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Nance v. Doe

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

September 7, 2016

ELLEAN NANCE, #B-60068, Plaintiff,
v.
JANE DOE 1, JOHN OR JANE DOE ##2-5 and 7-12 Menard Doctors or NP's, JOHN DOE #6, MRS. POLLION, MRS. FRUETAS, JOHN OR JANE DOE #13 Stateville Doctors, PA's or NP's, and WEXFORD HEALTH SOURCES, INC., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          NANCY J. ROSENSTENGEL United States District Judge

         Plaintiff Ellean Nance, an inmate who is currently incarcerated at Menard Correctional Center, brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for the alleged violations of his Eighth Amendment rights at Stateville Correctional Center from 1995-2004 and Menard Correctional Center from 2009-2015 (Doc. 1, pp. 1-42). Plaintiff alleges that he was denied adequate medical care for hepatitis B for years. Instead of properly diagnosing and treating the condition, prison medical staff prescribed Plaintiff ibuprofen and ignored his abnormal blood test results and complaints of pain. He maintains that their ineffective treatment with ibuprofen only exacerbated his condition, resulting in cirrhosis of the liver and enlargement of his spleen (id.).

         In connection with this claim, Plaintiff now sues the following three known and thirteen unknown defendants: Wexford Health Sources, Inc. (Wexford), Mrs. Pollion (nurse practitioner), Mrs. Fruetas (Asian American doctor), Jane Doe #1 (unknown medical technician), John or Jane Doe ##2-5 and 7-12 (numerous unknown Menard doctors or nurse practitioners), John Doe #6 (unknown Asian doctor), and John or Jane Doe #13 (numerous unknown Stateville doctors, physician assistants, or nurse practitioners). He seeks monetary relief (id. at 42).

         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). The complaint survives preliminary review under this standard.

         The Complaint

         Plaintiff has been in the custody of the Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC) since 1994.[1] According to the complaint, he received inadequate medical care for hepatitis B at Stateville from 1995-2004 and at Menard from 2009-15 (Doc. 1, pp. 1-42). For years, Plaintiff suffered from right-side stomach pain, discomfort, warmth, and nausea that caused sleeplessness (id. at 8). He reported these symptoms to his medical providers at Menard for almost six years before receiving a formal diagnosis. Instead of properly diagnosing and treating the condition, Plaintiff was given pain pills (i.e., ibuprofen) that exacerbated his symptoms and hastened damage to his liver and spleen. As a result, Plaintiff now suffers from cirrhosis of the liver, an enlarged spleen, and a host of purportedly related symptoms. He blames this denial and/or delay of proper medical care on Wexford[2] and the medical providers who denied him adequate medical care at both prisons.

         According to the complaint, Wexford has collaborated with high-ranking officials in the State of Illinois to create and implement uniform standards for the delivery of health care services at all IDOC facilities (id. at 33). These policies allegedly elevate cost concerns over the quality of care provided to state inmates (id.). For example, Wexford routinely understaffs prison health care units, leaving key positions unfilled (id. at 35). The staffing levels are insufficient to meet the needs of the rising prison population (id. at 35-37). Plaintiff points to this policy as the reason for the delay in diagnosis and treatment of his hepatitis.

         During his incarceration at Stateville from 1995 until 2004, Plaintiff regularly met with the facility's unknown doctors, physician assistants, and nurse practitioners (collectively John or Jane Doe #13) for annual physicals, asthma check-ups, and scheduled medical clinics (id. at 32). During this same time period, he underwent blood tests that revealed abnormal liver function. He alleges that Doe #13 simply ignored the test results (id. at 5, 32).

         After transferring to Menard, Plaintiff regularly complained to the prison's medical staff about right-side stomach pain, nausea, warmth, and discomfort that caused sleeplessness. Between 2009 and 2015, he met with two known health care providers (i.e., Nurse Practitioner Pollion and Doctor Fruetas) and twelve unknown health care providers (i.e., Jane Doe #1, John or Jane Doe ##2-5 and 7-12, and John Doe #6) at various times to discuss his persistent symptoms.

         This includes two appointments in November and December 2009 with an unknown medical technician (Jane Doe #1), who ignored Plaintiff's requests for a referral to see a doctor (id. at 9-11). Doe #1 instead responded to Plaintiff's complaints of pain by providing him with ibuprofen and antacid pills. Once the medications ran out, however, his symptoms returned (id.).

         In 2010, Plaintiff received a pass to visit the hypertension and asthma clinic. While there, he complained to an unknown doctor or nurse practitioner (John or Jane Doe #2) about persistent right-side stomach pain, nausea, warmth, and sleeplessness (id. at 11). He explained that the symptoms had been present “for months” (id.). Plaintiff also summarized his history of treatment with Doe #1 and his history of abnormal blood tests at Stateville. In response, Doe #2 simply issued Plaintiff more pain pills (id. at 12). But after the pills ran out, his symptoms returned.

         On or around August 2010, Plaintiff met with another unknown doctor or nurse practitioner (John or Jane Doe #3) for his annual physical (id. at 13). Plaintiff summarized his medical history for Doe #3 and explained that the pain pills were ineffective. In response, Doe #3 recommended that Plaintiff “stop exercising for a while” (id. at 14).

         In late 2010, Plaintiff received another pass to visit the hypertension and asthma clinic. There, he met with yet another unknown doctor or nurse (John or Jane Doe #4) (id. at 14-15). After reviewing his history of symptoms, abnormal blood tests, and treatment, Plaintiff was given more pain pills (id. at 15).

         In 2011, Plaintiff received the same response from still another unknown doctor or nurse (John or Jane Doe #5) at the hypertension and asthma clinic (id. at 15-17). Doe #5 simply replenished Plaintiff's supply of pain pills (id. at 16).

         The same year, Plaintiff complained of unrelenting symptoms to an unknown Asian doctor (John Doe #6) (id. at 17). Doe #6 denied Plaintiff's request for a “colon examination, ” but examined his stomach. After reviewing Plaintiff's medical records, the doctor said, “[Y]ou are congested, it will pass” (id.). Doe #6 then provided Plaintiff with more pain relievers and antacid pills.

         On October 7, 2011, Plaintiff filed a grievance to complain about the allegedly inadequate medical care he had received for his ongoing symptoms (id. at 17-18). A counselor responded to the grievance by indicating that the “Health Care Unit had seen and address[ed] his medical problem” (id. at 17). He submitted the grievance to a grievance officer and received no further response (id.).

         In late 2011, Plaintiff was seen at the hypertension and asthma clinic by another unknown doctor or nurse practitioner (John or Jane Doe #7) (id. at 18-19). Plaintiff again summarized his medical history and explained that he had seen various medical providers about the same symptoms for a period of two years (id. at 18). Like the others, Doe #7 simply supplied Plaintiff with more pain pills (id.).

         At the hypertension and asthma clinic that Plaintiff attended in 2012, still another unknown doctor or nurse practitioner (John or Jane Doe #8) responded to his complaints in the same manner (id. at 19-20).

         His annual physical that year yielded the same results. After Plaintiff summarized his history of unrelenting symptoms and ineffective treatment that now spanned nearly three years, the unknown doctor or nurse practitioner (John or Jane Doe #9) “just gave him some pain pills” (id. at 20-22). Doe #9 added, “[I]t's nothing[.] [Y]ou are congested[;] once you use the stool, you will be ok” (id. at 21).

         Plaintiff received the same response from an unknown doctor or nurse practitioner (John or Jane Doe #10) at the hypertension and asthma clinic ...


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