The opinion of the court was delivered by: G. PATRICK MURPHY, Chief Judge, District
Plaintiff, an inmate in the United States Penitentiary in
Marion, Illinois, brings this action for alleged violations of
his constitutional rights by persons acting under the color of
federal authority. See Bivens v. Six Unknown Named Agents,
403 U.S. 388 (1971). Plaintiff previously was granted leave to
proceed in forma pauperis without payment of an initial partial
This case now is 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
Plaintiff states that Defendants Davis and Lyle refused to
order medical treatment for his "kidney mass" and renal cysts and
tumors. He states that Defendants Lyle, Bakke, Castillo, Walsh,
Barger, Mays, and Cross withheld the drugs Lasix and Xanax and
instead gave him Tenormin, Loniten, and Hydrochlorohiazide.
Plaintiff states that these medications adversely affect his
kidneys, liver, heart, brain, and eyes. Plaintiff states that
Defendants Lyle, Bakke, Castillo, Walsh, Barger, Mays, and Cross
all have refused to order treatment for his degenerative joint
disease, vascular narrowing, and chronic pain. In addition, Lyle,
Bakke, Castillo, Walsh, Barger, Mays, and Cross have maliciously
withheld drug treatment for his anxiety disorder, which
untreated, causes him palpitations, chest tightness, shaking,
headaches, and difficulty sleeping. Defendants Davis and Lyle
have refused to provide him with proper orthopedic shoes; Davis,
Lyle, Bakke, Castillo, Walsh, Barger, Mays, and Cross have
withheld his left ankle support; and Davis, Lyle, and Globun have
ordered that he be put on a high sodium, low fat, reduced food
rations for eight months "as punishment."
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).
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).
However, the Supreme Court has stressed that this test is not an
insurmountable hurdle for inmates raising Eighth Amendment
[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 safety.'
Williams v. O'Leary, 55 F.3d 320, 324 (7th Cir. 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 jury instruction). However, a plaintiff
inmate need not prove that a defendant intended the harm that
ultimately transpired or believed that the harm would occur.
Haley v. Gross, 86 F.3d 630, 641 (7th Cir. 1996).
Medical Treatment for Kidney Disorders
Plaintiff states, without detailed explanation, that Defendants
Davis and Lyle have refused to order medical treatment for a
kidney mass and renal cysts and tumors. The medical records
submitted with the complaint indicate that Plaintiff reported
"chronic renal failure" and pain from "kidney cysts" to Dr. Lyle.
Dr. Lyle ordered blood work to evaluate the condition. Other
exhibits indicate that at some time after Dr. Lyle's initial
evaluation, Plaintiff refused to go to the medical clinic to see
Dr. Lyle or for further testing. These allegations do not
describe deliberate indifference to serious medical needs.
Although kidney cysts may constitute a serious medical need,
Plaintiff has not stated that Defendants were deliberately
indifferent to a serious risk of harm.
Withholding of Medication
Plaintiff states that Defendants Lyle, Bakke, Castillo, Walsh,
Barger, Mays, and Cross have participated in withholding from
Plaintiff the medications Lasix and Xanax, instead giving him
Tenormin, Loniten, and Hydrochlorothiazide, which, according to
Plaintiff, adversely affect his kidneys, liver, heart, brain, and
eyes. The medical records submitted with the complaint indicate that Plaintiff asked specifically for Lasix and Xanax, but that
the physicians at Marion gave him Tenormin, Loniten, and
Hydrochlorothiazide instead. These allegations do not describe
deliberate indifference but a disagreement with the medications
the physicians at Marion administered to Plaintiff. Mere
disagreement with a ...