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Eddie Reliford v. Dr. Ghosh

August 19, 2011


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hon. Harry D. Leinenweber


Plaintiff, Eddie Reliford (hereinafter, the "Plaintiff"), has brought this pro se civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff alleges that Defendants violated his constitutional rights by being deliberately indifferent to a serious medical condition. More specifically, Plaintiff alleges that in August 2009, he hurt his ankle on the yard at Stateville Correctional Center (hereinafter, "Stateville"), and received inadequate or delayed medical care from Defendants.

On initial review pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, the Court determined that Plaintiff had stated a claim under the Civil Rights Act, 42 U.S.C. § 1983 as to all Defendants for deliberate indifference to a serious medical condition. See ECF Doc. #5. Presently before the Court are three motions to dismiss: (1) a Motion filed by Medical Technician Sheehy, Assistant Warden Hosey, Correctional Officer Downs, and Warden Ramos, all employees of the Illinois Department of Corrections at the time in question (See ECF Doc. #18); (2) a Motion filed by Medical Director, Dr. Ghosh and Wexford C.E.O. Kevin Halloran (See ECF Doc. #28); and (3) a Motion filed by Allen Karraker, regional director of Wexford (See ECF Doc. #33). For the reasons stated in this order, Defendants' Motions to Dismiss are granted in part and denied in part.


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. Thomson 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)).

The allegations "must actually suggest that the plaintiff has a right to relief, by providing allegations that raise a right to relief above the speculative level." Tamayo v. Blagojevich, 526 F.3d 1074, 1084 (7th Cir. 2008)(quotation omitted). In making this determination, the complaint is construed in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, accepting as true the well-pleaded allegations, and drawing all reasonable inferences in the plaintiff's favor. Tamayo, 526 F.3d at 1081. However, a plaintiff can plead himself or herself 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).


Plaintiff alleges the following facts in his Complaint, which are accepted as true for purposes of the motion to dismiss. In August of 2009, he hurt his ankle on the yard at Stateville. Defendant Sheehy ("Sheehy"), the correctional medical technician, looked at his ankle and determined that Plaintiff did not need to see a doctor. Instead he gave him a crutch and some ice and told him to keep pressure on it for twenty-four hours. Sheehy gave Plaintiff nothing for pain. The next day Plaintiff's ankle had swelled to three times its normal size. Plaintiff asked Defendant Downs ("Downs"), a correctional officer, if he could see the medical technician, and Downs refused. Plaintiff found a lieutenant and asked to see medical personnel, and the lieutenant took him down to the bull pen to wait to be taken to the health care unit. Downs told the lieutenant that the medical technician had reported that Plaintiff did not need further medical treatment. Plaintiff wrote to Defendants Hosey ("Hosey")(Assistant Warden), Ramos ("Ramos")(Warden) and Dr. Ghosh ("Ghosh")(Medical Director) on August 14, 2009, August 16, 2009, and August 19, 2009, about his need for, and inability to obtain, medical care. Plaintiff also prepared sick call slips to attempt to be seen by a doctor at Stateville.

On August 18, 2009, Plaintiff had his ankle x-rayed. On August 20, 2009, Plaintiff saw a physician's assistant who prescribed crutches, an ankle brace, and time in the Health Care Unit, so Plaintiff could stay off of his ankle. On November 6, 2009, Plaintiff was sent to University of Illinois at Chicago Hospital ("UIC"), where he was told that he had suffered a fracture in his ankle. The doctor at UIC prescribed a brace for Plaintiff's ankle that would act like a cast. Plaintiff did not receive the brace until February 2010. In the meantime, Plaintiff filed a grievance. The response he received was that the facility was awaiting Dr. Ghosh's approval. Plaintiff wrote to Defendants Halloran ("Halloran") and Karreker ("Karreker") three times and never received a response. Plaintiff contends that Dr. Ghosh, in conjunction with Wexford Health Source, Inc., is implementing a policy of delaying treatment to inmates at Stateville in order to save money.

Sheehy, Downs, Hosey, and Ramos filed a motion to Dismiss, pursuant to FED. R. CIV. P. 12(b)(6), alleging that they were not deliberately indifferent to Plaintiff's serious medical condition. Ghosh and Halloran filed a Motion to Dismiss, pursuant to FED. R. CIV. P. 12(b)(6), alleging that they were not personally involved in Plaintiff's care, that Plaintiff is alleging a disagreement with treatment, not deliberate indifference, and that Plaintiff failed to exhaust his administrative remedies prior to filing suit. Karraker filed a Motion to Dismiss that is virtually identical to the one filed by Ghosh and Halloran.


A. Plaintiff has Adequately Stated a Claim for Deliberate Indifference as to Sheehy and Downs, but not as to Hosey and Ramos.

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); see also Walker v. Benjamin, 293 F.3d 1030, 1037 (7th Cir. 2002). This encompasses a broader range of conduct than intentional denial of necessary medical treatment, but it stops short of "negligence in diagnosing or treating a medical condition." Estelle, 429 U.S. at 106; see also, Jones v. Simek, 193 F.3d 485, 489 (7th Cir. 1999); Steele v. Choi, 82 F.3d 175, 178 (7th Cir. 1996), cert. denied, 519 U.S. 897, 117 S.Ct. 244, 136 L.Ed.2d 173 (1996). An official is deliberately indifferent when he acts or fails to act "despite his knowledge of a substantial risk of serious harm" to the inmate. Farmer, 511 U.S. at 842.

The fact that a prisoner received some medical treatment does not necessarily defeat his claim. Deliberate indifference to a serious medical need can be manifested by "blatantly inappropriate" treatment, Greeno v. Daley, 414 F.3d 645, 654 (7th Cir. 2005) (emphasis in original), or by "woefully inadequate action," ...

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