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Thomas v. Hodge

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

February 9, 2015

FARRIS THOMAS, # K-83959, Plaintiff,
v.
DOCTOR SHAH, DOCTOR HAYMES, NURSE BROOKS, ELAINE HARDY, DR. JOHN COE, and MARK HODGE, Defendants.

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

J. PHIL GILBERT, District Judge.

Plaintiff Farris Thomas, who is currently incarcerated at Lawrence Correctional Center, brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (Doc. 1, p. 1). According to the complaint, Plaintiff was diagnosed with a left inguinal hernia on November 1, 2012 (Doc. 1, p. 5). Lawrence medical officials delayed surgical repair of the hernia until September 5, 2014 (Doc. 1, p. 8). As a result, Plaintiff endured twenty-one months of extreme pain. He now sues six Lawrence officials, including three doctors (Shah, Haymes, and Coe), two nurses (Brooks and Hardy), and the warden (Hodge), for violating his right to receive adequate medical care under the Eighth Amendment (Doc. 1, p. 1). Plaintiff seeks monetary damages (Doc. 1, p. 9).

Merits Review Under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A

This case is now before the Court for a preliminary review of the complaint 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 is required to 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).

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). 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. Conversely, a complaint is plausible on its face "when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). Although the Court is obligated to accept factual allegations as true, see Smith v. Peters, 631 F.3d 418, 419 (7th Cir. 2011), some factual allegations may be so sketchy or implausible that they fail to provide sufficient notice of a plaintiff's claim. Brooks v. Ross, 578 F.3d 574, 581 (7th Cir. 2009). Additionally, Courts "should not accept as adequate abstract recitations of the elements of a cause of action or conclusory legal statements." Id. At the same time, however, the factual allegations of a pro se complaint are to be liberally construed. See Rodriguez v. Plymouth Ambulance Serv., 577 F.3d 816, 821 (7th Cir. 2009). The complaint survives preliminary review.

The Complaint

According to the complaint, Plaintiff was allegedly diagnosed with a left inguinal hernia on November 1, 2012 (Doc. 1, p. 5). One of Lawrence's medical providers, Doctor Haymes, agreed that surgical repair of the hernia was necessary. However, it was delayed. On February 28, 2013, Plaintiff submitted an emergency grievance, complaining of extreme pain. He requested surgery. Warden Hodge denied the grievance on March 5, 2013 (Doc. 1, p. 6).

Plaintiff filed a second request for surgery on March 11, 2013, and a third request on April 27, 2013. He explained that the inordinate delay in surgery had caused him to suffer "extreme pain" for sixteen months (Doc. 1, p. 6). Still, surgery was not performed in response to either request.

Plaintiff instead sought pain medication on June 16, 2013. He was given Tylenol. Plaintiff met with Doctor Coe around June 19, 2013. After reviewing Plaintiff's chart, Doctor Coe agreed that Plaintiff was approved for "something, " but did not know what. Instead of surgery, Plaintiff was given a hernia belt, which proved to be ineffective (Doc. 1, p. 7). When Plaintiff again met with Doctor Coe around June 23, 2013, he requested stronger medication. Doctor Coe again agreed that Plaintiff was approved for "something, " but still did not know what.

Nurse Brooks met with Plaintiff on July 11, 2013. The nurse instructed Plaintiff to force the hernia "back in." When Plaintiff did so, he suffered unbearable pain. Unfortunately for Plaintiff, the hernia immediately "pop[p]ed back out, " returning to its original position (Doc. 1, p. 7).

On September 7, 2013, Plaintiff spoke directly to Warden Hodge. When Plaintiff asked Warden Hodge for surgery, the warden told Plaintiff that "[i]f [his] life was not in danger, they won't pay for [the] surgery" (Doc. 1, p. 8). More than seven months passed before surgery was approved.

Doctor Coe finally agreed to refer Plaintiff for surgery on April 24, 2014 (Doc. 1, p. 8). Plaintiff received a second approval from an outside provider on May 23, 2014. He underwent surgery to remove the hernia in his left testicle on September 5, 2014. In all, Plaintiff claims to have suffered through twenty-one months of unnecessary pain.

Plaintiff now sues six Lawrence officials in connection with these events, including Defendants Shah, Haymes, Brooks, Hardy, Coe, and Hodge. He asserts an Eighth Amendment deliberate indifference to medical needs claim against them (Doc. 1, p. 9). ...


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