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Postlewaite v. Tredway

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

January 27, 2015

JARVIS POSTLEWAITE, #R-25461, Plaintiff,
v.
BETH TREDWAY and MS. DAVIS, Defendants.

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

J. PHIL GILBERT, District Judge.

Before the Court for consideration is Plaintiff Jarvis Postlewaite's first amended complaint (Doc. 9). This action was originally filed by Jarvis Postlewaite and Dameon Cole on November 17, 2014 (Doc. 1). They commenced the action without paying a filing fee, filing a motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis ("IFP motion"), or filing a complaint. Rather, Plaintiffs identified their initial pleading as a "Petition for Preliminary Injunction Relief and to Show Cause for a Temporary Restraining Order" (Doc. 1), which the Court construed as a complaint.

In the pleading, Plaintiffs Cole and Postlewaite asserted unrelated claims against different defendants. In an Order dated November 25, 2014, the Court severed the claims into seven separate actions (Doc. 3). In each, Plaintiffs were instructed to file an amended complaint and an IFP motion by December 30, 2014. Plaintiff Postlewaite complied with both of these orders, by timely filing an IFP Motion (Doc. 8) and a first amended complaint (Doc. 9). As instructed, Plaintiff Postlewaite also focused his pleading on the single remaining claim in this action, i.e., Plaintiff Postlewaite's claim against Defendants Tredway[1] and Davis[2] for denying Plaintiff Postlewaite access to mental health care for his auditory delusions, depression, and anger, in violation of the Eighth Amendment (Count 1).[3]

The first amended complaint (Doc. 9) is now ripe for review 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 must 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). When reviewing the allegations in light of this standard, the Court finds that the amended complaint survives preliminary review.

First Amended Complaint

According to the first amended complaint, Plaintiff has received inadequate mental health treatment at Lawrence Correctional Center ("Lawrence") since he was transferred there on November 6, 2013 (Doc. 9, p. 4). He suffers from bi-polar disorder (which includes episodes of depression), auditory hallucinations, sleep deprivation, and an eating disorder. Plaintiff hears voices that tell him to hurt himself and others. Plaintiff alleges that he has, on several occasions, tried to commit suicide "because of the voices in [his] head" (Doc. 9, p. 4). He describes the voices as being "beyond [his] control physically and mentally" ( Id. ).

Plaintiff claims that he has repeatedly "begged" Defendant Davis for help. In the process, he told her that he "didn't know how much longer [he] would be able to restrain [him]self from acti[ng] on what the voices tell [him] to do or from also hurting [him]self, officers, wardens, or other inmates" (Doc. 1, p. 4).

Despite these pleas for help, mental health treatment was not provided. Defendant Davis allegedly promised to meet with Plaintiff weekly, but failed to do so. Defendant Davis also told Plaintiff to let his physician know about the voices, so that his medication could be adjusted. However, "weeks upon weeks" have passed, and he has not seen anyone.

In addition, Plaintiff also met with Defendant Tredway, who is a warden at Lawrence (Doc. 1, p. 5). He attended a group meeting with Defendant Tredway and several other inmates, in order to discuss their mental health treatment concerns. Plaintiff voiced complaints about the lack of treatment, but alleges that these concerns were not documented. He specifically told Defendant Tredway about the voices that he hears; he explained that the voices deprive him of sleep and threaten everyone's safety. In response, Plaintiff Tredway simply stated that Lawrence does not have a sufficient number of mental health providers and social workers.

Plaintiff claims that his mental health needs cannot be met at Lawrence. Plaintiff is currently housed in a segregation unit on the B-wing. There is a crisis cell on the C-wing that is allegedly more suitable for mentally ill inmates. Social workers and mental health doctors visit the crisis cell on a daily basis. However, it is not available for long-term use. Because of the inadequate mental health facilities, Plaintiff seeks a prison transfer (Doc. 9, p. 8).

In the amended complaint, Plaintiff asserts claims against Defendants Davis and Tredway for "gross negligence" and for violations of his Eighth Amendment rights (Doc. 9, p. 7). He seeks monetary damages and a transfer to Dixon Correctional Center (Doc. 9, p. 8).

Discussion

Count 1 - Deliberate Indifference to Medical Needs

The amended complaint states a colorable Eighth Amendment deliberate indifference to medical needs claim (Count 1) against Defendants Tredway and Davis for failing to provide Plaintiff with adequate mental health treatment at Lawrence. Relevant to Plaintiff's claim, the Supreme Court has recognized that "deliberate indifference to serious medical needs of prisoners" may constitute cruel and unusual punishment under the Eighth Amendment. Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 104 (1976); Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 837 (1994); see Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2006) ( per curiam ). Deliberate indifference involves a two-part test. The plaintiff must show that (1) the medical condition was objectively ...


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