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Boyd v. Walker

January 5, 2009


The opinion of the court was delivered by: George W. Lindberg Senior United States District Judge


Plaintiff, a former state prisoner currently out on parole, has brought this pro se civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Defendant Roger E. Walker is the director of the Illinois Department of Corrections ("IDOC"). Defendants Terry McCann and Deirdre Battaglia are current or former wardens of the Stateville Correctional Center ("Stateville"). Defendant Melody Ford is a member of the IDOC's Administrative Review Board. Defendants Lt. Elberson and Christopher Cartwright are correctional officers at Stateville. Defendants Mary Purvin and Heather Eddy are nurses at Stateville. Plaintiff claims that defendants violated his constitutional rights by acting with deliberate indifference to his medical and mental health needs while he was incarcerated at Stateville.

Before the Court are defendants' motions to dismiss the amended complaint for failure to state a claim and on grounds of misjoinder. For the reasons stated below, the motions are granted as to plaintiff's claims against Walker, McCann, Battaglia, and Ford, and denied as to his claims against Elberson, Cartwright, Purvin, and Eddy.

It is well established that pro se complaints are to be liberally construed. Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972); see also McCormick v. City of Chicago, 230 F.3d 319, 325 (7th Cir. 2000). The Court takes the allegations in the complaint as true, viewing all facts -- as well as any inferences reasonably drawn from them -- in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. Marshall-Mosby v. Corporate Receivables, Inc., 205 F.3d 323, 326 (7th Cir. 2000); Bell Atlantic Corp., 127 S.Ct. at 1955 (citing Swierkiewicz v. Sorema N.A., 534 U.S. 506, 508, n.1 (2002)). Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)(2) requires only "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief," in order to "'give the defendant fair notice of what the . . . claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.'" Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 1964 (2007) (quoting Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 47, (1957)). However, a plaintiff's obligation to provide the grounds of his entitlement to relief requires more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do. Bell Atlantic Corp., 127 S.Ct. at 1964-65 (citations omitted).


Plaintiff alleges the following facts in his amended complaint. On August 24, 2006, plaintiff was transferred from the Pinckneyville Correctional Center to Stateville Correctional Center. At the time of his transfer, plaintiff was taking two different psychotropic medications, one for schizophrenia and another for "emotional disorders, depression, and abnormally aggressive behavior." On the day of his transfer, plaintiff was not given his prescribed medications. As a result, by the time he arrived at Stateville, plaintiff was hearing voices telling him to kill himself.

At Stateville, plaintiff told defendants Cartwright and Elberson that he was hearing voices telling him to kill himself. They ignored him. After Cartwright and Elberson left plaintiff's cell, plaintiff broke two razors into pieces and swallowed them. Plaintiff received medical attention after he told a judge at a court hearing that he had injured himself. Later, on August 26, 2006, plaintiff sifted through his feces, found bits of razor blade, tried to cut his wrist with them, and then swallowed the pieces again. An August 28, 2006 x-ray showed the razor blade pieces in plaintiff's stomach.

On September 20, 2006, defendant Mary Purvin, a nurse, gave plaintiff someone else's medication. Purvin insisted that she "gave him what was ordered." Plaintiff endured "severe pain" on account of ingesting the wrong medication. Purvin and the correctional staff refused to take plaintiff to the health care unit for treatment. Plaintiff filed a grievance, which was denied.

Another nurse, defendant Heather Eddy, gave the plaintiff the wrong medication on October 3, 2006. Like Purvin, Heather maintained that she had given plaintiff the correct medication. Plaintiff filed another grievance. Plaintiff's grievances were denied at all levels of review without investigation.


As an initial matter, the Court notes that plaintiff does not contest defendants' argument that his claim for injunctive relief has been rendered moot by plaintiff's release from prison. This claim is dismissed. See Koger v. Bryan, 523 F.3d 789, 804 (7th Cir. 2008), citing Brown v. Bartholomew Consol. Sch. Corp., 442 F.3d 588, 596 (7th Cir. 2006).

In addition, plaintiff cannot sue defendants in their official capacities. The Eleventh Amendment bars private suits for damages against the State, state agencies, and state officials in their official capacities. Joseph v. Board of Regents of University of Wisconsin System, 432 F.3d 746, 748 (7th Cir. 2005) (citations omitted). Therefore, to the extent that plaintiff's complaint survives the motions to dismiss, he may proceed against the defendants only in their individual capacities for damages.

The Court turns to defendants' motions to dismiss plaintiff's Eighth Amendment claims. Deliberate indifference to an inmate's serious medical needs violates the Eighth Amendment. Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 837 (1994); Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 103-04 (1976); Sherrod v. Lingle, 223 F.3d 605, 610 (7th Cir. 2000). Deliberate indifference has both an objective and a subjective element: the inmate must have an objectively serious medical condition, and the health care provider must be subjectively aware of and consciously disregard a risk to the inmate's health or safety. Farmer, 511 U.S. at 837; Sherrod, 223 F.3d at 610.

The Court finds that the allegations in the amended complaint satisfy the objective component. "[T]he need for a mental illness to be treated could certainly be considered a serious medical need." Sanville v. McCaughtry, 266 F.3d 724, 734 (7th Cir. 2001). Moreover, "denial of medical treatment satisfies the deliberate indifference standard if significant harm or injury is shown." Board v. Farnham, 394 F.3d 469, 479 (7th Cir. 2005). The Court concludes that plaintiff has alleged enough at this point to show that he had a serious medical need for medication to combat his psychological disorders, since the amended complaint suggests that a single missed dose causes plaintiff to suffer psychotic episodes. Because ...

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