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Plew v. Williams

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

April 18, 2014

RYAN L. PLEW, No. S03238, Plaintiff,
v.
DR. WILLIAMS, DANIEL CONN, and UNKNOWN PARTIES, Defendants.

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

MICHAEL J. REAGAN, District Judge.

Plaintiff Ryan L. Plew, an inmate in the custody of the Illinois Department of Corrections ("IDOC") and housed at Robinson Correctional Center ("Robinson"), brings this action regarding his medical treatment while at Robinson. Plaintiff's original complaint (Doc. 1) is before the Court, along with a proposed amended complaint ( see Doc 5).

This case is now before the Court for a preliminary review of the complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, which 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. At this juncture, the factual allegations of the pro se complaint are to be liberally construed. See Rodriguez v. Plymouth Ambulance Serv., 577 F.3d 816, 821 (7th Cir. 2009).

Cause of Action

As a preliminary matter, the Court observes that the complaint and proposed amended complaint both purport to be pursuant to the Federal Tort Claims Act ("FTCA"), 28 U.S.C. §§ 1346, 2671-2680. Plaintiff is in state custody, not federal custody; all relevant events occurred at a state prison; and all named defendants are state actors (or contract employees working for the state). The FTCA is the vehicle for brining suit against the United States, in situations where a private person would be liable under state law. See Augustis v. United States, 732 F.3d 749, 752 (7th Cir. 2013). Therefore, the FTCA is the wrong basis for Plaintiff's claims. Instead, 42 U.S.C. § 1983 appears to be the proper basis for Plaintiff's constitutional claims. Section 1983 is used to prosecute constitutional claims against state actors.

Rather than dismiss the complaint, the Court will sua sponte characterize Plaintiff's complaint as falling under Section 1983 (as well as a specific federal statute discussed below). If Plaintiff desires to pursue any other cause of action, he will have to file an amended complaint setting forth all claims against all defendants. See FED.R.CIV.P. 8 and 15; Local Rule 15.1.

Proposed Amended Complaint

Plaintiff filed a proposed amended complaint, which the Court construes as a motion for leave to amend and proposed pleading ( see Doc. 5). Although a party may amend the complaint once as a matter of right at this early stage, the proposed amended complaint consists of a cover page, several internal grievance forms, and a call pass to the healthcare unit. Local Rule 15.1 requires that all claims against all defendants be contained in any amended pleading, as though starting from scratch. Therefore, Plaintiff's motion to amend the complaint (Doc. 5) will be denied. The preliminary review of the original complaint (Doc. 1) shall proceed.

The Complaint

The complaint specifically names Dr. Williams and Wexford Health Sources, Inc., EVP & COO Daniel Conn. as defendants. "John & Jane Doe's (et. al)), staff of all kinds with Wexford Health Sources, Inc." [sic] are also named defendants. Although numerous individuals are named in the narrative of the complaint, for reasons discussed later, ...


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