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Tullis v. Shaw

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

August 1, 2014

PATRICK TULLIS, No. N42979, Plaintiff,


J. PHIL GILBERT, District Judge.

Plaintiff Patrick Tullis, an inmate currently housed at Pinckneyville Correctional Center, brings this action for deprivations of his constitutional rights pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, regarding inadequate medical care, retaliation for filing grievances regarding his medical care, and the mishandling of his grievances.

Plaintiff's initial complaint (Doc. 1) was review pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A; several defendants were dismissed with prejudice, and the complaint was otherwise dismissed without prejudice ( see Doc. 7). An amended complaint (Doc. 9) was filed, followed by a second amended complaint (Doc. 16). Upon filing of the second amended complaint (Doc. 16), the amended complaint (Doc. 9) became moot.

The second amended complaint (Doc. 16) is now before the Court for a preliminary review 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. 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 addresses each of the five remaining defendants in turn. The Court will follow suit. The designated counts shall be used in future filings.

Count 1-Dr. Vipin K. Shaw

It is alleged that from February 2011 through at least September 2012, Dr. Vipin K. Shaw treated Plaintiff Tullis for stomach pain. Dr. Shaw treated Plaintiff while Plaintiff was at Shawnee Correctional Center and at Pinckneyville Correctional Center. Plaintiff was told to drink more water and he was prescribed Zantac for heartburn. Plaintiff complains that he was never given any pain medication and, even though his symptoms and pain persisted, Dr. Shaw never ordered an MRI. Plaintiff appears to have self-diagnosed himself with an abdominal muscle tear, because he explains that the standard x-rays that were taken would not reveal a muscle tear ( see Doc. 16, pp. 9-10).

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 ...

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