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Lyones v. I.D.O.C., Lawrence Correctional Center

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

August 10, 2016

BOBBY JOE LYONES, #2014-0621199, Plaintiff,
v.
I.D.O.C., LAWRENCE CORRECTIONAL CENTER, and UNKNOWN PARTIES, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          NANCY J. ROSENSTENGEL UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Plaintiff Bobby Joe Lyones, who is currently confined at Cook County Jail, brings this pro se civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the Illinois Department of Corrections (“IDOC”), Lawrence Correctional Center (“Lawrence”), and various unknown doctors and a nurse (“unknown parties”) who allegedly denied him adequate medical treatment for his vision loss. According to the complaint, Plaintiff was treated for vision problems during his incarceration at Lawrence in 2009, 2010, and 2014 (Doc. 1, pp. 4-5). Doctor Ross, an eye doctor at Lawrence, referred Plaintiff to Doctor Oak at Marion Eye Center in Mount Vernon, Illinois (id. at 4). Doctor Oak surgically replaced the lens in Plaintiff’s left eye, but later realized that he used the wrong-sized lens. After Doctor Oak performed corrective surgery, Plaintiff suffered from a detached retina. Doctor Oak, or his partner, performed a third surgery to repair the detached retina.

         Plaintiff believed that the third surgery was successful. But according to the complaint, it was not. Instead of restoring his vision, Plaintiff suffered further vision loss (id. at 5). He transitioned from reading glasses to bifocals.

         In 2010, Plaintiff met with Doctor Omugah, a glaucoma specialist. Doctor Omugah told Plaintiff that he was blind in his right eye and had probably suffered from right-eye blindness for twenty years. The doctor also told Plaintiff that the stitches in his left eye “would be there for the rest of [Plaintiff’s] life” (id.).

         Plaintiff transferred to Dixon Correctional Center (“Dixon”) in 2011 and was monitored by Doctor Hicks for the next two years. During this time period, Doctor Hicks sent him “across the street to an eye center, ” where the stitches in his left eye were removed because they were “starting to come out” (id.). As a result of this procedure, Plaintiff experienced a “lot of pain and suffering” (id.).

         Following a transfer back to Lawrence, Plaintiff underwent his fourth eye surgery in October 2014. Doctor Ross referred Plaintiff to Doctor Omugah for the surgery, which took eight hours to perform and was also unsuccessful. Plaintiff suffered further vision loss and persistent eye pain. During a follow-up appointment at Stroger’s Hospital in Chicago, Illinois, Plaintiff learned that “the surgery had failed” (id.). Although “they” attempted to treat him for a “few months, ” Plaintiff alleges that his vision continued to deteriorate, and his pain did not subside (id.). Plaintiff now requires the use of bifocals, dark shades, and a “blind man’s cane” (id.). He suffers from headaches that include migraines.

         In connection with these events, Plaintiff now sues the IDOC, Lawrence, and “unknown parties” including doctors and a nurse. In his request for relief, Plaintiff asks “to be compensated for all [his] pain and suffering while here at the Cook County Jail” (id. at 6) (emphasis added).

         Merits Review Under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A

         This 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).

         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). 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). For the reasons explained below, the complaint does not survive preliminary review under this standard and shall therefore be dismissed.

         Discussion

         To facilitate the orderly management of future proceedings in this case and in accordance with the objectives of Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 8(e) and 10(b), the Court deems it appropriate to organize the claim in Plaintiff’s pro se complaint into the following enumerated count:

         COUNT 1: Defendants exhibited deliberate indifference to Plaintiff’s serious medical needs when they failed to properly treat his left eye vision loss and associated pain.

         The Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution protects prisoners from cruel and unusual punishment. See Berry v. Peterman, 604 F.3d 435 (7th Cir. 2010). The Supreme Court has recognized 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 claim, a prisoner must show that the medical condition was sufficiently serious (i.e., an objective standard), and state officials acted with deliberate indifference to the prisoner’s health or safety (i.e., a subjective standard). Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 834 (1994); Chapman v. Keltner, 241 F.3d 842, 845 (7th Cir. 2001).

         The medical needs described in the complaint satisfy the objective standard for screening purposes. The Seventh Circuit has held that a medical need is “serious” where it has either “been diagnosed by a physician as mandating treatment” or where the need is “so obvious that even a lay person would easily recognize the necessity for a doctor’s attention.” Gutierrez v. Peters,111 F.3d 1364, 1373 (7th Cir. 1997). The Seventh Circuit has recognized that vision loss associated with ...


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