United States District Court, S.D. Illinois
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
STACI M. YANDLE, District Judge.
Plaintiff, currently incarcerated at Lawrence Correctional Center ("Lawrence"), has brought this pro se civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, claiming that his constitutional rights were violated during his pretrial detention at the Jackson County Jail ("the Jail"). He claims that Defendants refused to treat his serious medical condition.
According to the complaint, Plaintiff was arrested on July 11, 2013, and was held at the Jail for six months (Doc. 1, p. 7). While he was in lockdown immediately after his arrival at the Jail, his body started itching badly. He apparently asked to see the nurse, but had to wait. After a week, he was moved to another housing area, and the itching got worse. When he was called to see the nurse and told her about the itching, she laughed and told him to wash his uniform. The nurse gave him pills for high blood pressure.
Over the next week, the itching became still worse and Plaintiff was scratching all the time. He started to get sores and scabs all over his body that would not heal. He put in another sick call request, but was not called to see the nurse for another month. When the nurse finally saw him, she said his symptoms were due to the detergent, and she would not allow Plaintiff to see the doctor. Plaintiff wrote a grievance in protest, but got no response. He also complains that the Nurse at the Jail "won't help you unless you got money, " and that prisoners are charged for each medication and health care visit (Doc. 1, p. 7).
Plaintiff continued to suffer from his condition for six months. Ninety percent of his body was broken out in sores. He could not sleep, and the itching became worse when he showered. At some point (Plaintiff does not say when), he gave the nurse an ultimatum that if he did not get to see the doctor, he would refuse his medication. He does not explain what medication he was referring to. It appears that Plaintiff never was allowed to see the doctor while he was confined at the Jail.
Plaintiff was sent to Menard Correctional Center after being convicted of a felony. When he got there, he was diagnosed with scabies and was told it was the worst case they had ever seen. Even after receiving treatment, Plaintiff's body still itches all the time, he has scars on 90% of his body (everywhere except his face), and has black spots everywhere. In addition, he suffers from severe swelling in his genitals due to tissue damage from the bites.
He seeks compensatory and punitive damages from the Defendants.
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 Plaintiff may proceed with his claim against the unknown party Defendant nurse for deliberate indifference to his medical needs. However, the complaint fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted against the Defendant Jackson County Sheriff Department or against any individual correctional officers. Those Defendants shall be dismissed from the action.
Deliberate Indifference Claim Against the Unknown (Jane Doe) Defendant Nurse
Although pre-trial detainees are not covered by the Eighth Amendment, their claims for deliberate indifference to medical care are considered under the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. They are entitled to the same sort of protection against deliberate indifference as convicted inmates, no less. See Williams v. Romana, 411 F.Appx. 900, 901 n.1 (7th Cir. 2011); Miller v. Hertz, 420 F.Appx. 629, 634 (7th Cir. 2011). The Seventh Circuit has "found it convenient and entirely appropriate to apply the same standard to claims arising under the Fourteenth Amendment (detainees) and Eighth Amendment (convicted prisoners) without differentiation.'" Board v. Farnham, 394 F.3d 469, 478 (7th Cir. 2005) (quoting Henderson v. Sheahan, 196 F.3d 839, 845 n.2 (7th Cir. 1999)).
In order to state a claim for deliberate indifference to a serious medical need, a prisoner must show that he (1) suffered from an objectively serious medical condition; and (2) that the defendant was aware of that risk and intentionally disregarded it. Minix v. Canarecci, 597 F.3d 824, 831 (7th Cir. 2010); Jackson v. Ill. Medi-Car, Inc., 300 F.3d 760, 764-65 (7th Cir. 2002). "Deliberate indifference is proven by demonstrating that a prison official knows of a substantial risk of harm to an inmate and either acts or fails to act in disregard of that risk. Delaying treatment may constitute deliberate indifference if such delay exacerbated the injury or unnecessarily prolonged an inmate's pain." Gomez v. Randle, 680 F.3d 859, 865 (7th Cir. 2012) (internal citations and quotations omitted). The Eighth Amendment does not give prisoners entitlement to "demand specific care" or "the best care possible, " but only requires "reasonable measures to meet a substantial risk of serious harm." Forbes v. Edgar, 112 F.3d 262, 267 (7th Cir. 1997). Medical negligence or even malpractice does not violate the Constitution. Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 106 (1976); Duckworth v. Ahmad, 532 F.3d 675, 679 (7th Cir. 2008); Sanville v. McCaughtry, 266 F.3d 724, 734 (7th Cir. 2001).
Plaintiff's complaint sufficiently alleges that he suffered from a serious, painful medical condition while detained at the Jail. The Unknown Defendant Nurse did provide some treatment in the form of blood pressure medicine, but that did not help Plaintiff's scabies. The mere fact that a prescribed treatment has proven ineffective does not rise to the level of deliberate indifference. Duckworth, 532 F.3d at 680. However, a course of ineffective treatment coupled with a refusal to refer an inmate for further testing or diagnosis may suggest a constitutional violation. See Greeno v. Daley, 414 F.3d 645, 655 (7th Cir. 2005). When the Defendant Nurse failed to recognize that Plaintiff suffered from scabies and refused to refer him to the doctor for a consultation, his condition worsened and caused him continued suffering. At this early stage, it is not clear whether the Defendant Nurse was deliberately indifferent to ...