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Lofquist v. Nwaobasi

United States District Court, Seventh Circuit

September 11, 2013

NEIL LOFQUIST, # M-04121, Plaintiff,
v.
DR. NWAOBASI, Defendant.

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

MICHAEL J. REAGAN, District Judge.

Plaintiff, currently incarcerated at Menard Correctional Center ("Menard"), has brought this pro se civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff is serving a 100-year sentence for murder. Plaintiff claims that Defendant Nwaobasi, a physician, was deliberately indifferent to a serious medical condition.

More specifically, Plaintiff claims that he developed sciatica in September 2011. His problems apparently subsided for a time. However, when his symptoms came back in January 2012, he sought help from Defendant Nwaobasi (Doc. 1, p. 5). He had to wait until March 29, 2012, to get an x-ray. Based on that test, Defendant Nwaobasi told Plaintiff he had mild arthritis, and prescribed "low-dose" pain pills. These did not help, and after Plaintiff suffered for 23 hours without sleep, he fainted.

Plaintiff resorted to using a wheelchair and saw Defendant Nwaobasi a week later. Defendant Nwaobasi told Plaintiff that nothing could be done. By May 2012, Plaintiff's lower left leg muscles had developed paralysis and he suffered from "foot drop." Plaintiff claims that Defendant Nwaobasi "intentionally misdiagnosed" his condition to avoid giving him proper treatment (Doc. 1, p. 5).

Plaintiff also complains that Dr. Shearing (who is not named as a defendant) refused in May 2013 to renew Plaintiff's ADA medical permits for low gallery, low bunk, and front cuff. Plaintiff believes the denial was in retaliation for Plaintiff's action of filing a grievance on January 31, 2013, over the inadequate medical care. Plaintiff has redeveloped nerve pain, but in August 2013, Dr. Shearing told him he would not treat pain.

Finally, Plaintiff listed Wexford Health Sources, Inc. ("Wexford"), as a Defendant in this action (Doc. 1, p. 1). However, he does not mention this entity again in the body of the complaint. This Defendant was inadvertently omitted from the docket sheet; the Clerk shall be directed to add Wexford as a party.

Plaintiff does not include any request for relief in the complaint (Doc. 1, p. 6).

Merits Review Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A

Under § 1915A, the Court is required to conduct a prompt threshold review of the complaint, and to dismiss any claims that are frivolous, malicious, fail to state a claim on which relief may be granted, or seek monetary relief from an immune defendant.

Accepting Plaintiff's allegations as true, the Court finds that Plaintiff's claim against Defendant Nwaobasi for deliberate indifference to his serious medical needs should receive further review. At this stage, the Court cannot discern whether Defendant Nwaobasi's actions were appropriate, merely constituted malpractice, or rose to the level of knowing disregard for a serious risk of harm to Plaintiff.

However, Plaintiff's claim against Defendant Wexford shall be dismissed without prejudice. Defendant Wexford is a corporation that employs Defendant Nwaobasi and provides medical care at the prison, but it cannot be held liable solely on that basis. A corporation can be held liable for deliberate indifference only if it had a policy or practice that caused the alleged violation of a constitutional right. Woodward v. Corr. Med. Serv. of Ill., Inc., 368 F.3d 917, 927 (7th Cir. 2004). See also Jackson v. Ill. Medi-Car, Inc., 300 F.3d 760, 766 n.6 (7th Cir. 2002) (private corporation is treated as though it were a municipal entity in a § 1983 action). Plaintiff makes no allegation that any individual Defendant acted or failed to act as a result of an official policy espoused by Defendant Wexford. Therefore, he has failed to state a constitutional claim against Defendant Wexford upon which relief may be granted.

Plaintiff did not include Dr. Shearing in the list of defendants, thus the Court shall not consider the allegations involving him. If Plaintiff intended to assert a claim against Dr. Shearing, he must do so in an amended complaint, which must be filed according to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15(a)(1) and Local Rule 15.1.

Disposition

The Clerk is DIRECTED to add Wexford Health Sources, Inc., as a party ...


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