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Barnes v. Marion County Correctional Center

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

February 18, 2014

GEORGE L. BARNES, Plaintiff,


PHIL GILBERT, District Judge.

Plaintiff George L. Barnes, is currently in the custody of the Illinois Department of Corrections and housed at Graham Correctional Center. He brings this action for deprivations of his constitutional rights pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 while he was a pretrial detainee in the Marion County Law Enforcement Center. Plaintiff filed suit in the Circuit Court for the Fourth Judicial Circuit, Marion County, Illinois, and defendants removed the case to this federal court (Doc. 1). After several fits and starts, Plaintiff's amended complaint (Doc. 16) is now before the Court.

Because Plaintiff is a prisoner, under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, the Court is required to conduct a prompt threshold review of the complaint. Section § 1915A 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). Frivolousness is an objective standard that refers to a claim that "no reasonable person could suppose to have any merit." Lee v. Clinton, 209 F.3d 1025, 1026-27 (7th Cir. 2000). 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 amended complaint, on April 27, 2013, upon arrival at the Marion County Correctional Center, Plaintiff informed Sergeant Dale Eddings that he suffered from preexisting neck and back injuries. Nevertheless, Plaintiff was placed in a holding cell with no bunk, forcing him to sleep on the floor. After the first four or five hours, Plaintiff told Sergeant Eddings that he was experiencing "great pain, " but Eddings did nothing. Plaintiff remained in that cell until April 30, 2013, despite his complaints of "great pain."

On May 1, 2013, Plaintiff was seen by the Center's acting physician. Plaintiff was given pain medication and a muscle relaxer. On May 9, 2013, x-rays were taken. Between May 26 and June 6, Plaintiff made multiple requests in an attempt to learn the results of the x-rays from the Center's acting physician. The inquiries were actually directed to Sheriff Jerry A. DeVore, Sergeant Eddings and other unknown officers; whether the physician had any knowledge of Plaintiff's requests is unknown. Plaintiff remained in pain for a month, despite repeated requests to seen by an outside specialist. As of June 6, 2013, Plaintiff remained in pain and had not received treatment.

According to the amended complaint, being in pain for a prolonged period caused Plaintiff's blood pressure to spike to 170/108. Plaintiff had to be taken to the hospital, where follow-up treatment within 48 hours was directed. Plaintiff informed an unknown officer and Sheriff DeVore that he needed follow-up care, but nothing was done. Plaintiff had to be taken to the hospital again on July 10, 2013, due to hypertension. Plaintiff contends that his inadequate care and hypertension were due, at least in part, to the lack of an "active" ...

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