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Green v. Godinez

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

July 6, 2015

JERMELL GREEN, Plaintiff,
v.
SALVADOR A. GODINEZ, THOMAS SPILLER, WEXFORD HEALTH SOURCES, INC., VENERIO M. SANTOS, T.B. FINNEY, A. SHAW, DR. SHAH, ANGEL RECTOR, MARSHA HILL, L. RIDGEWAY, CENTRALIA WARDEN, JANE DOE 1, JANE DOE 2, JANE DOE 3, and JANE DOE 4, [1] Defendants.

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

STACI M. YANDLE, District Judge.

Plaintiff Jermell Green is currently incarcerated at the Pinckneyville Correctional Center in Pinckneyville, Illinois, but was previously incarcerated at the Centralia Correctional Center in Centralia, Illinois. (Doc. 1 at 1-2.) Proceeding pro se, Green has filed a complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against a number of prison officials and medical staff, alleging that all involved improperly treated his hernia during his tenure at both prisons. ( Id. at 4-10.) Green seeks a declaratory judgment, monetary damages, and preliminary injunctive relief. ( Id. at 10-11.)

This matter is now before the Court for a preliminary review of Green's complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. Under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, the Court shall review a "complaint in a civil action in which a prisoner seeks redress from a governmental entity or officer or employee of a government entity." During this preliminary review under § 1915A, the court "shall identify cognizable claims or dismiss the complaint, or any portion of the complaint, " if the complaint "is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted" or if it "seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief."

Background

Green's hernia issues began while he was working out in the Centralia Correctional Center's institutional gym in early 2014. ( Id. at 4.) While lifting weights, Green experienced a sharp pain in his groin, and asked for medical assistance. ( Id. ) Green saw a health care nurse on March 12, 2014, who Green has dubbed Jane Doe 4 in his narrative.[2] ( Id. ) The nurse referred Green to a physician at the prison. ( Id. at 7.) Green saw Dr. Santos the same day - Santos diagnosed Green with an inguinal hernia and prescribed him a hernia belt for treatment. ( Id. at 4.) Shortly thereafter, Green was placed in Centralia's segregation unit for reasons that he says are unrelated to this case, and was later moved to Pinckneyville. ( Id. )

After his arrival at Pinckneyville, Green suffered from pain and bleeding from his penis. ( Id. ) He complained to prison officials and was seen by medical staff at Pinckneyville; an unnamed doctor in the medical unit told Green that nothing could be done. ( Id. at 4-5.) After his visit with the unnamed doctor, Green returned to segregation, and yet again experienced bleeding from his groin. ( Id. at 5.) He showed his underwear to Corrections Officer Miller to prove it, and Miller took Green to see Dr. Shah, the "segregation unit doctor." ( Id. ) Green showed Shah his bloody underwear and Shah examined Green's groin area. ( Id. ) Shah told Green that all he could do was prescribe an ice pack and pain pills, and sent Green on his way. ( Id. )

From June 2014 to September 2014, Green returned several times to the unit at Pinckneyville, still suffering from problems with his hernia. Nurse Hill saw Green on June 29, 2014 and noted the appearance of a lump and blood on Green's underwear. ( Id. ) Three Jane Doe nurses - designated Jane Doe 1, 2, and 3 in Green's complaint - saw Green on July 30, July 31, and August 12, 2014, respectively. ( Id. at 6.) Jane Doe 1 and 2 observed blood on Green's underwear, while Jane Doe 3 noted bleeding from his penis and a hernia. ( Id. ) Nurse Practitioner Rector saw Green on August 13, 2014, and noted his hernia, his bleeding, and his fear related to these symptoms. ( Id. at 6-7.) Green was then seen by radiology, and x-rays indicated a hernia. ( Id. at 7.) Nurse Peek and Nurse Ridgeway saw Green on September 1 and September 22, 2014, respectively, and documented blood on his boxers. ( Id. at 6.) Both nurses chalked the blood up to excessive masturbation, and told Green to let the irritation heal. ( Id. )

By 2015, Green's problems had still not improved. On February 4, 2015, he again saw Rector; he told her that he was experiencing intense pain, that he had been in pain for over a year, and that he wanted surgery. ( Id. at 7.) Rector told Green there was nothing she could do and that he should continue to wear the hernia belt. ( Id. ) On February 18, 2015, Green saw Jane Doe 3, a nurse in the unit, again requesting surgery. ( Id. ) On March 2, 2015, Green saw Ridgeway, telling her that his hernia was "a golf-ball size" and that he wanted help. ( Id. ) Despite his many visits, Green claims that all of the medical staff "refuse[d] to treat" him. ( Id. )

Green says he filed grievances about his lack of hernia treatment, but received no relief through the prison administrative process. ( Id. at 4.) Unsatisfied with the prison's response, Green filed his § 1983 complaint in this Court on May 28, 2015. ( Id. at 1.)

Discussion

Green has tried to subdivide his case into two discrete counts, but both of his separate counts are species of Eighth Amendment deliberate indifference claims, so his effort to subdivide is a bit confusing. He has also failed to tease out his claim against Wexford Health Sources, whose liability is evaluated under a slightly different test than his claims against prison staff. To facilitate the management of future proceedings, and in accordance with the objectives of Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 8 and 10, the Court finds it appropriate to re-divide the claims in Green's pro se complaint into the following counts, as shown below. The parties and the Court will use these designations in all pleadings and orders, unless otherwise directed by the Court. The designation of these counts does not constitute an opinion as to their merit.

COUNT 1: Godinez, the Centralia Warden, Spiller, Santos, Shah, Rector, Ridgeway, Shaw, Finney, Hill, and Jane Does 1 through 4 failed to provide treatment or provided inadequate treatment for Green's hernia condition, in violation of the Eighth Amendment of the United States Constitution.
COUNT 2: Wexford Health Sources promulgated rules, regulations, policies, and procedures for the medical care of prisoners, and in doing so violated the Eighth Amendment of the United States Constitution.

Green's complaint focuses primarily on individual capacity claims against various prison staff for failure to treat his hernia condition, so the Court will start there (Count 1). To put forth a viable medical claim under the Eighth Amendment, Green must allege that prison officials were "deliberately indifferent to his serious medical needs." Sherrod v. Lingle, 223 F.3d 605, 610 (7th Cir. 2000). This claim involves a two-part inquiry: the plaintiff must first show that his condition "was objectively serious, " and ...


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