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Vasquez v. Alfonso David, Wexford Health Sources, Inc.

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

June 2, 2014

CHARLES F. VASQUEZ, No. B-85645, Plaintiff,
v.
ALFONSO DAVID, WEXFORD HEALTH SOURCES, INC., and MAHESH PATEL, Defendants.

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

J. PHIL GILBERT, District Judge.

Plaintiff Charles F. Vasquez, an inmate in Shawnee Correctional Center at the time this case was filed, brings this action for deprivations of his constitutional rights pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. More specifically, Plaintiff takes issue with the failure to purse testing and treatment for his hepatitis C. He has now been released from prison.

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).

The Complaint

According to the complaint, while housed at Centralia Correctional Center, tests revealed that Plaintiff's "liver numbers" were elevated, which Dr. Mahesh Patel attributed to Plaintiff's HIV status. Months later, after he was transferred to Shawnee Correctional Center, Dr. Alfonso David diagnosed Plaintiff with hepatitis C. Although Illinois Department of Corrections' policies dictate that additional testing should be performed to determine the correct course of treatment, Dr. David did not perform the testing because Plaintiff was slated for release from prison. It is purportedly the policy of the prison healthcare provider, Wexford Health Sources, Inc., to not pursue testing and treatment unless the inmate would be in prison for the 18-month period required for the hepatitis C treatment regimen.

From Plaintiff's perspective, the failure to perform testing once his "liver numbers" appeared elevated cost him time and the opportunity to combat the hepatitis C at the earliest opportunity. He characterizes the failure of Dr. Patel and Dr. David to perform testing and treatment, and Wexford Health source's corresponding policy, as negligent, malpractice and deliberate indifference in violation of the Eighth Amendment.

Discussion

The violation of prison regulation or policies, alone, does not violate the constitution. However, the Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution protects prisoners from being subjected to cruel and unusual punishment. See also Berry v. Peterman, 604 F.3d 435, 439 (7th Cir. 2010). Prison officials can violate the Eighth Amendment's proscription against cruel and unusual punishment when their conduct demonstrates "deliberate indifference to serious medical needs of prisoners." Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 104 (1976). A medical condition need not be life-threatening to be serious; rather, it can be a condition that would result in further significant injury or unnecessary and wanton infliction of pain if not treated. Gayton v. McCoy, 593 F.3d 610, 620 (7th Cir. 2010).

A claim of deliberate indifference to a serious medical need contains both an objective and a subjective component. Greeno v. Daley, 414 F.3d 645, 653 (7th Cir. 2005). To satisfy the objective component, a prisoner must demonstrate that his medical condition is "objectively, sufficiently serious." Greeno, 414 F.3d at 653, citing Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 834 (1994) (internal quotations omitted). A serious medical condition is one "that 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." Edwards v. Snyder, 478 F.3d 827, 830-31 (7th Cir. 2007). To satisfy the subjective component, a prisoner must demonstrate that the prison official "knew of a substantial risk of harm to the inmate and disregarded the risk." Greeno, 414 ...


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