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Case Name Smentek v. Sheriff of Cook County JC-IL-0047
Docket / Court 1:09-cv-00529 ( N.D. Ill. )
State/Territory Illinois
Case Type(s) Jail Conditions
Case Summary
On January 27, 2009, current and former inmates at the Cook County Jail (CCJ), in Chicago, filed this class action lawsuit against Cook County and the Sheriff of Cook County in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. Represented by private counsel, the plaintiffs sought ... read more >
On January 27, 2009, current and former inmates at the Cook County Jail (CCJ), in Chicago, filed this class action lawsuit against Cook County and the Sheriff of Cook County in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. Represented by private counsel, the plaintiffs sought certification of two sub-classes: "all inmates housed at Cook County Department of Corrections on or after January 1, 2007, who have made a written request for dental care because of acute pain and who suffered prolonged and unnecessary pain because of lack of treatment " and "all persons presently confined at the Cook County Jail who are experiencing dental pain and who have waited more than seven days after making a written request for treatment of that pain without having been examined by a dentist." For the first class, the plaintiffs sought monetary relief. For the second class, the plaintiffs sought both monetary and injunctive relief. The case was assigned to Judge Joan H. Lefkow.

On November 18, 2010, the judge certified the second class of plaintiffs while denying the first class’ certification. 2010 WL 4791509. Other judges in the same district had denied class certification in similar circumstances, and defendants (and the court) cited principles of comity to support denial of certification in this case.

The plaintiffs moved for reconsideration of this denial, citing recent Supreme Court case law. On August 17, 2011, the judge granted this motion and certified both sub-classes. 2011 WL 13136965.

The defendants then appealed the August 17 decision to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. The sole issue on appeal was if a district court, when deciding a motion for class certification, should defer, based on the principles of comity, to a sister court's ruling of on a motion for certification of a similar case. On June 19, 2012, the Court of Appeals affirmed the district court's grant of class certification by holding that another federal district judge's rulings on class certification was not preclusive. 683 F.3d 373.

On December 22, 2014, the district court issued an opinion decertifying the injunctive class, rendering the plaintiff's request for a permanent injunction moot. 2014 WL 7330792. The court also modified the definition of the damages class, narrowing it to a definition to be determined at a later date. The court noted that positive changes in the provision of dental services at CCJ had made it so that injunctive relief would be so vague as to be pointless or too detailed to be practical. The plaintiffs immediately appealed the decision to deny the injunction to the Court of Appeals and moved to sub-divide the class to address the issues perceived by the court.

The defendants also filed a motion for a new trial due to the discovery of new evidence, which was was denied by the trial court and appealed to the Court of Appeals. The defendants also filed a motion for an interlocutory appeal of the decision not to decertify the damages class but it was denied by the Seventh Circuit on February 25, 2015.

On July 6, 2016, the Seventh Circuit denied the plaintiffs' appeal of the decertification and the denial of the motion for a new trial.

On October 13, 2016, Judge Lefkow denied the plaintiff's motion to sub-divide the class and strongly suggested that settlement would be appropriate. 2016 WL 5939704.

Then, after many months of negotiations, the parties reached a settlement agreement and moved for preliminary approval of the agreement on May 1, 2018. The agreement required that the defendant County establish a settlement fund in the amount of $5,563,000 to cover damages for class members associated with their dental care, incentive awards, fees and costs of counsel, resolution of three separate lawsuits, and administration of this settlement. The court was to retain jurisdiction to ensure compliance with the agreement. On May 4, 2018, the court granted preliminary approval of this agreement and set a fairness hearing for August 21, 2018 before final approval. The case is ongoing.

