At the direction of the Chicago Police Department ("CPD"), Illinois Medi-Car ("Medi-Car"), a private corporation, transported Reshard Jackson to a South Side police station on October 5, 1998. After reaching the facility, Mr. Jackson collapsed from an overdose of medication. Mr. Jackson later filed this § 1983 action against Medi-Car and one of its drivers, Matthew Howard. He alleged that Medi-Car and Mr. Howard had denied him, a pretrial detainee, adequate medical care in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution of the United States. Medi-Car and Mr. Howard moved for summary judgment, submitting, among other arguments, that no deprivation of constitutional rights had occurred. The district court agreed and entered summary judgment in their favor. For the reasons set forth in the following opinion, we affirm the judgment of the district court.
Medi-Car is a private corporation that provides non-medical transportation for disabled individuals. Its role is limited to providing transportation services; Medi-Car does not provide medical care to any of its passengers. Indeed, its drivers do not receive, nor are they required to obtain, any medical training. Rather, if a passenger develops a serious medical problem, Medi-Car instructs its drivers to contact an emergency medical care provider.
During 1995, the corporation entered into a one-year contract with the City of Chicago ("the City") to transport wheelchair-bound detainees for the CPD. Although the parties did not renew the contract upon its expiration, they continued to operate under its terms over the following years, including 1998. With the contract, the City also provided Medi-Car with CPD DSO 9506 ("the DSO") — a document establishing the procedures under which the parties would operate. Under the DSO, if an arrestee required medical assistance, CPD officers would not contact Medi-Car; rather, they would obtain medical assistance for the detainee from the Chicago Fire Department. Moreover, Medi-Car drivers, including Mr. Howard, had no authority over a detainee; they simply moved the individual from prearranged location to prearranged location. Consequently, the DSO required a CPD officer to accompany the detainee in the Medi-Car van to ensure the driver's safety, to prevent escape and to monitor the suspect. Notably, Medi-Car did not give any special instructions to its drivers concerning the transport of detainees. Rather, the corporation employed the same procedures whether transporting a detainee or non-detainee passenger.
On October 5, 1998, CPD officers arrested Mr. Jackson, who is confined to a wheelchair, at an apartment in Chicago. The arrest became confrontational; one of the officers not only choked Mr. Jackson but also destroyed the charging unit on the wheelchair. Mr. Jackson then was handcuffed to the front of the wheelchair and was pulled down the steps of the apartment building. Upon reaching ground level, the officers removed their detainee's restraints. While the officers talked amongst themselves, Mr. Jackson consumed roughly 114 pills of Baclofen, a prescription muscle relaxant.
Approximately fifteen to twenty minutes later, a Medi-Car vehicle driven by Mr. Howard arrived at the apartment building. While moving Mr. Jackson into the vehicle, one of the officers noticed an empty pill bottle on the ground, prompting her to ask her detainee whether he had consumed
The officers instructed Mr. Howard to take Mr. Jackson to a police station located at 71st Street and Cottage Grove on the South Side of Chicago.
Upon arriving at the police station, Mr. Howard removed Mr. Jackson from the Medi-Car vehicle and placed him in an interrogation room. Once again, Mr. Jackson appeared to be alert and attentive. However, after spending five minutes in an interrogation room, Mr. Jackson became unconscious. The CPD called an ambulance, and Mr. Jackson was taken to the hospital where he lapsed into a three-day period of unconsciousness. Almost two weeks later, the hospital released Mr. Jackson after he sufficiently had recovered from an overdose of Baclofen.
B. District Court Proceedings
Soon after, Mr. Jackson initiated this § 1983 action against, among others, Medi-Car and its employee, Mr. Howard.
Prior to trial, Medi-Car and Mr. Howard moved for summary judgment. Among other arguments, they submitted that no constitutional deprivation had occurred while transporting Mr. Jackson from the apartment complex to the police station at 71st Street and Cottage Grove. After considering the parties' submissions, the district court entered summary judgment for Medi-Car and Mr. Howard. The district court concluded that, even if Medi-Car and Mr. Howard had functioned as state actors, they had not deprived Mr. Jackson, a pretrial detainee, of his due process right to medical care. Although noting that Mr. Jackson had produced sufficient evidence indicative of a serious
We review de novo the district court's grant of summary judgment. See Thomas v. Pearle Vision, Inc., 251 F.3d 1132, 1136 (7th Cir.2001). Summary judgment is appropriate "if the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.Proc. 56(c); see Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322-23, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 91 L.Ed.2d 265 (1986). Our function is not to weigh the evidence but merely to determine if "there is a genuine issue for trial." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 249, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 91 L.Ed.2d 202 (1986). In performing this task, we must construe all facts and draw all reasonable inferences in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. See id. at 255, 106 S.Ct. 2505.
