United States District Court, S.D. Illinois
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
MICHAEL J. REAGAN U.S. Chief District Judge
Ivan Moctezuma, an inmate who is currently incarcerated at
Centralia Correctional Center (“Centralia”),
brings this pro se action for alleged violations of
his constitutional rights under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (Doc.
1). Plaintiff claims that Defendant, Doctor Benerio Santos,
has failed to adequately diagnose his medical condition and
has demonstrated deliberate indifference to his ongoing need
for medical care (Id. at 5). In essence, the
Plaintiff alleges that he is suffering from inexplicable
chronic pain, and that the treatment he has received has been
insufficient to either determine the root cause of his
ailment or to alleviate the symptoms (Id.). In
connection with these claims, Plaintiff sues Benerio Santos
(doctor), and Wexford Health (Centralia medical contractor)
for monetary damages and injunctive relief.
case is now before the Court for a 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 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 will be
allowed to proceed in its entirety against Defendant Santos.
Defendant Wexford Medical is dismissed.
statement of his claims is impressively succinct (Doc. 1 at
5). He alleges that he is experiencing ongoing weakness in
his legs, pain in his knees and hips, difficulty walking or
lying down for long periods of time, easy bruising, and head
and neck pressure (Id.). He reports that he has
requested numerous medical appointments, and that Santos has
continually failed to diagnose his condition (Id.).
Apparently, Santos has told the Plaintiff that “nothing
is wrong” with him (Id.). Santos has
prescribed medications, though they do not work to alleviate
the symptoms (Id.). Plaintiff alleges that
Santos’ conduct constitutes deliberate indifference and
subjects him to cruel and unusual punishment. (Id.).
to the Complaint, Plaintiff has included 12 pages of
grievances he filed seeking further medical treatment
(Id. at 7-18). The grievances span from September
2015 through March 2016 (Id.). The grievances
generally reflect an ongoing pattern of the Plaintiff seeing
Santos, Santos providing an incremental change in care,
Plaintiff grieving that he is not getting adequate care, and
the grievance officials deeming the progression of care
adequate (Id.). From September through March the
Plaintiff has received a CAT scan, lab testing, and
ultrasound screening, which all produced “normal”
results (Id.). The grievances note that the
Plaintiff was successfully treated for stomach issues and
slight dehydration (Id. at 11). In approximately
November, the Plaintiff was prescribed medication for his
pain, though he alleges that he does not know why the
medication was prescribed and that it did not alleviate the
symptoms (Id. at 7-8). At a November visit Santos
allegedly told him he “was crazy and that [he]
didn’t know what [he] was talking about.”
(Id.). Aside from Santos, the Plaintiff also
apparently saw a Dr. Garcia on at least one occasion, and the
two doctors were reportedly working together to monitor the
Plaintiff as of December 2015 (Id. at 9).
on the allegations, the Court finds it appropriate to treat
the Plaintiff’s Complaint as containing a single issue
of Eighth Amendment deliberate indifference. This legal
theory will encompass both of the claims that the Plaintiff
asserted in his own pleading-failure to treat and generic
deliberate indifference. Because those two claims are so
similar in nature, and share many common legal principles, it
is best that they proceed in tandem.
Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution protects
prisoners from cruel and unusual punishment. See
U.S. CONST. amend. VIII. The Supreme Court has held that
“deliberate indifference to serious medical needs of
prisoners” may constitute cruel and unusual punishment.
Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 104 (1976); see
Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2006) (per curiam).
To state a medical claim under the Eighth Amendment, a
plaintiff must show that his condition “was objectively
serious, ” and that officials acted with the requisite
intent-deliberate indifference-towards that condition.
Sherrod v. Lingle, 223 F.3d 605, 610 (7th Cir.
2000). Put differently, a plaintiff must make a two part
showing-(1) that his condition is objectively serious, and
that, (2) subjectively, the treating physician intentionally
and deliberately failed to provide adequate care. See
Gutierrez v. Peters, 111 F.3d 1364, 1369 (7th Cir.
an injury is serious enough is a very fact specific
inquiry-seriousness may be shown if an ordinary doctor opined
an injury warranted treatment, if an injury significantly
impacted an individual’s daily activities, or if an
injury caused chronic or substantial pain, among other
things. Id. As to the subjective component, an
official “must both be aware of facts from which the
inference could be drawn that a substantial risk of serious
harm exists, and he must also draw the inference.”
Jackson v. Ill. Medi-Car, Inc., 300 F.3d 760, 765
(7th Cir. 2002). If an official reasonably responds to a
risk, even if harm was not averted, deliberate indifference
does not exist. Id. A claim for medical negligence
does not amount to deliberate indifference.
Gutierrez, 111 F.3d at 1369.
Plaintiff’s alleged conditions-chronic pain,
significant weight loss, and an increasing loss of
mobility-are objectively serious for purposes of an Eighth
Amendment claim. See Id. at 1373. Plaintiff's
claim also passes the subjective hurdle at this juncture
because allegations of a failure to treat in the face of an
objectively serious medical condition can constitute
indifference, depending on the circumstances. See Arnett
v. Webster, 658 F.3d 742, 753 (7th Cir. 2011) (noting
that intentional delays or treatment, or intentional failure
to follow a recommended course of treatment can constitute
deliberate indifference); McGowan v. Hulick, 612
F.3d 636, 640-41 (7th Cir. 2010) (reiterating that the
subjective state of the medical actor in the provision of
medical care, or lack thereof, is a critical factual
determination). The Plaintiff’s claim may ultimately
turn on whether Defendant Santos’ course of treatment
was reasonable in light of the Plaintiff’s complaints.
If the treatment was reasonable, the claim will fail, if it
was not, the claim may succeed. See Jackson, 300
F.3d at 765. In any event, the Court cannot resolve this
question at this juncture, so the Complaint will proceed
against Defendant Santos.
complaint may not, however, proceed against Wexford at this
time. Wexford is a corporate entity and is therefore treated
as a municipality for § 1983 purposes. See Id.
at 766, n.6. “[T]o maintain a § 1983 claim against
a municipality, [a plaintiff] must establish the requisite
culpability (a 'policy or custom' attributable to
municipal policymakers) and the requisite causation (the
policy or custom was the 'moving force' behind the
constitutional deprivation).” Gable v. City of
Chicago, 296 F.3d 531, 537 (7th Cir. 2002). Here,
Plaintiff has not alleged any custom or policy attributable
to Wexford that impacted the level of care he received.
See, e.g., Olive v. Wexford Corp., 494 F.
App’x 671, 673 (7th Cir. 2012) (allegation that Wexford
had a policy of “denying prison inmates adequate
medical care” insufficient, as it did not
“identify any concrete policy, let alone an
unconstitutional one.”). Therefore, Wexford is
dismissed without prejudice.
has filed a Motion for Recruitment of Counsel (Doc. 3), which
shall be REFERRED to United States Magistrate ...