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Charles Williams (#N-10886 v. Imhotep Carter

October 10, 2012


Name of Assigned Judge FREDERICK J. KAPALA Sitting Judge if Other or Magistrate Judge than Assigned Judge



Defendant Wexford Health Sources' motion to dismiss [#14] is granted. Wexford Health Sources, Inc., is dismissed as a defendant pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6).

O [For further details see text below.] Docketing to mail notices.

The plaintiff, an Illinois state prisoner, has brought this pro se civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The plaintiff claims that the defendants, health care providers at the Dixon Correctional Center, violated the plaintiff's constitutional rights by acting with deliberate indifference to his serious medical needs. More specifically, the plaintiff alleges that he received inadequate care for degenerative hip problems. Defendant Wexford Health Sources, Inc., has filed a motion to dismiss the complaint for failure to state a claim against the corporation. For the reasons stated in this order, the motion is granted.

It is well established that pro se complaints are to be liberally construed. Kaba v. Stepp, 458 F.3d 678, 681, 687 (7th Cir. 2006). Pro se submissions are held to a less stringent standard than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers. Bridges v. Gilbert, 557 F.3d 541, 546 (7th Cir. 2009). Rule 8(a)(2) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 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)); Windy City Metal Fabricators & Supply, Inc. v. CIT Tech. Fin. Servs., Inc., 536 F.3d 663, 667 (7th Cir. 2008).

To satisfy the notice pleading requirements of Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2), a plaintiff need only state his basic legal claim and provide "some indication . . . of time and place." Thompson v. Washington, 362 F.3d 969, 971 (7th Cir. 2004). In addition, when considering whether to dismiss a complaint for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted, the court assumes all factual allegations in the complaint to be true, viewing all facts--as well as any inferences reasonably drawn therefrom--in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. Bell Atlantic Corp., 550 U.S. at 563 (citing Swierkiewicz v. Sorema N.A., 534 U.S. 506, 514 (2002)); Parish v. City of Elkhart, 614 F.3d 677, 679 (7th Cir. 2010). A well-pleaded complaint may proceed even if it appears "that actual proof of those facts is improbable, and that a recovery is very remote and unlikely." Bell Atlantic Corp., 550 U.S. at 556.

Nevertheless, the factual allegations in the complaint must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level. Id. at 555. While a complaint does not need detailed factual allegations, a plaintiff's obligation to provide the grounds of his entitlement to relief requires more than mere labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do. Bell Atlantic Corp., 550 U.S. at 555 (citations omitted). The court "need not accept as true legal conclusions, or threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements." Brooks v. Ross, 578 F.3d 574, 581 (7th Cir. 2009). "The complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Bonte v. U.S. Bank, N.A., 624 F.3d 461, 463 (7th Cir. 2010) (citing Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009)). Furthermore, a plaintiff can plead himself or herself out of court by pleading facts that undermine the allegations set forth in the complaint. See, e.g., Whitlock v. Brown, 596 F.3d 406, 412 (7th Cir. 2010) (citations omitted) ("A judicial admission trumps evidence. This is the basis of the principle that a plaintiff can plead himself out of court.").

1. The Plaintiff Exhausted Administrative Remedies

Wexford's motion to dismiss on grounds of non-exhaustion is denied. The plaintiff's failure to expressly name Wexford in his grievances is not fatal to his claims. "When the administrative rulebook is silent, a grievance suffices if it alerts the prison to the nature of the wrong for which redress is sought. As in a notice-pleading system, the grievant need not lay out the facts, articulate legal theories, or demand particular relief. All the grievance need do is object intelligibly to some asserted shortcoming." Strong v. David, 297 F.3d 646, 650 (7th Cir. 2002). A major purpose of the exhaustion requirement is to give prison administrators prompt notice of problems, so that they may be corrected internally in the first instance and an administrative record developed prior to suit. Porter, supra, 534 U.S. at 524-25; Smith v. Zachary, 255 F.3d 446, 450-51 (7th Cir. 2001).

A prisoner need not specify by name each person against whom he addresses his grievance. Turley v. Catchings, No. 03 C 8491, 2004 WL 2092008, at *3 (N.D. Ill. Sep. 15, 2004) (Norgle, J.). The PLRA statute "does not require a prisoner to name each prospective defendant in his grievance, even if the prospective defendant was known to the prisoner when the grievance was written. A prisoner can 'object intelligibly to some asserted shortcoming' without naming or blaming anyone; he might, for example, simply complain to the warden that he hasn't been fed for two days." Murray v. Artz, No. 02 C 8407, 2002 WL 31906464, at *4 (N.D. Ill. Dec. 31, 2002) (Kennelly, J.)

The court recognizes that the Illinois Administrative Code does require inmates to provide "the name of each person who is the subject of or who is otherwise involved in the complaint." 20 Ill. Admin. Code § 504.810(b). Furthermore, both Jones v. Bock, 549 U.S. 199, 218 (2007) and Barnes v. Briley, 420 F.3d 673, 679 (7th Cir. 2005) addressed situations where prison rules did not require inmates to name each prospective defendant in his grievance, which is currently not the case in the Illinois prison system. Generally, in order to exhaust, a prisoner "must take all steps prescribed by the prison's grievance system." Ford v. Johnson, 362 F.3d 395, 397 (7th Cir. 2001). An inmate must comply with the rules established by the State with respect to the form, timeliness, and content of grievances. Pozo v. McCaughtry, 286 F.3d 1022, 1023-25 (7th Cir. 2002); Dale v. Lappin, 376 F.3d 652, 655 (7th Cir. 2004). But in this case, where the plaintiff is claiming a broad denial of proper treatment by the health care unit as a whole, he will not be found at fault for failing to name Wexford itself. As the provider/employer of Dixon's medical staff, Wexford was presumably in a position to address the plaintiff's concerns about the quality of his medical care.

2. The Complaint Nevertheless Fails to State a Viable Claim Against Wexford Health Sources, Inc.

Notwithstanding the petitioner's satisfaction of the exhaustion requirement, the complaint fails to state a tenable claim against Wexford, the entity that employs the plaintiff's treating physicians. Even assuming both that the plaintiff has a serious medical need and that he has received inadequate medical care, he is ...

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