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Shad Hammond v. Angel Rector

September 17, 2012

SHAD HAMMOND, PLAINTIFF,
v.
ANGEL RECTOR, CHRISTY BROWN,
DR. WAHL, DR. SHUTE, DR. SHAH,
DR. BIBEY, MR. HARTMAN, K. DEEN, RANDY DAVIS, MR. GAETZ,
MRS. CREWS, GINA ALLEN, S.A. GODINEZ, JOHN/JANE DOE, COMM- ISSARY SUPERVISOR, JOHN/JANE DOE, PLACEMENT, NURSE HILL, NURSE LANE, D.O.N. L. LECRONE, AND GLADYSE C. TAYLOR, DEFENDANTS.



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

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

Plaintiff Shad Hammond, a prisoner at Pinckneyville Correctional Center, brings this pro se action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. This case is now before the Court for a preliminary re-view 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 upon 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 Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). 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, 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 the 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." Brooks, 578 F.3d at 581. At the same time, however, the factual allegations of a pro se complaint are to be construed liberally. Rodriguez v. Plymouth Ambulance Serv., 577 F.3d 816, 821 (7th Cir.2009).

The Complaint

The Court first notes that plaintiff's complaint (Doc. 1, Exs. 1 & 2) contains over 190 pages of grievances, responses to grievances, medical records, and other documents. His actual allegations appear on pages 1--5 of Doc. 1, pages 44--62 of Doc. 1, Ex. 1, and page 71 of Doc. 1, Ex. 2. The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure require only "a short and plain statement of the claim." Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2). Thus plaintiff's various exhibits and grievances are not necessary at the pleading stage. The Court therefore STRIKES the additional pages and will consider only pages 1--5 of Doc. 1, pages 44--62 of Doc. 1, Ex. 1, and page 71 of Doc. 1, Ex. 2. The Court summarizes the allegations as follows:

In August 2003, plaintiff was shot with a shotgun three times in the head, neck, and back, fracturing vertebrae and paralyzing the entire right side of his body. He has been prescribed Neurontin twice daily, Ultram twice daily, and ibuprofen for any breakthrough pain. He has also been designated "physically challenged" by a physical therapist due to chronic atrophy and neuropathy on his right side. He has been assigned a low bunk and given a permit for the low gallery, an ace bandage for slight compression on his right hand to control hand movement, and a neoprene wrist wrap to support his atrophied and weakened wrist. He was assigned to the Chronic Medical Clinic for his neuropathy and pain to avoid having to pay medical copays, get prescription renewals, or get permits issued for the low bunk and other equipment needs.

In November 2009, plaintiff saw nurse practitioner Angel Rector. Rector is in charge of scheduling in the clinic, including referrals to doctors. She prescribed him 300mg Neurontin twice daily, 50 mg Ultram twice daily, and increased his ibuprofen prescription. Five months later, plaintiff told Rector he was in more pain in his pelvis, hip, and knee. He asked for X-rays and an increase in Ultram. She agreed. However, Rector forgot to renew the ibuprofen and increased the Ultram only in his morning dose, while discontinuing his evening dose. Plaintiff was left in intense pain for 18 hours each day.

In May 2010, plaintiff filled out copays for nurse sick call, but Rector ignored them and did not schedule him to see a doctor despite the pain plaintiff was in. He filed a grievance, then went to see her again. After that visit, Rector noted in plaintiff's medical record that he had no obvious handicaps and should be re-evaluated. He did not appear to be physically challenged. Yet Rector had not evaluated or tested him. After plaintiff filed grievances, Rector noted that she would change plaintiff's prescription to add an evening dose of Ultram. Nevertheless, plaintiff was still in "terrible pain" as of May 29, 2010. He needed Motrin and was given 12 Tylenols.

Again he was told he would be referred to a doctor or nurse practitioner, yet he did not see a doctor and was in severe pain. He went without Motrin for a full month.

On June 13, 2010, plaintiff paid again for nurse sick call because he was in pain and needed permits renewed for his low bunk and being physically challenged. He was referred to a doctor, but Rector never scheduled an appointment. Two days later, plaintiff found out that Rector did not renew his ibuprofen because, she said, he had complained of blood in his stools. Plaintiff says that issue had been resolved, though, a year and nine months earlier. On June 15, 2010, even though plaintiff had been referred five times to see a doctor and was in pain, Rector wrote in plaintiff's records that he did not appear to be physically challenged. She wrote that his Motrin request and requests for permits were awaiting a new physical-therapy evaluation. Plaintiff complains that Rector had not actually seen and evaluated him when she made those comments. Plaintiff says Rector was politicking with everyone in health care against him. Her influence on Christy Brown, the health-care unit administrator, could be seen in her responses to his grievances.

Plaintiff went to see a physical therapist on July 8, 2010. The therapist recommended that plaintiff remain classified as physically challenged. Plaintiff says that recommendation was signed and approved by the medical director, but that Rector made a note saying "for eval by MD," indicating she wanted to find an opinion that she agreed with. By this time, plaintiff's permits for being physically challenged (and for low bunk and low gallery) had expired.

Plaintiff saw Dr. Wahl and explained his pain and suffering, but Wahl said she could not prescribe ibuprofen because Rector informed her that plaintiff had stomach issues and blood in his stools. Wahl ordered tests to confirm that and scheduled a follow-up appointment after the test results were returned. She re-issued the low-bunk permit, but Rector stopped her from issuing the other permits. The follow-up appointment never occurred.

On October 14, 2010, plaintiff was seen by Dr. Shephard, who re-issued plaintiff's physically challenged permit, reviewed all his lab work and X-rays, and prescribed Neurontin, ibuprofen, and an increase in Ultram. But before any of those medications were issued, Rector wrote in plaintiff's file that he was not physically challenged, only needed a low bunk, had stomach complaints, and reported blood in his stools. Much of that information was contradicted by plaintiff's lab results, which came back normal. Rector also lowered his Ultram dosage. Plaintiff had not seen or been evaluated by Rector since April 2009.

Plaintiff filed a grievance about Rector's actions and was given a new appointment, with Dr. Shute, on November 1, 2010. Shute gave plaintiff a thorough 45-minute evaluation. He increased plaintiff's Neurontin dosage and classified him as physically challenged so that plaintiff could take advantage of weight-bearing exercise equipment in the gym. And yet plaintiff found out soon afterward that his physically challenged permit was not being issued. He later found that Shute's medical records from that visit did not mention the permit.

So plaintiff filed a grievance. Brown denied it, Deen denied it, and Warden Randy Davis approved the denial. Gina Allen of the Administrative Review Board denied plaintiff's appeal because his medical issues were past the time frame. Director S.A. Godinez agreed with the ruling.

Plaintiff saw Dr. Shute again in January 2011. Plaintiff was in more pain in his pelvis, hip, and foot, which was causing him to fall. It felt like glass stabbing him under his knee cap. Shute ordered ibuprofen and scheduled plaintiff to see the physical therapist. Plaintiff was in segregation, however, and could not see the therapist. Plaintiff filed a grievance. Deen responded that, according to Brown, plaintiff was complaining about a very old injury and that plaintiff had been seen previously by a physical ...


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