Hahn v. Walsh

Decision Date09 September 2014
Docket NumberNo. 13–1766.,13–1766.
Citation762 F.3d 617
CourtU.S. Court of Appeals — Seventh Circuit
PartiesPatrick HAHN and Erik Redwood, Administrator of the Estate of Janet Louise Hahn, Deceased, Plaintiffs–Appellants, v. Daniel WALSH, et al., Defendants–Appellees.


Kenneth N. Flaxman, Chicago, IL, for PlaintiffsAppellants.

Craig L. Unrath, Heyl, Royster, Voelker & Allen, Peoria, IL, for DefendantsAppellees.

Before RIPPLE and WILLIAMS, Circuit Judges, and ST. EVE, District Judge.*

RIPPLE, Circuit Judge.

Janet Hahn was a pretrial detainee at the Champaign County Correctional Center (“CCCC”) immediately before she died as a result of diabetic ketoacidosis.1 Patrick Hahn, Mrs. Hahn's husband, and Erik Redwood, the administrator of her estate, brought this action, alleging that various government officials and private contractors failed to provide adequate medical treatment, in violation of Mrs. Hahn's rights under the Fourteenth Amendment, the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Rehabilitation Act and Illinois state law. The district court dismissed some of the plaintiffs' claims under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) and granted summary judgment in favor of the defendants on the remaining claims.

The plaintiffs now appeal, raising three issues. First, the plaintiffs submit that the district court erred in dismissing their state law wrongful death claim. The district court faulted the plaintiffs for failing to comply with an Illinois statute that requires plaintiffs who allege medical malpractice to submit with their complaints (1) an affidavit confirming that a medical professional has verified the claim's merit and (2) a written report from that medical professional. Second, the plaintiffs contend that the district court abused its discretion by dismissing their wrongful death claim with prejudice instead of granting them leave to amend in order to cure the deficiency. Finally, they submit that the district court erred in granting summary judgment to two of the defendants.

We affirm in part and reverse in part the judgment of the district court. The district court correctly dismissed the plaintiffs' wrongful death claim but erred by dismissing it with prejudice. The plaintiffs produced insufficient evidence to permit their claims against Sheriff Walsh and Health Professionals Ltd. (“HPL”), the jail's medical services contractor, to survive summary judgment. Accordingly, we reverse the district court's judgment insofar as it dismissed the wrongful death claim with prejudice. We affirm the remainder of its decisions.


We recount the facts in the light most favorable to the plaintiffs. See Hardaway v. Meyerhoff, 734 F.3d 740, 743 (7th Cir.2013).

On the evening of June 15, 2007, Mrs. Hahn was arrested for aggravated domestic battery and transported to the satellite location of the CCCC. The Champaign County Sheriff's Office, headed by Sheriff Daniel Walsh, operates the CCCC. Upon her arrival, Officer Chad Schweighart processed Mrs. Hahn into the CCCC as a detainee.2 She was angry and uncooperative during booking. Mrs. Hahn told Officer Schweighart that she was diabetic and suicidal, but she refused to provide any additional information, such as the type of insulin she had been prescribed. She also refused to sign a release so that the CCCC could obtain her medical records. Officer Schweighart reported this information to his supervisor.

Mrs. Hahn was placed on suicide watch pursuant to a CCCC policy for handling detainees who are identified as mentally ill, who demonstrate unusual behavior or who indicate that they are experiencing suicidal ideations. Accordingly, Mrs. Hahn was given a gown and blanket made from a material that prevents detainees from fashioning them into instruments of self-harm. Further, correctional officers were required to observe Mrs. Hahn every fifteen minutes for signs of physical or mental distress and to report any such signs to their supervisors.

Beyond the fifteen-minute checks, the CCCC had additional policies in place relevant to Mrs. Hahn's physical and mental conditions. First, the CCCC contracted with a private company, HPL, to provide medical and mental health services to detainees in its custody.3 All medical issues were referred to HPL's medical staff and mental health issues were referred to its counselors. CCCC officers deferred to the judgment of HPL professionals on issues of medical and mental health. Second, the CCCC had a policy of not forcing medical care on a resisting detainee. For example, if a diabetic detainee refused to have her blood sugar checked or to take insulin, CCCC officers were not supposed to force care on the detainee; the officers should have reported the refusal to a supervisor or to both a supervisor and medical staff. The CCCC also would not force patients to eat if they refused to do so. If a detainee refused a meal, the correctional officer on duty should have notified a supervisor; if the detainee refused more than one meal, it was “normal practice” for the correctional officer to notify both a supervisor and medical staff.4 Medical or mental health staff then decided what to do about a detainee who refused to eat. Finally, if a detainee was suffering from an “obvious/life-threatening acute/emergency situation,” CCCC officers were to call for emergency medical assistance.5

