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Boyce v. Illinois Department of Corrections

United States District Court, C.D. Illinois

November 2, 2016




         The Court had dismissed the plaintiff's complaint, without prejudice, at merit review for failure to exhaust administrative remedies pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1997(e)(a). See Order (d/e #10). Plaintiff appealed and the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals vacated and remanded, asserting that the case should not have been “dismissed sua sponte at screening” for failure to exhaust remedies. See Mandate (d/e #33).

         As the matter is now reinstated, the Court GRANTS Plaintiff's previously filed Motion for Leave to Amend [9], and directs the Clerk to file the Amended Complaint. The Court now undertakes a merit review of the Amended Complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. In reviewing the Amended Complaint, the Court accepts the factual allegations as true, liberally construing them in Plaintiff's favor. Turley v. Rednour, 729 F.3d 645, 649-51 (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. United States, 721 F.3d 418, 422 (7th Cir. 2013)(citation and internal quotation marks omitted).

         In his Amended Complaint Plaintiff alleges a history of severe dry mouth and vocal cord pain since 2008. In July 2014, he was referred to an outside specialist and diagnosed with neurological dry mouth and weak vocal cords. He was prescribed Neurontin and Biotene, a prescription mouthwash. That same year, Plaintiff was also diagnosed with blocked salivary glands which, at times, cause sores to develop in his mouth.

         Plaintiff alleges that Wexford Health Sources and Boswell Pharmacy Services have refused to provide him Biotene. He alleges that he told Defendant Anderson that he was being denied Biotene and she has refused to intervene. He also complained to Dr. Andrew Tilden and Nurse Jennifer Tinsley, telling them that he was suffering severe pain as a result. Defendants Tilden and Tinsely allegedly failed to prescribe or otherwise provide Biotene to him. Dr. Tilden purportedly told Plaintiff that Wexford would not allow the ordering of Biotene or referral to an outside specialist due to the costs involved. Plaintiff claims that Defendants' actions violated his Eighth Amendment rights and rights under the American with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) and the Rehabilitation Act.

         Plaintiff successfully pleads a claim for deliberate indifference to a serious medical need against Defendants Dr. Tilden, Jennifer Tinsley, and Terri Anderson. He also states a case against Wexford based on the allegations that Wexford had an official policy which caused him harm. Plaintiff, however, fails to allege facts to establish that Boswell Pharmacy Services was personally responsible for his injury. Here, Plaintiff claims that the medical providers refused to prescribe him Biotene. Boswell Pharmacy Services could not be liable for failing to provide a medication which had not been ordered. Furthermore, Plaintiff does not establish that Boswell, apparently a private company, was acting under color of state law for § 1983 liability. A private party's conduct can be considered state action only if there is a sufficiently close nexus between the state and the private conduct so that the action “may be fairly treated as that of the State itself.” Wade v. Byles, 83 F.3d 902, 904-05 (7th Cir. 1996) (internal citations omitted). Plaintiff identifies no such nexus and Boswell is DISMISSED.

         Plaintiff's claims under the Americans with Disabilities and Rehabilitation Act fail as Plaintiff does not allege that he was discriminated against him due to a disability. See Resel v. Fox, 2001 WL 1654524, * 4 (7th Cir. Dec. 20, 2001)(“a prison official does not violate the ADA when failing to attend to the medical needs of ... disabled prisoners.”); Perrey v. Donahue, 2007 WL 4277621, * 4 (N.D. Ind. Dec. 3, 2007)(“The Rehabilitation Act was not intended to require prison officials to provide medical treatment to prisoners with a serious medical needs.”).

         Plaintiff's claim against the Illinois Department of Corrections (“IDOC”), is dismissed as IDOC is not a (person) amendable to suit under ' 1983. See Thomas v. Illinois, 697 F.3d 612, 613 (7th Cir. 2012)(“a state and its agencies are not suable ‘persons' within the meaning of section 1983…” (citing, Will v. Mich. Dep't of State Police, 491 U.S. 58, 70-71 (1989)).


         1. The Clerk is DIRECT to file Plaintiff's Amended Complaint [9].

         2. Pursuant to its merit review of the Amended Complaint under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, this case shall proceed on Plaintiff's claim for deliberate indifference to a serious medical need against Defendants Tilden, Tinsley, Anderson and Wexford. Plaintiff's ADA and Rehabilitation Act claims are DISMISSED. Defendants Boswell Pharmacy Services and IDOC are DISMISSED. 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. Plaintiff's [34], Motion to recruit pro bono counsel is DENIED. Under Pruitt v. Mote, 503 F.3d 647, 654-55 (7th Cir. 2007), the Court asks: (1) has the indigent Plaintiff made a reasonable attempt to obtain counsel or been effectively precluded from doing so; and if so, (2) given the difficulty of the case, does the plaintiff appear competent to litigate it himself? Here Plaintiff provides two letters he ostensibly sent to prospective counsel. He has not, however, provided any responses which he received. In the event Plaintiff renews his motion for appointment of counsel, he should list the attorneys to whom he wrote and should attach any letters sent to or received from those attorneys.

         3. 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.

         4. 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 ...

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