IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF ILLINOIS
August 14, 2012
ENCARNACION TORRES, #R74665, PLAINTIFF,
WARDEN LEE RYKER, MR. MARTIN, AND DR. FENOGLIO, DEFENDANTS.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Reagan, District Judge:
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
Plaintiff Torres, an inmate in Cook County Jail, brings this action for deprivations of his constitutional rights pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, based on an incident that occurred when Plaintiff was housed at Lawrence Correctional Center. Plaintiff is serving a twenty year sentence. 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 dismissal.
The following allegations are taken from Plaintiff's complaint. After arriving at Lawrence Correctional Center in August of 2009, Plaintiff began to notice blood present in his stool. Plaintiff requested health care services, but received no response for several months. When Plaintiff saw Defendant Dr. Fenoglio, Fenoglio told Plaintiff "he was fine" and prescribed Metamusal (Doc. 1, p. 6).
Plaintiff's condition continued to worsen after seeing Dr. Fenoglio; he began experiencing dizziness and shortness of breath. By the middle of 2010, Plaintiff began to notice decreased stamina during exercise. At the time of filing, Plaintiff could not without experiencing pain. Plaintiff's stomach became "tight and bloated" and he bled daily through his rectum (Doc. 1, p. 6). By the middle of 2011, Plaintiff's bleeding was severe enough to turn the commode water red during defecation.
Plaintiff states that he requested Defendants (likely indicating Fenoglio and Martin, Lawrence's medical director) perform an MRI or CAT scan. The responses were, allegedly, "he's fine" and "it's too expensive" (Doc. 1, p. 7). As treatment, Defendant Fenoglio only prescribed the initial application of Metamusal and a prostate exam. Plaintiff states that Defendant Fenoglio performed the prostate exam with a finger and "quickly" said "you're fine" (Doc. 1, p. 8). Plaintiff continued to bleed after the exam.
At the time of filing, Plaintiff reports experiencing blurred vision, dizziness, weakness, stomach pain, lethargy, anemia, bloody urine and vertigo. He has sent an estimated twenty-five requests and notes to the health care unit seeking treatment. Defendants have responded to these complaints "with utter indifference" (Doc. 1, p. 7). Discussion
The Supreme Court has recognized that "deliberate indifference to serious medical needs of prisoners" may constitute cruel and unusual punishment under the Eighth Amendment. Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 104 (1976); Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825 (1994); see Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007) (per curiam). This encompasses a broader range of conduct than intentional denial of necessary medical treatment, but it stops short of "negligen[ce] in diagnosing or treating a medical condition." Estelle, 429 U.S. at 106. See also Sanville v. McCaughtry, 266 F.3d 724, 734 (7th Cir. 2001).
To prevail on an Eighth Amendment claim, a plaintiff must show that the responsible prison officials were deliberately indifferent to his serious medical needs. See Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 837 (1994);
Dunigan ex rel. Nyman v. Winnebago Cnty., 165 F.3d 587, 590 (7th Cir. 1999). Deliberate indifference involves a two-part test. The plaintiff must show that (1) the medical condition was objectively serious, and (2) the state officials acted with deliberate indifference to his medical needs, which is a subjective standard.
However, the Supreme Court stressed that this test is not an insurmountable hurdle for inmates raising Eighth Amendment claims:
[A]n Eighth Amendment claimant need not show that a prison official acted or failed to act believing that harm actually would befall an inmate; it is enough that the official acted or failed to act despite his knowledge of a substantial risk of serious harm . . . . Whether a prison official had the requisite knowledge of a substantial risk is a question of fact subject to demonstration in the usual ways, including inference from circumstantial evidence . . . and a factfinder may conclude that a prison official knew of a substantial risk from the very fact that the risk was obvious.
Farmer, 511 U.S. at 842.
The Seventh Circuit considers the following to be indications of a serious medical need: (1) where failure to treat the condition could "result in further significant injury or the unnecessary and wanton infliction of pain"; (2) "[e]xistence of an injury that a reasonable doctor or patient would find important and worthy of comment or treatment"; (3) "presence of a medical condition that significantly affects an individual's daily activities"; or (4) "the existence of chronic and substantial pain". Gutierrez v. Peters, 111 F.3d 1364, 1373 (7th Cir. 1997).
Plaintiff has described a condition that meets several of the Gutierrez factors. Rectal bleeding, in combination with the other symptoms described by Plaintiff, could be a sign of more serious problems, particularly if left untreated. In addition, in light of the other symptoms that Plaintiff has already experienced, failure to treat the condition could result in irreparable damage and increased pain. An examination would likely reveal the degree of rectal bleeding described, and lead to treatment. Finally, Plaintiff reports specifically having experienced reduced stamina during exercise, and his other symptoms likely have a significant effect on his daily activities. Plaintiff has pleaded facts to show the objective prong of an Eighth Amendment claim for deliberate indifference.