In order to provide the necessary medical and mental health care, HPL staffed the CCCC with a physician (who visited once per week), registered nurses and mental health personnel. Correctional officers could contact an on-call nurse at any time. HPL provided training on an annual basis to correctional officers about the care and monitoring of diabetic patients. This training included instruction on how to recognize hypoglycemia and hyperglycemia (low and high blood sugar, respectively).

In addition to the CCCC's policies and practices, HPL had its own policies for identifying and handling detainees suffering from serious medical conditions, includingmental illness and diabetes. For diabetic detainees whose treatment protocol was unknown, HPL's policy called for blood sugar to be checked twice each day using an Accu–Chek glucose meter, for insulin to be delivered based on a particular dosage scale 6 and for an evening snack to be provided to the detainee. Insulin could be administered by a nurse, without consulting a physician. If a diabetic detainee refused treatment, medical staff would attempt to have the detainee sign a refusal-of-care form. HPL did not have a specific policy for checking the blood sugar of diabetic inmates who refused to use the Accu–Chek machine.

When Mrs. Hahn was first processed into the jail, Officer Joanne Lewis and a supervisor, Sergeant Michael Johnson, were among the officers on duty. Officer Lewis gave Mrs. Hahn a meal on the evening of June 15, 2007. When she returned to retrieve the tray, Officer Lewis noted that some of the food was gone, but she did not know whether Mrs. Hahn had eaten it. At some point that evening, Mrs. Hahn took off her gown and stuffed her gown and blanket into the toilet in her cell. The cell then flooded. Accordingly, the water to Mrs. Hahn's cell was shut off. After the water was shut off, correctional officers brought Mrs. Hahn water upon request. Officer Lewis assisted Mrs. Hahn in putting on a new gown.

Sergeant Johnson also interacted with Mrs. Hahn that evening. He spoke with Mrs. Hahn about her diabetes and discussed checking her blood sugar. Mrs. Hahn initially resisted but eventually agreed to have her blood sugar checked. After contacting the on-call HPL nurse, Kendra Adams, Sergeant Johnson checked Mrs. Hahn's blood sugar and, at 9:40 p.m., her blood sugar reading was 160. Adams advised Sergeant Johnson that this reading was within an acceptable range, and no insulin was provided to Mrs. Hahn.7 The reading was recorded on a form called the “Blood Sugar and Insulin Tracking Sheet.”

After his interaction with Mrs. Hahn, Sergeant Johnson wrote an e-mail to HPL staff. He stated that Mrs. Hahn was a “psych patient,” that she had a cut and stitches on her left arm (and that the bandage had been removed for safety purposes because she had made statements about hurting herself), that she was unpredictable and had flooded her cell, and that her blood sugar was 160 and she was not given insulin. Sergeant Johnson also left a message for officers assigned to subsequent shifts. That message included most of the information given to HPL, as well as a note that Mrs. Hahn had been very uncooperative and that the water in her cell had been turned off. CCCC staff started a “segregation log” for Mrs. Hahn, which noted various information, including her refusal of meals.

On that same evening, according to the testimony of Donald MacFarlane, a detainee at the CCCC, Mrs. Hahn stood at her cell window for more than an hour, yelling that she needed help and asking that her doctor be called. MacFarlane testified that this episode began after about 9:00 p.m.

Officer Karee Voges was on duty from 11:45 p.m. on June 15, 2007, to 8:15 a.m. on June 16, 2007. She testified that because she had interacted with Mrs. Hahn during her prior detention, she knew that Mrs. Hahn was a Type–1 diabetic and that she had a history of being angry and uncooperative. Officer Voges said that throughout that night, she brought Mrs. Hahn cups of water when requested. She offered breakfast to Mrs. Hahn around 6:30 a.m., but she documented on the log that Mrs. Hahn refused the meal.

On the morning of June 16, Mrs. Hahn was seen by both Alyson Morris, a mental health clinician with HPL,8 and by Susan Swain, a nurse with HPL. 9 Morris's interaction with Mrs. Hahn was brief; at its conclusion, she wrote an e-mail to Sergeant Johnson, on which she copied her supervisor. Morris wrote that Mrs. Hahn was still uncooperative and angry.


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