff has c
conceded tha the extent of
his injuri remains unknown, he nonetheless alleged tha he was nev treated f his physic
injuries, which included laceratio bumps, and bruises. (Id. ¶ 75.) Second, even if the Cou
found the allegatio to be insu
ufficient, the Seventh Ci
ircuit has un
nequivocally held that
“physica injury [und the PLRA is merely a predicate for an award of damage for mental or
emotiona injury, not a filing pre
erequisite for the federal civil action itself.” Cal
lhoun v. DeT
319 F.3d 936, 940 (7 Cir. 2003 see also Thomas v. Ill
F.3d 612, 614 (7th Cir.
linois, 697 F
2012); Washington v. Hively, 695 F.3d 641, 644 (7th Cir 2012). As such, an all
physical injury is not required to survive a Rule 12(b)(6) motion.
Accordingly, the Court de
ord’s motion to dismiss.
For these reas
sons, the Cou denies Defendant’s R 12(b)(6 ) motion to d
Dated: Ju 26, 2017
AMY J. ST. EVE
United State District C
Disclaimer: Justia Dockets & Filings provides public litigation records from the federal appellate and district courts. These filings and docket sheets should not be considered findings of fact or liability, nor do they necessarily reflect the view of Justia.
Why Is My Information Online?