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Byrd v. Shicker

United States District Court, Seventh Circuit

November 20, 2013

THOMAS EARL BYRD, JR., No. S-09454, Plaintiff,


PHIL GILBERT, District Judge.

Plaintiff Thomas Earl Byrd, Jr., an inmate in Pinckneyville Correctional Center, brings this action for deprivations of his constitutional rights pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, based on his medical care while housed at Pontiac Correctional Center and Pinckneyville Correctional Center between approximately May 2011 and the present.[1]

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.

The Complaint

According to the complaint and supporting documentation, in December 2010, while housed at Lawrence Correctional Center, Plaintiff's broken ankle was surgically repaired. In March 2011, Dr. Schierer (not a defendant) advised Plaintiff that removal of the surgical screws would be considered in May 2011. However, Plaintiff was transferred to Pontiac Correctional Center before that time. When the hardware was not removed from his ankle, Plaintiff wrote to Defendant Louis Shicker, Medical Director for the Illinois Department of Corrections ("IDOC"). After a year at Pontiac, Plaintiff was transferred to Pickneyville Correctional Center. Plaintiff's ankle has remained swollen and painful since he left Lawrence. It is alleged that Plaintiff has repeatedly been denied medical treatment-the removal of the screws-due to the cost-saving policies of Director Shicker. According to Plaintiff, Shicker has directed that Plaintiff be given therapy and pain medication, which is less expensive. The pain medication, however, has caused Plaintiff stomach irritation, causing him to have to take additional medication.

Based on the allegations in the complaint, the Court finds it convenient to divide the pro se action into a single count.

Count 1: Defendant Louis Shicker's cost-saving policies and directives amount to deliberate indifference to Plaintiff's serious medical needs, in violation of the Eighth Amendment.


The Eighth Amendment prohibits cruel and unusual punishment. U.S. Const. amend. VI I I. Prison officials violate this proscription when they act with deliberate indifference to the serious medical needs of an inmate. Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 835 (1994); Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. (1976). A medical condition need not be life-threatening to be serious; rather, it can be a condition that would result in further significant injury or unnecessary and wanton infliction of pain if not treated. Gayton v. McCoy, 593 F.3d 610, 620 (7th Cir.2010). However, mere disagreement with a physician's chosen course of an inmate's medical treatment does not amount to deliberate indifference under the Eighth Amendment. See Snipes v. DeTella, 95 F.3d 586, 591(7th Cir. 1996); Ciarpaglini v. Saini, 352 F.3d 328, 331(7h Cir. 2003); Garvin v. Armstrong, 236 F.3d 896, 898 (7th Cir.2001) (Courts will not takes sides in disagreements about medical personnel's judgments or techniques).

Blatantly inappropriate treatment, woefully inadequate action, or inaction can violate the Eighth Amendment. See Reed v. McBride, 178 F.3d 849, 854 (7th Cir.1999). Similarly, erroneous treatment constituting a substantial departure from accepted medical judgment, practice, or standards may constitute deliberate indifference. See Gayton, 593 F.3d at 623; Jones v. Simek, 193 F.3d 485, 490 (7th Cir.1999). More specific to Director Shicker, allegations that an agency's senior officials were personally responsible for creating the policies, practices and customs that caused the constitutional deprivations suffice to demonstrate personal involvement for purposes of Section 1983 liability. ...

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