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Hector Laboy (#B-63282 v. Parthasarathi

December 9, 2011


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Amy J. St. Eve, District Court Judge:


Plaintiff, a state prisoner, has brought this pro se civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff claims that Defendants, two physicians at the Stateville Correctional Center, violated Plaintiff's constitutional rights by acting with deliberate indifference to his serious medical needs. More specifically, Plaintiff alleges that Defendants provided deficient care and treatment for a knee injury. This matter is before the Court for ruling on Defendants' motion to dismiss the complaint for failure to state a claim. For the reasons stated in this order, the motion is denied.


It is well established that pro se complaints are to be liberally construed. Kaba v. Stepp, 458 F.3d 678, 681, 687 (7th Cir. 2006). Pro se submissions are held to a less stringent standard than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers. Bridges v. Gilbert, 557 F.3d 541, 546 (7th Cir. 2009). Rule 8(a)(2) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 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, 555 (2007) (quoting Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 47 (1957)); Windy City Metal Fabricators & Supply, Inc. v. CIT Tech. Fin. Servs., Inc., 536 F.3d 663, 667 (7th Cir. 2008).

To satisfy the notice pleading requirements of Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2), a plaintiff must only state his basic legal claim and provide "some indication . . . of time and place." Thompson v. Washington, 362 F.3d 969, 971 (7th Cir. 2004). In addition, when considering whether to dismiss a complaint for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted, the Court assumes all factual allegations in the complaint to be true, viewing all facts--as well as any inferences reasonably drawn therefrom--in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. Bell Atlantic Corp., 550 U.S. at 563 (citing Swierkiewicz v. Sorema N.A., 534 U.S. 506, 514 (2002)); Parish v. City of Elkhart, 614 F.3d 677, 679 (7th Cir. 2010). A well-pleaded complaint may proceed even if it appears "that actual proof of those facts is improbable, and that a recovery is very remote and unlikely." Bell Atlantic Corp., 550 U.S. at 556.

Nevertheless, the factual allegations in the complaint must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level. Id. at 555. While a complaint challenged by a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss does not need detailed factual allegations, a plaintiff's obligation to provide the grounds of his entitlement to relief requires more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do. Id. (citations omitted). The Court "need not accept as true legal conclusions, or threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements." Brooks v. Ross, 578 F.3d 574, 581 (7th Cir. 2009). "The complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Bonte v. U.S. Bank, N.A., 624 F.3d 461, 463 (7th Cir. 2010) (citing Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 129 S. Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009)). Furthermore, 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., Whitlock v. Brown, 596 F.3d 406, 412 (7th Cir. 2010) (citations omitted) ("A judicial admission trumps evidence. This is the basis of the principle that a plaintiff can plead himself out of court.").


Plaintiff alleges the following facts, assumed true for purposes of the motion to dismiss: Plaintiff, an Illinois state prisoner, is confined at the Stateville Correctional Center at all times relevant to this lawsuit. Defendants Parthasarathi Ghosh and Liping Zhang, now retired, were staff physicians at Stateville at the time of the events giving rise to this action.

On June 4, 2009, Plaintiff injured his knee while playing basketball [or possibly exacerbated a pre-existing injury--medical progress notes attached as Exhibit B to the Complaint indicate that Plaintiff had already experienced knee problems for several years prior to the basketball injury]. Because Plaintiff was in too much pain to walk, he was taken by wheelchair to the prison's health care unit.

The emergency room physician, Defendant Ghosh, attended to Plaintiff's injury. He prescribed Tylenol (500 mg. strength), ordered an x-ray, and provided Plaintiff with crutches, knee braces, and ice. Ghosh also issued a low bunk/low gallery permit.

An x-ray was taken five days later, on June 9, 2009. Plaintiff was informed that the xray results were "negative" (presumably for a broken bone, although the report does not elaborate on the negative notation). (Exhibit E to Complaint.)

On June 24, 2009, Plaintiff told a physician's assistant (Williams, not a Defendant) that he had never received his prescribed pain medication and that his knee was "collapsing" whenever he put weight on it. Williams scheduled Plaintiff for a follow-up appointment with a physician.

On July 1, 2009, Plaintiff was seen by Defendant Zhang. Plaintiff told the doctor about the lack of pain medication and the knee collapse. Plaintiff requested physical therapy, an MRI, and a renewed permit for crutches. Zhang took away Plaintiff's crutches, giving him knee braces ...

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