To show deliberate indifference, a prison official must "be aware of facts from which the inference could be drawn that a substantial risk of serious harm exists" and must actually "draw the inference." Farmer, 511 U.S. at 837. A defendant's inadvertent error, negligence or even ordinary malpractice is insufficient to rise to the level of an Eighth Amendment constitutional violation. See Duckworth v. Ahmad, 532 F.3d 675, 679 (7th Cir. 2008). Plaintiff alleges that he made Defendant Fenoglio aware of his persistent symptoms through the filing of "an estimated twenty-five requests and notes to the health care unit seeking treatment." Furthermore, Plaintiff indicates that his symptoms worsened over time due to lack of treatment. "A delay in treatment may constitute deliberate indifference if the delay exacerbated the injury or unnecessarily prolonged an inmate's pain." McGowan v. Hulick, 612 F.3d 636, 640 (7th Cir. 2010); see also Cooper v. Casey, 97 F.3d 914, 916 (7th Cir. 1996); Perkins v. Johnston, 431 F. Supp. 2d 898, 901-02 (N.D. Ind. 2006). Plaintiff's claim against Defendant Fenoglio for deliberate indifference shall proceed.
Defendants Warden Lee Ryker and Mr. Martin
Though Plaintiff names Defendants Ryker and Martin in the caption of his complaint, he fails to list them elsewhere in his complaint, so the Court is unable to ascertain what claims, if any, Plaintiff has against these Defendants.
The reason that plaintiffs, even those proceeding pro se, for whom the Court is required to liberally construe complaints, see Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520-21 (1972), are required to associate specific defendants with specific claims so these defendants are put on notice of the claims brought against them, and so they can properly answer the complaint. "Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)(2) 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)). Thus, where a plaintiff has not included a defendant in his statement of the claim, the defendant cannot be said to be adequately put on notice of which claims in the complaint, if any, are directed against him. Furthermore, merely invoking the name of a potential defendant is not sufficient to state a claim against that individual. See Collins v. Kibort, 143 F.3d 331, 334 (7th Cir. 1998) ("A plaintiff cannot state a claim against a defendant by including the defendant's name in the caption.").
Because Plaintiff has not listed Defendants Ryker and Martin elsewhere in his complaint, he has not adequately stated claims against these individuals, or put them on notice of any claims that Plaintiff may have against them. For this reason, Defendants Martin and Ryker will be dismissed from this action without prejudice.
COUNT 1 shall receive further consideration. Defendants RYKER and MARTIN are DISMISSED from this action without prejudice.
The Clerk of Court shall prepare for Defendant FENOGLIO: (1) Form 5 (Notice of a Lawsuit and Request to Waive Service of a Summons), and (2) Form 6 (Waiver of Service of Summons). The Clerk is DIRECTED to mail these forms, a copy of the complaint, and this Order to Defendant's place of employment as identified by Marshall. If Defendant fails to sign and return the Waiver of Service of Summons (Form 6) to the Clerk within thirty (30) days from the date the forms were sent, the Clerk shall take appropriate steps to effect formal service on Defendant, and the Court will require Defendant to pay the full costs of formal service, to the extent authorized by the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.
It is further ORDERED that, if Defendant no longer can be found at the work address provided by Plaintiff, the employer shall furnish the Clerk of Court with Defendant's current work addresses, or, if not known, Defendant's last-known addresses. This information shall be used only for sending the forms as directed above or for formally effecting service. Any documentation of the address shall be retained only by the Clerk. Address information shall not be maintained in the Court's files or disclosed by the Clerk.
It is further ORDERED that Plaintiff shall serve upon Defendant (or upon defense counsel once an appearance is entered), a copy of every pleading or other document submitted for consideration by the Court. Marshall shall include with the original paper to be filed a certificate stating the date on which a true and correct copy of the document was served on Defendant or counsel. Any paper that has not been filed with the Clerk of Court or that fails to include a certificate of service will be disregarded by the Court.
It is further ORDERED that Defendant shall timely file an appropriate responsive pleading to the complaint and shall not waive filing a reply pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(g).
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that if judgment is rendered against Plaintiff, and the judgment includes the payment of costs under Section 1915, Plaintiff will be required to pay the full amount of the costs, notwithstanding that his application to proceed in forma pauperis has been granted. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(f)(2)(A).
Plaintiff is ADVISED that at the time application was made under 28 U.S.C. § 1915 for leave to commence this civil action without being required to prepay fees and costs or give security for the same, the applicant and his or her attorney were deemed to have entered into a stipulation that the recovery, if any, secured in the action shall be paid to the Clerk of the Court, who shall pay therefrom all unpaid costs taxed against plaintiff and remit the balance to plaintiff. Local Rule 3.1(c)(1).
Pursuant to Local Rule 72.1(a)(2), this action is REFERRED to United States Magistrate Judge Williams for further pre-trial proceedings.
Further, this entire matter is REFERRED to United States Magistrate Judge Williams for disposition, as contemplated by Local Rule 72.2(b)(2) and 28 U.S.C. § 636(c), should all the parties consent to such a referral.
Finally, Plaintiff is ADVISED that he is under a continuing obligation to keep the Clerk of Court and any opposing party informed of any change in his address; the Court will not independently investigate Plaintiff's whereabouts. This shall be done in writing and not later than seven (7) days after a transfer or other change in address occurs. Failure to comply with this Order will cause a delay in the transmission of Court documents and may result in dismissal of this action for want of prosecution. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 41(b).
IT IS SO ORDERED.
MICHAEL J. REAGAN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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