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Richardson-El v. Idoc, Big Muddy River Correctional Center

United States District Court, Seventh Circuit

October 15, 2013

JEREMIAH RICHARDSON-EL, # M14454, Plaintiff,


MICHAEL J. REAGAN, District Judge.

Plaintiff Jeremiah Richardson-El, an inmate in Dixon Correctional Center, brings this action for deprivations of his constitutional rights pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, based on the conditions of his confinement at Big Muddy River Correctional Center that purportedly lead to a staph infection on two occasions. Plaintiff also takes issue with his related medical care, and efforts by medical personnel to cover-up his diagnosis in an effort to impede his litigation efforts.

This case is now before the Court for a preliminary review of the complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, which provides:

(a) Screening.- The court shall review, before docketing, if feasible or, in any event, as soon as practicable after docketing, a complaint in a civil action in which a prisoner seeks redress from a governmental entity or officer or employee of a governmental entity.
(b) Grounds for Dismissal.- On review, the court shall identify cognizable claims or dismiss the complaint, or any portion of the complaint, if the complaint-
(1) is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted; or
(2) seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief.

An action or claim is frivolous if "it lacks an arguable basis either in law or in fact." Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325 (1989). An action fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted if it does not plead "enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). The claim of entitlement to relief must cross "the line between possibility and plausibility. Id. at 557. Conversely, a complaint is plausible on its face "when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). Although the Court is obligated to accept factual allegations as true, see Smith v. Peters, 631 F.3d 418, 419 (7th Cir. 2011), some factual allegations may be so sketchy or implausible that they fail to provide sufficient notice of a plaintiff's claim. Brooks v. Ross, 578 F.3d 574, 581 (7th Cir. 2009). Additionally, Courts "should not accept as adequate abstract recitations of the elements of a cause of action or conclusory legal statements." Id. At the same time, however, the factual allegations of a pro se complaint are to be liberally construed. See Rodriguez v. Plymouth Ambulance Serv., 577 F.3d 816, 821 (7th Cir. 2009).

Upon careful review of the complaint, the Court finds it appropriate to exercise its authority under Section 1915A; portions of this action are subject to summary dismissal.

The Complaint

According to the complaint, Plaintiff contracted a staph infection on two separate occasions due to the unsanitary conditions of the shower area, which the prison has not remedied, despite numerous complaints.

On July 21, 2011, one of Plaintiff's toes "burst open, " causing Plaintiff extreme pain, such that he was barely able to walk. Plaintiff asked Officer Brown to get him emergency medical care, but Brown did not do so and it took two or three days before Plaintiff received treatment. Dr. Larson and an unidentified nurse both told Plaintiff he had a staph infection, yet his condition was described as "athlete's foot" in his medical records. Plaintiff asserts that this falsification of his medical records occurred after Dr. Larson and the nurse learned that Plaintiff was suing the prison over unsanitary conditions, and was an attempt to deprive him of evidence substantiating his claims.

On December 3, 2012, Plaintiff thought he might have been bitten by a spider, because his foot was painful, bleeding and filled with puss. He asked Officer Brown for medical attention, but Brown declared that Plaintiff's condition did not warrant emergency medical care. On December 5, 2012, Plaintiff was seen by Nurse A. White, who told him it was a staph infection. Plaintiff was kept in the Health Care Unit until Dr. Larson was available to see him on December 7, 2012. Dr. Larson confirmed the staph diagnosis. However, Plaintiff's medical records were falsified by Dr. Larson to reflect that he had a spider bite, rather than accurately reflecting that he had a staph infection. Again, Plaintiff attributes the falsification to Dr. Larson's desire to deprive Plaintiff of evidence that would corroborate his grievances and legal claims. And, Plaintiff attributes the second staph infection to the continued unsanitary condition of the shower area.

Plaintiff further contends that the Illinois Department of Corrections ("IDOC"), Big Muddy River Correctional Center, and Warden Roecheman have a constitutional and statutory obligation to provide safe, sanitary conditions of ...

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