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Church v. Godinez

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

January 5, 2015

RYAN W. CHURCH, No. R22421, Plaintiff,



Plaintiff Ryan W. Church, an inmate in Western Illinois Correctional Center, brings this action for deprivations of his constitutional rights pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, based on an alleged failure to correctly diagnose and treat his HIV status while he was incarcerated at Pinckneyville Correctional Center, which is within this judicial district.

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. And 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 August 2012, while Plaintiff was at the Peoria County Jail, he was diagnosed by Dr. Church as being HIV. When he was subsequently transferred to Stateville Correctional Center, Dr. Mahone prescribed a special diet designed to ward off a progression of the disease. When Plaintiff arrived at Pinckneyville Correctional Center and sought treatment and continuation of the special diet, however, additional blood tests were run, despite previous test results and Plaintiff's HIV status being recorded in his medical records.

In September 2012, Plaintiff was experiencing "symptoms." He was called to the Health Care Unit and seen (via video) by Defendant Johnson, who is described as a psychiatrist. Dr. Johnson reported that the most recent HIV test results were inconclusive. Plaintiff later discussed his test results with Defendant Dr. Shah and requested treatment-which would at least be prophylactic. Dr. Shah refused to offer any treatment and denied that Plaintiff was HIV. Regardless of his HIV status, Plaintiff notes that Dr. Johnson and Dr. Shah refused to treat his decreased T-cell count. Johnson and Shah's actions are characterized as being deliberate.

The complaint also contains an assertion that Defendant Godinez, Director of the Illinois Department of Corrections, failed to provide Plaintiff with a second opinion, proximately causing "complications within the condition" (Doc. 1, p. 9). Documentation attached to the compliant reflects that Director Godinez concurred in the denial of two administrative grievances regarding Plaintiff's health care ( see Doc. 1, pp. 11-12). According to that documentation, Plaintiff never tested positive for HIV, although Dr. Church indicated that Plaintiff could be re-tested in six months if he continued high-risk behavior ( see Doc. 1, p. 12).

Plaintiff contends that the failure to acknowledge and treat his HIV status has left him "afraid and vulnerable." He also confusingly links the lack of a proper diagnosis and treatment to an inability to wear "the hairstyles that other people want, " an inability to "sleep when he wants, " and an inability to "eat food like other people, " without suffering "grief or loss" ( see Doc. 1, p. 8).

Plaintiff prays for declaratory and injunctive relief (in the form of proper diagnosis and treatment), as well as ...

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