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Golden v. Feinerman

May 21, 2007

ERIC GOLDEN, INMATE #B05324, PLAINTIFF,
v.
ADRIAN FEINERMAN, PAM GRUBMAN, TYRONE MURRAY, ALAN UCHTMAN, AND SHERRY BENTON, DEFENDANTS.



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

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

Plaintiff, an inmate in the Menard 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, 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 the sole claim in the complaint may not be dismissed at this point in the litigation.

FACTUAL ALLEGATIONS

Plaintiff wears a prosthetic leg. On February 1, 2005, during an institutional lockdown and cell search, Plaintiff, along with other inmates, was handcuffed with his hands behind his back and taken in a line to the prison dining hall. En route, a guard shoved the inmate directly behind Plaintiff, causing that inmate to fall into Plaintiff, knocking him off balance. In his attempt to right himself, Plaintiff lurched forward and his prosthetic leg locked, causing Plaintiff to "ride up over the locked leg," injuring his back. Plaintiff states that since that incident, he continues to experience chronic, excruciating pain in his lower back, radiating down his left leg. The pain is so severe that Plaintiff misses most of his meals because he cannot get out of bed, and he rarely attends yard time, which has resulted in him receiving little or no exercise and has caused him to gain weight. The weight gain has affected the fit of his prosthesis, causing ulceration and bleeding of the stump.

Plaintiff states that he was seen by medical personnel six times between February 4 and March 22, 2005. The swelling in his lower back was noted. He states, however, that between February 10 and July 5, 2005, twelve scheduled appointments with Defendant Feinerman were cancelled. When Plaintiff did see Defendant Feinerman about his back, he prescribed only Motrin, which does little to alleviate the pain. Plaintiff filed a number of grievances complaining about his medical treatment; all were denied by Defendants Grubman, Murray, and Benton. Defendant Uchtman concurred in the denial of each.

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).

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). However, the Supreme Court stressed that this test is not an insurmountable hurdle for ...


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