Skip navigation
× You have 2 more free articles available this month. Subscribe today.

Seventh Circuit Reverses Dismissal of Illinois Prisoner’s § 1983 Action

William Nally, incarcerated at the Stateville Correctional Center in Illinois, was given eleven diabetes tests by prison medical staff over a period of five years starting in 2005. Despite the fact that several of those tests showed he was either diabetic or pre-diabetic, he was not advised of the results until 2010. It was only then that Nally realized he had a serious and potentially life-threatening condition, and he filed a pro se federal civil rights complaint alleging deliberate indifference.

The district court dismissed his suit for failure to file before the expiration of the statute of limitations. After reviewing the facts of the case, the Seventh Circuit reversed that dismissal on August 24, 2015.

Nally, the Court of Appeals stated, “required treatment but appears not to have received any. A prediabetic often can avoid or delay becoming diabetic by cutting his sugar intake in accordance with advice from a nutritionist, by dieting, and by increased exercise or other physical activity.”

“For the medical staff of a prison, to know that an inmate is diabetic or prediabetic, yet not tell him, let alone do nothing to treat his condition, is therefore, to be reckless (a synonym for deliberately indifferent),” the appellate court continued. “Deliberate indifference to a prison inmate’s serious health problems is of course actionable under 42 U.S.C. § 1983.”

The Seventh Circuit also rejected the district court’s finding that the action was barred by the applicable two-year statute of limitations, noting that Nally did not learn of his condition until 2010, after rapid deterioration of his eyesight and cramps and numbness in his left foot. “The statute of limitations in federal tort suits starts to run when a person knows that he is injured and knows what caused his injury,” the Court of Appeals wrote. That lack of knowledge prior to 2010 would have tolled the running of the statute. The Court also noted the statute would have been tolled while Nally was exhausting his administrative remedies, a necessary prerequisite to filing a federal lawsuit.

Finally, the appellate court opined that district courts hearing pro se prisoner civil rights complaints would be well-advised to appoint counsel to expedite discovery and handle other necessary actions to ensure that well-founded claims receive the attention they deserve. See: Nally v. Ghosh, 799 F.3d 756 (7th Cir. 2015).

Following remand, the district court appointed counsel to represent Nally in November 2015, and the case remains pending. 

As a digital subscriber to Prison Legal News, you can access full text and downloads for this and other premium content.

Subscribe today

Already a subscriber? Login

Related legal case

Nally v. Ghosh