United States District Court, S.D. Illinois
August 12, 2005.
SALVATORE LONGORIA, Inmate #A-81084, Plaintiff,
WARDEN GARNETT, MAGGIE BRIAN, DOCTOR GONZALES, MS. PULLEY, WARDEN PIERCE, and UNKNOWN PARTIES, Defendants.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: J. PHIL GILBERT, District Judge
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
Plaintiff, an inmate in the Lawrence Correctional Center,
brings this action for deprivations of his constitutional rights
pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The complaint is a rambling
monologue filled with vague generalities. After a careful
reading, the Court discerns three themes: (1) Plaintiff is
dissatisfied with his medical care, (2) Defendants falsify
disciplinary tickets, and (3) Defendants have interfered with his
access to the courts.
This case is now before the Court for a preliminary review of
the complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, which provides:
(a) Screening. The court shall review, before
docketing, if feasible or, in any event, as soon as
practicable after docketing, a complaint in a civil
action in which a prisoner seeks redress from a
governmental entity or officer or employee of a
(b) Grounds for Dismissal. On review, the court
shall identify cognizable claims or dismiss the
complaint, or any portion of the complaint, if the
(1) is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a
claim on which relief may be granted; or
(2) seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is
immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. An action or claim is frivolous if
"it lacks an arguable basis either in law or in
fact." Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325
(1989). Upon careful review of the complaint and any
supporting exhibits, the Court finds it appropriate
to exercise its authority under § 1915A; this action
is legally frivolous and thus subject to summary
From the complaint, the Court gleans that Plaintiff is confined
to a wheelchair; he states that the state-issued chair is
inadequate and uncomfortable. He suffers from seizures of an
unspecified nature, and apparently he has fallen from his chair
on many occasions, resulting in assorted cuts, bruises and
contusions. He takes several medications, and he claims that at
times his medications are withheld, or that he has been given the
incorrect medication. Plaintiff is unable to fully control his
bodily functions, requiring that he wear diapers and a catheter
bag. He states that he is not always provided with sufficient
supplies, so he is unable to keep himself as clean as he would
like. Finally, he is upset with the Department's policy requiring
inmates to make a small co-payment for their medical care.
The Supreme Court has recognized that "deliberate indifference
to serious medical needs of prisoners" may constitute cruel and
unusual punishment under the Eighth Amendment. Estelle v.
Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 104 (1976); Farmer v. Brennan,
511 U.S. 825 (1994). This encompasses a broader range of conduct than
intentional denial of necessary medical treatment, but it stops
short of "negligen[ce] in diagnosing or treating a medical
condition." Estelle, 429 U.S. at 106. See also Jones v.
Simek, 193 F.3d 485, 489 (7th Cir. 1999); Steele v. Choi,
82 F.3d 175, 178 (7th Cir. 1996), cert. denied,
519 U.S. 897 (1996).
A prisoner raising an Eighth Amendment claim against
a prison official therefore must satisfy two
requirements. The first one is an objective standard:
"[T]he deprivation alleged must be, objectively,
`sufficiently serious.'" Farmer, 511 U.S. at ___, 114 S.Ct. at 1977. As the Court explained in
Farmer, "a prison official's act or omission must
result in the denial of the minimal civilized measure
of life's necessities." Id. The second requirement
is a subjective one: "[A] prison official must have a
`sufficiently culpable state of mind,'" one that the
Court has defined as "deliberate indifference." Id;
see Hudson v. McMillian, 503 U.S. 1, 5,
112 S.Ct. 995, 998, 117 L.Ed.2d 156 (1992) ("[T]he appropriate
inquiry when an inmate alleges that prison officials
failed to attend to serious medical needs is whether
the officials exhibited `deliberate indifference.'");
Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 104, 97 S.Ct. 285,
291, 50 L.Ed.2d 251 (1976) ("[D]eliberate
indifference to serious medical needs of prisoners
constitutes the `unnecessary and wanton infliction of
Vance v. Peters, 97 F.3d 987, 991-992 (7th Cir. 1996),
cert. denied, 520 U.S. 1230 (1997). However, the Supreme Court
stressed that this test is not an insurmountable hurdle for
inmates raising Eighth Amendment claims:
[A]n Eighth Amendment claimant need not show that a
prison official acted or failed to act believing that
harm actually would befall an inmate; it is enough
that the official acted or failed to act despite his
knowledge of a substantial risk of serious harm. . . .
Whether a prison official had the requisite
knowledge of a substantial risk is a question of fact
subject to demonstration in the usual ways, including
inference from circumstantial evidence, . . . and a
factfinder may conclude that a prison official knew
of a substantial risk from the very fact that the
risk was obvious.
Farmer, 511 U.S. at 842.
The Seventh Circuit's decisions following this standard for
deliberate indifference in the denial or delay of medical care
require evidence of a defendant's actual knowledge of, or
reckless disregard for, a substantial risk of harm. The Circuit
also recognizes that a defendant's inadvertent error, negligence
or even ordinary malpractice is insufficient to rise to the level
of an Eighth Amendment constitutional violation.
