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Johnson v. Williams

United States District Court, C.D. Illinois

August 12, 2016

MARK N. WILLIAMS, et al., Defendants.



         The plaintiff, proceeding pro se, and currently incarcerated in the East Moline Correctional Center (“E.M.C.C.”), was granted leave to proceed in forma pauperis. The plaintiff’s original complaint was dismissed, with leave to file an amended complaint. The plaintiff filed his motion to file amended complaint on June 27, 2016, which the court grants. The case is now before the court for a merit review of plaintiff’s claims. The court is required by 28 U.S.C. § 1915A to “screen” the plaintiff’s complaint, and through such process to identify and dismiss any legally insufficient claim, or the entire action if warranted. A claim is legally insufficient if it “(1) is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted; or (2) seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief.” 28 U.S.C. § 1915A.

         In reviewing the amended complaint, the court accepts the factual allegations as true, liberally construing them in the plaintiff's favor. Turley v. Rednour, 729 F.3d 645, 649 (7th Cir. 2013). However, conclusory statements and labels are insufficient. Enough facts must be provided to “state a claim for relief that is plausible on its face.” Alexander v. U.S., 721 F.3d 418, 422 (7th Cir. 2013)(citation omitted). The court has reviewed the amended complaint and has also held a merit review hearing in order to give the plaintiff a chance to personally explain his claims to the court.

         The plaintiff filed this lawsuit pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 claiming Dr. Rankin was deliberately indifferent to his serious medical condition while at E.M.C.C.. The plaintiff says he had eye swelling and pain caused by an orbital mass condition, but each time he saw Dr. Rankin, the doctor refused to provide anything for pain and misdiagnosed his condition for five months.

         While misdiagnosis itself may not be a constitutional violation, the plaintiff says the doctor refused to consider or treat his pain, and he has lost vision in his eye. See Maus v. Murphy, 29 Fed.Appx. 365, 369 (7th Cir. 2002)(“misdiagnosis by itself does not amount to the kind of deliberate indifference prohibited by the Eighth Amendment.”); Williams v. Guzman, 346 Fed.Appx. 102, 106 (7th Cir. 2009)(“misdiagnosis is insufficient to satisfy the subjective component of the a deliberate indifference claim…”); Gutierrez v. Peters, 111 F.3d 1364, 137 (7th Cir. 1997)(“[m]edical malpractice in the form of an incorrect diagnosis or improper treatment does not state an Eighth Amendment claim. The case will proceed on plaintiff’s claim of deliberate indifference to a serious medical need against Dr. William Rankin.

         The E.M.C.C. Officials, Medical Director or Health Care Provider will be dismissed as plaintiff does not allege an official capacity claim against them, but merely restates his same claim against Dr. Rankin.

         The plaintiff states Grievance Officer Mark Williams and Warden Christine Brannon failed to properly investigate his grievance and/or denying his grievance. Documents show that the grievance was referred to the medical department, which noted that plaintiff had been seen repeatedly for his complaints and that Dr. Rankin had provided warm compresses, eye drops and ordered x-rays so nonmedical staff properly relied on medical staff and had no reason to question the care provided. (Doc. 9, p.3) The Seventh Circuit has “previously stated that if a prisoner is under the care of medical experts, a non-medical prison official will generally be justified in believing that the prisoner is in capable hands.” Greeno v. Daley, 414 F.3d 645, 656 (7th Cir. 2005); see also Arnestt v. Webster, 658 F.3d 742, 755 (7th Cir. 2011); see also Young v. Wexford Health Services, 2012 WL 621358 at *4 (N.D. Ill. Feb. 14, 2012)(Defendants’ failure to rule favorably on a prison grievance is not actionable under § 1983).

         The plaintiff alleges two different eye surgeons from Eye Surgeon Associates, in March and April of 2016, failed to diagnosis and treat plaintiff’s medical needs. (Compl., pgs. 6) “[A] defendant’s inadvertent error, negligence or even ordinary malpractice is insufficient to rise to the level of an Eighth Amendment constitutional violation. Johnson v. Pala, 2012 WL 3020533 (S.D. Ill. July 24, 2012); see Duckworth v. Ahmad, 532 F.3d 675, 679 (7th Cir. 2008). Eye Surgeon Associates will be dismissed.

         The Illinois Department of Corrections will also be dismissed as it is not a proper defendant under § 1983 because they are not a “person” as that term is used in the statute. Wright v. Porter County, 2013 WL 1176199, *2 (N.D. Inc. Mar. 19, 2013)(“Wright also sues the jail itself, but this is a building, not a “person” or even a policy-making body that can be sued for constitutional violations.”)


         1. Pursuant to its merit review of the Complaint under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, the court finds that the plaintiff states an Eighth Amendment claim for deliberate indifferent to a serious medical need against defendant Dr. William Rankin. Any additional claims shall not be included in the case, except at the court’s discretion on motion by a party for good cause shown or pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15.

         2. This case is now in the process of service. The plaintiff is advised to wait until counsel has appeared for the defendants before filing any motions, in order to give the defendants notice and an opportunity to respond to those motions. Motions filed before defendants' counsel has filed an appearance will generally be denied as premature. The plaintiff need not submit any evidence to the court at this time, unless otherwise directed by the court.

         3. The court will attempt service on the defendants by mailing each defendant a waiver of service. The defendants have 60 days from the date the waiver is sent to file an answer. If the defendants have not filed answers or appeared through counsel within 90 days of the entry of this order, the plaintiff may file a motion requesting the status of service. After the defendants have been served, the court will enter an order setting discovery and dispositive motion deadlines.

         4. With respect to a defendant who no longer works at the address provided by the plaintiff, the entity for whom that defendant worked while at that address shall provide to the clerk said defendant's current work address, or, if not known, said defendant's forwarding address. This information shall be used only for effectuating service. Documentation of forwarding addresses shall ...

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