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Jocelyn Chatham, Administrator of the Estate of Marvin T. Mcdonald v. Randy Davis and John Doe Correctional Officers

September 28, 2011

JOCELYN CHATHAM, ADMINISTRATOR OF THE ESTATE OF MARVIN T. MCDONALD, PLAINTIFF,
v.
RANDY DAVIS AND JOHN DOE CORRECTIONAL OFFICERS, DEFENDANTS.



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

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

Plaintiff Joyce Chatham is the administrator of the estate of Marvin McDonald, who was an inmate in the Pinckneyville Correctional Center. Plaintiff brings this action for deprivations of McDonald's 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, in pertinent part:

(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). Upon careful review of the complaint and any supporting exhibits, the Court finds that the claims in this complaint survive review and will proceed in this litigation.

Facts:

The following version of the facts of this case is gleaned from Chatham's complaint (Doc. 2). McDonald suffered from severe asthma during the majority of his life. He made Defendant Davis, as well as the John Doe Defendants, aware of his condition and the treatment he required, which included access to an inhaler. McDonald was housed in a segregation unit cell in the prison, without access to his inhaler. Segregation unit cells in Pickneyville Correctional Center ("Pinckneyville") are devoid of panic buttons, which are normally used to alert medical personnel to an emergency. Further, the segregation unit is rarely patrolled by staff in the evenings.

Between the hours of 9:00 p.m. and 10:00 p.m. on May 26, 2010, McDonald experienced a severe asthma attack. Eventually, the intensity of the attack left McDonald gasping for air. His cellmate made efforts to get medical attention, yelling for help and banging on the cell door. After an unspecified amount of time, a John Doe correctional officer responded that he would contact a nurse. Fifteen minutes passed before two nurses came to the cell. Per prison policy, before a nurse could enter the cell, both inmates had to be handcuffed. After the cuffing occurred, the nurses attempted to provide medical care to McDonald. However, at that point it was discovered that McDonald was dead.

Discussion:

Plaintiff alleges that McDonald's Eighth Amendment rights were violated by the John Doe Correctional Officers of Pickneyville, as well as Defendant Davis, warden of Pickneyville. The Court will first consider the John Doe ...


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