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Olcikas v. Cameron

United States District Court, Seventh Circuit

January 28, 2014

BRIAN E. OLCIKAS, # B-11569, Plaintiff,
v.
R. CALDWELL, DR. L. SHICKER and ASSISTANT WARDEN CAMERON, Defendants.

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

J. PHIL GILBERT, District Judge.

This matter comes before the Court for consideration of Plaintiff's amended complaint (Doc. 12), which he filed pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The amended complaint alleges that three Vandalia officials, including Defendants Caldwell (doctor), Shicker (doctor), and Cameron (assistant warden), denied Plaintiff necessary medical treatment for a back and neck injury (Doc. 12, pp. 5-6). Plaintiff now seeks medical treatment and monetary damages (Doc. 12, p. 6).

This Court dismissed Plaintiff's original complaint (Doc. 1) without prejudice in an Order dated November 22, 2013 (Doc. 11). Plaintiff was granted leave to file an amended complaint by December 27, 2013. He has done so in a timely manner.

Accordingly, this case is now before the Court for a preliminary review of the amended 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 amended 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). Upon careful review of the amended complaint, the Court finds that Plaintiff has stated a colorable Eighth Amendment medical needs claim against Defendants Caldwell and Shicker and a claim for injunctive relief against Vandalia's warden, as explained in more detail below.

Amended Complaint

According to the amended complaint, Plaintiff suffers from a back and neck condition that requires spinal fusion surgery (Doc. 12, p. 5). Plaintiff advised Vandalia medical staff of this fact when he arrived at the institution on May 3, 2013. He was scheduled to see Defendant Caldwell on May 20, 2013.

On that date, Defendant Caldwell ordered x-rays and prescribed Plaintiff medications, including Neurontin and Naprosyn (Doc. 12, p. 5). After reviewing Plaintiff's x-rays, Defendant Caldwell agreed that Plaintiff needed spinal fusion surgery. However, Defendant Shicker's prior approval was required for the surgery.

On May 29, 2013, Defendant Caldwell reported that Defendant Shicker denied the request for surgery (Doc. 12, p. 5). According to Defendant Caldwell, Defendant Shicker did not consider the condition to be life-threatening. Therefore, the Illinois Department of Corrections ("IDOC") would not pay for the surgery.

Plaintiff has since returned to Defendant Caldwell seeking treatment for his back and neck on numerous occasions (Doc. 12, p. 5). Each time, Defendant Caldwell has denied his request for spinal fusion surgery, citing the same reason.

Meanwhile, Plaintiff endures pain on a daily basis. The severity of the pain has increased. At times, Plaintiff feels as though he is "being poked with a thousand needles" (Doc. 12, p. 5). At other times, the pain in his back and neck travels down his legs and arms, causing numbness. He now has trouble urinating. He also suffers from headaches.

Plaintiff sues Defendants Caldwell, Shicker, and Cameron for denying him adequate medical care for his back and neck (Doc. 12, p. 6). He seeks an order compelling the IDOC to provide Plaintiff with medical treatment. Plaintiff also requests an unspecified amount of monetary damages.

Discussion

After carefully considering the allegations, the Court finds that the amended complaint states a colorable Eighth Amendment medical needs claim (Count 1) against Defendants Caldwell and Shicker, but not Defendant Cameron, for denying Plaintiff adequate medical treatment for his back and neck injury. To establish an Eighth Amendment medical needs claim, Plaintiff must show that: (1) the medical condition was objectively serious; and (2) the state officials acted with deliberate indifference to his medical needs. See Sherrod v. Lingle, 223 F.3d 605, 619 (7th Cir. 2000).

The amended complaint satisfies the objective prong of this test. The Seventh Circuit has held that a medical need is objectively "serious" where it has either "been diagnosed by a physician as mandating treatment" or where the need is "so obvious that even a lay person would easily recognize the necessity for a doctor's attention." Gutierrez v. Peters, 111 F.3d 1364, 1373 (7th Cir. 1997). The amended complaint alleges that Plaintiff needs spinal fusion surgery to treat his back and neck injury (Doc. 12, p. 5). According to the amended complaint, multiple medical ...


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