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Hill v. Walker

January 10, 2007


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


This action comes before the Court for review of Plaintiff's amended complaint (Doc. 12) pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, which provides, in pertinent part:

(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 that none of the claims in the complaint may be dismissed at this point in the litigation.


Plaintiff filed his initial complaint in September 2005. In August 2006, the Court dismissed the complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A for failure to state a claim (Doc. 7). The Court noted in the order of dismissal that in Count 1 of the complaint Plaintiff had stated facts that could constitute deliberate indifference to his serious medical needs, but that he had failed to state a claim because he did not name any defendants specifically responsible for constitutional violations.*fn1 On September 5, 2006, Plaintiff filed a motion for leave to amend the complaint so that he might name the defendants responsible for denying him medical treatment (Doc. 8). The Court denied this motion because the proposed amended complaint did not conform to the local rules, but granted Plaintiff 30 days leave to file an amended complaint in compliance with the local rules (Doc. 9). Plaintiff filed a second motion to amend the complaint on November 20, 2006 (Doc. 10), which the Court granted on December 18, 2006 (Doc. 11). The Court now proceeds with its review of the amended complaint (Doc. 12).


Plaintiff suffers from myasthenia gravis, a rare autoimmune disorder that causes muscle weakness, double vision, and difficulty breathing, talking, chewing, and swallowing. Between July 2004 and June 2005, Defendants Lambert and Isaacs employed three or four different physicians at Big Muddy River Correctional Center. As a result of the physician turnover, Plaintiff did not receive any medication or treatment for his illness during that period. Defendant Isaacs scheduled Plaintiff to see these three or four different physicians, and each one asked Plaintiff to sign medical release forms so that he or she might retrieve his pre-incarceration medical records. Despite their knowledge of Plaintiff's condition and need for treatment, Defendants Isaacs and Jane and Mary Doe never submitted these forms to the relevant hospitals and the information was never received. The lack of treatment caused Plaintiff's conditions to worsen, causing extreme weakness, dropped eyelids, and difficulty breathing. Plaintiff states that Defendants Chapman, Butler, Lambert, Walker, and Simpson knew of his medical condition and lack of treatment but took no action to ensure that Plaintiff received the necessary 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 ...

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