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Stoces v. Obasi

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

April 3, 2015

ROBERT STOCES, # K-92749, Plaintiff,



Plaintiff Robert Stoces, an inmate at Lawrence Correctional Center ("Lawrence"), brings this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff asserts claims under the Eighth Amendment, as well as Illinois state law, against three health care providers at Lawrence: Dr. Obasi, Dr. Wahl, and Dr. Larson. He also asserts a claim against Wexford Health Services, a private corporation that provides health care to Illinois inmates pursuant to a contract with the Illinois Department of Corrections. (Doc. 1).

In February 2013, Plaintiff was diagnosed with colon cancer. (Doc. 1, p. 12). Plaintiff claims that Defendants refused to order diagnostic tests in a timely manner that were essential to detecting Plaintiff's colon cancer; instead they insisted on a course of treatment that was ineffective. Id. Plaintiff seeks monetary relief.

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 § 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).

The Complaint

The following facts are most relevant to the Court's threshold review. Plaintiff was incarcerated at Lawrence Correctional Center ("Lawrence") at the time the events in question occurred. He first visited the healthcare unit at Lawrence about his bowel problems in January 2010. (Doc. 1, p. 8). At that time, Plaintiff was provided Metamucil. Id. Plaintiff followed up with Defendant Obasi (a medical doctor at Lawrence) several times later in 2010, including June 1, June 5, July 21, and December 6. Each time, he was prescribed the same course of treatment (Metamucil). Id.

In December 2010, Plaintiff became increasingly concerned about his bowel problems. His family had done research, based on a description of his symptoms, and they were concerned that he might have colon cancer. Id. Plaintiff saw Defendant Obasi again on December 27, 2010. At that appointment, Plaintiff shared his concerns about colon cancer and requested a series of diagnostic tests, including a colonoscopy. Id. Dr. Obasi responded that because a colonoscopy is an expensive procedure, only the Medical Director could decide whether to order it. Id. at 9. Defendant Obasi further explained that Plaintiff would have to have "serious" evidence for a colonoscopy to be approved. Defendant Obasi continued to treat Plaintiff with the same ineffective treatment at several follow-up appointments in 2011. Id.

In July 2012, Plaintiff was seen by a physician assistant who finally ordered tests on Plaintiff's stools. Id. Plaintiff saw Defendant Wahl (a medical doctor at Lawrence) in August 2012. The first round of tests was negative, but later tests taken from mid-August to the end of October 2012 showed blood in Plaintiff's stool. Id. Defendant Wahl suggested that the blood in the stool might simply be the result of hemorrhoids. Defendant Wahl performed a prostate examination, but no hemorrhoids were found. Id. Still, no colonoscopy was ordered.

Plaintiff was next seen by Defendant Larson (another medical doctor at Lawrence) in December 2012. Id. at 10. Plaintiff again requested a colonoscopy and explained that the blood in his stool had increased. Defendant Larson also refused Plaintiff's request for a colonoscopy and instead prescribed fiber tabs. Id.

Finally, on January 18, 2013, Plaintiff was seen by Dr. Shepard. Upon examining Plaintiff and seeing blood, Dr. Shepard immediately referred Plaintiff for a colonoscopy. Id. A colonoscopy was performed at Pekin M. Hospital on February 12, 2013. Following the colonoscopy, Plaintiff was informed that he almost certainly had colon cancer. Id. Staff at the hospital wanted to follow up that day with a CT scan and prepped Plaintiff for the procedure. But right before it was to begin, correctional officers came in and said that Plaintiff was not there for a CT scan and took him immediately back to Lawrence. Nearly a month later, Plaintiff finally underwent a CT scan, which confirmed that Plaintiff had colon cancer and required surgery. Id. at 11. Finally, on April 15, 2013, Plaintiff had a seven-hour surgery to remove eight inches of his intestines. Id.

Plaintiff asserts that the cancer would not have spread as far as it did had Defendants addressed his concerns in a timely manner. Plaintiff contends that Defendants Obasi, Wahl, and Larson refused to order appropriate diagnostic tests due to cost-cutting policies adopted and enforced by Defendant Wexford Health Services ("Wexford"). Id. at 20.


To facilitate the orderly management of future proceedings in this case, and in accordance with the objectives of Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 8(e) and 10(b), the Court finds it appropriate to organize the claims in Plaintiff's pro se complaint, as shown below. The parties and the Court will use these designations in all future pleadings and orders, unless otherwise directed by a judicial ...

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