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Daniels v. Walker

May 14, 2007


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


Plaintiff, a former inmate in the Pinckneyville Correctional Center, brings this action for deprivations of his constitutional rights pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. 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.

To facilitate the orderly management of future proceedings in this case, and in accordance with the objectives of Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 8(f) and 10(b), the Court finds it appropriate to break the claims in Plaintiff's pro se complaint and other pleadings into numbered counts, as shown below. The parties and the Court will use these designations in all future pleadings and orders, unless otherwise directed by a judicial officer of this Court. The designation of these counts does not constitute an opinion as to their merit.

COUNT 1: Against Defendants Mathias, Baker, Evans, Hanege, Sroka, Ferrari, Flagg, Walker, Burns, Hartman, Grace, and McBride for deliberate indifference to his serious medical needs by denying him his heart and hypertension medications.

COUNT 2: Against Defendants Mathias, Baker, Evans, Hanege, Hartman, Flagg, and Meek for denying him soap and other hygiene items.

COUNT 3: Against Defendant Sroka, Grace, and McBride for disciplining him for violating prison rules.

COUNT 4: Against Defendants Laird, Hanege, Alvins, Sroka, Townley, and Burns for confiscating his legal papers.

COUNT 5: Against Defendant Rennison for denying him law library services.

COUNT 6: Against Defendants Evans, Walker, Miller, Anderson, Ferrari, Flagg, Hartman, Sroka, Grace, McBride, Harris, Meek, and Bartley for ignoring or denying his grievances.

COUNT 7: Against all defendants for retaliating against him for filing grievances and lawsuits.


Plaintiff states that on April 15, 2004, while he was held in segregation at Pinckneyville Correctional Center, his medications for heart problems and hypertension and all of his hygiene items were confiscated. He asked Defendants Mathias, Baker, and Hanege for the items, but they would not provide them. Defendant Baker told Plaintiff that Warden Evans had ordered that Plaintiff not receive his medications in retaliation for filing grievances. Plaintiff also asked unspecified staff on the second shift to notify the Health Care Unit that he was not receiving his medications, and Plaintiff told unnamed staff on the third shift about his need for medications. Plaintiff filed an emergency grievance to Warden Evans regarding the medications and hygiene items. None of these efforts proved successful.

By April 17, 2004, after two days without his medications, Plaintiff was experiencing chest pain and headaches. By April 18, he began to have blurred vision in his left eye. By April 19, the pain was so intense that he could not sleep. He requested medical assistance, but his requests were ignored. On April 21, 2004, Plaintiff was transferred to Pontiac Correctional Center. On that day he received hygiene items. He was seen by medical staff and received his medications on April 24, 2004. All told, Plaintiff had to spend ten days without his medications, and during this time he experienced blurred vision, chest pain, and migraine headaches. He states that his vision became permanently blurred as a result of the time without his medications. He did not have hygiene items for seven days.

Later, at an unspecified time prior to January 2006, Plaintiff was transferred back to Pinckneyville. On January 18, 2006, Defendant Sroka charged Plaintiff with a disciplinary infraction and had him placed in segregation on investigative status. Plaintiff believes that Defendant Sroka falsely charged Plaintiff so that he could illegally confiscate his legal papers and his medications. Plaintiff was denied his medications for fifteen days, from January 18 until February 1, 2006. As a result, he experienced blurred vision, migraine headaches, chest pain, kidney pain, sharp pain in his left arm, and weakness and numbness in his left hand. He sent grievances to the healthcare unit and to Defendant Ferrari, Director of Nursing, who continued to deny his medications. Plaintiff sent grievances to Warden Flagg and Director Walker, but they were either ignored or the responses were unsatisfactory.

Plaintiff states that his medications were again confiscated by Defendant Burns on March 20, 2006, along with legal documents, namely pleadings and exhibits he intended to file in this court. Plaintiff was denied the medications for ten days, and during this time he experienced chest pain, blurred vision, migraine headaches, kidney pain, and cramps in his left leg. All of Plaintiff's attempts to procure his medications were unsuccessful. His grievances to Defendants Hartman, Flagg, Sroka, Grace, and McBride did not resolve the problem. Plaintiff believes that Defendant Ferrari ordered the confiscation of the medications in retaliation for a threatening letter Plaintiff sent her.

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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