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Ted Knox, Idoc # N-02676 v. Doctor Furlong

August 31, 2011


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


Plaintiff Ted Knox, an inmate in Menard Correctional Center, brings this action for deprivations of his constitutional rights pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, based on an incident that occurred while Plaintiff was housed at Tamms Correctional Center. Plaintiff is serving a life sentence for murder. 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 any supporting exhibits, the Court finds it appropriate to exercise its authority under § 1915A; portions of this action are subject to summary dismissal.

The Complaint

On July 2, 2008, while Plaintiff was incarcerated in the closed maximum security prison at Tamms Correctional Center ("Tamms"), he broke a tooth. He immediately requested medical care from the officer on duty, but was told he would have to wait until the nurse made her rounds. Plaintiff is a diabetic and suffers from a gum disease, and because of these conditions, he alleges that he is at greater risk of developing an infection from such a tooth injury. In addition to suffering pain, Plaintiff had continued discomfort due to blood and pus coming from the area of the broken tooth.

He next asked Defendant Butler (a nurse) for help to get the tooth pulled and for pain medication, but she did nothing despite Plaintiff's repeated requests over several days as his pain grew worse. Plaintiff also wrote a complaint to Defendants Furlong (the dentist) and Caliper (the health care administrator), requesting immediate medical care for the broken tooth, pain, and discharge of blood and pus.

On July 9, 2008, one week after breaking the tooth, Plaintiff requested help from Defendant Qualls (a nurse), because the pain and swelling were causing him to lose sleep and hindering his ability to chew and digest food. Defendant Qualls told him that Defendants Furlong and Caliper were aware of Plaintiff's complaints, and Defendant Qualls would not go against their policies, or provide anything to Plaintiff that was not authorized by the policies of Defendant Wexford Health Sources, Inc. ("Wexford"). Wexford is a private corporation that furnishes health care services to prisoners under a contract with the Illinois Department of Corrections, and is the employer of Defendants Furlong, Butler, Melton, George, Qualls, and Miller. Plaintiff also alleges that Defendant Qualls informed him that Defendants Furlong and Caliper instructed her not to provide him with Novocain because they were angry with Plaintiff. Plaintiff continued to write requests for treatment to Defendants Caliper and Furlong.

On July 23, 2008, Plaintiff asked Defendant Melton (a nurse) for help, as the entire area surrounding the tooth was painful, swollen, and oozing blood and pus. Defendant Melton responded that Plaintiff was not a priority and would have to endure the pain until the dentist decided to see him. She also told ...

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