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Sanders v. Godinez

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

December 16, 2014

ALBERTIS SANDERS, # K-75926, Plaintiff,
v.
KEVIN CHILDERS and SALVADOR GODINEZ, Defendants.

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

MICHAEL J. REAGAN, District Judge.

Plaintiff Albertis Sanders, an inmate who is currently incarcerated at Centralia Correctional Center ("Centralia"), brings this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against his eye doctor at Centralia, Kevin Childers, and the Director of the Illinois Department of Corrections, Salvador Godinez. Plaintiff claims that since 2012, he has been denied surgery for cataracts that he now has in both of his eyes. Plaintiff sues Defendant Kevin Childers, in his individual capacity, for money damages for violating Plaintiff's rights under the Eighth Amendment and Illinois tort law. Plaintiff sues Defendant Godinez, in his official capacity, for injunctive relief.

Merits Review Under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A

This case is now before the Court for a preliminary review of the complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. Under Section 1915A, the Court is required to promptly screen prisoner complaints to filter out nonmeritorious claims. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). The Court is required to dismiss any portion of the complaint that is legally frivolous, malicious, fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or asks for money damages from a defendant who by law is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b).

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). 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 survives preliminary review under this standard.

The Complaint

According to the complaint, Plaintiff began suffering from severe eye pain and blurred vision in late 2012 (Doc. 1, p. 5). On December 5, 2012, an eye doctor at Centralia, Defendant Childers, examined Plaintiff and diagnosed him with a cataract in his right eye. Plaintiff claims that this cataract prevents him from seeing anything out of his right eye.

The complaint goes on to allege that Plaintiff is also losing vision in his left eye, and he attributes this to the formation of a left eye cataract. Along with the vision loss, Plaintiff has suffered from headaches, a loss of depth perception, and related falls and injuries. He can no longer read or study.

Defendant Childers has denied Plaintiff's requests for cataract surgery. Plaintiff has submitted requests for surgery since January 2013 (Doc. 1, p. 10). On May 1, 2013, Defendant Childers told Plaintiff that he would not be eligible for surgery until he was "100% blind in both [of] his eyes" (Doc. 1, p. 5). Plaintiff's subsequent requests for surgery have been denied.

Plaintiff has notified numerous officials at Centralia about his need for cataract surgery. These officials include the health care unit ("HCU") administrator, assistant warden, [1] and Defendant Godinez. In written correspondence, grievances, and appeals, Plaintiff has explained that Defendant Childers refuses to refer him to an outside specialist or ophthalmologist for eye surgery. All individuals have instead chosen to defer to the judgment of Defendant Childers on this issue.

Plaintiff claims that his rights have been violated under the Eighth Amendment and Illinois negligence law. In addition to an Eighth Amendment and Illinois medical negligence claim, Plaintiff also raises a claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress, based on the humiliation, mental anguish, and distress he has endured in connection with his vision loss. He sues Defendant Childers, in his individual capacity, for monetary damages. He also names Defendant Godinez, in his official capacity, for injunctive relief in the form of an order for immediate eye surgery at an outside hospital (Doc. 1, p. 6).

Discussion

After reviewing the allegations in detail, the Court finds it convenient to divide the complaint into the following three counts:

COUNT 1: Defendants displayed deliberate indifference to Plaintiff's serious medical needs when they denied his requests for cataract surgery;
COUNT 2: Defendants violated Illinois negligence law by failing to adequately treat Plaintiff's cataracts; and
COUNT 3: Defendants caused the intentional infliction of emotional distress under Illinois state law, when they denied ...

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