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Brown v. Santos

March 1, 2006

REGINALD A. BROWN, INMATE #B36853, PLAINTIFF,
v.
DR. SANTOS, DEFENDANTS.



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

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

Plaintiff, an inmate in the Centralia Correctional Center, brings this action for deprivations of his constitutional rights pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983.*fn1 Plaintiff previously was granted leave to proceed in forma pauperis, and he has tendered his initial partial filing fee as ordered.

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; this action is legally frivolous and thus subject to summary dismissal.

Factual Allegations

Plaintiff states that he has a pacemaker, that the battery lasts for only seven years, and that the seven-year mark on his pacemaker was February 8, 2005. On February 24, 2005, Plaintiff states that he experienced dizzy spells and was sent to the Health Care Unit. Plaintiff states that he told Dr. Santos at that time that his pacemaker was inserted seven years ago and that he suspected the battery was dying. Dr. Santos took his vital signs and told him that a pacemaker battery could last up to eight years. Dr. Santos told him he would be called the next week for further testing of the pacemaker. A response to a grievance submitted with the complaint indicates that Plaintiff's pacemaker was checked on December 13, 2004, and no abnormalities were found. On that date Plaintiff was given multiple blood tests, all of which were normal, except for an elevated cholesterol level that was being monitored. The document further shows that on February 23, 2005, Plaintiff's vital signs were normal and he had a normal EKG.

However, on March 2, 2005, before Plaintiff was seen again, he experienced dizziness and had difficulty breathing. He was taken immediately to the Health Care Unit. His vital signs and an EKG revealed that his heart was beating at a very slow rate. He was taken by ambulance to St. Mary's hospital where emergency surgery to repair his pacemaker was performed. Plaintiff also states that after he returned to Centralia Correctional Center, he experienced chest pain and was again taken to St. Mary's hospital where it was discovered that his pacemaker was malfunctioning.

Legal Standards

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 ...


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