Denial of CPAP Machine Did Not Violate Inmate’s Constitutional Rights

October 29, 2019

In DeJohnette v. Indiana U.S. Marshal Service, a federal inmate alleged that his constitutional rights were violated by the United States and Kankakee County when they allegedly failed to provide him with a CPAP machine while housed as a federal detainee at the Jerome Combs Detention Center. However, the Honorable Judge Sue Myerscough granted summary judgment on behalf of all of the Defendants. Plaintiff DeJohnette had been diagnosed with possible sleep apnea at his initial health screening in August 2016 and it had been recommended to him even before his incarceration that he should have a sleep study for his habitual sleep problems. The Marshal’s Service approved a sleep study, which was done in November 2016, and the study showed that DeJohnette in fact had sleep apnea, with the person conducting the study recommending a CPAP machine. The County then requested a CPAP machine from the Marshals Service but the County’s request was denied by the Medical Director of the Marshals Service, who found that DeJohnette’s sleep apnea was mild and that the effectiveness of a CPAP machine was debatable under the circumstances in light of DeJohnette’s inability to sleep on his back. The Medical Director further noted that DeJohnette was not expected to remain in the jail for more than six months and that further consideration of a CPAP machine could wait until DeJohnette was remanded into the long term custody of the Federal Bureau of Prisons. The District Court found that no rational juror could find that the persons sued—the Acting U.S. Marshal and the County’s Chief of Corrections—were personally responsible for denying DeJohnette a CPAP machine. The Court also noted that DeJohnette had not sued the person responsible for the decision not to give DeJohnette a CPAP—the Medical Director—but that even if DeJohnette had sued the Medical Director, no rational juror could find that the Director’s denial of a CPAP machine under the circumstances was objectively unreasonable.  Michael Condon and Jason Rose represented the County and its representatives in the case.

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