Franklin v. Hardy (USA)

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Jose Franklin (“Franklin”), also known as Monica Franklin, is a transgendered Illinois state prisoner confined at the Stateville Correctional Center (“Stateville”) at all times relevant to this action. Prior to his incarceration, Franklin was diagnosed with gender identity disorder (“GID”). Franklin was undergoing hormone therapy and was prescribed several medications, including Spironolactone (an androgen inhibitor and estrogen augmenter) and Estradiol (a steroidal sex hormone). Franklin has not yet had sex reassignment surgery, but was contemplating it in the “near future.”

Before Franklin’s internment at Stateville, the medical staff at the Cook County Jail, where Franklin was being housed, provided him with a seven-day supply of his medications so that he could continue his drug therapy without interruption, pending review by health care providers at Stateville. Franklin arrived at Stateville on November 10, 2011. During intake procedures at Stateville, Franklin’s prescription medications were confiscated.  One of the members of Stateville’s medical staff purportedly told Franklin, “We don’t do that here.” Furthermore the doctors and nurses on staff failed to prescribe treatment for her GID. Franklin went without his medications from November 10, 2011, through February 29, 2012 (and after that date, received his medications inconsistently). As a result of the denial and delay of his medications, Franklin claims to have sustained severe injuries including pain and suffering, depression, anxiety, an accelerated heart rate, chest pain, the development of bruises and bumps, the growth of facial and body hair despite prior laser removal, and withdrawal symptoms.

On January 30, 2013, Franklin filed a nine count second amended complaint alleging violations of his civil rights pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Franklin claims that Defendants violated his constitutional rights by acting with deliberate indifference to her serious medical needs. Franklin alleges that for several months he was denied needed care and treatment, including hormone replacement therapy for his gender identity disorder, a condition for which she had been receiving treatment for several years prior to her arrival at Stateville. On April 22, 2013, Defendants filed the instant motion to dismiss.

The Seventh Circuit has held that a Wisconsin statute barring the state’s Department of Corrections from providing hormone treatment to inmates suffering from GID was unconstitutional. Fields v. Smith, 653 F.3d 550, 554 (7th Cir. 2011). Correctional officials and health care providers may not act with deliberate indifference to an inmate’s serious medical needs. Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 104, 97 S. Ct. 285, 50 L. Ed. 2d 251 (1976); Fields, 653 F.3d at 554.

Defendants aptly point out that they cannot be held liable solely on the basis of blanket supervisory liability. The doctrine of respondeat superior does not apply to actions filed under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. See, e.g., Kinslow v. Pullara, 538 F.3d 687, 692 (7th Cir. 2008). However, section 1983 creates a cause of action based on personal liability and predicated upon fault; thus, “to be liable under § 1983, an individual defendant must have caused or participated in a constitutional deprivation.” Pepper v. Village of Oak Park, 430 F.3d 805, 810 (7th Cir. 2005) (citations omitted). Franklin has adequately alleged such personal involvement.

According to Franklin, each of the Defendants was “made aware” of the need for treatment of his GID and failed to take action. Franklin alleges that he notified Hardy, Pierce, and Godinez by way of grievances, correspondences, “and/or other administrative remedies;” that he sought the intercession of Engleson by requests in person; and that she filed multiple grievances with Bass that were not processed in a timely or adequate manner. If Defendants seek further details regarding the timing and degree of each Defendant’s knowledge and involvement, that information can be ascertained through the discovery process. However, Franklin’s representation that Defendants ignored grievances, letters, and personal pleas concerning the reported failure to provide necessary medical care states a colorable claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Hardy, Pierce, Engleson and Bass. The Defendants’ motion to dismiss was denied as to defendants Hardy, Pierce, Engleson, and Bass.

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