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Gay v. Hammersley

July 25, 2008

ANTHONY GAY, PLAINTIFF,
v.
KRISTIN KWASNIEWSKI HAMMERSLEY AND GRACE HART, DEFENDANTS.



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

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

Plaintiff originally filed this action in state court, alleging claims of medical malpractice and civil conspiracy. After Plaintiff amended his complaint to include a constitutional claim, Defendants removed the action to this District. This case is now before the Court for a preliminary review of the amended complaint (Doc. 3-6) 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 amended 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.

COUNT 1

Plaintiff states that since his arrival at Tamms in January 2004, he has self-mutilated on more than 100 occasions, and that Defendant Kristin Hammersley is well-aware of his propensity for self-mutilation. On February 21, 2007, Plaintiff inflicted a three-inch wound on his left leg. He was placed on suicide watch, during which he inflicted a six-inch cut on his right arm. Hammersley documented these injuries, and she discontinued the suicide watch on February 22. On February 23, 2007, at approximately 9:30 AM, Plaintiff advised Hammersley that he wanted to be placed on suicide watch. Hammersley said "Why?" and then walked away. About 20 minutes later, Plaintiff inflicted a four-inch cut on his right forearm. Plaintiff alleges that in releasing him from suicide watch, and then later refusing to reinstate that watch, Hammersley was deliberately indifferent to his serious medical needs, in violation of his rights under the Eighth Amendment.

A deliberate indifference claim requires both an objectively serious risk of harm and a subjectively culpable state of mind. Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 834 (1994); Greeno v. Daley, 414 F.3d 645, 653 (7th Cir. 2005). A deliberate indifference claim premised upon inadequate medical treatment requires, to satisfy the objective element, a medical condition "that has been diagnosed by a physician as mandating treatment or one that is so obvious that even a lay person would perceive the need for a doctor's attention." Greeno, 414 F.3d at 653. The subjective component of a deliberate indifference claim requires that the prison official knew of "a substantial risk of harm to the inmate and disregarded the risk." Id.; Farmer, 511 U.S. at 834. Mere medical malpractice or a disagreement with a doctor's medical judgment is not deliberate indifference. Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 107 (1976); Greeno, 414 F.3d at 653; Estate of Cole by Pardue v. Fromm, 94 F.3d 254, 261 (7th Cir. 1996).

Edwards v. Snyder, 478 F.3d 827, 830-31 (7th Cir. 2007).

Applying these standards to the allegations in the complaint, the Court is unable to dismiss Count 1 at this time.

COUNT 2

Plaintiff's second claim sounds in negligence under state law. Plaintiff states that after the incident on February 23, he was taken to the nurses station for medical treatment. He claims that Defendant Grace Hart failed to note his injuries in his medical records, in ...


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