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Keynte J. Davis, # K-54058 v. Warden Grounds

October 5, 2012


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


Plaintiff Keynte Davis, an inmate in Danville Correctional Center, brought this action for deprivations of his constitutional rights pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, based on incidents that occurred while Plaintiff was incarcerated at Robinson Correctional Center ("Robinson"). After completing the preliminary review of Plaintiff's original complaint (Doc. 1), this Court dismissed all three counts but granted him leave to submit an amended complaint including Counts 1 and 2 (Doc. 19). Plaintiff's First Amended Complaint (Doc. 22) is now before the Court for review pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A.

Count 1 -- Failure to Protect

Accepting Plaintiff's allegations as true, the Court finds that Plaintiff has at this stage articulated a colorable federal cause of action against Defendants Walton and Tilka for failure to protect Plaintiff from an ongoing attack by fellow inmate Benson on October 20, 2010 (see Doc. 22, p. 4). This claim shall receive further review. Count 2 -- Deliberate Indifference to a Medical Need

The First Amended Complaint asserts that Defendant Ramolia (a doctor at Crawford Memorial Hospital), Defendant Tilka, and other unnamed prison officials were deliberately indifferent to Plaintiff's serious medical need for treatment of his partially severed left ear (Doc. 22, pp. 4-5). Inmate Benson had bitten off the lower part of the ear when he attacked Plaintiff. Defendant Tilka took Plaintiff to the prison health care unit at 10:15 a.m. Plaintiff claims he was not taken to Crawford Memorial Hospital until 11:49 a.m.; however, the attached hospital record (Doc. 22, p. 10) contradicts this allegation. At the hospital, Defendant Ramolia examined Plaintiff, and after consultation with another physician (Dr. Gwyen), advised the Robinson officers who accompanied Plaintiff that he should be transported to Carle Clinic for treatment (Doc. 22, p. 5). An officer called Robinson, but the prison official there denied permission for Plaintiff to be taken to Carle Clinic. After that, the doctor consulted by Defendant Ramolia determined that too much time had passed, and the severed portion of the ear could no longer be reattached. Finally, Plaintiff claims that he did not receive the prescribed "laceration after care" from the Robinson health care providers following his return to prison.

A. Delay in Treatment

According to the hospital record submitted by Plaintiff, Defendant Ramolia contacted Dr. Gwyen at 11:15 a.m., and was advised at 11:35 a.m. to discard the amputated portion of the ear (Doc. 22, p. 10). This record demonstrates that only one hour elapsed between the time Plaintiff arrived at the Robinson health care unit, and the time he was examined in the hospital by Defendant Ramolia. As in the original complaint, the facts presented in the First Amended Complaint do not indicate that any Defendants disregarded a known risk that Plaintiff's ear could be permanently injured.

Furthermore, Defendant Ramolia is a private doctor (Doc. 22, p. 2). Plaintiff does not indicate that Defendant Ramolia is employed by the prison or under any type of contractual relationship with Robinson or the Illinois Department of Corrections ("IDOC"). As such, Defendant Ramolia cannot be considered a "state actor" subject to liability under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. See Rodriguez v. Plymouth Ambulance Serv., 577 F.3d 816, 822-30 (7th Cir. 2009) (a contractual relationship between a private physician and the IDOC may be sufficient for the private party to become a "state actor"). A plaintiff cannot proceed with a federal claim under § 1983 against a non-state actor. See Am. Mfrs. Mut. Ins. Co. v. Sullivan, 526 U.S. 40, 50 (1999); Gayman v. Principal Fin. Servs., Inc., 311 F.3d 851, 852-53 (7th Cir. 2003). Most importantly, nothing in the amended complaint suggests that Defendant Ramolia caused any delay in treating Plaintiff, or otherwise acted with deliberate indifference to the risk of permanent injury to him.

For these reasons, Plaintiff fails to state an actionable claim against Defendant Ramolia or any other Defendant for deliberate indifference due to the delay in treating his severed ear.

B. Failure to Provide Follow-up Wound Care

Plaintiff may, however, have a viable claim for the lack of laceration after-care by the Robinson health care providers after he returned from the hospital. In order for Plaintiff to proceed with a deliberate indifference claim against any prison staff who failed to give follow-up treatment, he must first identify these individuals by name in another amended complaint. Defendant Grounds

Finally, the First Amended Complaint contains no allegations that Defendant Grounds (the Robinson warden) was directly involved in the events leading to Plaintiff's injury, or in any decisions relating to Plaintiff's medical treatment. As noted in the Order of August 17, 2012 (Doc. 19), Defendant Grounds cannot be held liable under § 1983 merely because he is the chief administrator of the prison. Only direct personal involvement in the deprivation of a constitutional right can lead to liability in a civil rights action. See Sanville v. McCaughtry, 266 F.3d 724, 740 (7th Cir. 2001). As Plaintiff has alleged nothing beyond the fact that Defendant Grounds is the warden, responsible for prison operations and for the inmates' welfare (Doc. 22, p. 2), this Defendant shall be dismissed.


Defendants RAMALIA and GROUNDS are DISMISSED from this action with prejudice. Count 2-A is dismissed with prejudice. As to Count 2-B, the Clerk is DIRECTED to add UNKNOWN PARTY ...

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