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Robert Williams v. Dr. Fahim

May 18, 2012


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


Plaintiff Robert Williams, an inmate in Menard Correctional Center, brings this action for deprivations of his constitutional rights pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff is serving a twenty-five year sentence for criminal sexual assault, and five years for aggravated battery. 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, see Smith v. Peters, 631 F.3d 418, 419 (7th Cir. 2011), 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 supporting exhibits, the Court finds it appropriate to exercise its authority under § 1915A; portions of this action are subject to summary dismissal. The Complaint

Plaintiff was sent to an outside medical facility where he had surgery on his left middle finger, on February 24, 2010 (Doc. 1, p. 5). The doctor who performed this surgery (Dr. Young) had previously operated on the same finger on June 26, 2009, but Plaintiff's problems had not resolved.*fn1

After his February 2010 surgery, the surgeon's physical therapist gave Plaintiff a set of written instructions for exercises to rehabilitate his finger (See Doc. 1-1, pp. 34-37). The same instructions were given to Defendant Fahim (the medical doctor at Menard). One page of these instructions specified that Plaintiff was not supposed to do that particular exercise (using a "squeeze ball") until after the pin and sutures are removed from his finger and the surgeon releases Plaintiff to start strength exercises (Doc. 1, p. 6; Doc. 1-1, p. 37). The sheet also said Plaintiff should not start the exercise before April 7, 2010.

Despite these instructions, Defendant Fahim had Plaintiff perform the restricted squeeze ball exercise starting on February 26, 2010, two days after his surgery. Plaintiff claims that Defendant Fahim continued to have Plaintiff do the squeeze ball exercise, despite Plaintiff's protests that he was not supposed to do it, during the entire time that Plaintiff remained in the Health Care Unit (Doc. 1, p. 6). Plaintiff stayed in the Health Care Unit for at least twelve days; the latest date on his inpatient notes was March 9, 2010 (Doc. 1-1, p. 73). During that period, the pin and sutures remained in Plaintiff's finger. Under these circumstances, exercising the finger as Defendant Fahim directed caused Plaintiff to suffer severe pain. Plaintiff implies, by his request for another operation, that his finger is still not back to normal.

Plaintiff also names Jeannette Cowan (a Menard grievance officer), and Wexford (the company that provides medical services to prisoners), as Defendants. He requests compensatory and punitive ...

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