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Tate v. Nurse

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

September 2, 2014

LUCIOUS TATE, # R-11656, Plaintiff,


PHIL GILBERT, District Judge.

Plaintiff is currently incarcerated at Jacksonville Correctional Center ("Jacksonville"), where he is serving a nine-year sentence for aggravated battery. He brings this pro se civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, against two prison medical providers employed at the institution where he was previously confined, Robinson Correctional Center ("Robinson"). He claims that Defendants were deliberately indifferent to a serious medical condition.

In lieu of a detailed factual statement, Plaintiff includes copies of a grievance which he submitted to Robinson officials over his medical issues, as well as the report denying his grievance, and his appeal of that denial (Doc. 1, pp. 5-10). Plaintiff submitted the grievance on February 15, 2013, and appealed the denial on April 9, 2013.

In the February 2013 grievance, Plaintiff claims that in July 2011, while he was confined at the Cook County Jail, he injured his right foot while playing basketball. He was taken to a hospital and given an x-ray, but never learned the results (Doc. 1, p. 5). Several weeks later he was transferred to the custody of the Illinois Department of Corrections ("IDOC") to begin serving his sentence. He was told by a nurse at his intake institution to wait to seek further medical attention until after he arrived at the next prison.

Soon thereafter, Plaintiff was placed at Robinson, where he immediately requested to see the doctor. He was instructed that he must first see a nurse, which he did. The nurse (presumably the Unknown Party/John Doe named in the complaint) referred Plaintiff to Defendant Doctor Lofton, who then examined his right foot and leg. Defendant Lofton opined that his symptoms must be coming from a back injury, and referred him to a neurologist. Plaintiff claims that Defendant Lofton "totally ignored" his explanation that he had hurt his foot while playing basketball (Doc. 1, p. 6).

On July 10, 2012 (approximately one year after the original foot injury, and four months after Defendant Lofton's referral), Plaintiff was examined by the neurologist at an outside hospital. This physician was unable to diagnose the cause of Plaintiff's ongoing pain, and suggested that maybe it would get better over time (Doc. 1, p. 6). Two weeks later, Defendant Lofton informed Plaintiff of the results of the neurologist's exam, and advised him not to play basketball, to take it easy for a while, and to sign up for sick call if he had further problems.

Plaintiff immediately filed a grievance, because Defendant Lofton had failed to obtain his original x-ray results from the Cook County Jail, and would not listen to Plaintiff's concerns about the ongoing pain in his right foot. As a result of this grievance, Defendant Lofton for the first time ordered an x-ray of Plaintiff's right foot. It did not reveal any damage.

Three months later, on October 28, 2012, Plaintiff submitted a sick call request, complaining of pain in his right leg and foot, and noting that his foot and leg were still numb even after all the time that had passed since the injury (Doc. 1, p. 7). He received a response (he does not say from whom) that he could take pain medication which may be purchased at commissary or obtained through signing up for sick call. Plaintiff did not take any pain medication, but on November 7, 2012, sent a request to Defendant Lofton asking her if she thought he might have sustained nerve damage that was causing his numbness and pain. She told him to sign up for sick call, which he did.

Defendant Lofton then saw Plaintiff again. She gave him "the same meager exam" as before (Doc. 1, p. 7). She authorized him to be given pain medication. Plaintiff states, however, that the medication did not stop the pain. More importantly, he complains that Defendant Lofton never took any further steps to determine the medical reason for the pain and numbness that had continued since July 2011. He feared that without proper treatment, he might eventually have permanent lack of feeling in his right foot, leg, hip, and genital region, and could become wheelchair-bound. Id.

Plaintiff's grievance was denied on March 29, 2013 (Doc. 1, p. 8). In that narrative, the grievance officer noted that the Cook County x-rays had been received, and were negative, like the later results. Further, Plaintiff had been issued crutches and had been observed "walking without difficulty." Id. In his appeal of the grievance, Plaintiff objected that he did not need crutches, and that his pain and numbness did not prevent him from walking all the time. He explained that the pain and numbness "comes and goes, " causing him to need assistance with walking when those spasms appear (Doc. 1, p. 10). He attributed his symptoms to possible damage to a nerve, tendon, or ligament which could not be detected unless he was given an MRI.

The complaint states that Plaintiff has continued to experience the numbness and pain in his right foot and leg to the present day, and he has never obtained any effective medical treatment (Doc. 1, pp. 12-13). Defendants have never performed any further diagnostic testing to address his pain and suffering. In addition, Plaintiff claims to now be experiencing pain and suffering in his left leg (Doc. 1, p. 13). Although he implies that the left leg problems began while he was still under the care of Defendant Lofton at Robinson, he gives no further information as to the onset or nature of those symptoms, nor does he describe any steps he may have taken to bring this matter to the attention of either Defendant.

Plaintiff seeks injunctive relief in the form of "immediate medical treatment" for his right foot, right leg, and left leg, as well as compensatory damages (Doc. 1, p. 14).

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 the claim against Defendant Lofton for deliberate indifference ...

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