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James Phillips v. Dr. Baker

November 29, 2012

JAMES PHILLIPS, PLAINTIFF,
v.
DR. BAKER, ) NURSE PRACTITIONER RHONDA S. MILLS, CLOTHING SUPERVISOR, WEXFORD, WARDEN YOUNG, DEFENDANTS.



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

E-FILED

Thursday, 29 November, 2012 10:44:46 AM Clerk, U.S. District Court, ILCD

OPINION

Plaintiff proceeds pro se and is incarcerated 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

Plaintiff alleges that he was issued used and damaged boots which have caused him to experience pain in his feet. The Complaint's attachments suggest that Plaintiff believes that the boots have also caused him "spinal compression" and back pain. His efforts to get a different pair of boots have been unsuccessful. However, the attachments to the Complaint suggest that when Plaintiff filed emergency grievances, he was told to submit his grievances in the normal manner. Plaintiff does not say whether he tried to file grievances about the boots using the normal procedure.

According to the attachments to Plaintiff's Complaint, Defendant Nurse Mills saw Plaintiff on May 25, 2012 for Plaintiff's complaints of foot pain. Nurse Mills allegedly prescribed Doxepin, which Plaintiff later learned is a medicine used to treat psychiatric disorders. Plaintiff filed a grievance asserting that he had been prescribed the wrong medicine. In response, Plaintiff was taken off the Doxepin and prescribed other pain medicine. The response to Plaintiff's grievance states that the Doxepin had been prescribed in a low dose and was an accepted approach to treating chronic pain. Plaintiff's attachments also suggest that he is seeking medical diagnosis and treatment for his back pain.

ANALYSIS

The Eighth Amendment entitles prisoners to humane treatment, which includes adequate clothing and shoes. Conditions of a prisoner's confinement violate the Eighth Amendment if the condition is serious enough to deprive the prisoner of the "minimal civilized measure of life's necessities," and the defendant is deliberately indifferent to that condition. Rhodes v. Chapman, 452 U.S. 337, 346 (1981). Deliberate indifference to a serious medical need also violates a prisoner's Eighth Amendment rights. Gomez v. Randle, 680 F.3d 859, 865 (7th Cir. 2012).

Shoes which are so ill-fitting that severe pain ensues amounts to a serious deprivation in the Court's opinion. Plaintiff asserts in his emergency grievance attached to his Complaint that the request slips sent to the inmate clothing unit were ignored, which might allow an inference of deliberate indifference. However, Plaintiff does not name as defendants any of the persons who bear personal responsibility for this deprivation. The Warden is not liable simply because he is in charge, nor is the Warden liable for refusing to treat Plaintiff's grievance as an emergency. Kuhn v. Goodlaw, 678 F.3d. 552, 555 (7th Cir. 2012)("§ 1983 liability is premised on the wrongdoer's personal responsibility"); Chavez v. Illinois State Police, 251 F.3d 612, 651 (7th Cir. 2001)(no respondeat superior liability under § 1983). Whether Plaintiff exhausted his administrative remedies on the boot claim may also be an issue because Plaintiff does not say that he resubmitted his grievance through the normal procedures.

Plaintiff's boot claim will be allowed to proceed for further development, but Plaintiff is advised that he must identify the persons responsible for ignoring his requests to exchange his boots. The Court cannot serve "Doe" defendants. Failure to timely identify the proper defendants on this claim will result in the dismissal of this claim without prejudice.

Separately, the attachments to the Complaint suggest that Plaintiff is also pursuing a claim against Dr. Baker for deliberate indifference to Plaintiff's need for medical diagnosis and treatment of Plaintiff's back and foot ...


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