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Holmes v. Shah

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

July 21, 2015

MONTRELL HOLMES, # B-04248, Plaintiff,


J. PHIL GILBERT, District Judge.

Plaintiff, currently incarcerated at Illinois River Correctional Center ("IRCC"), has brought this pro se civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. His claims arose during his confinement at Pinckneyville Correctional Center ("Pinckneyville"). Plaintiff asserts that Defendants were deliberately indifferent to his serious medical condition.

Plaintiff submitted copies of several grievances and letters along with his complaint; the factual summary below is gleaned from those documents as well as from Plaintiff's statement of claim. In July 2014, Plaintiff injured his left shoulder when he was hit during activity on the yard at Pinckneyville (Doc. 1, pp. 5, 9, 12). He did not immediately seek medical care, in hopes that the injury would get better on its own. However, the pain became worse, and Plaintiff began to have stiffness/freezing of the joint as well as limited movement.

In September 2014, Plaintiff signed up for sick call, and was seen by Defendant Barron on September 27. He informed her that his shoulder pain might be from a tear in his rotator cuff area. She gave Plaintiff Tylenol for the pain. Plaintiff told her that he had already been taking Tylenol for several weeks and it did not work, as his pain and stiffness had become worse. However, Defendant Barron stated she could not offer any other medication. According to her protocol, Plaintiff would have to sign up for sick call three times before he could be referred to the doctor. Plaintiff asked for a referral to the physician's assistant, but Defendant Barron refused, saying Plaintiff could take the Tylenol or leave it, and that was all she would do (Doc. 1, p. 5).

Plaintiff filed a grievance on September 27 over Defendant Barron's denial of adequate medical care (Doc. 1, pp. 14-15). Defendant Brown (the Health Care Administrator) responded that Plaintiff could have been referred to the doctor at his first visit to the nurse if it was medically indicated, and the nurse could not give him anything stronger than Tylenol (Doc. 1, p. 14).

Plaintiff wrote letters to Defendant Shiply (Pinckneyville Director of Nurses) on October 5 and November 16, 2014 (Doc. 1, pp. 9-10, 12-13). Both letters complained that Defendant Barron refused to refer him to the doctor or physician's assistant, despite the fact that Plaintiff's shoulder pain had worsened since his July 2014 injury, and he had been experiencing paralysis and freezing of the shoulder joint. He stated he had previously faced a similar problem with his right shoulder, which led to surgeries and permanent damage to his right arm. Defendant Shiply never responded to these letters (Doc. 1, pp. 18-19).

Plaintiff went back to sick call two other times, and in mid-November 2014, a different nurse referred him to see Defendant Dr. Shah. Defendant Shah believed Plaintiff was suffering from arthritis due to old injuries, but Plaintiff insisted he had never injured his left shoulder before the July 2014 incident. Defendant Shah prescribed Naproxen and ordered an x-ray, even though Plaintiff said he had a possible muscle tear in his shoulder. This test was performed, but Plaintiff was never informed of the results while he remained at Pinckneyville. Plaintiff wrote another letter on December 10, 2014, to Defendant Shiply, complaining that he was still in pain and was still waiting for the results of the x-ray taken two weeks ago (Doc. 1, p. 11). He requested her help to get proper medical care from Defendant Shah. He never received any response.

On January 5, 2015, Plaintiff filed another grievance, complaining that Defendant Shah had never called him back to give him the x-ray results, and he had never been given any more pain medication since he used up the single "bubble-pack" of Naproxen from Defendant Shah (Doc. 1, pp. 18-19). He requested treatment for the ongoing pain and stiffening of his left arm.

In mid-January 2015, Plaintiff was transferred to IRCC. He consulted a nurse there, who told him the x-ray showed Plaintiff did not have any broken bones. Plaintiff states that an unnamed medical provider recommended that he have an MRI, but this has not been done.

Plaintiff is still experiencing pain, stiffness, and freezing of his shoulder joint. He has been treated with Ibuprofen, analgesic balm, an injection of Toradol, and had a cortisone injection in April 2015. None of these treatments, however, have relieved his pain (Doc. 1, p. 6).

In addition to the Defendants named above, Plaintiff includes Wexford Health Sources, Inc. ("Wexford") as a Defendant. The Court could find no reference to Defendant Wexford in the statement of claim, other than Plaintiff's statements that Wexford is the employer of the individual Defendants (Doc. 1, pp. 1-2).

As relief, Plaintiff states that he wants an "adequate examination and MRI, and [to] receive treatment that will stop the pain/stiffening of [his] upper left shoulder" (Doc. 1, p. 7). He does not seek money damages, but he wants the Defendants who denied him care to be "reprimanded for unprofessional conduct/treatment." Id.

Merits Review Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A

Under § 1915A, the Court is required to conduct a prompt threshold review of the complaint, and to dismiss any claims that are frivolous, malicious, fail to state a claim on which relief may be granted, or seek monetary relief from an immune defendant.

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. Conversely, a complaint is plausible on its face "when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). Although the Court is obligated to accept factual allegations as true, see Smith v. Peters, 631 F.3d 418, 419 (7th Cir. 2011), some factual allegations may be so sketchy or implausible that they fail to provide sufficient notice of a plaintiff's claim. Brooks v. Ross, 578 F.3d 574, 581 (7th Cir. 2009). Additionally, Courts "should not accept as adequate abstract recitations of the elements of a cause of action or conclusory legal statements." Id. At the same time, however, the factual allegations of a pro se complaint are to be liberally construed. See Rodriguez v. Plymouth Ambulance Serv., 577 F.3d 816, 821 (7th Cir. 2009).

Based on the allegations of the complaint, the Court finds it convenient to divide the pro se action into the following counts. The parties and the Court will use these designations in all future pleadings and orders, unless otherwise directed by a judicial officer of this Court. The ...

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