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Chalmers v. Larson

June 18, 2010

DANNY CHALMERS, PLAINTIFF,
v.
DR. LARSON, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



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

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

Plaintiff, an inmate at the Vienna Correctional Center, brings this action for deprivations of his constitutional rights pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. 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." Nusku 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, 590 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). A complaint is plausible on its face "when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009). Although the Court is obligated to accept factual allegations as true, some factual allegations may be so sketchy or implausible that they fail to provide sufficient notice of a plaintiff's claim. Brooks v. Ross, 578 F.3d 574, 581 (7th Cir. 2009). Additionally, Courts "should not accept as adequate abstract recitations of the elements of a cause of action or conclusory legal statements." Id. At the same time, however, the factual allegations of a pro se complaint are to be liberally construed. Rodriguez v. Plymouth Ambulance Service, 577 F.3d 816, 821 (7th Cir. 2009).

THE COMPLAINT

Plaintiff states that on or about July 29, 2008, Defendant Dr. Stelfox extracted his tooth (or, possibly, teeth). As a result of this extraction, Plaintiff suffered an abscess in his mouth and jaw. It appears that the infection became so serious that Plaintiff was taken to the Heartland Hospital on August 5, 2008. Plaintiff states that a "Heartland Hospital attending Doctor told [him he] . . . was a diabetic." Complaint, pg. 4. Plaintiff's mouth and jaw infection apparently impaired and, possibly, damaged his kidney's and liver. Plaintiff states that he also had to have reconstructive surgery to rebuild his jaw. Plaintiff claims that the infection that the infection is the result of "mistreatment" by Dr. Stelfox amounting to deliberate indifference of Plaintiff's serious medical needs.

Plaintiff states that he was returned to Vienna Correctional Center on August 14, 2008. Upon his return to Vienna, Defendant Dr. Larson informed Plaintiff that he was diabetic. Dr. Larson ordered Plaintiff to take "Glipizide 5mg" and "Minoxidil 10mg." Dr. Larson also directed Plaintiff to report to the health care unit twice a day "to submit to accu-check blood samples."

Approximately seven to ten days later, Larson ordered Plaintiff to stop taking the medication and discontinued the blood sample checks. Larson informed Plaintiff that he was not diabetic after all. Plaintiff alleges that "Dr. Larson failed to exercise the prudent care that a prudent person would usually exercise in determining whether or not [he] was diabetic." Plaintiff claims that Dr. Larson was both negligent and deliberately indifferent to his medical needs in violation of the Eighth Amendment.

DISCUSSION

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, 104 (1976); Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825 (1994). This encompasses a broader range of conduct than intentional denial of necessary medical treatment, but it stops short of "negligen[ce] in diagnosing or treating a medical condition." Estelle, 429 U.S. at 106. See also Jones v. ...


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