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Delacruz v. Godinez

United States District Court, C.D. Illinois, Urbana Division

March 12, 2014

POMPOSO DELACRUZ, Plaintiff,
v.
S.A. GODINEZ, KEITH ANGLIN, VICTOR CALLOWAY, ILLINOIS DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS, MARY MILLER, DR. PAUL TALBOT, and WEXFORD HEALTH SOURCES, INC., Defendants.

MERIT REVIEW OPINION

COLIN S. BRUCE, District Judge.

This cause is before the Court for a merit review, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, of Plaintiff Pomposo Delacruz's claims and on his motion for a preliminary injunction.

I.

MERIT REVIEW UNDER 28 U.S.C. § 1915(A)

Under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2) and § 1915A, the Court is required to carefully screen a complaint filed by a plaintiff who seeks to proceed in forma pauperis . The Court must dismiss a complaint, or a portion thereof, if the plaintiff has raised claims that are legally "frivolous or malicious, " that fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or that seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. Id . The test for determining if an action is frivolous or without merit is whether the plaintiff can make a rational argument on the law or facts in support of the claim. Neitzke v. Williams , 490 U.S. 319, 325 (1989). A complaint fails to state a claim for relief if the complaint does not allege "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); Ashcroft v. Iqbal , 556 U.S. 662, 678-79 (2009).

In reviewing the complaint, the Court accepts the factual allegations as true and liberally construes them in plaintiff's favor. Turley v. Rednour , 729 F.3d 645, 651 (7th Cir. 2013). Conclusory statements and labels are insufficient. Fed.R.Civ.P. 8; Schatz v. Republican State Leadership Comm., 669 F.3d 50, 55 (1st Cir. 2012)(holding that, in order to determine if a complaint states a plausible claim, the court must take non-conclusory, non-speculative facts as true, draw all reasonable inferences in the pleader's favor, and isolate and ignore statements that simply rehash claim elements or offer only legal labels and conclusions). Instead, sufficient facts must be provided to "state a claim for relief that is plausible on its face." Alexander v. United States , 721 F.3d 418, 422 (7th Cir. 2013)(internal quotation omitted).

II.

ANALYSIS

Delacruz has filed the instant suit against two sets of Defendants. The first set of Defendants is medical providers: Dr. Paul Talbot, [1] Mary Miller, and Wexford Health Sources, Inc. The second set of Defendants is strictly state employees and agencies: S.A. Godinez, Keith Anglin, Victor Calloway, and the Illinois Department of Corrections. Delacruz alleges that these Defendants are responsible for the lack of medical attention that he has and is receiving for his hemorrhoids. Delacruz asserts that, although he has received some medical attention for his hemorrhoids, the level of care that he has received has been so lacking that it, essentially, constitutes no care at all. As a result, Delacruz complains that Defendants have been and are deliberate indifferent to his serious medical condition in violation of his Eighth Amendment rights. In addition to filing his Complaint, Delacruz has also filed a motion seeking preliminary injunctive relief.

The Court finds that Delacruz's Complaint states a cause of action against the first set of Defendants but not the second set. The deliberate indifference standard requires an inmate to clear a high threshold in order to maintain a claim for cruel and unusual punishment under the Eighth Amendment. Dunigan ex rel. Nyman v. Winnebago County , 165 F.3d 587, 590 (7th Cir. 1999). "In order to prevail on a deliberate indifference claim, a plaintiff must show (1) that his condition was objectively, sufficiently serious' and (2) that the prison officials acted with a sufficiently culpable state of mind." Lee v. Young , 533 F.3d 505, 509 (7th Cir. 2008)(quoting Greeno v. Daley , 414 F.3d 645, 652 (7th Cir. 2005)); Duckworth v. Ahmad , 532 F.3d 675, 679 (7th Cir. 2008)(same). "A medical condition is serious if it has been diagnosed by a physician as mandating treatment or one that is so obvious that even a lay person would perceive the need for a doctor's attention.'" Lee , 533 F.3d at 509 (quoting Greeno, 414 F.3d at 653). "With respect to the culpable state of mind, negligence or even gross negligence is not enough; the conduct must be reckless in the criminal sense." Id .; Farmer v. Brennan , 511 U.S. 825, 836-37 (1994)("We hold... that a prison official cannot be found liable under the Eighth Amendment for denying an inmate humane conditions of confinement unless the official knows of and disregards an excessive risk to inmate health or safety; the official must both be aware of facts from which the inference could be drawn that a substantial risk of harm exists, and he must also draw the inference.").

In other words,

[d]eliberate indifference is not medical malpractice; the Eighth Amendment does not codify common law torts. And although deliberate means more than negligent, it is something less than purposeful. The point between these two poles lies where the official knows of and disregards an excessive risk to inmate health or safety or where the official is both aware of facts from which the inference could be drawn that a substantial risk of serious harm exists, and he... draw the inference. A jury can infer deliberate indifference on the basis of a physician's treatment decision when the decision is so far afield of accepted professional standards as to raise the inference that it was not actually based on a medical judgment.

Duckworth , 532 F.3d at 679 (internal quotations and citations omitted). The Seventh Circuit has cautioned, however, that "[a] prisoner [] need not prove that the prison officials intended, hoped for, or desired the harm that transpired. Nor does a prisoner need to show that he was literally ignored. That the prisoner received some treatment does not foreclose his deliberate indifference claim if the treatment received was so blatantly inappropriate as to evidence intentional mistreatment likely to seriously aggravate his condition." Arnett , 658 F.3d at 751 (internal citations and quotations omitted).

Delacruz's Complaint states a claim for deliberate indifference to a serious medical need against Dr. Talbot, Miller, and Wexford Health-but just barely. Delacruz's main complaint is that the care that he received from these Defendants was so deficient that it constituted deliberate indifference. Generally, mere disagreement with a doctor's medical judgment or treatment plan does not constitute deliberate indifference. Edwards v. Snyder , 478 F.3d 827, 831 (7th Cir. 2007); Abdul-Wadood v. Nathan , 91 F.3d 1023, 1024 (7th Cir. 1996)(holding that plaintiff's disagreement with a selection of medicine does not ...


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