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Michael Williams v. Marvin Powers

May 16, 2011


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



Plaintiff Michael Williams, an inmate in Tamms Correctional Center, brings this action for deprivations of his constitutional rights pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff was initially sentenced to 2 years for a theft conviction in 1994. He has been incarcerated ever since, having accumulated several additional convictions for offenses committed while in prison, and has approximately 15 years remaining on his sentences. 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, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). Conversely, 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. See Rodriguez v. Plymouth Ambulance Serv., 577 F.3d 816, 821 (7th Cir. 2009).

Upon careful review of the complaint and supporting exhibits, the Court finds that under § 1915A, Plaintiff's claim cannot be dismissed at this stage of the litigation. However, some of the defendants shall be dismissed from the action.

The Complaint

Plaintiff suffers from heel spurs on both feet, which cause severe pain any time he walks. At the time he filed his complaint (Doc. 1) on September 28, 2010, he had endured this ongoing pain for over a year. Beginning in March 2010, Plaintiff requested treatment from Defendant Powers, the medical director and treating physician at Tamms. Defendant Powers examined Plaintiff, ordered x-rays, and prescribed Ibuprofen for Plaintiff's foot pain. However, the Ibuprofen caused Plaintiff to have severe stomach cramps and abdominal pain. Worse, the Ibuprofen failed to alleviate Plaintiff's foot pain. When he complained again to Defendant Powers and requested alternative treatment, Defendant Powers responded that no other treatment would be prescribed, and Plaintiff would just have to deal with the pain for another year or two until the condition resolved itself. After researching treatment alternatives, Plaintiff asked Defendant Powers to prescribe orthotic shoe inserts, which Plaintiff would pay for from his prison account. However, Defendant Powers refused to prescribe the inserts.

Because of his constant foot pain, Plaintiff has curtailed his activity, sometimes skipping meals to avoid the pain of walking. In addition, Plaintiff has been unable to exercise, which has worsened his high blood pressure and required him to take additional blood pressure medication. Plaintiff also claims that the lack of treatment places him at risk for serious and permanent damage to his muscle tissue and tendons of the foot.

Plaintiff complained about the lack of treatment directly to Defendant Johnson, the Tamms warden, to no avail. He then filed a grievance over Defendant Powers' refusal to provide further treatment. This grievance was denied by Defendant Johnson. Plaintiff appealed the denial, but the decision was upheld by Defendants Miller (of the Administrative Review Board) and Randle (the director of the Illinois Department of Corrections).

Plaintiff further asserts that Defendant Miller admitted that the Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC) follows a policy and procedure of refusing to provide any medical treatment to prisoners who suffer from heel spurs. Plaintiff has sued each ...

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