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Harry Powell v. Dr. Vipin Shah

October 19, 2012

HARRY POWELL, PLAINTIFF,
v.
DR. VIPIN SHAH, DR. THOMAS BAKER, DEBBIE FUQUA, AND WEXFORD HEALTH SOURCES, INC., DEFENDANTS.



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

E-FILED

3:12-cv-03261-SEM-BGC # 10 Page 1 of 9 Friday, 19 October, 2012 02:46:38 PM Clerk, U.S. District Court, ILCD

OPINION

Plaintiff, proceeding pro se and incarcerated in Dixon Correctional Center, pursues claims arising from Defendants' alleged failure to treat Plaintiff's knee injury, which he sustained in Western Illinois Correctional Center. 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

In October, 2010, Plaintiff severely injured his knee playing basketball in the Western Illinois Correctional Center. Despite the severe swelling of his knee and difficulty moving, Plaintiff received nothing more than ibuprofen. His repeated requests to be moved to the first floor were denied. X-rays and an MRI were taken of Plaintiff's knee, all of which allegedly showed a broken knee cap or some other injury obviously requiring surgical intervention. However, Defendants repeatedly denied Plaintiff's requests for treatment. Plaintiff continued to suffer severe pain. He could not bear weight on the knee, and the knee frequently gave out on him if he tried to walk. Plaintiff was transferred to Dixon Correctional Center in June, 2012. Whether he received any treatment for his knee at Dixon is not clear.

ANALYSIS

Plaintiff's claim falls under the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution, which prohibits cruel and unusual punishment. In the context of medical care for prisoners, cruel and unusual punishment occurs when a Defendant is deliberately indifferent to a serious medical need of a prisoner:

A prisoner's claim for deliberate indifference must establish "(1) an objectively serious medical condition; and (2) an official's deliberate indifference to that condition." Arnett , 658 F.3d at 750. Deliberate indifference is proven by demonstrating that a prison official knows of a substantial risk of harm to an inmate and "either acts or fails to act in disregard of that risk." Id. at 751.

Gomez v. Randle, 680 F.3d 859, 865 (7th Cir. 2012). A condition can be considered serious if, without treatment, the plaintiff suffered "'further significant injury or unnecessary and wanton infliction of pain.'" Id. Deliberate indifference does not encompass negligence or even gross negligence. McGowan v. Hulick, 612 F.3d 636, 640 (7th Cir. 2010). Deliberate indifference requires personal knowledge of an inmate's serious medical need and an intentional or reckless disregard of that need. Id.; Hayes, 546 F.3d at 524.

The Court concludes that Plaintiff states a claim for deliberate indifference to his serious medical needs. A serious medical need can be inferred from Plaintiff's description of his injury, pain, and difficulty functioning. Deliberate indifference can be inferred from Defendants' alleged knowledge of Plaintiff's serious medical condition and their refusal to provide effective treatment, pain medication, and accommodations. Determinations ...


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