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MARC Norfleet, No. R57214 v. Shah

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

January 14, 2015

MARC NORFLEET, No. R57214, Plaintiff,
v.
VIPIN SHAH, CHRISTINE BROWN, LAURA LaCRONE, JODY GOETTING, DONALD GAETZ, THOMAS SPILLER, LESLIE McCARTY, TERRI ANDERSON, SHERRY BENTON, SALVADORE GODINEZ, WEXFORD HEALTH CARE SER V. and ILLINOIS DEPT. OF CORRECTIONS, Defendants.

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

J. PHIL GILBERT, District Judge.

Plaintiff Marc Norfleet, an inmate in Pinckneyville Correctional Center, brings this action for deprivations of his constitutional rights pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, based on how his medications are prescribed and dispensed.

Plaintiff has paid the full $400 filing fee. Nevertheless, under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2), "at any time" the Court can dismiss a case if the action is clearly frivolous or malicious, fails to state a claim, or is a claim for money damages against an immune defendant. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B). An action fails to state a claim 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. 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). 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, Plaintiff is confined to a wheelchair and in chronic pain, for which over the past ten years he has been prescribed Neurontin, Baclofen and Ibuprofen. Beginning in 2012, medical personnel at Pinckneyville Correctional Center employed a new definition of "chronic" relative to what qualified as a chronic ailment and justified a long-term prescription. As a result, Plaintiff's treating physician, Dr. Shah, stopped routinely renewing and filling Plaintiff's prescriptions, thereby causing nurses and other health care providers to stop providing Plaintiff with what he had come to expect to be his prescription regimen. Instead, Plaintiff was given relatively short-term prescriptions, sometimes for a lower dosage than he had been receiving. Some prescriptions were discontinued; other medications were substituted. Consequently, Plaintiff sometimes missed doses, and he had to sign up for sick call and pay a $5.00 copay just to have his prescriptions renewed. As a result, Plaintiff's pain and other symptoms worsened, and Dr. Shah and other staff did nothing to fix the problem.

Plaintiff contends that the new policy and practice regarding prescribing and dispensing medication for chronic health problems is designed to generate copayments, resulting in profits trumping proper health care. Plaintiff's oral complaints and written grievances have not been successful.

It is alleged that the 12 named defendants-healthcare providers and administrators at Pinckneyville, as well as Illinois Department of Corrections administrators, Administrative Review Board members, Wexford Health Care Services, and the Department of Corrections-all knew of Plaintiff's medical situation and were deliberately indifferent to his serious medical needs, in violation of the Eighth Amendment. Plaintiff further alleges that Defendants have violated Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA"), 42 U.S.C. § 12101 et seq., the Rehabilitation Act, 29 U.S.C. § 701, et seq., as well as the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment. The complaint seeks a preliminary injunction, permanent injunctive relief, declaratory judgment, as well as compensatory and punitive damages.

Based on the allegations in the complaint, the Court finds it convenient to divide the pro se action into the following counts. The parties and the Court will use these designations in all future pleadings and orders, unless otherwise directed by a judicial officer of this Court. The designation of these counts does not constitute an opinion as to their merit.

Count 1: Defendants, personally or by allowing the prison's policy and practice of prescribing and renewing medications to continue, were deliberately indifferent to Plaintiff's serious medical needs, in violation of the Eighth Amendment;
Count 2: Defendants, personally or by allowing the prison's policy and practice of prescribing and renewing medications to continue, violated the ADA and Rehabilitation Act;
Count 3: Defendants, personally or by allowing the prison's policy and practice of prescribing and renewing medications to continue, violated the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment; and
Count 4: Defendants, personally or by allowing the prison's policy and practice of prescribing and renewing medications to continue, violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

Discussion

Count 1

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). As a general matter, the allegations in ...


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