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Carter v. Densmore

United States District Court, Seventh Circuit

December 12, 2013

KRISTEN CARTER, # R67901, Plaintiff,


MICHAEL J. REAGAN, District Judge.

Plaintiff Kristen Carter, an inmate in Lawrence Correctional Center, brings this action for deprivations of his constitutional rights pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, based on how he was treated after he tripped and injured his left arm.

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).

The Complaint

According to the complaint, on January 23, 2013, Plaintiff was playing basketball and tripped over a loose floorboard, breaking his fall with his out-stretched arms. When he hit the floor, Plaintiff experienced extreme pain and approached C/O John Doe #1 in an attempt to secure medical care. In an effort to avoid having to fill out reports about the incident, C/O John Doe #1 told Plaintiff to wait until he returned to his housing unity from the gym to report his injury, leaving Plaintiff in pain. When Plaintiff eventually made it to the Health Care Unit for treatment, he was examined by Nurse Practitioner Jane Doe (presumably unrelated to John Doe #1). Nurse Practitioner Jane Doe had an x-ray taken and opined that there appeared to be a fracture, but it could be old, she could not tell. Plaintiff's arm was wrapped in an ace bandage, and Nurse Practitioner Jane Doe refused to issue Plaintiff a medical lay-in permit and low bunk permit, so that he would not further injure his arm.

Without a lay-in permit, Plaintiff had to report to duty as a dish washer. Food Supervisor Walker and Dietary Manager Densmore threatened that if Plaintiff did not perform his job- using his injured arm-Plaintiff would face disciplinary action, which could result in Plaintiff going to segregation. The complaint alleges that Walker and Densmore knew or should have known that forcing Plaintiff to work would cause him "irreparable injury." According to Plaintiff, working with his left arm impeded the repair of the fracture, resulting in a deformed arm; he also suffers from severe depression and other unspecified mental injuries.

On February 1, 2013, Plaintiff was called back to the Health Care Unit and informed that he did, in fact, have a fractured arm. His arm was splinted and wrapped, but no hard cast was applied. Because a hard cast was not applied, Plaintiff contends he suffered more pain and his arm did not heal properly. Although lay-in and low bunk permits were authorized, "Defendants" did not actually give him a low bunk; Plaintiff continued to have to climb up to his top bunk, using his injured arm.

Plaintiff seeks compensatory and punitive damages.

Based on the allegations in the complaint, the Court finds it convenient to divide the pro se action into four 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. The designation of these counts does not constitute an opinion as to their merit.

Count 1: C/O John Doe #1 was deliberately indifferent to Plaintiff's serious medical needs when he did not get Plaintiff medical attention at the time of the injury on January 23, ...

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