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Hall v. Chandra

November 28, 2005

CHARLES HALL, INMATE #K-81527, PLAINTIFF,
v.
DR. CHANDRA AND KADIE JORDAN, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Gilbert, District Judge

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

Plaintiff, an inmate in the Tamms Correctional Center, brings this action for deprivations of his constitutional rights pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff previously was granted leave to proceed in forma pauperis, and he was not required to pay an initial partial filing fee.

Recently Plaintiff filed a motion for entry of default judgment against Defendants (Doc. 6), claiming that they have failed to respond to the complaint despite the proofs of service on record in the file. However, no such proof of service has been filed, and the Court has not yet directed the United States Marshal to effect service upon Defendants. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(d); FED.R.CIV.P. 4(c)(2). Accordingly, the instant motion is DENIED.

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 governmental entity.

(b) Grounds for Dismissal.-- On review, the court shall identify cognizable claims or dismiss the complaint, or any portion of the complaint, if the complaint--

(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; portions of this action are legally frivolous and thus subject to summary dismissal.

The allegations in the complaint are sketchy, but exhibits attached to the complaint help to explain the events giving rise to this action. It appears that on the morning of September 13, 2004, Plaintiff became agitated after a discussion with Defendant Chandra. He began cutting on himself but claims he was ignored. At some point somebody noticed blood, and Plaintiff was extracted from his holding cell in the health care unit. His clothing and blanket were confiscated, and he was returned to that same cell. He was still in a "self-injurious state of mind" and began cutting on himself again. About two hours later, officers noticed the pool of blood in his cell. Plaintiff also alleges that Defendant Jordan observed the blood as Plaintiff was fighting to maintain consciousness, but she failed to notify her superiors or take other action. Rather, Jordan deliberately ignored his condition and went about her routine tasks with other inmates in the health care unit, in part due to her personal animosity towards Plaintiff. Shortly thereafter, Warden Frey and Assistant Warden Jackson observed the pool of blood and reported the situation to Chandra. Plaintiff was removed from his cell and his wounds were treated; he was then placed in therapeutic restraints for several hours.

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). 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 pain.'").

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 ...


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