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Knox v. Shearing,

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

March 10, 2014

VANDAIRE KNOX, # B-42692, Plaintiff,
DR. SHEARING, et al., Defendants.


MICHAEL J. REAGAN, District Judge.

Plaintiff, currently incarcerated at Menard Correctional Center ("Menard"), has brought this pro se civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff claims that Defendants (he names 19 individuals in addition to unknown parties) were deliberately indifferent to his serious medical condition - persistent swelling and severe pain in his left knee.

Plaintiff is serving a 45-year sentence for murder, and has already spent 13 years in prison for that offense (Doc. 1, p. 2). He had been housed at Stateville Correctional Center for most of that time, where doctors treated his pain successfully with Tramadol and planned to send him to an outside facility for an MRI to determine the cause of his knee problems and for possible surgery. However, before the test could be performed, Plaintiff was moved to Cook County Jail on a court writ in September 2009. Upon Plaintiff's return to IDOC custody in January 2011, he was placed in Menard (Doc. 1, p. 15). His earlier medical records were never provided to his new doctors.

Plaintiff uses a knee brace for stability, but at times he is unable to wear it because of the swelling. The knee condition causes him to walk with a limp, and the pain is so severe that he cannot put pressure on his left leg. His over-reliance on his right leg for support has begun to cause problems with his right knee (Doc. 1, pp. 12-14).

In March 2011, Plaintiff first saw Defendant Dr. Kohring at Menard. She prescribed a muscle relaxer, saying she wanted to try that medication before giving him Tramadol (Doc. 1, pp. 3-4). That muscle relaxer did not help, which Plaintiff reported to Defendant Dr. Nwaobasi when he saw him in May 2012. At that time, the knee was swollen and painful. Plaintiff told Defendant Nwaobasi that medication such as Motrin hurt his stomach; he gave Plaintiff Tylenol, which was not effective for the pain. Plaintiff requested other medication, and Defendant Groves (a nurse) gave him Ibuprofen.

On June 20, 2012, Defendant Nwaobasi gave Plaintiff a 30-day supply of Tramadol, but did not renew that medication. Plaintiff filed grievances over the failure to treat his knee pain, to which Defendants Walls, Oakley, Summers, Kinkade, Crain, and Benton responded (Doc. 1, pp. 5-8).

On September 12, 2012, Defendant Doctors Codgn and Pollion gave Plaintiff another prescription for Tramadol. However, when the medication ran out on November 27, 2012, Plaintiff's pain returned. The pain was so excruciating that he could not sleep, and made it difficult for him to stand or walk for long (Doc. 1, p. 10). Plaintiff made numerous requests for pain medication, and was informed by Defendant Nurse Misty on December 12, 2012, that the doctors would no longer give him Tramadol. Plaintiff was offered Motrin and Naproxen, but those cause side effects of stomach pain and are not effective against the knee pain. For the next several months, he continued to complain about the pain to no avail. Defendants Shearing and Nwaobasi denied his requests for medication, as well as his pleas for ice or heat to treat the swelling.

Plaintiff filed grievances again, without success. Defendants Grult (spelled Grutl in the complaint's caption), Walls, Keen, and Crain responded to those grievances. Plaintiff's family contacted Defendant Dr. Shicker (Doc. 1, p. 12). Plaintiff also wrote letters to Defendants Nwaobasi, Warden Harrington, and Shearing, asking for treatment to relieve his pain and to diagnose the cause of his knee problems (Doc. 1, pp. 13-14).

Plaintiff seeks damages, declaratory relief, and injunctive relief, specifically to investigate prison employees' qualifications to perform their jobs (Doc. 1, p. 18). Such relief is not available as a remedy for a civil rights violation. The prayer for relief does not ask this Court to consider an order directing Defendants to provide medical care for Plaintiff, but his many requests throughout the complaint for help to relieve his pain suggest that he may seek this remedy.

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.

Accepting Plaintiff's allegations as true, the Court finds that Plaintiff has articulated a colorable federal cause of action for deliberate indifference to medical needs (Count 1) against Defendants Shearing, Pollion, Codgn, and Nwaobasi, the treating medical providers. According to the complaint, each of these individuals either failed to provide or renew Plaintiff's pain medication, or gave him medication known to be ineffective and to cause harmful side effects. This claim shall receive further review.

However, Plaintiff fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted against the other Defendants. These claims and the reasons for ...

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