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Taylor v. Illinois Department

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

February 26, 2014

DOUGLAS W. TAYLOR, # R-69710, Plaintiff,


J. PHIL GILBERT, District Judge.

Plaintiff, currently incarcerated at Lawrence Correctional Center ("Lawrence"), has brought this pro se civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. He is serving two six-year sentences for criminal sexual assault, and a four-year sentence for criminal sexual abuse. Plaintiff claims that Defendants have delayed providing him with necessary medical care for well over a year.

More specifically, Plaintiff claims that he suffers from severe migraines, headaches, and pressure in his eyes (Doc. 1, p. 6). He first requested to see an optometrist in early June 2012. Approximately one year later, Doctor Coe (a physician at Lawrence, who is not a named Defendant) wrote a referral for Plaintiff to see an optometrist at the prison. Months passed without this appointment being scheduled. Plaintiff wrote a grievance on September 11, 2013, and got a response stating that he was scheduled for the eye exam that month. Dr. Coe increased Plaintiff's medication on September 19, 2013, because his migraines were getting worse, but no optometrist visit took place.

On November 7, 2013, Plaintiff filed another grievance over the delay. This time, he was told that he was on the schedule for the optometrist, but his appointment had been pushed back due to the needs of other inmates and the fact the optometrist is at Lawrence only once a week for ten hours. Plaintiff was tentatively scheduled for November 12, 2013, but again, he was not seen on that date.

Upon submitting the instant complaint on January 28, 2014, Plaintiff still had not had an examination by the optometrist (Doc. 1-6). His migraines are so severe that they sometimes cause him to vomit. His vision is poor, and he suffers from intense pain in and behind his eyes, which worsens when he tries to focus his eyes to see (Doc. 1-5, p. 2).

Plaintiff asserts that by delaying his doctor-recommended optometrist consultation, Defendants have violated his constitutional rights, as well as his rights under the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) and Rehabilitation Act (Doc. 1, p. 6). He requests an order requiring Defendants to schedule him for an optometrist exam as soon as possible. He also seeks damages for his pain and suffering (Doc. 1, p. 7).

Merits Review Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A

Under § 1915A, the Court is required to conduct a prompt threshold review of the complaint, and to dismiss any claims that are frivolous, malicious, fail to state a claim on which relief may be granted, or seek monetary relief from an immune defendant.

Plaintiff has articulated three distinct causes of action. The constitutional claim for deliberate indifference to a serious medical need, in violation of the Eighth Amendment, shall be designated as Count 1. The two statutory claims, for violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act and violation of the Rehabilitation Act shall be collectively designated as Count 2, for reasons that shall be explained below.

Count 1 - Eighth Amendment

Generally, an inmate's dissatisfaction with the medical care he receives in prison does not state a constitutional claim for deliberate indifference to medical needs, even if the quality of care was substandard to the point of negligence or malpractice. Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 106 (1976); Sanville v. McCaughtry, 266 F.3d 724, 734 (7th Cir. 2001); Snipes v. DeTella, 95 F.3d 586, 591 (7th Cir. 1996). However, in certain instances, a constitutional claim may lie if a prison official's actions amount to a failure to treat a serious medical condition.

To prevail on an Eighth Amendment claim, a plaintiff must show that the responsible prison officials were deliberately indifferent to his serious medical needs. See Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 837 (1994); Dunigan ex rel. Nyman v. Winnebago Cnty., 165 F.3d 587, 590 (7th Cir. 1999). Deliberate indifference involves a two-part test. The plaintiff must show that (1) the medical condition was objectively serious, and (2) the state officials acted with deliberate indifference to his medical needs, which is a subjective standard.

Sherrod v. Lingle, 223 F.3d 605, 619 (7th Cir. 2000).

A delay in providing medical treatment "may constitute deliberate indifference if the delay exacerbated the injury or unnecessarily prolonged an inmate's pain." McGowan v. Hulick, 612 F.3d 636, 640 (7th Cir. 2010) (discussing Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 104-05 (1976); see also Gayton v. McCoy, 593 F.3d 610, 619 (7th Cir. 2010); Edwards v. Snyder, 478 F.3d 827, 832 (7th Cir. 2007) ("a plaintiff's receipt of some medical care does not automatically defeat a claim of deliberate indifference if a fact finder could infer the ...

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