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Lucas v. Wexford Medical Co.

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

July 17, 2015

SHAWN L. LUCAS, No. M07416, Plaintiff,


MICHAEL J. REAGAN, Chief District Judge.

Plaintiff Shawn L. Lucas, an inmate in Lawrence Correctional Center, brings this action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for deprivations of his constitutional rights, based on an alleged failure to afford him proper medical care and a related failure to respond to his grievances. Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1367, he also asserts supplemental state law claims for medical negligence/malpractice stemming from the same factual allegations.

Lucas's amended complaint (Doc. 11) is now before the Court for a preliminary review pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. The Court is required to dismiss any portion of the amended 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).

An action or claim is frivolous if "it lacks an arguable basis either in law or in fact." Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325 (1989). Frivolousness is an objective standard that refers to a claim that "no reasonable person could suppose to have any merit." Lee v. Clinton, 209 F.3d 1025, 1026-27 (7th Cir. 2000). An action fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted if it does not plead "enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). The claim of entitlement to relief must cross "the line between possibility and plausibility." Id. at 557. At this juncture, the factual allegations of the pro se complaint are to be liberally construed. See Rodriguez v. Plymouth Ambulance Serv., 577 F.3d 816, 821 (7th Cir. 2009).

The Amended Complaint

According to the amended complaint, in 2011 Plaintiff sought medical attention for an infection. It took almost a year for medical personnel at Lawrence to take him seriously, all the while his condition worsened. Plaintiff contends that during that year-long period his grievances were ignored, in violation of his right to due process. Nurse Hardy eventually told Plaintiff that he had a yeast infection and an enlarged prostate gland. Various medications were prescribed, but Plaintiff reacted badly, developing a rash. Plaintiff continued to seek treatment in the Health Care Unit, but he was generally told that nothing was wrong. Eventually, Plaintiff suffered from low blood pressure, organ failure and temporary blindness. He was taken to a hospital. The amended complaint suggests that there was a differential diagnosis of Stevens-Johnson Syndrome. Stevens-Johnson Syndrome is described as a "rare, serious" skin disorder-usually a reaction to a medication or infection. There are flu-like symptoms, a rash and blisters, and then the top layer of skin dies and sheds. ( (accessed July 16, 2015)).

Plaintiff repeatedly describes the failure to properly diagnose and treat him at Lawrence as the result of deliberate indifference, negligence, gross negligence and medical malpractice. Plaintiff seeks compensatory damages in the amount of $10 million[2] from the named defendants, Wexford Medical Co., Nurse Hardy, Dr. Fenoglio, Lawrence Correctional HCU and Pharmacy.


Although the applicable statutes of limitation may prove fatal to all of Plaintiff's claims, there is insufficient information before the Court to make that determination upon preliminary review. Consequently, review of the amended complaint will proceed.

Personal Involvement

As a general matter, Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)(2), requires a short plain statement showing the plaintiff is entitled to relief. Section 1983 creates a cause of action based on personal liability and predicated upon fault; "to be liable under [Section] 1983, an individual defendant must have caused or participated in a constitutional deprivation." Pepper v. Village of Oak Park, 430 F.3d 809, 810 (7th Cir. 2005) (citations omitted).

A review of the amended complaint reveals that no allegations within the narrative of the complaint pertain to defendant Wexford Medical Co. Merely naming a defendant in the caption is insufficient to state a claim. See Collins v. Kibort, 143 F.3d 331, 334 (7th Cir. 1998). Consequently, Wexford Medical Co. will be dismissed without prejudice.

The Lawrence Correctional Center's HCU (health care unit) and Pharmacy are named as defendants. The HCU and Pharmacy are merely departments within the prison, not entities that can be sued. At best, they are part of the Illinois Department of Corrections, which is, in effect, the State of Illinois. As drafted, the allegations regarding the HCU are unclear-referring to the HCU when it is clear that an individual is the proper subject, and at other times referring to policies and practices, but not offering any elaboration. The Pharmacy is not mentioned in the narrative of the complaint. In an abundance of caution the HCU and Pharmacy will be dismissed without prejudice.

Plaintiff should be aware that the Eleventh Amendment bars suits against an un-consenting state-including its agencies and officers in their official capacities-for monetary damages. See Edelman v. Jordan, 415 U.S. 651, 662-663 (1974); Indiana Protection and Advocacy Services v. Indiana Family and Social Services Administration, 603 F.3d 365, 370 (7th Cir. 2010). And, the Illinois Court of Claims is conferred with the ...

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