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Simmons v. Illinois Dept. of Corrections

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

May 23, 2014

ROBERT R. SIMMONS, #B-83104, Plaintiff,
v.
ILLINOIS DEPT. OF CORRECTIONS, MSU/MENARD CORR. CENTER, and WEXFORD HEALTH CARE, Defendants.

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

J. PHIL GILBERT, District Judge.

Plaintiff is currently incarcerated at Robinson Correctional Center ("Robinson"), where he is serving a five-year sentence for a drug offense. He has brought this pro se action to seek relief for alleged violations of his constitutional rights that occurred while he was confined at Menard Correctional Center ("Menard"). Plaintiff indicated on the cover page of his complaint that it is brought pursuant to the Federal Tort Claims Act, [1] 28 U.S.C. §§ 1346, 2671-2680 (Doc. 1, p. 1). However, because Plaintiff is a state prisoner, he clearly claims that his constitutional rights were infringed, and he names no federal entities in connection with his claims, the Court construes this case as a civil rights action brought pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983.

Plaintiff claims that he is disabled due to a back injury he sustained in 1993 (Doc. 1, p. 5). He was housed in Menard starting in May 2013, and was assigned to the cell's top bunk. The bunk beds did not have a ladder, and Plaintiff's disability made it difficult and dangerous for him to climb in and out of the top bunk. Over a two week period, Plaintiff requested Menard's medical staff to issue him a lower bunk permit, but no permit was given (Doc. 1, pp. 5, 10. Then, while Plaintiff was trying to get down from the top bunk, he fell and injured his head, face, and neck.

Plaintiff seeks money damages, reconstructive surgery for his face, and an order requiring the installation of ladders to all bunk beds in Illinois correctional facilities.

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.

The complaint articulates two possible claims for relief:

Count 1: Eighth Amendment claim against unidentified Menard health care providers, for deliberate indifference to Plaintiff's serious medical need for a low bunk permit because of his disabling back condition;

Count 2: Statutory claim for refusal to provide Plaintiff with a low bunk medical permit or other reasonable accommodation for his back disability, in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), 42 U.S.C. § 12132, and the Rehabilitation Act (RA), 29 U.S.C. § 794.

Both counts arise from the same factual allegations. However, Count 1 cannot proceed until Plaintiff identifies at least one of the individual health care providers who refused to issue the requested low bunk permit, so that service can be ordered and the individual Defendant(s) given an opportunity to respond. Therefore, Count 1 shall be dismissed without prejudice at this time, and Plaintiff shall be directed to amend his complaint as described below, if he wishes to pursue the claim in Count 1.

Count 2 may proceed, at least under the Rehabilitation Act, against Defendant Illinois Department of Corrections.

Count 1 - Deliberate Indifference to Serious Medical Need

Section 1983 creates a cause of action based on personal liability and predicated upon fault; thus, "to be liable under [Section] 1983, an individual defendant must have caused or participated in a constitutional deprivation." Pepper v. Village of Oak Park, 430 F.3d 809, 810 (7th Cir. 2005) (citations omitted). In order to state a civil rights claim against a defendant, a plaintiff must describe what each named defendant did (or failed to do), that violated the plaintiff's constitutional rights. To establish deliberate indifference to a serious medical need, a plaintiff must show that a prison official acted or failed to act despite his knowledge of a serious risk of harm. Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 842 (1994); see also Greeno v. Daley, 414 F.3d 645, 653 (7th Cir. 2005). Medical malpractice or negligence does not violate the Constitution. See Duckworth v. Ahmad, 532 F.3d 675, 679 (7th Cir. 2008).

In the instant complaint, Plaintiff names as Defendants the Illinois Department of Corrections, MSU/Menard Correctional Center, and Wexford Health Care. However, the factual allegations do not support a constitutional claim for deliberate indifference against any of these entities. Instead, it is clear that some unidentified individual health care provider(s) failed to provide Plaintiff with the low bunk permit that his condition arguably required. The constitutional claim in Count 1 must proceed, if at all, only ...


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