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Webb v. Duncan

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

January 3, 2017

JAMES F. WEBB, # B40022, Plaintiff,


          STACI M. YANDLE U.S. District Judge.

         Plaintiff James Webb, who is currently on parole from Big Muddy Correctional Center, brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (Doc. 1, p. 1). According to the Complaint, X-rays ordered by doctors at Stateville Correctional Center in early February 2015 showed Plaintiff had a large soft tissue mass on his hand. (Doc. 1, p. 19). The Complaint further alleges that Dr. John Coe reviewed X-rays taken of Plaintiff's injuries on March 27, 2015, after Plaintiff was transferred to Lawrence Correctional Center. Only after Plaintiff was transferred to Big Muddy Correctional Center in October 2015 and put under the care of Dr. Blicholf in February 2016 was he allegedly told that his hand had giant cell tumors requiring surgery without which he would lose his finger. (Doc. 1, pp. 21-22). As of March 3, 2016, the allegations in the Complaint imply that Plaintiff had yet to receive the surgery that was deemed necessary by medical professionals. (Doc. 1, p. 23). As a result, Plaintiff endured over one year of pain. (Doc. 1, p. 4).

         In his Complaint, Plaintiff maintains that twenty parties are liable for violating his right to receive adequate care under the Eighth Amendment and under Illinois state law. (Doc. 1, p. 19). Plaintiff has named a number of medical staff, administrative staff and counselors at Lawrence, including Dr. John Coe, Mr. James, an unknown nurse on the prison's medical staff, Mrs. Cunningham, Philip Martin, Mr. Horton, Mrs. New, Warden Duncan, Warden Moore, Warden Treadway and an unnamed grievance officer. (Id.) He has also named the Lawrence Correctional Center and the Stateville Correctional Center as defendants, as well as the State of Illinois, the Illinois Department of Corrections, the Illinois Administrative Review Board, an employee of the Board, Wexford Health Services, an outside company named One Radiology and an employee of One Radiology. (Id.) Plaintiff seeks monetary damages. (Doc. 1, p. 24).

         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 non-meritorious claims and 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(a) and (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). 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). Based on these standards, Plaintiff's Complaint survives preliminary review, in part.

         The Complaint

         According to the Complaint, after being arrested on December 1, 2014, Plaintiff requested medical care from the Princeton Police Department for injuries to his hand and lower back. (Doc. 1, p. 19). Though he was scheduled to receive treatment, he was transported to Stateville before it could be completed. (Id.) While a prisoner at Stateville, a large soft tissue mass was discovered on Plaintiff's hand and/or finger on approximately February 9, 2015 after X-rays were conducted. (Id.) Before he received further treatment at Stateville, Plaintiff was transported to Lawrence. (Id.) Plaintiff alleges that he submitted a request for medical treatment of his hand and lower back the day he arrived at Lawrence, on February 27, 2015, but that he was not called to have X-rays done until March 25, 2015. (Doc 1, p. 20).

         Plaintiff alleges that Defendant Dr. John Coe met with him on March 27, 2015 and stated that he had received a report on the X-rays from Defendant One Radiology which indicated that Plaintiff had his injuries as far back as 2012. (Id.) Plaintiff met with Dr. Coe again on June 1, 2015 and Dr. Coe allegedly stated he would not take any action to fix Plaintiff's hand. (Id.) Plaintiff alleges Dr. Coe was hostile and authoritative during this conversation, and that, because Dr. Coe refused to treat him, Plaintiff filed a grievance against him for inadequate medical treatment on September 16, 2015. According to Plaintiff, the grievance was returned because, “they felt my pain and suffering due to doctor John Coe of the treatment of my hand was not an emergency to them.” (Doc 1, pp. 20-21).

         Plaintiff further alleges that Dr. Coe continued his abuse in later visits, during which he delayed treating Plaintiff, claiming that more tests needed to be done and, eventually, told Plaintiff there was nothing wrong with his finger, despite Plaintiff allegedly being “in a state of pain all the time.” (Doc. 1, pp. 4, 21). Plaintiff filed another grievance on October 10, 2015 for inadequate medical treatment and unprofessional conduct by Dr. Coe. (Doc. 1, p. 21).

         October 14, 2015, Plaintiff was transported to Big Muddy River Correctional Center where he allegedly requested treatment for his hand and back and filed another grievance “for not responding back.” (Doc. 1, pp. 21-22). Plaintiff received a referral from Dr. Larson for treatment of his finger, and in November 2015, received an ultrasound and was informed that he would be allowed to consult with an outside physician for his condition. (Doc. 1, p. 22).

         On February 12, 2016, Plaintiff was informed by Dr. Eleanor Blicholf that he had giant cell tumors on his hand and/or finger and would need surgery in order to save his finger. (Id.) The last treatment reported by Plaintiff in his Complaint occurred in early March 2016 when he was transported to Saint Louis University Hospital and met with Dr. Bruce Kraemer. (Doc. 1, p. 23). Plaintiff alleges that he was in pain “all the time” from his condition. (Doc. 1, p. 4).

         Plaintiff sues a total of twenty defendants -- eleven Lawrence officials, various private and government entities and employees. He asserts an Eighth Amendment deliberate indifference to medical needs claim against them. (Doc. 1, p. 19). He also seeks this Court's jurisdiction over a medical malpractice/negligence claim related to these events. Plaintiff requests monetary damages against Defendants in an unspecified amount.


         The Court begins its § 1915A review with a note about the parties at issue in this case. Throughout his Complaint, Plaintiff refers to the conduct of some individuals not named in his caption or his defendant list. Specifically, he states that he complained to or was treated by a Princeton Police Department deputy and nurse, a Stateville doctor, Dr. Claude Owikotipm, Dr. Larson, Dr. Eleanor Blicholf and Dr. Bruce Kraemer. Given that Plaintiff has taken great pains to name a number of officials as defendants, the Court does not construe Plaintiff's Complaint as naming these individuals as defendants. Because these parties are not listed in Plaintiff's 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”).

         Turning to the allegations in Plaintiff's Complaint, the Court finds it proper to divide the remaining claims into the following counts. The parties and the Court will use these designations in all ...

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