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Dukes v. Godinez

United States District Court, C.D. Illinois

February 27, 2015

SAVADOR GODINEZ, et. al., Defendant.


SARA DARROW, District Judge.

This cause is before the court for consideration of Plaintiff's motion for leave to file an amended complaint [25] and his motion to compel discovery. [47]


The Plaintiff, a pro se prisoner, filed his original complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §1983 claiming that his constitutional rights were violated at Pontiac Correctional Center by various Defendants. After reviewing Plaintiff's allegations pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §1915A, the court found the Plaintiff had adequately alleged Defendant Dr. Andrew Tilden and Nurse Jane Doe were deliberately indifferent to his serious medical condition on October 4, 2012 when they delayed care for a heart attack. See February 19, 2014 Merit Review Order. The Plaintiff also alleged the two Defendants committed the state law tort of intentional infliction of emotional distress. All other claims and Defendants were dismissed. See February 19, 2014 Merit Review Order.

The Plaintiff identified the Jane Doe Defendant as Nurse Theresa Leroy-Davis and filed his motion for leave to amend his complaint in hopes of adding new Defendants and clarifying his claims against some of the previously dismissed Defendants. [25] The motion is granted. [25]

The court is still required by §1915A to "screen" the Plaintiff's amended complaint, and through such process to identify and dismiss any legally insufficient claim, or the entire action if warranted. A claim is legally insufficient if it "(1) is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted; or (2) seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief." 28 U.S.C. §1915A.

The court first notes that after filing his motion to amend, the Plaintiff filed a motion to dismiss Nurse Leroy-Davis. [40]. Therefore, this Defendant is no longer in the case and the court will not consider the claims alleged against her in the previously filed motion to amend.

The Plaintiff has identified five other Defendants from Pontiac Correctional Center in his amended complaint including Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC) Director Salvador Godinez, Warden Randy Pfister, Health Care Administrator Terry Arroyo, Wexford Health Source's Chief Executive Officer Mark Hale and Dr. Andrew Tilden. [26]

The Plaintiff repeats his claim alleging Dr. Tilden delayed adequate medical care for nearly four hours on October 4, 2012 when Plaintiff was suffering from severe chest pains, left arm numbness, nausea, shortness of breath, dizziness and neck and back pain. The Plaintiff says he was eventually taken to an outside hospital where he spent the next two days in the Intensive Care Unit. The Plaintiff also claims Dr. Tilden intentionally delayed or denied the Plaintiff's prescribed follow-up care. The Plaintiff says he was directed to return to his cardiologist in four weeks, but he was not allowed to return for two months. In addition, the Plaintiff claims Dr. Tilden either denied of delayed required medications and follow-up testing. The Plaintiff claims as a result, his heart condition has deteriorated. The Plaintiff is reminded an "inmate who complains that a delay in medical treatment arose to a constitutional violation must place verifying medical evidence in the record to establish the detrimental effect of delay in medical treatment to succeed." Langston v. Peters, 100 F.3d 1235, 1240 (7th Cir. 1996). The Plaintiff has adequately alleged Dr. Tilden was deliberately indifferent to his serious medical condition when he delayed medical treatment on October 4, 2012 and delayed or denied a follow-up visit, medications and testing.

The Plaintiff claims IDOC Director Godinez knew Dr. Tilden and his employer, Wexford Health Sources, were not providing adequate medical treatment because the Plaintiff mailed numerous letters as well as copies of grievances and medical orders to the Director. As the court has previously explained, this is not sufficient to establish liability under §1983. The IDOC Director is responsible for overseeing all correctional facilities within the state which house thousands of inmates. An individual inmate can not establish liability against a supervisor who has no direct contact with him or even his institution by simply mailing letters or copies of grievances. See Burks v. Raemisch, 555 F.3d 592, 596 (7th Cir.2009) (a plaintiff cannot create liability on the part of an official who has no direct involvement in the matter, merely by writing a letter of complaint); Courtney v. Devore, 2014 WL 7003784, at *2 (7th Cir. 2014)(" chief administrators are ordinarily not personally liable for decisions made by subordinates, even if they receive a letter complaining about those decisions and do not intervene.")

In the same vein, the Plaintiff says Wexford's Chief Executive Officer is "personally responsible" for his inadequate medical care because his company provides medical care to IDOC inmates. Furthermore, the Plaintiff alleges Mark Hale "knew or reasonable should have known" that his employees have not provided adequate medical care to inmates based on previous unspecified grievances and reports. Again, the Plaintiff has failed to adequately state a claim and clearly named Hale as a Defendant simply because he is a supervisor. See Chavez v. Illinois State Police, 251 F.3d 612, 651 (7th Cir. 2001) (The doctrine of respondeat superior (supervisor liability) can not be used to hold a supervisor liable for conduct of a subordinate that violates a plaintiff's constitutional rights."); Olive v. Wexford Corp., 494 Fed.Appx. 671, 673 (7th Cir. 2012)("the head of the prison system's medical hierarchy, also cannot be vicariously liable" for the acts of an individual doctor).

The Plaintiff says Defendants Warden Pfister and Health Care Administrator Arroyo were deliberately indifferent because they knew of the substandard care and medical facilities prior to October 4, 2012. This general and conclusory allegation is insufficient to state a claim pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8.

The Plaintiff also alleges both Defendants Pfister and Arroyo were deliberately indifferent to his need for a follow-up medical care and testing, because each Defendant knew he was not receiving the prescribed care, but did not intervene. Specifically, the Plaintiff says he sent numerous grievances to Defendant Pfister, but the Warden responded by telling the Plaintiff to "address his medical issues with someone else" and the Plaintiff says most of his grievances "ended up in Defendant Arroyo's Health Care Unit." (Amd. Comp., p. 8). The Warden is not a medical employee and is not liable simply because he is involved in the grievance procedure and denied grievances after receiving input from the Health Care Unit. See George v. Smith, 507 F.3d 605, 609-10 (7th Cir.2007) ("Ruling against a prisoner on an administrative complaint does not cause or contribute to the [constitutional] violation."); Love v. Scaife, 586 Fed.Appx. 234, 235 (7th Cir. 2014)(district court could dismiss prison administrators at initial screening because they "cannot be liable under § 1983 simply because they participated in addressing inmate grievances."); see also Greeno v. Daley, 414 F.3d 645, 655-56 (7th Cir.2005)("We do not think [a prison official's] failure to take further action once he had referred the matter to the medical providers can be viewed as deliberate indifference."); see also Hoban v. Godinez, 502 Fed.Appx. 574, 578-79 (7th Cir. 2012)(top-level administrators are entitled to relegate to others the primary responsibility for specific prison functions without becoming vicariously liable for the failings of their subordinates).

On the other hand, Defendant Arroyo is the Healthcare Administrator who is responsible for managing the medical unit. The Plaintiff says despite numerous letters to Defendant Arroyo, she never assisted in providing the Plaintiff with the prescribed follow-up treatment or appointments. The Plaintiff has adequately alleged Defendant Arroyo ...

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