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Akins v. Wexford Health Sources, Inc.

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

June 10, 2014

FRANCISCO AKINS, #M-24801 Plaintiff,
v.
WEXFORD HEALTH SOURCES, INC., DR. SHEARING, DR. FUENTES, DR. SHEPHERD, OFFICER WILLS, and C/O JOHN DOE Defendants.

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

J. PHIL GILBERT, District Judge.

Plaintiff Francisco Akins, an inmate currently incarcerated at Menard Correctional Center ("Menard"), brings this pro se civil rights action for deprivations of his constitutional rights pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. On August 23, 2012, Plaintiff fell as he was attempting to climb down from the top bunk in his cell. (Doc. 1, p. 2). Plaintiff's claims against each Defendant are related to this incident and his injuries, as well as the subsequent injuries he suffered as a result of this fall. Specifically, Plaintiff alleges that Defendant C/O John Doe failed to respond in a timely manner to Plaintiff's need for medical attention immediately following the fall. Plaintiff further asserts that Defendant C/O Wills retaliated against Plaintiff for filing grievances by interfering with Plaintiff's ability to access medical care and writing up a false disciplinary report on Plaintiff. Lastly, Plaintiff claims that Defendants Shearing, Fuentes, and Shepherd (medical personnel) failed to adequately treat Plaintiff's foot injury. Defendant Wexford, Plaintiff maintains, should also be held liable, since it is responsible for setting the policies that resulted in Plaintiff receiving less-than-adequate medical care. Plaintiff prays for monetary damages and injunctive relief.

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.

28 U.S.C. § 1915A.

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). 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). Conversely, a complaint is plausible on its face "when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). Although the Court is obligated to accept factual allegations as true, see Smith v. Peters, 631 F.3d 418, 419 (7th Cir. 2011), some factual allegations may be so sketchy or implausible that they fail to provide sufficient notice of a plaintiff's claim. Brooks v. Ross, 578 F.3d 574, 581 (7th Cir. 2009). Additionally, Courts "should not accept as adequate abstract recitations of the elements of a cause of action or conclusory legal statements." Id. At the same time, however, the factual allegations of a pro se complaint are to be liberally construed. See Rodriguez v. Plymouth Ambulance Serv., 577 F.3d 816, 821 (7th Cir. 2009).

The Complaint

On August 23, 2012, as Plaintiff was attempting to climb down from the top bunk in his cell, he slipped and hit his head, the back of his neck and shoulder, and injured his right foot and ankle. (Doc. 1, p. 3). The complaint notes "that there are no handles, ladders or preventative measures in place" to ensure the safety of inmates who are climbing up and down from the top bunk. Id. at 3.

Plaintiff asserts that he was in severe pain and had trouble communicating. The assigned gallery officer was on break, but Plaintiff's cellmate asked the temporary relief officer, "John Doe, "[1] to call for help. Id. Although John Doe said he would request medical assistance, he never did. Plaintiff lay on the floor of his cell for over an hour, "experiencing intense pain, " before the assigned officer returned from break and called for help. Id. at 4.

When Plaintiff was finally taken into the health care unit, a doctor x-rayed his foot. Initially, Plaintiff was told that he had sprained his ankle. Only later, in October or November, did any medical staff acknowledge that the x-rays had identified a fracture with possible bone fragments. Id. Plaintiff repeatedly requested additional medical assistance, but according to the complaint, Defendants Shearing, Fuentes, and Shepherd failed to correctly diagnose and treat his foot and ankle injury. Id. at 9-11.

On December 7, 2012, Plaintiff was taken to the health care unit for a scheduled visit with the doctor. After waiting for over an hour, Plaintiff contends that Defendant Wills began to harass Plaintiff regarding his request to see a doctor. Id. at 5. Defendant Wills told Plaintiff that there were no doctors in the building and that Plaintiff would have to reschedule his appointment. Id. However, medical records reveal that medical staff had noted that Plaintiff was a "no-show" and that the correctional officer had never delivered Plaintiff to the health care unit. (Doc. 1, Ex. 4). Plaintiff alleges that he explained to Wills that he was in "terrible pain" and that he had not been able to eat lunch or dinner in almost a week, because his permit for a medical "feed-in cell" had expired. Plaintiff pleaded with Wills to allow him to speak with someone who could renew the permit. When that failed, Plaintiff asked to speak with a Lieutenant. Defendant Wills refused to let Plaintiff speak to anyone; instead, he told Plaintiff to "cuff-up" and he then ordered that Wills be taken to segregation. Id. at 7. Wills issued Plaintiff a disciplinary ticket for "disobeying a direct command" and ...


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