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Young v. Cross

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

January 21, 2015

REGINALD YOUNG, No. 50081-066, Plaintiff,


J. PHIL GILBERT, District Judge.

Plaintiff Reginald Young, an inmate in the Federal Correctional Institution at Greenville, Illinois, brings this action for deprivations of his constitutional rights pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331, based on the refusal of prison officials to authorize medically recommended cataract surgery.

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, in May 2009, Plaintiff had surgery to remove a cataract on his right eye. Approximately 18 months later, in December 2010, an outside specialist, Dr. Maher, recommended that Plaintiff have cataract surgery on his left eye. A "Regional Medical Consultant" must approve such surgery and, to date, approval has not been granted. Documentation attached to the complaint indicates that the Bureau of Prisons' Clinical Guidelines authorize cataract surgery only if both eyes are a certain weakness, and Plaintiff's left eye, post-surgery, was 20/50, so he did not meet the criteria ( see Doc. 1, p. 16). Administrative grievances have not been successful.

Plaintiff now brings suit against Warden James N. Cross, Greenville Medical Director Dr. Cruz, Regional Health Care Administrator Lee Ann Pollman, and Medical Records Specialist J. Nott. He asserts that he has been subjected to "medical deliberate indifference" ( see Doc. 1, p. 39), which would constitute a claim of cruel and unusual punishment under the Eighth Amendment. In addition, the documentation incorporated into the complaint suggests that Plaintiff may also be contemplating due process and the equal protection claims, as well as a medical negligence claim under the Federal Tort Claims Act ("FTCA"), 28 U.S.C. §§ 1346, 2671-2680.[2] Plaintiff seeks injunctive relief, as well as compensatory and punitive damages.


The complaint cannot proceed as drafted due to a variety of pleading errors; it will be dismissed without prejudice for the reasons that follow.

The complaint form indicates that Plaintiff is presenting a federal question pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331. Insofar as Plaintiff claims he has been subjected to "medical deliberate indifference" in violation of the Eighth Amendment, he is presenting a constitutional claim pursuant to Bivens v. Six Unknown Named Agents of Federal Bureau of Narcotics, 403 U.S. 388 (1971). However, his Eighth Amendment Bivens claim fails because the complaint does not allege that any of the four named defendants were personally involved, as required for liability. See Arnett v. Webster, 658 F.3d 742, 757 (7th Cir. 2011). The respondeat superior doctrine- supervisory liability-is inapplicable. Id. Moreover, the statement of claim does not even mention any of the four defendants by name or title ( see Doc. 1, p. 39). Merely naming a defendant in the caption is insufficient to state a claim. See generally Collins v. Kibort, 143 F.3d 331, 334 (7th Cir. 1998). Although the Court construes a pro se complaint liberally, the Court is not responsible for evaluating the many documents included in the complaint and ...

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