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Robert Allen v. Wexford Health Sources

November 16, 2011

ROBERT ALLEN, PLAINTIFF,
v.
WEXFORD HEALTH SOURCES, INC., ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Charles P. Kocoras, District Judge:

MEMORANDUM OPINION

This case comes before the Court on the motions of Defendants Charles Downs ("Downs"), Dr. Parthasarathi Ghosh ("Dr. Ghosh"), Kevin Halloran ("Halloran"), and Wexford Health Sources, Inc. ("Wexford") (collectively, "Defendants") to dismiss Plaintiff Robert Allen's ("Allen") complaint pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). For the reasons stated below, the Court grants the motion to dismiss of Defendants Dr. Ghosh, Halloran, and Wexford, and denies the motion to dismiss of Defendant Downs.

BACKGROUND*fn1

Allen, at all relevant times, was incarcerated at Stateville Correctional Center ("Stateville") in Joliet, Illinois. In August 2010, prison officials allowed prisoners to step on milk crates when entering and exiting vans that transported the prisoners. On August 9, 2010, Allen fell when he exited a van by stepping on a milk crate that tipped over. At the time of the fall, Allen was restrained by leg shackles, handcuffs, and a waist chain. Allen injured his back, neck, legs, and ankles. Thereafter, Allen was taken to the health care unit where he was treated and given a pair of crutches. Allen alleges that he continued to experience pain and received the "bare minimum" medical care. From the date of his injury, August 9, 2010, until October 15, 2010, Allen was treated by medical professionals on six separate occasions. During that time, Allen received crutches, prescription pain medication, x-rays, and permits for a low bunk and "lay-in" privileges. Aside from an MRI Allen received on January 6, 2011, the complaint and attached documents do not reveal the extent of any care received after October 15, 2010.

Between August 10, 2010, and August 27, 2010, Allen filed six grievances criticizing the use of the milk crate to assist prisoners entering and exiting the van, complaining of pain, requesting damages for his pain, and alleging that correctional officer Downs denied him access to medical care. Regarding Downs, Allen alleges that, on three separate occasions, he was in pain and asked Downs to contact medical personnel, but Downs refused. Allen memoralized his complaint against Downs in a grievance dated August 19, 2010. The grievance counselor's written response stated that Downs notified the health care unit of Allen's medical concerns and that Allen had an appointment the following week.

Between September 22, 2010, and December 14, 2010, Allen wrote four letters to Halloran, the Chief Executive Officer of Wexford, requesting stronger pain medicine and approval for an MRI on his back and legs. In the meantime, on October 15, 2010, Dr. Ghosh treated Allen and requested approval for an MRI through Wexford. Between November 10, 2010, and December 27, 2010, Allen wrote four letters to Dr. Ghosh asking about the status of his MRI, complaining of pain, and requesting stronger pain medication. Neither Halloran nor Dr. Ghosh ever responded directly to Allen.

Allen complains that Wexford took three months to approve Dr. Ghosh's MRI request, so that Allen did not receive an MRI until January 6, 2011. Further, Allen complains that he received an MRI only on his back and not his legs.

On June 17, 2011, Allen filed a complaint against the Defendants, alleging claims for inadequate medical treatment under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Defendants now move to dismiss the complaint.

LEGAL STANDARD

The court liberally construes pro se complaints. Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007). Even so, the complaint must contain "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2). Rule 8 does not require detailed factual allegations, but requires more than a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action. Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). To survive a motion to dismiss, the complaint must contain sufficient facts to state a claim for relief that is plausible on its face. Id. at 570. In ruling on a motion to dismiss, a court accepts the well-pleaded allegations in the complaint as true, construes the allegations of the complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, and draws all reasonable inferences in favor of the plaintiff. Hentosh v. Herman M. Finch Univ. of Health Scis./The Chi. Med. Sch., 167 F.3d 1170, 1173 (7th Cir. 1999). In addition to the complaint, the court considers documents attached to the complaint. Fed. R. Civ. P. 10(c) ("A copy of a written instrument that is an exhibit to a pleading is a part of the pleading for all purposes."); Reger Dev., LLC v. Nat'l City Bank, 592 F.3d 759, 764 (7th Cir. 2010).

DISCUSSION

Deliberate indifference to a prisoner's serious medical needs, whether by a prison doctor or a prison guard, is prohibited by the Eighth Amendment. Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 104-05 (1976). A claim for deliberate indifference contains both an objective and a subjective component. Greeno v. Daley, 414 F.3d 645, 653 (7th Cir. 2005). To satisfy the objective component, the plaintiff must demonstrate that he or she suffers from an objectively serious medical condition. Id. An objectively serious medical condition is one that has been diagnosed by a physician as mandating treatment or one that is so obvious that even a lay person would perceive the need for a doctor's attention. Roe v. Elyea, 631 F.3d 843, 857 (7th Cir. 2011).The condition need not be life threatening and is sufficiently serious if the failure to treat the condition would result in further significant injury or an unnecessary and wanton infliction of pain. Id.

To satisfy the subjective component, the plaintiff must demonstrate that the prison official disregarded a known, substantial risk of harm to the prisoner. Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 842 (1994). "[A] medical professional is entitled to deference in treatment decisions unless no minimally competent professional would have so responded under those circumstances." Roe, 631 F.3d at 857 (citation omitted). Significantly, ...


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