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Ralph Kahl v. Don Albrecht

August 15, 2012

RALPH KAHL, PLAINTIFF,
v.
DON ALBRECHT, RUSSELL ALEXANDER, ROB HEARN, VIPIN SHAH, AND STEVEN A. CARR, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Sue E. Myerscough, U.S. District Judge:

E-FILED

Thursday, 23 August, 2012 12:31:27 PM Clerk, U.S. District Court, ILCD

OPINION

Plaintiff, proceeding pro se and incarcerated in Pinckneyville Correctional Center, pursues claims arising from injuries he suffered from a fall at a dentist office. The case is before the Court for a merit review pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A.

LEGAL STANDARD

The Court is required by § 1915A to review a Complaint filed by a prisoner against a governmental entity or officer and, through such process, to identify cognizable claims, dismissing any claim that is "frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted." A hearing is held if necessary to assist the Court in this review, but, in this case, the Court concludes that no hearing is necessary. The Complaint and its attachments are clear enough on their own for this Court to perform its merit review of Plaintiff's Complaint.

The review standard under § 1915A is the same as the notice pleading standard under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). Zimmerman v. Tribble, 226 F.3d 568, 571 (7th Cir. 2000). To state a claim, the allegations must set forth a "short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2). Factual allegations must give enough detail to give "'fair notice of what the . . . claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.'" EEOC v. Concentra Health Serv., Inc., 496 F.3d 773, 776 (7th Cir. 2007), quoting Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544 (2007)(add'l citation omitted). The factual "allegations must plausibly suggest that the plaintiff has a right to relief, raising that possibility above a 'speculative level.'" Id., quoting Bell Atlantic, 550 U.S. at 555. "A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged . . . . Threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009), citing Bell Atlantic, 550 U.S. at 555-56. However, pro se pleadings are liberally construed when applying this standard. Bridges v. Gilbert, 557 F.3d 541, 546 (7th Cir. 2009).

ALLEGATIONS

Plaintiff's allegations regard events which occurred during his incarceration in the Macoupin County Jail in Carlinville, Illinois, presumably as a pretrial detainee.

In July, 2010, a Jail officer took Plaintiff to see Defendant Dr. Carr, a dentist in Carlinville, Illinois, to have Plaintiff's tooth pulled. Only one officer escorted Plaintiff to the appointment, though Jail policy requires two escorting officers.

After arriving at the dentist office, Plaintiff and the escorting officer entered the building through the back door, Plaintiff in leg shackles and handcuffs attached to a waist chain. The back door opens into a hallway or small area with two more closed doors, one door leading to the basement and the other to the office. Once inside the hallway, the officer told Plaintiff to step aside, in order to allow enough room for the officer to open the door leading to the office. Plaintiff did so, leaning against the door to the basement. Unfortunately, the basement door was not latched and gave way, causing Plaintiff to fall backwards down a flight of stairs and sustain serious injury. He was taken to the hospital, where he received a neck brace and pain medication.

When Plaintiff returned to the Jail, Defendant Alexander, then the Jail Superintendent, refused to allow Plaintiff to wear the neck brace for purported security reasons, despite the hospital doctor's orders. The Jail doctor, Defendant Dr. Shah, refused to fill any of the medication prescribed by the hospital doctor because the prescribed medicine was too expensive. Dr. Shah prescribed only Tylenol. Without the prescribed pain medicine and neck brace, Plaintiff suffered extreme and unnecessary pain. He tried to file a grievance, but Defendant Alexander refused to give him the form.

ANALYSIS

Plaintiff was presumably a pretrial detainee when these events occurred, which means that his claim arises from the Fourteenth Amendment's due process clause, not the Eighth Amendment's prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment. However, in the context of this case, no practical difference exists. Under either amendment, Plaintiff must allege facts to plausibly suggest that Defendants were deliberately indifferent to Plaintiff's serious medical needs or ...


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