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Turner Fields, #R16729 v. Dave Rednour

August 9, 2012


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


Plaintiff Tuan Fields, 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 25 year sentence for murder, an eight year sentence for attempted murder, and a six year sentence for drug trafficking. 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.

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, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (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 any supporting exhibits, the Court finds it appropriate to exercise its authority under § 1915A; portions of this action are subject to summary dismissal.

The Complaint

The following is an overview of the allegations contained in Plaintiff's complaint. Plaintiff was struck by buckshot pellets and fragments when Defendant Millan, a correctional officer, fired a shotgun in the direction of Plaintiff's cell during a fight between two other inmates. Plaintiff was in his cell (#922) when a "minor scuffle" broke out between two unarmed inmates. Milan may have been attempting to break up the fight at the time the shot was fired, but Milan was not in a life- threatening situation. Milan deliberately fired his shotgun toward Plaintiff's cell without first firing a warning shot at the target board, which was located between cells 920 and 921. Three pellets hit Plaintiff's upper left forearm, one hit his upper arm, and one embedded itself in his nose. As a result, Plaintiff suffered welts and cuts.

After Plaintiff was shot, he asked a correctional officer to send a lieutenant and a nurse or a "Med-Tec." Approximately two hours after the shooting, Defendant Thompson (Nurse) walked past Plaintiff's cell to give medication to a nearby inmate. Plaintiff explained to Thompson he had been shot and described his injuries. Thompson "smirked" and told Plaintiff there was nothing she could do. She told Plaintiff to "wash the injuries with soap and water and he [would] be fine." (Doc. 1, p. 5). While walking away, Thompson shook her head and said Plaintiff could file a grievance. Plaintiff called after Thompson, asking her name and why she was denying him medical attention. Yet Thompson kept walking and refused to acknowledge Plaintiff's injuries. Thompson simply called out, "my name is Nurse," in response to Plaintiff's request for her name.

Plaintiff filed a grievance in response for being shot on October 10, 2010. However, his counselor did not receive the grievance because the "staff destroyed it to cover up their wrongs on behalf of Defendant Millan" (Doc. 1-1, pg. 2). Plaintiff filed another grievance on November 3, 2010 regarding the same issue. That grievance was denied. Defendant Rednour (Warden) concurred in the denial. Plaintiff's grievance was also denied on appeal.

Plaintiff seeks injunctive relief along with compensatory and punitive damages. Discussion Count 1 -- Deliberate Indifference to Medical Needs Plaintiff claims Defendant Thompson refused to treat-or even acknowledge-Plaintiff's injuries when he had been hit with five buckshot pellets.

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 constitutional claim may lie if a prison official's actions amount to a failure to treat a serious medical condition. To state a claim for deliberate indifference to medical care, a detainee must show that (1) he suffered from an objectively serious condition ...

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