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Diaz v. Story

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

June 2, 2014

PABLO DIAZ, #N-90629, Plaintiff,


J. PHIL GILBERT, District Judge.

Plaintiff, currently incarcerated at Big Muddy River Correctional Center ("BMRCC"), has brought this pro se civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff is serving a six-year sentence related to possession of a stolen vehicle. He claims that Defendants were deliberately indifferent to his need for pain relief, by refusing to provide him with medicine that would not cause an allergic reaction.

The documentation submitted with Plaintiff's complaint shows that he was injured in an accident in 2011, prior to his current incarceration (Doc. 1, p. 12). In March 2013, he was transferred to BMRCC from Pinckneyville Correctional Center. His medical records reflected that he has an allergy to Motrin, noted by the intake nurse who screened him upon his arrival at BMRCC (Doc. 1, pp. 7, 10).

In April 2013, Physician's Assistant Gerst (who is not a Defendant) gave Plaintiff some pain medication (Tylenol), but this was not effective to relieve his discomfort (Doc. 1, p. 13). On October 1, 2013, Plaintiff again went to sick call seeking pain medication, and told Gerst that the Tylenol had not helped him. Gerst responded, "That's life, deal with it." Id. It is not clear whether Plaintiff got more Tylenol at that time.

On October 18, 2013, Plaintiff saw Defendant Nurse Story, again seeking treatment for his chronic pain (Doc. 1, pp. 7, 12). She came to his cell house to give him Ibuprofen, but he told her that if he took that medication he would break out in hives and develop a high fever. She told him to either take the Ibuprofen or take nothing at all.

Plaintiff filed a grievance over Defendant Story's refusal to provide him with pain treatment, which was denied by Defendant Hutchinson (Counselor) (Doc. 1, p. 7). He also names Defendants Gaddis (Counselor), Isaacs (Health Care Administrator), and Zachary Bocelman[1] (Warden), claiming generally that each of them was deliberately indifferent to his serious medical needs and caused delay in treating his pain (Doc. 1, pp. 8-9). Finally, he includes John and Jane Doe Defendants in the caption and list of parties (Doc. 1, pp. 1-2), but does not mention them elsewhere in the complaint.

Plaintiff seeks monetary damages (Doc. 1, p. 6).

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 against Defendant Story for deliberate indifference to his serious medical need for treatment of his chronic pain (Count 1). However, Plaintiff's allegations against the Defendants who failed to take satisfactory action after Plaintiff invoked the grievance process (Count 2) do not state a claim upon which relief may be granted. That claim, as well as the remaining Defendants, shall be dismissed from this action.

Count 1 - Deliberate Indifference to Serious Medical Needs

"A prisoner's claim for deliberate indifference must establish (1) an objectively serious medical condition; and (2) an official's deliberate indifference to that condition. Deliberate indifference is proven by demonstrating that a prison official knows of a substantial risk of harm to an inmate and either acts or fails to act in disregard of that risk. Delaying treatment may constitute deliberate indifference if such delay exacerbated the injury or unnecessarily prolonged an inmate's pain." Gomez v. Randle, 680 F.3d 859, 865 (7th Cir. 2012) (internal citations and quotations omitted). The "existence of chronic and substantial pain" has long been recognized as a serious medical condition. Gutierrez v. Peters, 111 F.3d 1364, 1373 (7th Cir. 1997).

While the Eighth Amendment does not give prisoners entitlement to "demand specific care" or "the best care possible, " it does require "reasonable measures to meet a substantial risk of serious harm." Forbes v. Edgar, 112 F.3d 262, 267 (7th Cir. 1997). At this stage of the litigation, Plaintiff has stated a claim against Defendant Story, who offered him a choice to either take a medication she knew would cause him to suffer an unpleasant or even harmful allergic reaction, or have no treatment at all for his serious pain. Count 1 shall thus proceed against Defendant Story.

Plaintiff does not allege that any of the other Defendants were directly, personally involved in his medical treatment as health care providers. To the extent that he describes their actions at all, the participation of Defendants Hutchinson and Gaddis appears limited to reviewing Plaintiff's grievance against Defendant Story. Plaintiff includes Health Care Administrator Defendant Isaacs in the action, but never describes what she did or failed to do in relation to his need for pain treatment. She may have been involved in responding to Plaintiff's grievance, or Plaintiff may have named her because she supervises Defendant Story. Likewise, Defendant Warden Bocelman would be the supervisor of the other ...

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