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Owens v. Duncan

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

November 6, 2014

JAMES OWENS, No. K83253, Plaintiff,


MICHAEL J. REAGAN, Chief District Judge.

Plaintiff James Owens, an inmate in Lawrence Correctional Center, brings this action for deprivations of his constitutional rights pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, based on how prison staff and medical personnel treated him when he injured his left hip and thigh in January 2014, and when he pulled or tore a muscle in May 2014.[1]

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, on January 20, 2014, while eating lunch, Plaintiff experienced pain in his left hip and thigh, which worsened until Plaintiff could not stand on his leg. Plaintiff informed John Doe #1 and John Doe #2 about his situation. John Doe #1 threatened to mace Plaintiff if he did not stand up. The two officers eventually had Plaintiff lifted up onto a table near the door, and they left him there in excruciating pain for approximately two hours, until the lunch shift ended.

A nurse or medical staff member, John Doe #3, arrived in the cafeteria with a wheelchair to transport Plaintiff to the health care unit. John Doe #3 did not help Plaintiff into the wheelchair, nor did he/she assist Plaintiff into or out of the wheelchair on additional occasions during Plaintiff's time in the health care unit. John Doe #3 also forced Plaintiff to walk unassisted 30 feet to an exam table.

A doctor examined Plaintiff and prescribed Vicodin and a muscle relaxer. Plaintiff stayed in the health care unit overnight and was then examined by Dr. Coe. Dr. Coe ordered Plaintiff a cane and gave him a blister pack of Naproxen, but he neglected to tell Plaintiff how to take the medication. Dr. Coe apparently also ok'd a replacement foam mattress for Plaintiff, but instructed Plaintiff that he had to get the mattress approved by security officials.

A guard confiscated Plaintiff's blister pack of medication so Plaintiff signed up for sick call, but he was never let out of his cell to attend the sick call. When he told C/O Corkfeter that he needed to speak to a lieutenant about his situation, Corkfeter refused to summon a lieutenant. An unidentified nurse subsequently made rounds and did explain to Plaintiff how to take Naproxen, but the nurse never did anything about getting Plaintiff more Naproxen to replace the confiscated blister pack.

Plaintiff attempted to speak to his counselor, Tony Kittle, about getting a foam mattress, but Kittle refused to speak with Plaintiff. Plaintiff also submitted a grievance, but Kittle never responded. Plaintiff attributes Kittle's inaction to retaliation for Plaintiff having sued Kittle in the past. Plaintiff further alleges that the fact that Kittle remains his counselor after Plaintiff has sued him is evidence of a conspiracy.

Plaintiff never received the cane Dr. Coe had ordered in January, so Coe again ordered a cane in mid-February. The cane was not received until mid-May, four months after Plaintiff's initial injury.

In May 2014, Plaintiff stopped short and pulled or tore a muscle in his lower back. Plaintiff went to the health care unit, but Nurse Practitioner Phillipe refused to address the muscle injury, instead insisting that Plaintiff was there regarding a fungal infection. Plaintiff was eventually seen about a week later by Nurse Practitioner ...

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