Mr. Jackson submits that, based on the record before us, a reasonable jury could conclude that Mr. Howard and Medi-Car deprived him of adequate medical care in violation of the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. In particular, Mr. Jackson states that "Mr. Howard deliberately ignored the risk to [his passenger's] life by refusing [the passenger's] request to be taken to the hospital." Appellant's Br. at 17. After reviewing the record, we cannot accept this contention.
It is well-established that, while in the custody of state or local authorities, a pretrial detainee must be afforded certain protections under the Fourteenth Amendment, including access to adequate medical care.
Given this analogy, for a pretrial detainee to establish a deprivation of his due process right to adequate medical care, he must demonstrate that a government official acted with deliberate indifference to his objectively serious medical needs. See Qian, 168 F.3d at 955. This inquiry includes an objective and subjective component. The objective aspect of
Even if the plaintiff satisfies this objective component, he also must tender sufficient evidence to meet the subjective prong of this inquiry. In particular, the plaintiff must establish that the relevant official had "a sufficiently culpable state of mind[,] ... deliberate indifference to [the detainee's] health or safety." Farmer, 511 U.S. at 834, 114 S.Ct. 1970. Evidence that the official acted negligently is insufficient to prove deliberate indifference. See Payne, 161 F.3d at 1040. Rather, as we have noted, "`deliberate indifference' is simply a synonym for intentional or reckless conduct, and that `reckless' describes conduct so dangerous that the deliberate nature of the defendant's actions can be inferred." Qian, 168 F.3d at 955. Consequently, to establish deliberate indifference, the plaintiff must proffer evidence "demonstrating that the defendants were aware of a substantial risk of serious injury to the detainee but nevertheless failed to take appropriate steps to protect him from a known danger." Payne, 161 F.3d at 1041. Simply put, an official "must both be aware of facts from which the inference could be drawn that a substantial risk of serious harm exists, and he must also draw the inference." Higgins, 178 F.3d at 510. Even if he recognizes the substantial risk, an official is free from liability if he "responded reasonably to the risk, even if the harm ultimately was not averted." Farmer, 511 U.S. at 843, 114 S.Ct. 1970.
In this case, although Mr. Jackson has demonstrated that he suffered from an objectively serious medical condition, we certainly cannot conclude on this record that Mr. Howard acted with deliberate indifference to the situation. Mr. Howard's role in this incident was markedly different from that of the police officers on the scene. As the parties agree, Mr. Howard, as a Medi-Car driver, had no authority over the CPD's detainees, including Mr. Jackson. See R.71, ¶ 35 (Defendants' 12(M) Statement); R.76, ¶ 35 (Plaintiff's Local Rule 56.1(b)(3)(A) Statement). Mr. Howard could neither release Mr. Jackson nor remove the passenger's restraints. This aspect of the relationship between Medi-Car and the CPD is the very reason that the DSO required an officer to ride in the Medi-Car vehicle with a detainee. Moreover, the terms of the DSO indicate that the CPD did not expect Medi-Car or its drivers to provide medical services to a detainee. Indeed, the company did not afford medical services to any of its passengers. It was not Mr. Howard's role to assess the detainee's medical condition; that duty was assigned to the arresting officers. On these facts, Mr. Howard's role in this matter was quite limited; he merely functioned as a transport service, moving Mr. Jackson from destination to destination.
Even assuming that Mr. Howard may have had some obligation to relay information concerning a drastic change in Mr. Jackson's medical condition to the officers flanking the Medi-Car van, the facts of this case do not indicate that he was confronted with such a situation. Moreover, he certainly did not act with anything close to deliberate indifference in declining to take his passenger to the hospital. As
Finally, we briefly turn to Mr. Jackson's claim against Medi-Car. It is well-established that there is no respondeat superior liability under § 1983. See Horwitz v. Bd. of Educ., 260 F.3d 602, 619 (7th Cir.2001). A "private corporation is not vicariously liable under § 1983 for its employees' deprivations of others' civil rights." Iskander v. Vill. of Forest Park, 690 F.2d 126, 128 (7th Cir.1982). In general terms, to maintain a viable § 1983 action against a municipality or similar entity,
The district court properly entered summary judgment on Mr. Jackson's claims against Mr. Howard and Medi-Car. Accordingly, the judgment of the district court is affirmed.