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Shaw v. Gaetz

August 20, 2010


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


Plaintiff, an inmate currently confined at the Lawrence 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." 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, 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).


Plaintiff alleges that he has suffers from periodic seizures for which he prescribed the medications Dilantin and Tegretol. In August 2007, when Plaintiff was transferred to Pinckneyville Correctional Center (PCC), Defendant Dr. Larson gave Plaintiff a "medical permission" slip authorizing a "low bunk" as a "medical item." The permission slip had no expiration date. The permission slip states that it "is considered authorization for the . . . inmate to be in possession of the . . . medical item for the noted period of time only."

Plaintiff alleges that on or about May 10, 2008, Plaintiff was placed in a cell with another inmate. Liberally construing the complaint, it appears that the other inmate already occupied the "low bunk" in the cell, but did so only as a matter of personal preference because the other inmate did not possess a "medical permission" slip for the low bunk. Consequently, Plaintiff was forced to utilize the upper bunk. Plaintiff notified Defendants Leaher and Merchant that "he needed to be placed on a lower bunk to prevent any future injury or death" from his seizures.

As can be guessed, Plaintiff did fall from his upper bunk hitting his head on a heater vent and hitting his back on the concrete floor. As a result of hitting his head, Plaintiff got a "swollen knot" on it. Other inmates informed the guards of Plaintiff's fall and medical personnel were summoned to Plaintiff's cell. Medical staff took Plaintiff's vital signs and monitored his blood pressure. Plaintiff answered questions asked by the medical personnel and appears to have been lucid throughout the event. Plaintiff 's neck was placed in a cervical collar and Plaintiff was placed on a backboard and taken to the Health Care Unit.

At the Health Care Unit, Plaintiff was given an ice pack, pain medication, and placed on observation for 23 hours. The next day, Plaintiff was examined by Defendant Dr. Obadina. Plaintiff claims that Defendant Obadina "did not give [him] any medical treatment, no x-rays or MRI to see if any bones or nerve damage had occurred."

From the day he was released from the Health Care Unit until "to present," Plaintiff states that he submitted "multiple sick call request slips requesting medical attention for the injuries to his lower back and migraine headaches." In response to his requests for treatment, Plaintiff was given "simple pain medication (motrin)." Plaintiff, however, states that he "is still experiencing headaches and pain in his lower back that affects his daily activities."

In June 2008, Plaintiff states that he filed a grievance concerning the denial of a low bunk and the lack of medical care he received after he fell. The grievance was denied, a decision that ...

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