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Orozco v. Wexford Health Sources

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

December 19, 2016

VICTOR OROZCO, #B-72146, Plaintiff,


          STACI M. YANDLE, United States District Judge.

         Plaintiff Victor Orozco, who is currently incarcerated in Lawrence Correctional Center (“Lawrence”), brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. (Doc. 1, p. 1). According to the Complaint, Plaintiff suffered from and sought treatment for abdominal pain from August 2014 through at least July 2016. (Doc. 1, p. 26). While at Lawrence, Plaintiff was diagnosed with “H-pylori” and “given some treatment” for the condition. (Doc. 1, p. 15). Plaintiff maintains that the “treatment he received was insufficient and did not stop his severe pain[, ] causing ulcers and [irritable bowel syndrome].” Id. Plaintiff further asserts that despite his requests, medical service providers at Lawrence failed to refer him to an outside specialist for his abdominal pain, though he was given medication to treat his illness and was seen by Lawrence medical staff many times. (Doc. 1, pp. 15-16, 18-21, 24). He claims that this conduct amounted to deliberate indifference to his medical needs in violation of the Eighth Amendment.

         Plaintiff also claims that a policy of Wexford Health Sources (“Wexford”) of minimizing costs at the expense of inmate care and “cheap” medicines supplied by Boswell Pharmacy Services (“Boswell”) rendered these entities liable to him under the Eighth Amendment. (Doc. 1, pp. 25-28). Plaintiff seeks monetary damages and injunctive relief against the following defendants for alleged Eighth Amendment violations: Dr. John Coe, James T, Phill Martin, Jenkins L, R.D. Moore, Beth Tredway, Counselor Henton, Nurses John and Jane Doe, Wexford and Boswell. (Doc. 1, pp. 2-4).

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

         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).

         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). Plaintiff's Complaint survives preliminary review, in part, under this standard.

         The Complaint

         According to the Complaint, in late 2014, Plaintiff began suffering from “extreme pain in his stomach” which was diagnosed as being the result of “H-pylori” bacteria in his system. (Doc. 1, pp. 18-19). Even after this was treated with antibiotics, Plaintiff continued to suffer from abdominal pain, a burning sensation in his stomach and irritable bowel syndrome (“IBS”) symptoms. Id. Plaintiff received medical care for these issues from various individuals at Lawrence, including Coe and James, for nearly two years, and the pain only increased in frequency. (Doc. 1, pp. 14, 19).

         According to the allegations, Coe acted as Plaintiff's primary physician during the relevant period, meeting with him, ordering X-rays, indicating that Plaintiff may have ulcers or IBS and prescribing various forms of medication to address Plaintiff's pain, including reflux medicine (e.g., Zantac), fiber and Imodium for IBS. (Doc. 1, pp. 16, 19, 21, 23). In the course of his prolonged treatment of Plaintiff, Coe allegedly failed to test Plaintiff for ulcers or IBS, which Plaintiff alleges are the after-effects of H-pylori infections. (Doc. 1, p. 18). Further, though the medications prescribed did not ease Plaintiff's pain, Coe continued to prescribe them. (Doc. 1, pp. 23-24). He also kept Plaintiff on a harmful diet and refused to refer Plaintiff to an outside specialist when his course of treatment proved ineffective. (Doc. 1, pp. 39-40). This chosen course of treatment was allegedly in conformity with a policy that favors low cost treatments over effective patient care. (Doc. 1, pp. 31-32).

         Plaintiff was also seen by James on several occasions and complained to him about his pain and course of treatment. (Doc. 1, p. 20). Although James indicated that his concerns would be addressed, they never were. (Doc. 1, p. 20). Plaintiff contends that these defendants, as well as Jenkins and Nurses John and Jane Doe, acted pursuant to Wexford's policy of favoring inexpensive treatment over effective treatment for prisoners. (Doc. 1, p. 31-32).

         As against Wexford, Plaintiff alleges that it has a policy and practice of “providing the bare minimum amount of treatment for inmates in order to reduce Wexford's cost” and delaying follow-up treatments and referrals to outside specialists for inmates in need. (Doc. 1, pp. 25-26). In furtherance of this policy and practice, Wexford allegedly coerced Coe and the medical staff at Lawrence “to do nothing or very little” in treating Plaintiff. (Doc. 1, p. 7). Boswell supplied Lawrence with the medications that allegedly caused Plaintiff to suffer from further illness as a result of prolonged use. (Doc. 1, pp. 27-28).

         Plaintiff further claims that he filed grievances with Henton, Tredway, Moore and Martin that were met with little action. Moore and Tredway ignored grievances that Plaintiff filed with “the warden” “seeking advice and medical care.” (Doc. 1, p. 15). Henton received several highly detailed grievances regarding Plaintiff's medical condition and treatment but consistently deferred to the medical staff. (Doc. 1, pp. 58-63, 65-66). Similarly, Martin received complaints from Plaintiff about his medical treatment and also deferred to the medical staff. (Doc. 1, p. 81).

         Finally, Plaintiff refers in his Complaint to the conduct of entities not named in his caption or his defendant list, including Stateville and Lawrence Correctional Centers, the Administrative Review Board, the Illinois Department of Corrections and Springfield, Illinois. (Doc. 1, pp. 38-44). When parties are not listed in the caption, this Court will not treat them as defendants and any claims against them should be considered dismissed without prejudice. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 10(a) (noting that the title of the complaint “must name all the parties”); Myles v. United States, 416 F.3d 551, 551-52 (7th Cir. 2005) (holding that to be properly considered a party, a defendant must be “specif[ied] in the caption”).

         Plaintiff now sues 9 named defendants, including 7 Lawrence officials, Wexford and Boswell and numerous unknown defendants, identified as Nurses John and Jane Doe. He asserts Eighth Amendment deliberate indifference to medical needs claims against them. (Doc. 1, pp. 9-10). Plaintiff seeks monetary ...

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