Neglect of a prisoner's health becomes a violation of
the Eighth Amendment only if the prison official
named as defendant is deliberately indifferent to the
prisoner's health that is, only if he `knows of and
disregards an excessive risk to inmate health or
Williams v. O'Leary, 55 F.3d 320, 324 (7th Cir.), cert.
denied, 516 U.S. 993 (1995); see also Steele, 82 F.3d at 179 (concluding there was insufficient evidence of
doctor's knowledge of serious medical risk or of his deliberate
indifference to that risk; emphasizing that even malpractice is
not enough proof under Farmer); Miller v. Neathery,
52 F.3d 634, 638-39 (7th Cir. 1995) (applying Farmer mandate in
Based on these standards, the allegations in the complaint
simply do not present a viable constitutional claim against any
named defendant. Although the Court empathizes with him,
Plaintiff has not stated a claim upon which relief may be
granted, and his medical care claims are dismissed from this
action with prejudice.
As for the $2.00 medical co-payment plan in the Illinois
Department of Corrections, courts have consistently held that
such a co-payment plan is not unconstitutional. See Reynolds v.
Wagner, 128 F.3d 166, 174 (3rd Cir. 1997) (prisoner
co-payment plan does not violate the Eighth Amendment); Shapley
v. Nevada Bd. of State Prison Commissioners, 766 F.2d 404, 408
(9th Cir. 1985) (nothing per se unconstitutional about
charging an inmate $3 for every medical visit; such a charge, by
itself, did not constitute deliberate indifference under
Estelle); Hudgins v. DeBruyn, 922 F.Supp. 144, 150-52
(S.D.Ind. 1996) (prisoner co-payment plan does not violate the
Eighth Amendment); Martin v. DeBruyn, 880 F.Supp. 610, 615
(N.D.Ind. 1995), aff'd, 116 F.3d 1482 (7th Cir. 1997)
(Eighth Amendment guarantees only that inmates receive necessary
medical care; it does not guarantee free medical care).
Therefore, his claim regarding the co-payment requirement is
also dismissed from this action with prejudice.
When a plaintiff brings an action under § 1983 for procedural
due process violations, he must show that the state deprived him
of a constitutionally protected interest in "life, liberty, or
property" without due process of law. Zinermon v. Burch, 494 U.S. 113,
125 (1990). The Supreme Court has held that while a state may
create a liberty interest, such state-created liberty interests
are limited to "freedom from restraint which, while not exceeding
the sentence in such an unexpected manner as to give rise to
protection by the Due Process Clause of its own force . . .
nonetheless imposes atypical and significant hardship on the
inmate in relation to the ordinary incidents of prison life."
Sandin v. Conner, 515 U.S. 472, 483 (1995).
In the instant case, Plaintiff makes no allegations that he was
deprived of any protected liberty interest, at any time, in
violation of his right to procedural due process. Therefore, he
has not stated a claim upon which relief may be granted, and his
claims regarding disciplinary tickets are dismissed from this
action with prejudice.
ACCESS TO COURTS
Plaintiff's final claim, as discerned by the Court, is that the
law librarian has hidden from him a legal reference book
regarding medical injuries, including spinal injuries. He also
claims that he has been denied access to other legal research
The Seventh Circuit uses a two-part test to decide if prison
administrators have violated the right of access to the courts.
Smith v. Shawnee Library Sys., 60 F.3d 317 (7th Cir. 1995);
Jenkins v. Lane, 977 F.2d 266, 268 (7th Cir. 1992). First,
the prisoner must show that prison officials failed "to assist in
the preparation and filing of meaningful legal papers by
providing prisoners with adequate law libraries or adequate
assistance from persons trained in the law." Jenkins,
977 F.2d at 268 (quoting Bounds v. Smith, 430 U.S. 817, 828 (1977)).
Second, he must be able to show "some quantum of detriment caused
by the challenged conduct of state officials resulting in the
interruption and/or delay of plaintiff's pending or contemplated
litigation." Alston v. DeBruyn, 13 F.3d 1036, 1041 (7th
Cir. 1994); Jenkins, 977 F.2d at 268; Shango v. Jurich,
965 F.2d 289, 291 (7th Cir. 1992); Howland v. Kilquist, 833 F.2d 639, 642-43 (7th Cir. 1987);
Hossman v. Sprandlin, 812 F.2d 1019, 1021 n. 2 (7th Cir.
1987). That means that a detriment must exist, a detriment
resulting from illegal conduct that affects litigation. It does
not mean that any delay is a detriment. Kincaid v. Vail,
969 F.2d 594, 603 (7th Cir. 1992), cert. denied, 113 S.Ct. 1002
(1993). Regardless of the length of an alleged delay, a prisoner
must show actual substantial prejudice to specific litigation.
Kincaid, 969 F.2d at 603.
In this case, Plaintiff makes no allegations of any detriment
to any specific litigation, whether pending or contemplated.
Therefore, he has not stated a claim upon which relief may be
granted, and his claims regarding law library materials are
dismissed from this action with prejudice.
In summary, Plaintiff's complaint does not survive review under
§ 1915A. Accordingly, this action is DISMISSED with prejudice,
and all pending motions are DENIED as moot. Plaintiff is
advised that the dismissal of this action will count as one of
his three allotted "strikes" under the provisions of
28 U.S.C. § 1915(g).
IT IS SO ORDERED.
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