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Keith A. West v. Vipin K. Shah et al

September 7, 2011


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Sue E. Myerscough, U.S. District Judge:


Wednesday, 07 September, 2011 03:50:39 PM

Clerk, U.S. District Court, ILCD


Plaintiff Keith West, proceeding pro se and currently incarcerated in Stateville Correctional Center, pursues claims arising from events at Western Illinois Correctional Center. The case is before the Court for a merit review pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A.


The Court is required by § 1915A to review a Complaint filed by a prisoner against a governmental entity or officer and, through such process, to identify cognizable claims, dismissing any claim that is "frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted . . . ". A hearing is held if necessary to assist the Court in this review, but, in this case, the Court concludes that no hearing is necessary. The Complaint and its attachments are clear enough on their own for this Court to perform its merit review of Plaintiff's Complaint.

The review standard under § 1915A is the same as the notice pleading standard under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). Zimmerman v. Tribble, 226 F.3d 568, 571 (7th Cir. 2000). To state a claim, the allegations must set forth a "short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief . . . ." Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2). Factual allegations must give enough detail to give "'fair notice of what the . . . claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.'" EEOC v. Concentra Health Serv., Inc., 496 F.3d 773, 776 (7th Cir. 2007), quoting Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544 (2007)(add'l citation omitted). The factual "allegations must plausibly suggest that the plaintiff has a right to relief, raising that possibility above a 'speculative level.'" Id., quoting Bell Atlantic, 550 U.S. at 555. "A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged . . . . Threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009), citing Bell Atlantic, 550 U.S. at 555-56. However, pro se pleadings are liberally construed when applying this standard. Bridges v. Gilbert, 557 F.3d 541, 546 (7th Cir. 2009).


In August, 2009, while incarcerated in Western Illinois Correctional Center, Plaintiff was eating a cookie when he bit on a hard foreign object in the cookie, breaking his back tooth. He began experiencing "unbearable and excruciating" pain. He was escorted to the health care unit where the nurse scheduled him for a dentist appointment and gave him Tylenol. Plaintiff tried to explain to the nurse that Tylenol would not alleviate his severe pain, but the nurse refused to phone the doctor to request emergency dental care. Despite his repeated pleas, Plaintiff suffered this severe pain for one or two weeks, unable to sleep or eat. When the time came for Plaintiff's dentist appointment, the guard inadvertently failed to come to Plaintiff's cell, causing Plaintiff to be late for the appointment. The dentist refused to see Plaintiff, though Plaintiff described his broken tooth and severe pain to the dentist. Plaintiff's suffering continued for weeks. His pleas were ignored or refused, including a plea to Defendant Dr. Shah. Eventually Plaintiff did receive dental surgery.

Plaintiff also alleges that the offending cookie "came from Illinois River Correctional Center, run by James Underwood and or John Doe and Susan Griswold both I.D.O.C. Administrators of correctional industries and Food Services throughout the entire state."

In a separate incident in January, 2010, Plaintiff slipped and fell on ice on a walkway. He suffered injury to his back, legs, and shoulders. Nurse Ring and other unidentified nurses took him by a stretcher or wheelchair to the health care unit. Though Dr. Shah was informed that "this is the emergency code three", Dr. Shah refused to see Plaintiff because Dr. Shah was leaving to go on his way home. The nurses, including Nurse Ring, took no action but falsified the medical notes to make it appear as if Plaintiff had received medical treatment.

In another incident that month, an inmate attempted to assault Plaintiff in his cell. He lunged at Plaintiff, but Plaintiff managed to push and lock the inmate out of the cell. Four nearby guards playing cards allegedly failed to prevent the attempted assault. Despite his innocence, Plaintiff was taken to segregation and received a disciplinary report falsely accusing him of assault. Plaintiff believes that this report was written because he refused to be an informant against his cellmate, whom prison officials suspected of smuggling contraband. Plaintiff ultimately lost 30 days of good time as a result of the disciplinary charge. He was not allowed to call witnesses on his behalf at the disciplinary hearing, and the incident was not properly investigated. An existing video recording would have allegedly exonerated him, but the defendants refused to obtain the recording.

Plaintiff asserts that he would have filed this case sooner but he has been unable to obtain the names of many defendants. He alleges that his requests for ...

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