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Lucas v. Hardy

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

October 20, 2014

SHAWN L. LUCAS, No. M07416, Plaintiff,
v.
NURSE HARDY, DR. FENOGLIO, [1] and LAWRENCEVILLE CORR. CENTER, [2] Defendants.

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

MICHAEL J. REAGAN, Chief District Judge.

Plaintiff Shawn L. Lucas, an inmate in Lawrence Correctional Center, brings this action for deprivations of his constitutional rights pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, based on an alleged failure to afford him proper medical care, and a related failure to respond to his grievances.

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, in 2011 Plaintiff sought medical attention for an infection. It took almost a year for medical personnel at Lawrence to take him seriously, all the while his condition worsened. Plaintiff contends that during that year-long period his grievances were ignored, in violation of his right to due process. Nurse Hardy eventually told Plaintiff that he had a yeast infection and an enlarged prostate gland. Various medications were prescribed, but Plaintiff reacted badly, developing a rash. Plaintiff continued to seek treatment in the Health Care Unit, but he was generally told that nothing was wrong. Eventually, Plaintiff suffered from low blood pressure and temporary blindness. He was taken to a hospital and ultimately diagnosed with Stevens-Johnson Syndrome. Stevens-Johnson Syndrome is described as a "rare, serious" skin disorder-usually a reaction to a medication or infection. There are flu-like symptoms, a rash and blisters, and then the top layer of skin dies and sheds. (http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/stevens-johnson-syndrome/basics/definition) (accessed Oct. 14, 2014).

Plaintiff repeatedly describes the failure to properly diagnose and treat him at Lawrence as "gross negligence." Plaintiff seeks compensatory damages in the amount of $10 million from named defendants Nurse Hardy, Dr. Fenoglio and "multiple other nurses" employed in the Lawrence Health Care Unit.

Discussion

The Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution protects prisoners from being subjected to cruel and unusual punishment. U.S. CONST., amend. VIII. See also Berry v. Peterman, 604 F.3d 435, 439 (7th Cir. 2010). Eighth Amendment protection extends to conditions of confinement that pose a substantial risk of serious harm, encompassing health and safety. See Estate of Miller, ex rel. Bertram v. Tobiasz, 680 F.3d 984 (7th Cir. 2012). 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 prison official may be liable "only if he knows that inmates face a substantial risk of serious harm and disregards that risk by failing to take reasonable measures to abate it." Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 847 (1994). Proving deliberate indifference requires more than a showing of negligent or even ...


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