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Wilkins v. Powers

February 27, 2009

GERALD WILKINS, PLAINTIFF,
v.
MARVIN F. POWERS, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



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

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

Plaintiff previously filed a 129-page amended complaint detailing allegations against 25 separate defendants.*fn1 The Court directed the Clerk of Court to strike that pleading as noncompliant with federal rules and gave Plaintiff leave to file a new complaint within 30 days (see Doc. 20). Pursuant to the Court's order, he has now filed a 20-page amended complaint (Doc. 23).

Before reviewing the amended complaint, the Court must address Plaintiff's motion to set aside this Court's earlier order (Doc. 25). In this motion, Plaintiff argues that the Court should not have dismissed his excessively long pleadings, as he feels it is necessary to provide a play-by-play description in order to fully explain his legal claims. The Court disagrees, and this motion is DENIED.

FACTS ALLEGED

In his amended complaint (Doc. 23), Plaintiff states that due to his mental and emotional disorders, he was compelled to stick two ink pens into his penis, which caused bleeding and extreme pain. He and his cell mate immediately notified security of his need for medical attention. He alleges that Defendants George, Caliper, Powers, Watkins, Malone, Jordan, Baker, and Dunn all denied his requests for medical treatment (¶¶ 1-14, 21-31, 34-51). He further claims that these defendants conspired to falsify his medical records in order to cover up their failure to provide him with medical treatment.

He next alleges that on that same day as the ink-pen incident, he had suicidal thoughts of hanging himself. Defendant Clover arrived two hours after she was summoned by an officer; she allegedly provoked him into tying a sheet around his neck. He was then extracted from his cell and placed on suicide crisis watch (¶¶ 15-20). After two days on crisis watch, Defendant Peppers ended that watch and returned Plaintiff to his cell (¶ 32-33).

Plaintiff also generally alleges that during his time at Tamms Correctional Center, he has been deprived of human contact and therapeutic activities by Defendants Tamms Administration, the Mental Health Team, and the Medical Staff, including social isolation, sensory deprivation, excessive noise levels, and cohabitation with seriously mentally ill inmates.

CLAIMS PRESENTED

Plaintiff's first claim is that Defendants George, Caliper, Powers, Watkins, Malone, Jordan, Baker, and Dunn denied him medical treatment for the self-inflicted injuries to his penis, 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). Still, a plaintiff's receipt of some medical care does not automatically defeat a claim of deliberate indifference if a fact finder could infer the treatment was "so blatantly inappropriate as to evidence intentional mistreatment likely to seriously aggravate" a medical condition. Snipes v. DeTella, 95 F.3d 586, 592 (7th Cir. 1996) (citation omitted).

Edwards v. Snyder, 478 F.3d 827, 830-31 (7th Cir. 2007). Applying these standards to the allegations in the amended complaint, the Court is unable to dismiss this claim against any of these Defendants at this point in time. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915A.

Plaintiff's next claim is that Defendants Clover and Peppers have been deliberately indifferent to his mental health needs, in violation of his rights under the Eighth Amendment.

Prison officials have a duty, in light of the Eighth Amendment's prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment, to "ensure that inmates receive adequate food, clothing, shelter, and medical care." Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 832, 114 S.Ct. 1970, 128 L.Ed.2d 811 (1994). To determine whether an inmate's Eighth Amendment rights were violated by a deprivation, we examine the alleged violation both objectively and subjectively. See id. at 834, 114 S.Ct. 1970. "First, the deprivation alleged must be, objectively, sufficiently serious." Id. (quotation omitted). Second, the mental state of the prison official must have been "one of deliberate indifference to inmate health or safety." Id. (quotation omitted).

Sanville v. McCaughtry, 266 F.3d 724, 733 (7th Cir. 2001). The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals has found that "the need for a mental illness to be treated could certainly be considered a serious medical need." Id. at 734; Wellman v. Faulkner, 715 F.2d 269 (7th Cir. 1983). Applying these standards to the allegations in the amended complaint, the Court is unable to dismiss the claim against Clover at this time. However, Plaintiff's only claim against Peppers is that Peppers returned him to his cell after he spent two days on suicide ...


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