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Lyones v. Omugah

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

November 29, 2016

BOBBY JOE LYONES, #A-83575, Plaintiff,


          NANCY J. ROSENSTENGEL United States District Judge.

         This matter is now before the Court for consideration of the First Amended Complaint (Doc. 16) filed pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 by Plaintiff Bobby Joe Lyones, an inmate who is currently incarcerated at Lincoln Correctional Center. Plaintiff claims that he suffered permanent damage to his left eye during his incarceration at Lawrence Correctional Center (“Lawrence”), when he received inadequate medical treatment for progressive vision loss from a glaucoma specialist at Marion Eye Center in 2014. He now seeks monetary damages against the specialist, Doctor Omugah.

         Merits Review Under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A

         This case is before the Court for a preliminary review of the amended complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. Under Section 1915A, the Court is required to promptly screen prisoner complaints, including amended complaints, to filter out nonmeritorious claims. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). The Court is required to dismiss any portion of the amended 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).

         An action or claim is frivolous if “it lacks an arguable basis either in law or in fact.” Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325 (1989). An action fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted if it does not plead “enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). The claim of entitlement to relief must cross “the line between possibility and plausibility.” Id. at 557. Conversely, a complaint is plausible on its face “when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). Although the Court is obligated to accept factual allegations as true, see Smith v. Peters, 631 F.3d 418, 419 (7th Cir. 2011), some factual allegations may be so sketchy or implausible that they fail to provide sufficient notice of a plaintiff's claim. Brooks v. Ross, 578 F.3d 574, 581 (7th Cir. 2009). Additionally, courts “should not accept as adequate abstract recitations of the elements of a cause of action or conclusory legal statements.” Id. At the same time, however, the factual allegations of a pro se complaint are to be liberally construed. See Rodriguez v. Plymouth Ambulance Serv., 577 F.3d 816, 821 (7th Cir. 2009).

         First Amended Complaint

         Between 2009 and 2014, Plaintiff underwent multiple eye surgeries to correct progressive vision loss (Doc. 16, p. 5). He was initially seen by an unidentified eye doctor at Lawrence. The doctor referred him to Doctor Oak, a surgeon at Marion Eye Center in Mount Vernon, Illinois. Doctor Oak recommended surgery on Plaintiff's left eye. The doctor explained that surgery would obviate the need for eyeglasses. Plaintiff agreed to the recommended procedure (id.).

         The surgery was not successful. Doctor Oak installed the wrong-sized lens in Plaintiff's left eye. He performed corrective surgery and, in the year that followed, regularly met with Plaintiff for follow-up appointments at Marion Eye Center. Even so, Plaintiff's vision continued to deteriorate (id.).

         In 2010, Doctor Oak introduced Plaintiff to Doctor Omugah, a glaucoma specialist. Doctor Omugah examined Plaintiff's eyes, tested his vision, and reviewed his medical history. The allegations disclose no other contact with Doctor Omugah until four years later, when Plaintiff met with the doctor to discuss treatment of pressure buildup in his left eye (id.). On October 7, 2014, Doctor Omugah placed “a tube” and “two implants” in Plaintiff's eye during a surgical procedure that lasted eight hours (id. at 6). Following surgery, Doctor Omugah instructed Plaintiff to avoid using his “glaucoma eye drops” (id.).

         Plaintiff complied and avoided the use of eye drops. In the weeks that followed the surgery, however, he suffered from increasing pain and pressure in his eye. The amended complaint does not indicate that Plaintiff made any attempt to notify the doctor about the symptoms or that the doctor was aware of his symptoms (id.).

         Plaintiff transferred to Cook County Jail two weeks after surgery. Following his transfer, the pain in Plaintiff's left eye became so intense that he was sent to Stroger Hospital in Chicago, Illinois. There, he learned that the surgery performed by Doctor Omugah was “a failure” (id.). The intense pain in his left eye was caused by the buildup of pressure, a condition that the eye drops were designed to manage (id.).

         Plaintiff claims that he suffered permanent damage to his left eye as a result of Doctor Omugah's treatment decisions. He is now legally blind and requires the use of bifocals, dark shades, and a “blind man['s] cane” (id.). Plaintiff also suffers from constant and intense pain that includes migraine headaches. Plaintiff attributes his current condition to the deliberate indifference of Doctor Omugah and seeks monetary damages against him (id.).[1]


         The amended complaint focuses on a single federal constitutional claim against Doctor Omugah for exhibiting deliberate indifference to Plaintiff's vision loss in violation of the Eighth Amendment (Count 1). For the reasons set forth below, the Court finds that the amended complaint articulates no viable claim against the doctor. At most, Plaintiff states a claim of medical negligence against Doctor Omugah under Illinois state law. Absent a viable federal constitutional claim against this defendant, the Court declines to exercise supplemental ...

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