Court Grants Defendants Summary Judgment on Jail Inmate’s Medical Care and Due Process Claims

September 11, 2018

The Honorable Sue E. Myerscough in the Central District of Illinois granted summary judgment in favor of the Chief of Corrections, the Physician’s Assistant, nurse, and three correctional officers of the Kankakee County Sheriff’s Department in Lopez v. Kolitwenzew, et al. Case No. 15-cv-2149 (C.D. Ill. August 30, 2018). Plaintiff, Jose Juan Urena Lopez, alleged that he was struck in the face by another inmate, fell, and broke his rib in one of the housing units of the Jerome Combs Detention Center. Lopez further alleged that when he reported the attack, he was taken to disciplinary segregation, and he received no care for his injuries. Lopez alleged that the correctional officers, the Physician’s Assistant and the nurse violated his Fourteenth Amendment rights in that they failed to reasonably care for his injuries. Lopez alleged that the Jail Administration violated his Fourteenth Amendment due process rights by taking him to disciplinary segregation without a hearing.

In December 2014, Lopez was observed attempting to start fights with other detainees. Additionally, another detainee reported that he saw Lopez with a shank. Lopez had his belongings searched by corrections officers, who did not find a shank, but did find other contraband materials. Lopez reported to the officers that he had been assaulted that morning, but could not or would not provide information about his alleged assailant. Lopez was transferred to an administrative segregation cell pending an investigation into his claims. Lopez was then also re-classified due to his behavioral issues in the jail. Lopez did not receive a hearing prior to his transfer. About a week later, Lopez put in a medical request form related to his rib and jaw injuries. He was seen two days later by the Physician’s Assistant and was scheduled for X-Rays. Shortly thereafter, the plaintiff developed appendicitis and was promptly treated and had his appendix removed at a local hospital.

Plaintiff challenged his placement in segregation and his alleged lack of medical care. Judge Myerscough found that Plaintiff’s broken rib and appendicitis were adequately cared for. Additionally, the Court found that Plaintiff was not punished through his placement in segregation, but his placement was based off of an accumulation of behavior, and due to the pending investigation regarding who Plaintiff had fought with that morning. The Court granted summary judgment in favor of the officers, the administration defendants, and the medical defendants. The defendants were represented by Michael Condon and Tony Fioretti.

Lopez v. Kolitwenzew

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