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Johnson v. Shah

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

May 4, 2015

MICHAEL JOHNSON, # B-64071, Plaintiff,
v.
VIPIN K. SHAH, CHRISTINE BROWN, and ANGEL RECTOR, Defendants.

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

STACI M. YANDLE, District Judge.

Plaintiff Michael Johnson, an inmate who is currently incarcerated at Lawrence Correctional Center ("Menard"), brings this action for the deprivation of his constitutional rights under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff claims that during his incarceration at Pinckneyville Correctional Center ("Pinckneyville") in 2013, he was denied adequate medical care for an H. pylori infection. For five months, he endured painful and persistent symptoms before he was properly diagnosed and treated. Plaintiff now sues three Pinckneyville officials, Vipin Shah (medical director), Christine Brown (health care unit administrator), and Angel Rector (nurse practitioner), for responding to his requests for treatment with deliberate indifference in violation of the Eighth Amendment. He seeks declaratory judgment and monetary damages.

Merits Review Under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A

This matter is now before the Court for 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 must 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 survives preliminary review under this standard.

The Complaint

For a period of nearly five months in 2013, Plaintiff suffered from a broad range of symptoms, including hypertension, high cholesterol, severe stomach pains, bloating, fatigue, diarrhea, constipation, gastrointestinal distress, vomiting, insomnia, acne, rashes, depression, heartburn, nausea, and acid reflux (Doc. 1, pp. 5-6, 8). These symptoms occurred on a daily basis and typically increased in severity after meals.

On June 2nd, Plaintiff submitted a request for an appointment in Pinckneyville's health care unit ("HCU"). After twelve days without a response, Plaintiff protested by surrendering all of his medications (Doc. 1, pp. 8-9). He refused to take more until he was seen in the HCU.

On June 18th, Doctor Shah met with Plaintiff (Doc. 1, p. 8). But instead of discussing Plaintiff's symptoms, Doctor Shah would only discuss Plaintiff's refusal to take his medications. He told Plaintiff to "put in for (nurse sick call), " if Plaintiff wanted to address any other health care concerns (Id. ).

Therefore, on June 20th, Plaintiff submitted a nurse sick call request, in which he reiterated his request for treatment (Doc. 1, p. 9). Plaintiff subsequently met with several nurses, who are not named as defendants in this action. The nurses would not provide him with pain medication for the remainder of that week.

Plaintiff submitted two additional sick call requests on July 3rd and July 14th. Nurse Little, who is also not named as a defendant in this action, met with Plaintiff on July 16th After hearing about his symptoms, Nurse Little advised Plaintiff to speak with the nurse practitioner. Plaintiff was provided with no medication to treat his underlying condition or symptoms at that time (Doc. 1, p. 10).

On July 24th, Plaintiff directed a letter and a request for treatment to HCU Administrator Brown and Nurse Practitioner Rector (Doc. 1, p. 11). In the letter, Plaintiff described his symptoms and health complications in detail. During this same time period, Plaintiff's condition grew worse. He began complaining to the nurses in the medical line. He requested pain medication for his stomach pain. Plaintiff's blood pressure spiked, allegedly because of his persistent pain.

Plaintiff again met with Doctor Shah on July 30th to discuss his stomach pain and hypertension. Once again, Doctor Shah refused to discuss Plaintiff's symptoms. Instead, he focused on Plaintiff's hypertension.

In July and August, Plaintiff conducted his own research to self-diagnose his condition (Doc. 1, p. 12). Based on this research, Plaintiff suspected that he was suffering from thyroid dysfunction, and he requested a blood test (Doc. 1, p. 6; Doc. 1-1, pp. 9-10). Plaintiff also suspected a soy allergy; instead of a soy allergy test, however, he requested a soy-free diet (Doc. 1, p. 5; Doc. 1-1, pp. 9-10, 13-14). The request for a soy-free diet was denied[1] (Doc. 1, p. 7; Doc. 1-1, p. 10). He then reached out to other individuals, such as the nurses in the medical line, the statewide medical director, and officials at Wexford Health Sources, Inc. (Doc. 1, pp. 12-13).

On August 20th, Plaintiff again wrote a letter to Nurse Practitioner Rector (Doc. 1, p. 13). He described his symptoms and repeated his request for treatment. He met with Nurse Practitioner Rector on August 29th and again on September 12th. In addition to discussing his hypertension, Plaintiff discussed his other symptoms with Nurse Practitioner Rector. These symptoms included stomach pain, vomiting, and diarrhea (Doc. 1, p. 13). She said that it was a "good thing" that Plaintiff was having frequent bowel movements, ...


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