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Salgado v. Siddiqui

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

August 25, 2016

ANTONIO SALGADO, #A-82405, Plaintiff,
v.
SIDDIQUI, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          J. Phil Gilbert U.S. District Judge.

         Plaintiff Antonio Salgado, an inmate who is currently incarcerated at Menard Correctional Center (“Menard”), brings this pro se action for alleged violations of his constitutional rights under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (Doc. 1). Salgado claims deliberate indifference to his serious medical condition of chronic chest pain, in violation of the Eighth Amendment. In connection with this claim, Salgado sues Siddiqui (doctor) for monetary relief.

         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). It should be noted the Court is reviewing the First Amended Complaint. The initial Complaint (Doc. 1) was dismissed for failure to state sufficient factual or legal grounds upon which relief could be granted (Doc. 7).

         The Complaint

         Salgado alleges that in September 2015 he began experiencing severe chest pain, and noticed a marble-sized lump on the left side of his chest (Doc. 7 at 3). He sought medical care via sick call slips, and, after lodging a few requests he was seen by Defendant Siddiqui (Id.). Salgado alleged that he had been in pain and seeking medical care for eight weeks at the time he saw a doctor (Id.). Siddiqui attempted to probe the lump, but Salgado insisted that it was too painful to continue the examination (Id.). Salgado reported that the pain was a nine on a scale of ten (Id.). Salgado also told Siddiqui that the chest pain was so severe it caused him trouble moving, swallowing, sleeping, and participating in daily activities (Id. at 4). Siddiqui agreed to refer him to see Doctor Trost, but was unable to verify when the appointment would take place (Id.). In the interim, Siddiqui refused pain medication (Id.).

         Salgado saw Dr. Trost three weeks after Siddiqui's referral (Id. at 5). At the appointment with Trost, he reported no change in the level of pain or discomfort (Id. at 5-6). Dr. Trost told Salgado not to worry, as he personally had similar lumps (Id. at 6). Trost refused pain medication, but instructed Salgado to put in a new sick call slip if the pain worsened (Id.).

         Discussion

         The Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution protects prisoners from cruel and unusual punishment. U.S. Const., amend. VIII; see also Berry v. Peterman, 604 F.3d 435 (7th Cir. 2010). Prison conditions that deprive inmates of basic human needs, such as inadequate nutrition, health, or safety, may constitute cruel and unusual punishment. Rhodes v. Chapman, 452 U.S. 337, 346 (1981); see also James v. Milwaukee Cnty., 956 F.2d 696, 699 (7th Cir. 1992). Prison officials violate the Eighth Amendment's proscription against cruel and unusual punishment when their conduct demonstrates deliberate indifference to the serious medical needs of an inmate. See Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 104 (1976); Gutierrez v. Peters, 111 F.3d 1364, 1369 (7th Cir. 1997). To establish deliberate indifference to a medical condition, a prisoner must show a condition that is sufficiently serious (objective component) and that an official acted with a sufficiently culpable state of mind in failing to address the condition (subjective component). Id. Whether 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. Medical malpractice, negligence, and even gross negligence does not equate to deliberate indifference. Johnson v. Doughty, 433 F.3d 1001, 1013 (7th Cir. 2006). “It is not enough to show, for instance, that a doctor should have known that surgery was necessary; rather, the doctor must know that surgery was necessary and then consciously disregard that need in order to be held deliberately indifferent.” Id.

         In the context of a deliberate indifference claim, “knowledge and intent may be pleaded generally (which is to say, in a conclusory fashion), [and] the lack of detail does not permit dismissal.” Burks v. Raemisch, 555 F.3d 592, 594 (7th Cir. 2009). “It is enough to lay out a plausible grievance. A prisoner's statement that he repeatedly alerted medical personnel to a serious medical condition, that they did nothing in response, and that permanent injury ensued, is enough to state a claim on which relief may be granted-if it names the persons responsible for the problem.” Id.

         Objectively, Salgado has identified an injury serious enough to pass threshold review. He alleges that he suffered from chronic chest pain, pain so severe that it limited his mobility and his ability to participate in daily activities. He also reported an unidentified lump on his left side. See Gutierrez, 111 F.3d at 1369 (noting that a common cold or minor asthma attack may not be serious, but that a topical skin cyst could be serious). Chronic conditions or pain typically are severe enough to constitute a serious condition for deliberate indifference purposes. See Id. Accordingly, the Court will treat Salgado's pain and the lump in his chest as serious conditions.

         Turning to the subjective component, Salgado alleges that Siddiqui acted in deliberate indifference by refusing to tell him when he would see Dr. Trost and for refusing pain medication. The Court is unable to determine at this juncture whether Siddiqui's actions possibly constituted deliberate indifference. And, though it is a close call, Salgado has stated the bare minimum to survive screening on his deliberate indifference claim. He stated that he suffers from chronic pain, that he alerted Siddiqui to this pain, and that Siddiqui refused any treatment other than a referral to Dr. Trost. The referral took over three weeks to come to fruition, and in the interim Salgado was left without even the most basic of remedies such as aspirin or ibuprofen. These facts do not establish intent or knowledge with certainty, and discovery may reveal that Siddiqui had valid reasons for refusing pain medication, but at this juncture, the Court cannot rule out the possibility that Salgado has stated a plausible claim for deliberate indifference. Burks, 555 F.3d at 594. Accordingly, the Complaint will be allowed to proceed against Defendant Siddiqui to allow further development of the factual record.

         Disposition

         IT IS ORDERED THAT THE ENTIRE COMPLAINT shall proceed ...


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