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Burt v. Berner

United States District Court, Seventh Circuit

September 27, 2013

RONALD BURT, # N-60788, Plaintiff,
v.
J. BERNER, RICK HARRINGTON, D. DUNN, FUENTES, SAM NWAOBASI, ANGELA CRAIN, PAYNE, LATANYA WILLIAMS, JANE DOE #1, JOHN DOE #2, JANE DOE #3, JOHN DOE #4, JOHN/JANE DOE #5, JOHN/JANE DOE #6, JOHN DOE #7, JOHN/JANE DOE #8, JOHN DOE #9, and JOHN DOE #10, Defendants.

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

G. PATRICK MURPHY, District Judge.

Plaintiff Ronald Burt, an inmate currently incarcerated at Menard Correctional Center ("Menard"), brings this pro se civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff claims that during his incarceration at Menard and Stateville Correctional Center ("Stateville"), Defendants conspired to violate his First, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendment rights. He seeks monetary damages and injunctive relief.

This case is now before the Court for a preliminary review of the complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. Under § 1915A, the Court is required to promptly screen prisoner complaints to filter out nonmeritorious claims. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). The Court is required to dismiss any portion of the complaint that is legally frivolous, malicious, fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or asks for money damages from a defendant who by law is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b).

The Complaint

Plaintiff has sued various members of Stateville's medical staff and Menard's correctional and medical staff for conspiring to deprive him of adequate medical treatment for a back injury (Doc. 1). In the complaint, Plaintiff alleges that he suffers from degeneration of his cervical spine as a result of an unspecified pre-existing injury (Doc. 1, p. 3). Over the years, a lack of medical treatment has exacerbated Plaintiff's injury and caused him to suffer from chronic pain and mental anguish. Plaintiff fears that his injuries may become permanent and could lead to paralysis.

Plaintiff alleges that Defendants worked together to deprive him of adequate medical treatment for his back injury. At Stateville, Defendants Williams (medical director) and John Doe #10 (doctor) ignored Plaintiff's written requests for pain medication and treatment (Doc. 1, p. 5). Although a doctor examined Plaintiff and prescribed him pain medication on August 24, 2011, the doctor, who Plaintiff did not name as a defendant, failed to recommend any other treatment.

At Menard, Plaintiff faced similar hurdles to treatment. Upon transferring there in April 2012, Plaintiff informed Defendant Jane Doe #1 (intake nurse) of his back, neck, and spine injuries and his chronic pain. After a cursory examination, Defendant Doe #1 failed to order Plaintiff nonprescription pain medication, refer him to a doctor for further treatment, or provide him with a lower gallery and/or bunk prescription (Doc. 1, p. 5). Between April and October 2012, Plaintiff had difficulty obtaining refills of his pain medication or any other form of treatment (Doc. 1, pp. 5-6). Plaintiff filed four grievances with Defendant John Doe #2 (medical director) on October 11th, 23rd, and 26th and November 1st, seeking a refill of his pain medication and spine surgery (Doc. 1, p. 6). He did not meet with a nurse until November 2, 2012, and, even then, only to discuss pain medication.

From April 2012 until June 2013, Plaintiff made numerous verbal requests for pain medication and medical treatment to Defendants Berner (correctional officer), Dunn (sergeant), and Payne (counselor) (Doc. 1, p. 7). Defendants refused to do anything for Plaintiff. He filed numerous grievances, which were ignored. Plaintiff received no pain medication from December 20, 2012, through July 18, 2013.

Plaintiff claims that Defendant Nwaobasi (doctor) repeatedly denied him adequate medical care (Doc. 1, pp. 6-7). Defendant Nwaobasi met with Plaintiff and prescribed him Lubriderm and Motrin on November 3, 2012 (Doc. 1, p. 6). During a follow-up visit on December 1, 2012, Defendant Nwaobasi increased Plaintiff's pain medication and scheduled an x-ray of his right cervical spine. The x-ray was taken on December 5, 2012, and showed degeneration. Plaintiff was supposed to attend a follow-up appointment with Defendant Nwaobasi in early February 2013, but did not. Plaintiff submitted four written requests for the follow-up appointment to Defendants Nwaobasi and Crain (nurse) on February 13th, March 3rd, April 12th, and May 19th (Doc. 1, pp. 6-7). When Plaintiff finally met with Defendant Nwaobasi on July 18, 2013, he received a prescription for Ibuprofen (400 mg), but no further treatment recommendations or referrals.

On July 8, 2013, Plaintiff attended an appointment with Defendant Fuentes (doctor) (Doc. 1, p. 7). Defendant Fuentes refused Plaintiff's request for pain medication after telling him that there was nothing wrong with his back, neck, or spine.

Plaintiff now raises a First Amendment claim against Defendants for violating his freedom of expression because he cannot write, draw, or paint very well anymore (Doc. 1, p. 4). He raises an Eighth Amendment claim for the denial of adequate medical care and seeks a referral to a spine specialist for surgery. Plaintiff also asserts a Fourteenth Amendment claim against Defendants for ignoring his grievances. Finally, Plaintiff raises a civil conspiracy claim and state law negligence claim against Defendants.

DISCUSSION

The Court finds it convenient to divide the complaint into five counts. The parties and the Court will use these designations in all future pleadings and orders, unless otherwise directed by a judicial officer of this Court.

Count 1: Eighth Amendment claim against Defendants for deliberate indifference to ...


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