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Hamilton v. Isaac

December 11, 2009

KEVIN HAMILTON, PLAINTIFF,
v.
DEBBIE ISAAC, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



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

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

Plaintiff Kevin Hamilton, formerly an inmate in the Big Muddy Correctional Center, brings this action for deprivations of his constitutional rights pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. He seeks leave to proceed in forma pauperis, and the Court finds that he is, in fact, indigent. Therefore, the motion (Doc. 2) is GRANTED.*fn1

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). An action fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted if it does not plead "enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 1974 (2007). Upon careful review of the complaint and any supporting exhibits, the Court finds it appropriate to exercise its authority under § 1915A; this action is subject to summary dismissal.

FACTS ALLEGED

Hamilton states that on August 17, 2008, he sought medical treatment for pain in his shoulder. He first met with an unidentifed nurse, who referred him to the doctor for further examination. A week later, on August 26, Hamilton was examined by a physician's assistant ("PA"), not the doctor, who determined that he might have an injury to his rotator cuff. This unidentified PA ordered that x-rays be scheduled, prescribed pain medication, and issued an ice pack to Hamilton, but Hamilton states that he did not receive the pain medication. On September 9, Hamilton again saw the same PA. The ordered x-rays had not yet been taken, and the PA once again prescribed pain medication before referring him to the doctor.

On September 24, Hamilton was examined by the doctor, Defendant John Shepard. Shepard ordered an MRI for the shoulder, prescribed more pain medication, and also prescribed medication to treat Hamilton's elevated blood pressure. When he heard nothing further about the MRI, Hamilton sent a request slip to Defendant Debbie Isaac, the health care administrator, wondering about the status of that exam. Isaac told him that he was scheduled for a consultation with an orthopedist, based on orders written by Shepard on October 9.*fn2 Approval for that consultation was given on November 9, and Hamilton was examined by an outside orthopedist on November 14. On January 12, 2009, Hamilton had surgery to treat his injury.

Out of these facts, Hamilton presents four separate claims, once against each of the four named defendants. Two claims are directed at the medical personnel directly responsible for his medical care, and two claims are directed at administrators.

MEDICAL TREATMENT

Count 1 of the complaint is made against Isaac, and Count 2 is against Shepard. Hamilton asserts that each of them acted, or failed to act, in the timely provision of medical treatment, in violation of his constitutional rights. 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, ...


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