On January 27, 2009, current and former inmates at the Cook County Jail filed a lawsuit against the Sheriff of Cook County and Cook County, IL in the 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.
As of the date of this summary, the legal issues of the case have centered around class certification. On November 18, 2010, the judge certified the second class of plaintiffs while denying the first class certification. 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, citing recent Supreme Court caselaw abrogating the notion of comity as precluding certification of a Rule 23(b)(3) class. On August 17, 2011, the judge granted this motion and certified both sub-classes.
The case then went to the Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit. The sole issue on appeal was if a district court, on 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.
After appeal, the case was reassigned to a magistrate judge for pre-trial proceedings. Numerous discovery-related motions followed. A bench trial regarding injunctive relief was held on June 2-10, 2014.
On December 22, 2014, the Court issued an opinion decertifying the b(2) class. This rendered the plaintiff's request for a permanent injunction moot. The court also modified the definition of the b(3) 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 b(3) class but it was denied by the 7th Circuit on February 25, 2015.
On July 6, 2016, the 7th 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.
As of February 2017, the parties continue to negotiate towards settlement. Renita Khanduja - 06/22/2012
Micah Telegen - 03/03/2017