United States District Court, C.D. Illinois
MERIT REVIEW OPINION
SUE E. MYERSCOUGH, District Judge.
Plaintiff, proceeding pro se and incarcerated in Jerome Combs Detention Center, files this civil rights complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging deliberate indifference to a serious medical need and failure to protect from harm in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment. In addition, Plaintiff seeks a temporary restraining order.
The case is before the Court for a merit review pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. In reviewing the Complaint, the Court accepts the factual allegations as true, liberally construing them in Plaintiff's favor. Turley v. Rednour, 729 F.3d 645, 649 (7th Cir. 2013). However, conclusory statements and labels are insufficient. Enough facts must be provided to "state a claim for relief that is plausible on its face.'" Alexander v. U.S., 721 F.3d 418, 422 (7th Cir. 2013)(quoted cite omitted).
Plaintiff alleges that his previously prescribed psychotropic medications were discontinued at the direction of Defendant John Doe, the physician's assistant at Jerome Combs Detention Center. Plaintiff alleges that three weeks elapsed from the time the medications were discontinued until Plaintiff was seen by the physician's assistant, at which point Plaintiff tried to explain that, when administered, the dosage of the psychotropic medications was too low. As a result, Plaintiff alleges that he obtained and ingested medications from other prisoners. Plaintiff's requests to be examined by a licensed psychiatrist were denied, as were his requests to take his medications in front of the medical staff. Subsequently, Plaintiff alleges he informed the prison staff that he was having suicidal thoughts, and began cutting his arms. Over approximately the next eight (8) days, Plaintiff alleges that he was placed in a restraint chair several times without medical staff supervision, improperly removed from suicide watch, and was denied medical treatment.
At the time of the alleged constitutional violation, Plaintiff was a pretrial detainee at Jerome Combs Detention Center. As a pretrial detainee, a prisoner's claim alleging unconstitutional conditions of confinement is governed by the Fourteenth Amendment Due Process Clause, rather than the Eighth Amendment prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment. Mayoral v. Sheahan, 245 F.2d 934, 938 (7th Cir. 2001). Despite this distinction, there exists "little practical difference between the two standards." Id. (quoting Weiss v. Cooley, 230 F.3d 1027, 1032 (7th Cir. 2000)).
Deliberate Indifference to a Serious Medical Need
Plaintiff alleges that Defendant John Doe, the physician's assistant, was deliberately indifferent to his serious mental health needs because he (Doe) discontinued Plaintiff's medications without first completing a medical assessment, refused to re-prescribe Plaintiff's psychotropic medications, and denied Plaintiff's requests to see a psychiatrist.
To prevail, Plaintiff must show that prison officials acted with deliberate indifference to a serious medical need. Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 104 (1976). Deliberate indifference is more than negligence, but does not require the plaintiff to show that the defendants intended to cause harm. Mayoral, 245 F.3d at 938. Liability attaches under the Eighth Amendment when "the official knows of and disregards an excessive risk to inmate health or safety; the official must both be aware of facts from which the inference could be drawn that a substantial risk of serious harm exists, and he must also draw the inference." Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 837 (1994).
Plaintiff alleges that he had previously been diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder, bipolar disorder, and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and, therefore, has shown that he suffers from a serious medical need. See King v. Kramer, 680 F.3d 1013, 1018 (7th Cir. 2012) ("An objectively serious medical need is one that has been diagnosed by a physician as mandating treatment or one that is so obvious that even a lay person would easily recognize the necessity for a doctor's attention." (internal quotations omitted)).
Plaintiff, however, has not shown that Defendant John Doe was deliberately indifferent to his medical need. Plaintiff does not allege that he received no medical treatment, only that the treatment he received was not what he desired. A mere disagreement with the course of treatment does not constitute a claim for deliberate indifference to a serious medical need. Snipes v. DeTella, 95 F.3d 586, 591 (7th Cir. 1996) (citations omitted). Plaintiff alleges that he went three weeks without receiving psychotropic medication and alleges no ill effects. According to the Complaint, Plaintiff's alleged suicidal thoughts did not originate until after the physician's assistant refused to re-prescribe the medication. Plaintiff has not alleged any facts that show Defendant John Doe could have been aware of the risk of Plaintiff cutting himself prior to his examination on October 31, 2013. Arguably, the only risk readily apparent at that time was the risk involved with Plaintiff taking unprescribed medications he obtained from other prisoners, which, it appears, the defendant attempted to remedy. Furthermore, Plaintiff's claim that he was refused a referral to a psychiatrist does not rise to the level of constitutional scrutiny. See id. at 592 ("[T]he Constitution is not a medical code that mandates specific medical treatment."); Pyles v. Fahim, 771 F.3d 403, 411 (7th Cir. 2014) ("A prison physician is not required to authorize a visit to a specialist in order to render constitutionally acceptable medical care."). Plaintiff, therefore, has failed to state a claim against Defendant John Doe.
As to the 14 remaining defendants, the exhibits Plaintiff provided with his Complaint, as well as the allegations contained therein, indicate that each time Plaintiff cut himself, prison staff provided medical care to the Plaintiff. In addition, the only factual allegation against Defendant Amy "Jane Doe" is that she was present during Defendant John Doe's examination of Plaintiff. From the facts alleged, the Court ...