Renita Khanduja - 06/22/2012
Micah Telegen - 03/03/2017
Jake Parker - 06/25/2018


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Cruel and Unusual Punishment
Defendant-type
Corrections
Medical/Mental Health
Dental care
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Type of Facility
Government-run
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Defendant(s) Sheriff of Cook County
Plaintiff Description Inmates in the Cook County Jail, on or after Jan. 1, 2007, who have requested but did not receive dental care.
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted Yes
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer No
Nature of Relief Damages
Source of Relief Settlement
Form of Settlement Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree
Filing Year 2009
Case Ongoing Yes
Docket(s)
1:09−cv−00529 (N.D. Ill.)
JC-IL-0047-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 08/22/2018
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Second Amended Complaint [ECF# 35] (2009 WL 4643489)
JC-IL-0047-0002.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 01/27/2009
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Opinion and Order [ECF# 68] (2010 WL 4791509) (N.D. Ill.)
JC-IL-0047-0003.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 11/18/2010
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Opinion and Order [ECF# 93] (2011 WL 13136965) (N.D. Ill.)
JC-IL-0047-0004.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 08/17/2011
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Opinion (7th Cir.) (683 F.3d 373)
JC-IL-0047-0001.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 06/19/2012
Memorandum Opinion and Order [ECF# 157] (2013 WL 2588709) (N.D. Ill.)
JC-IL-0047-0006.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 06/11/2013
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum Opinion and Order [ECF# 233] (2013 WL 6696961) (N.D. Ill.)
JC-IL-0047-0007.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 12/19/2013
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Opinion and Order [ECF# 390] (2014 WL 7330792) (N.D. Ill.)
JC-IL-0047-0008.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 12/22/2014
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order [ECF# 391] (N.D. Ill.)
JC-IL-0047-0009.pdf | Detail
Date: 12/22/2014
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Opinion and Order [ECF# 473] (2016 WL 5939704) (N.D. Ill.)
JC-IL-0047-0010.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 10/13/2016
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Motion for Preliminary Approval of Class Action Settlement [ECF# 568]
JC-IL-0047-0011.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/01/2018
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Brown, Geraldine Soat (N.D. Ill.)
JC-IL-0047-0006 | JC-IL-0047-0007
Lefkow, Joan Humphrey (N.D. Ill.)
JC-IL-0047-0003 | JC-IL-0047-0004 | JC-IL-0047-0008 | JC-IL-0047-0009 | JC-IL-0047-0010 | JC-IL-0047-9000
Posner, Richard Allen (Seventh Circuit)
JC-IL-0047-0001
Tinder, John Daniel (S.D. Ind., Seventh Circuit)
JC-IL-0047-0001
Wood, Diane Pamela (Seventh Circuit)
JC-IL-0047-0001
Plaintiff's Lawyers Flaxman, Kenneth N. (Illinois)
JC-IL-0047-0002 | JC-IL-0047-0011 | JC-IL-0047-9000
Flaxman, Joel A. (Illinois)
JC-IL-0047-9000
Morrissey, Patrick William (Illinois)
JC-IL-0047-0011 | JC-IL-0047-9000
Morrissey, Thomas Gerard (Illinois)
JC-IL-0047-0002 | JC-IL-0047-0011 | JC-IL-0047-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Cargie, Thomas E. (Illinois)
JC-IL-0047-9000
Catania, Francis J. (Illinois)
JC-IL-0047-0011 | JC-IL-0047-9000
Condron, David Richard (Illinois)
JC-IL-0047-9000
Cummings, Nicholas E. (Illinois)
JC-IL-0047-9000
Davenport, Elaine Cindy (Illinois)
JC-IL-0047-9000
Dombrowski, Gerald Michael (Illinois)
JC-IL-0047-0011 | JC-IL-0047-9000
Gallagher, Michael L. (Illinois)
JC-IL-0047-9000
Hannon, Maureen O'Donoghue (Illinois)
JC-IL-0047-9000
Huff, Andrea Lynn (Illinois)
JC-IL-0047-9000
Kasparie, Alexander James (Illinois)
JC-IL-0047-9000
Navarro, Sandra A. (Illinois)
JC-IL-0047-9000
Patterson, Chaka M. (Illinois)
JC-IL-0047-9000
Raines, Shawnte Miaundra (Illinois)
JC-IL-0047-9000
Sanchez, Yifan Xu (Illinois)
JC-IL-0047-9000
Shev, Nathan Andrew (Illinois)
JC-IL-0047-9000
Stein, Cathy McNeil (Illinois)
JC-IL-0047-9000
Warner, Michael D. (Illinois)
JC-IL-0047-9000
Zecchin, Anthony E. (Illinois)
JC-IL-0047-9000
Other Lawyers Hogan, Albert Lee (Illinois)
JC-IL-0047-9000 | JC-IL-0047-9000
Shew, Nathan Andrew (Illinois)
JC-IL-0047-9000

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