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Joecephus Mitts, #N-83084 v. Obandina

May 29, 2012


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


Plaintiff Joecephus Mitts, an inmate in Menard Correctional Center ("Menard"), brings this action for deprivations of his constitutional rights pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Many of the events giving rise to his claim occurred while Plaintiff was housed at Pinckneyville Correctional Center ("Pinckneyville"). Plaintiff is serving 30-year and six-year sentences for two counts of aggravated criminal sexual assault, and 15 years for attempted armed robbery. 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 suffers from a type of cancer affecting the skin: mycosis fungoides.*fn1 He alleges that at various times during his incarceration, he was denied necessary medical treatment for this ailment, and at other times his treatment was delayed. His symptoms have worsened due to the delay and denial of treatment.

While Plaintiff was in Pinckneyville, he had a physical examination by Defendant Doctor Obandina in April 2009. Plaintiff requested treatment for his condition, and his medical records from his prior treatment at a private hospital were ordered (Doc. 1, p. 5; Doc. 1-1, p. 2). In October 2009, Plaintiff inquired whether his medical records had arrived, and was told they had come in July 2009. Thereafter, Plaintiff saw Defendant Obandina again, and was told by him that care would be arranged, subject to the approval of Defendant Dennis Larson, the regional medical director for Wexford Health Sources. Wexford Health Sources is the company contracted to provide medical services to inmates in the Illinois Department of Corrections ("IDOC").

Plaintiff filed grievances in January and March 2010, seeking the treatment that had still not been provided. Defendant Crisey Fenton (Pinckneyville health care administrator) scheduled Plaintiff to see an outside dermatologist, whom he saw in March 2010. This dermatologist prescribed medication for Plaintiff, but when Plaintiff tried to get the prescription filled, Defendant Doctor Jill Wahl informed him that this medication was not available through the prison pharmacy.

Plaintiff filed a grievance on April 29, 2010, over the availability of the prescribed medicine. He claims he never received the proper medication (Doc. 1, p. 6). Further, he states he was told that "no outside medical treatment" would be provided until July 20, 2010 (it is not clear whether Plaintiff is referring to his prescribed medication or some other treatment).

Plaintiff asserts that Defendant Larson and Defendant Doctor Louis Schicker (the IDOC Medical Director) delayed his treatment due to budgetary concerns. On June 7, 2010, he was informed by Defendant Doctor Wahl that his request for an outside consultation had been rejected by Defendants Brown, Fenton, and Roberts, due to cost.

Plaintiff further alleges that after a biopsy was performed on July 20, 2010, on his waistline and ankle (See Doc. 1-1, p. 4), he contracted MRSA (Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus). He blames Defendants Brown and Wahl for causing him to develop this infection, because they failed to provide appropriate bandage changes.

Because of his skin condition, a specialist who had treated Plaintiff earlier recommended he not use any antibacterial or deodorant soap. In order to avoid the irritation to his skin, on July 26, 2010, Plaintiff requested Dove soap, which was not available in the commissary. Defendant Brown initially denied his request, but ultimately approved it on November 29, 2010 (Doc. 1, p. 7, Doc. 1-1, pp. 19-20).

On September 19, 2010, Defendant Larson informed Plaintiff that he would be receiving UVB light therapy in the prison (Doc. 1, p. 6). It appears that he continued to undergo this treatment throughout the remainder of his stay in Lawrence.

Finally, Plaintiff was transferred to Menard in January 2011. He complains that his prescription was not filled by Defendant Nikki Malley (the Menard Health Care Administrator), despite his requests. He alleges that he was given the UVB light box treatment, but states that Defendant Doctor Magid Fahim refused to provide him with a higher chair to use during the treatment, in order to prevent the light from burning his face (Doc. 1, p. 7). He complains that Defendant Fahim is not properly trained to provide this treatment, and he should instead be sent to an outside dermatologist. Plaintiff's exhibits show that on January 26, 2011, Plaintiff was provided with a cover for his head during the light treatments, was given cream, and would be supplied with Dove soap per a doctor's prescription (Doc. 1-1, p. 13).

Plaintiff requests compensatory and punitive damages, and an injunction requiring Defendants Larson and Schicker to obtain treatment for Plaintiff from an outside physician. Discussion

Introduction - Deliberate Indifference

Generally, an inmate's dissatisfaction with the medical care he receives in prison does not state a constitutional claim for deliberate indifference to medical needs, even if the quality of care was substandard to the point of negligence or malpractice. Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 106 (1976); Sanville v. McCaughtry, 266 F.3d 724, 734 (7th Cir. 2001); Snipes v. DeTella, 95 F.3d 586, 591 (7th Cir. 1996). However, in certain instances, a ...

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