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Cole v. Coe

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

January 29, 2015

DAMEON COLE, #R-13404, also known as DIVINE DESIRE COLE, Plaintiff,
v.
DR. COE, BETH TREDWAY, WEXFORD MEDICAL HEALTH COMPANY, PHIL MARTIN, and NURSE WAGNER, Defendants.

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

PHIL GILBERT, District Judge.

Before the Court for consideration is Plaintiff Dameon Cole's[1] first amended complaint (Doc. 6). This case involves a claim that was severed from a lawsuit filed by Jarvis Postlewaite and Dameon Cole on November 17, 2014 (Doc. 1). See Postlewaite, et al. v. Godinez, et al., Case No. 14-cv-1281-JPG (S.D. Ill. 2014) ("original action") (Doc. 1). Together, Plaintiffs Postlewaite and Cole commenced the original action without paying a filing fee, filing a motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis ("IFP motion"), or filing a complaint. Plaintiffs identified their initial pleading as a "Petition for Preliminary Injunction Relief and to Show Cause for a Temporary Restraining Order" (Doc. 1, original action), which the Court construed as a complaint. In that pleading, Plaintiffs Cole and Postlewaite raised unrelated claims against different defendants. The Court severed the claims into seven separate actions in an Order dated November 25, 2014 (Doc. 3, original action) (Doc. 1). In each, Plaintiffs were instructed to file an amended complaint and an IFP motion by December 30, 2014.

Plaintiff Cole complied with both of these orders, by timely filing a first amended complaint (Doc. 6) followed by an IFP Motion (Doc. 8) in this severed case. As instructed, Plaintiff Cole focused her pleading in this action on a claim that Defendant Coe failed to properly monitor her prescription hormone medication in violation of the Eighth Amendment (Count 7, original action). In addition, Plaintiff Cole raised claims against four other defendants, and these claims are discussed herein.

The first amended complaint (Doc. 6) 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 first amended 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 first amended complaint survives preliminary review.

First Amended Complaint

According to the first amended complaint, Plaintiff Cole is a transgender inmate, who began her first course of prescription hormones in July 2014. Defendant Coe placed Plaintiff Cole on two forms of hormone pills (Doc. 6, pp. 4, 6). Plaintiff Cole has taken them ever since (Doc. 6, p. 4). However, Defendant Coe did not order any bloodwork before or after prescribing the medication. Plaintiff claims that additional monitoring is necessary.

Plaintiff Cole claims that Defendant Coe should examine her every three or four months. Defendant Coe allegedly maintains that it is not necessary to follow up with Plaintiff Cole until February 2015 (i.e., after six months) (Doc. 6, p. 4). For this reason, Plaintiff Cole's requests to see Defendant Coe before that date have been denied.

The complaint goes on to list possible side effects of Plaintiff's medication[2] (Doc. 6, p. 5). Some of these side effects may be obvious to Plaintiff, while others may not. However, the complaint does not allege that Plaintiff is experiencing any of them. Plaintiff Cole merely alleges that Defendant Coe should monitor her closely for signs of them. In addition, Plaintiff Cole admits that she has a fear of blood clots, and a hormone patch (instead of pills) may reduce the risk of this particular side effect. Plaintiff Cole now claims that Defendant Coe was deliberately indifferent to her serious medical needs when she refused to schedule a follow-up examination, order bloodwork, or offer a hormone patch as an alternative to pills.

Plaintiff names four other parties as defendants in this action. They include Defendants Wexford Medical Health Company ("Wexford"), Tredway (assistant warden of programs), Martin (nursing director), and Wagner (nurse). Plaintiff Cole claims that Defendant Tredway attended group therapy sessions for transgender inmates and was notified "through [the] prison system" when Defendant[3] did not make rounds (Doc. 6, p. 4). Defendants Tredway and Wexford also allegedly "forced" her to take her medication in pill form, instead of a patch, saying, "either you take it or you don't" (Doc. 6, p. 6). She alleges that these defendants care about the cost of the pill, but spend more on non-medical issues. She also claims that they are deliberately indifferent to her fear of blood clots.

Finally, Plaintiff Cole alleges that Nurse Wagner provided her with a partial prescription refill on November 25, 2014 (Doc. 6, p. 6). Plaintiff Cole asked Nurse Wagner for the full refill, which Nurse Wagner said would be provided. After five days, Plaintiff Cole had not received the prescription refill and went on a hunger strike to protest her perceived lack of medical care. Plaintiff Cole and several other inmates wrote grievances to Defendants about the issue but received no response (Doc. 6, pp. 6-7).

Plaintiff Cole now sues Defendants for violating her right to receive adequate medical care under the Eighth Amendment. She seeks monetary damages, declaratory judgment, and injunctive relief, including a preliminary and permanent injunction (Doc. 6, p. 8).

Discussion

Consistent with the Court's memorandum and order dated November 25, 2014 (Doc. 1, p. 9), Plaintiff Cole shall be allowed to proceed in this severed case with the following claim:

Defendant Coe failed to properly monitor Plaintiff Cole's prescription hormone medication in violation of her Eighth Amendment right to receive adequate medical care.

(Count 7, original action) (Doc. 1, p. 9). 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 serious; and (2) the state officials ...


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