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Robinson v. Dart

November 17, 2009

JOSHUA ROBINSON (#R-60244) PLAINTIFF,
v.
SHERIFF THOMAS DART, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hon. George W. Lindberg

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Plaintiff Joshua Robinson ("Robinson" or "plaintiff"), currently a state prisoner, has brought this pro se civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Robinson claims that the defendants, health care providers at the Cook County Jail, violated his constitutional rights by acting with deliberate indifference to his serious medical needs. Specifically, Robinson alleges that he received inadequate care for a boil or fistula. This matter is before the Court on the defendants' joint motion to dismiss the amended complaint for failure to state a claim. For the reasons set forth below, the motion is denied.

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). Fact pleading is not necessary to state a claim for relief. Thompson v. Washington, 362 F.3d 969, 970-71 (7th Cir. 2004). 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)). To satisfy the notice pleading requirements of Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2), plaintiff need only state his legal claim and provide "some indication . . . of time and place." Thompson, 362 F.3d at 971. While a complaint challenged by a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss does not need detailed factual allegations, 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).

When considering whether to dismiss a complaint for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted, the Court takes the allegations in the complaint as true, viewing all facts--as well as any inferences reasonably drawn therefrom--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)). Dismissal should be denied whenever it appears that a basis for federal jurisdiction in fact exists or may exist and can be stated by the plaintiff. Norfleet v. Vale, No. 05 C 0926, 2005 WL 3299375, at *1 (N.D. Ill. Dec. 5, 2005) (Zagel, J.). A well-pleaded complaint may proceed even if it appears "that actual proof of those facts is improbable, and that a recovery is very remote and unlikely." Bell Atlantic Corp., 127 S.Ct. at 1965. Nevertheless, the factual allegations in the complaint must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level. Id., 127 S.Ct. at 1973-74 & n.14. Furthermore, a plaintiff can plead himself out of court by pleading facts that undermine the allegations set forth in the complaint. See, e.g., Kolupa v. Roselle Park Dist., 438 F.3d 713, 715 (7th Cir. 2006). The purpose of a motion to dismiss is to test the sufficiency of the complaint, not to decide the merits. Weiler v. Household Finance Corp., 101 F.3d 519, 524 n. 1 (7th Cir. 1996) (citations omitted).

FACTS

Robinson, currently a state prisoner, was an inmate at the Cook County Jail at all times relevant to this lawsuit. Defendant Dunlap is a staff physician at the jail. Defendants Wiley, Price, Jefferson, and Jones are nurses at the jail. [Dr. "John Doe" has not been identified or served to date; all other defendants were previously dismissed from this case.]

Robinson alleges the following facts, which must be accepted as true for purposes of the motion to dismiss. Beginning in October 2007, plaintiff complained to the defendant nurses that he had a very painful boil on one of his buttocks. Plaintiff informed the nurses that it bled and discharged pus daily, that the pain was "excruciating," and that it emitted a foul smell. The nurses looked at the boil and told Robinson that there was "nothing wrong," despite the fact that he was in great pain, and the boil impaired his ability to sleep, sit, and even walk.

After about three months of enduring "endless pain, bleeding, and pus," plaintiff was finally scheduled to see a doctor in January 2008. Dr. "John Doe" examined the boil and, like the nurses, told plaintiff that there was nothing wrong. He sent Robinson away without prescribing any medication.

Over the next month, the condition worsened and plaintiff continued to complain to the defendant nurses. In February 2008, plaintiff saw defendant Dunlap. Dunlap, too, said that there was nothing wrong even though the boil was still oozing pus and blood and a nauseous smell emanated from the wound. Dunlap refused to provide any pain medication or treatment for the boil.

On March 9, 2008, plaintiff filed a grievance concerning his medical care. Four days later, Dr. Patel (not a defendant) examined him and diagnosed the problem as an infected fistula. Dorland's Medical Dictionary defines a fistula as "a narrow passage or duct formed by disease or injury, as one leading from an abscess to a free surface, or from one cavity to another." Dr. Patel prescribed the antibiotic Clindamycin for the infection and Motrin for pain. At a follow-up visit on March 26, 2008, Dr. Patel noted that the prescribed medications were not working, and prescribed a stronger antibiotic and stronger pain medication.

On March 31, 2008, Patel referred Robinson to an outside specialist so that he could receive more aggressive and effective treatment. The specialist scheduled plaintiff for surgery to remove the infected fistula. The surgery was performed on April 25, 2008. Following surgery, plaintiff was directed to take Tylenol #3 for pain, to take sitz baths at least three times a day and after bowel movements, and to change his bandages regularly.

Robinson's stitches broke the first day after surgery. He told the nurses, who allegedly did nothing. On April 28, 2008, he saw Patel for a post-operational visit. Patel told plaintiff that the surgical wound was not healing properly due to the broken stitches, but it was too late for her to do anything because the nursing staff failed to timely notify her about the broken stitches. Patel prescribed plaintiff several more medications.

On May 1, 2008, doctors at Stroger Hospital similarly observed that the wound was not healing properly. They prescribed continued treatment, including sitz baths, dressing changes, and Metamucil. Plaintiff requested gauze from Nurse Price on multiple occasions, but she allegedly refused to supply him with gauze, saying that he did not need it. Robinson claims that Price denied him gauze even when he showed her his prescriptions.

Robinson continued to see Patel and doctors at Stroger Hospital over the ensuing months, but the wound never healed properly. Plaintiff maintains that he is still experiencing problems relating to the fistula. He asserts that as recently as March 30, 2009, the date he ...


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