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Ware v. Uchtman

July 16, 2007


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


Plaintiff, a former 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:

(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 subject to summary dismissal for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted.

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 filings 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 Uchtman and Prange for deliberate indifference to Plaintiff's serious medical needs.

COUNT 2: Against Defendant Uchtman for unconstitutional conditions of confinement.

COUNT 3: Against Defendant Schorn for denying Plaintiff access to courts.

COUNT 4: Against Defendant Schorn for unconstitutional retaliation.

COUNT 5: Against Defendant Summers for denying Plaintiff's request to phone his attorney.


Plaintiff states that he suffered an asthma attack on December 17, 2005, while in his cell in segregation at Menard. He used his inhaler, but it did not stop the attack. He could not yell out for help because he could not catch his breath. The cell did not contain a medical emergency call button. Eventually, other inmates who could hear Plaintiff in distress began calling out to guards for assistance. Plaintiff estimates that he had to wait 15 to 20 minutes for medical assistance, during which time he could not breathe well and suffered from chest pain. Plaintiff states that the full attack could have been stopped had he received a breathing treatment. Plaintiff states that Defendant Uchtman refuses to install emergency call buttons in the cells of asthmatics.

On January 16, 2006, Plaintiff suffered another asthma attack brought on by the cold temperature and poor ventilation in his cell. He was forced to wait ten minutes before a prison employee found him and another five minutes before he was seen by medical personnel. Plaintiff states that prior to this attack he had complained to Defendant Uchtman about the cold temperature and poor ventilation in the cell.

On March 22, 2006, Plaintiff informed Defendant Prange that he was having difficulty breathing and needed his inhaler. Defendant Prange refused to assist Plaintiff, telling him that he wouldn't receive any medical attention because of a "smart remark" that Plaintiff had made to Defendant Prange earlier that day. Plaintiff later had an asthma attack and had to use the inhaler of another inmate because Defendant Prange had refused to provide him with his own. That evening, Plaintiff was issued a new inhaler by medical staff.

On April 18, 2006, after Plaintiff had been placed in a segregation cell with a steel door, he suffered another asthma attack and had to be rushed to the medical unit for a breathing treatment. Plaintiff states the attack was brought on by the over 80-degree temperature in the cell.

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. ...

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