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Abdullah v. Wexford Health Sources

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

November 4, 2016



          NANCY J. ROSENSTENGEL United States District Judge

         Plaintiff Salik Abdullah is currently incarcerated at the Pinckneyville Correctional Center in Pinckneyville, Illinois. (Doc. 19 at 1.) Proceeding pro se, Abdullah has filed a complaint under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging that some of the medical staff at Pinckneyville and the private entity that employs them all failed to treat some of Abdullah's medical ailments. (Id. at 6-11.) Abdullah also suggests that prison officials at Pinckneyville denied him access to certain services at the prison based on his medical handicaps. (Id. at 11-13.) Abdullah seeks compensatory damages, punitive damages, and a variety of types of injunctive relief. (Id. at 18.)

         This matter is now before the Court for a review of Abdullah's complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. Under § 1915A, the Court shall review a “complaint in a civil action in which a prisoner seeks redress from a governmental entity or officer or employee of a government entity.” During the § 1915A review, the court “shall identify cognizable claims or dismiss the complaint, or any portion of the complaint, ” if the complaint “is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim” or if it “seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune.”


         According to the complaint, Abdullah has been incarcerated at Pinckneyville since at least 2015. (Doc. 1 at 7.) He suffers from a number of maladies, including rheumatoid arthritis, anterior uveitis (a type of inflammation of the middle layer of the eye), ankylosing spondylitis (a form of long-term arthritis that causes spinal mobility problems), and hypertension. (Id. at 6-7.) Abdullah saw Dr. Shah at Pinckneyville for these problems from at least 2015 until late 2015 or early 2016, and Abdullah claims that Dr. Shah did not treat him properly during that time period. (Id. at 7-10.) Per Abdullah, Shah failed to refer Abdullah to specialists despite his worsening arthritis and hypertension problems, continued with ineffective pain medication treatment until late 2015, failed to provide Abdullah with a front cuff permit or access to a physical therapist despite his need for one given his arthritis, made him go through sick call and pay a co-payment for pain medication refills, gave him so much “hypertension medication” as to cause Abdullah's blood-related symptoms to worsen and then failed to treat the ongoing “blood thickening” complications, and failed to place Abdullah on the physically challenged gym line or provide him with access to “one-man” showers despite his need for both given his eye- and arthritis-related problems. (Id.) During his treatment with Dr. Shah, Abdullah also claims that he contacted Nurse Practitioner Rector and Administrator Brown regarding his various issues with Dr. Shah but received no help from them, either. (Id. at 7-8.)

         After Dr. Shah retired, Dr. Mark Scott took over for Dr. Shah at Pinckneyville, and Abdullah claims that he had problems with Dr. Scott as well. (Id. at 10-12.) In February 2016, Abdullah saw Dr. Scott for worsening high blood pressure. (Id. at 10-11.) According to Abdullah, Dr. Scott refused to listen to all of his medical problems. (Id.) Dr. Scott instead insisted that Abdullah answer his questions in a yes-or-no fashion, and based on those answers Dr. Scott placed Abdullah on Norvasc and ordered blood pressure testing. (Id.) While on that drug, Abdullah had chest pains and his blood pressure remained high. (Id.) Abdullah saw Dr. Scott again in late March 2016. Dr. Scott determined during that visit that Abdullah's chest pains were simple indigestion, discontinued some of Abdullah's pain medication, and told him to take four aspirin daily instead. (Id. at 11.) Abdullah complained about having one of his pain medications discontinued, and Dr. Scott told him that he could have either his pain medication or his hypertension medication, but not both. (Id.) Abdullah says he was “too shocked” to complain any further, and the visit with Dr. Scott ended. (Id.) Dr. Scott has since refused to review Abdullah's medical files, causing the “doubling and redoubling of medications” and the repeat use of medications “that did not help for the condition prescribed.” (Id. at 12.)

         Throughout his care with Dr. Shah, Abdullah went on a few hunger strikes to protest his medical treatment. (Id. at 7.) The longest ran for twenty-one days, and during that strike Abdullah says he was visited by the Warden and Assistant Warden of Pinckneyville. (Id. at 11-12.) The two asked Abdullah what it would take to end the hunger strike, and Abdullah said he wanted a one-man cell, a job, and proper medical care. (Id.) The two officials bristled at the notion of providing Abdullah a single-man cell, but did agree, at Abdullah's request, to remove him from a four-man cell for physically challenged inmates and place him instead with an older, non-gang-affiliated inmate. (Id.) That cellmate arrangement lasted until Warden Lashbrook took over as the chief administrative officer for Pinckneyville. (Id. at 12.) Lashbrook has refused to allow Abdullah to “pick [his] own cell partner, ” and that refusal, says Abdullah, has led to his cell placement with “gang-bangers and psyche patients.” (Id.)

         Over and above all of these problems, Abdullah also claims that, in October 2015, two officers confiscated one set of telescopic glasses that he needs to perform day-to-day tasks given his eye condition. (Id. at 13.) After the glasses were confiscated, Abdullah saw the eye doctor again, and a new pair of telescopic glasses and a pair of “photogrey” glasses were ordered. (Id.) He did not receive either set of glasses for “several months.” (Id.) When Abdullah finally received the photogrey glasses, they were not properly configured, so another set was ordered, which Abdullah claims he still has not received. (Id.) As for the telescopic glasses, Abdullah received a new set of those glasses some time in 2016, but he alleges that they do not work properly, and he still cannot use them to perform many tasks to this day. (Id.)

         In light of all of these problems, Abdullah claims that he attempted to exhaust his administrative remedies concerning the unresolved issues caused by his medical conditions. (Id. at 5.) Unsatisfied with the prison's response, he filed suit in this Court on August 16, 2016.


         The Court begins its § 1915A review with a note about the parties at issue in this case. Throughout his complaint, Abdullah refers to the conduct of some individuals not named in his caption or his defendant list-he says that he complained to Nurse “Tracey” about his blood problems, that then-Warden Davis and then-Assistant Warden Dintelman had some involvement in his care when his cell arrangements were adjusted, and that Officers Smith and Hagene took his telescopic glasses away. Because these parties are not listed in the caption by name or by Doe designation, they will not be treated as defendants in this case, and any claims against them should be considered dismissed without prejudice. See Myles v. United States, 416 F.3d 551, 551-52 (7th Cir. 2005) (defendants must be “specif[ied] in the caption”). In addition, two of the persons whom Abdullah has named as defendants, Louis Schicker and Michael Edwards, are only listed in the caption-there is nothing substantive in the complaint to give each one notice as to how they were involved in Abdullah's care or how they violated his rights. A plaintiff cannot state a claim against a defendant merely by including a name in the caption, Collins v. Kibort, 143 F.3d 331, 334 (7th Cir. 1998), so these defendants must be dismissed without prejudice, too.

         Turning to the substantive allegations in Abdullah's complaint, the Court finds it proper to divide the claims in the complaint into the following counts. The parties and the Court will use these designations in all pleadings and orders, unless otherwise directed by the Court.

COUNT 1: Starting in 2015 or before and ending in early 2016 or late 2015, Dr. Shah failed to properly treat Abdullah's arthritis, eye, and blood-related conditions in violation of Abdullah's Eighth Amendment rights.
COUNT 2: In 2016, Dr. Scott failed to properly treat Abdullah's arthritis- and blood-related conditions, in violation of ...

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