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Clark v. Wexford Health Sources, Inc.

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

January 9, 2017

RAMON CLARK, # K-03716 Plaintiff,
v.
WEXFORD HEALTH SOURCES, INC., DR. SHAH, DR. SANTOS, DR. GARCIA, LISA KREBS, DEBORAH S. ZELASKO, ROBERT MUELLER, CHRISTINE BROWN, SHERRY BENTON, and JOHN DOE, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          MICHAEL J. REAGAN U.S. Chief District Judge

         Plaintiff Ramon Clark, an inmate who is currently in the custody of the Illinois Department of Corrections (“IDOC”), brings this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for deprivations of his constitutional rights at Pinckneyville Correctional Center (“Pinckneyville”) and Centralia Correctional Center (“Centralia”). (Doc. 1). In the Complaint, Plaintiff claims that he was denied adequate medical care for a testicular mass at both facilities. His condition was neither properly diagnosed nor treated. (Doc. 1, pp. 3-11). As a result, he suffered from unnecessary pain. Plaintiff now sues Wexford Health Sources, Inc. (“Wexford”), his prison doctors (Shah, Santos, Garcia, and Doe), and several supervisory officials (Mueller, Krebs, Zelasko, Brown, and Benton) for violations of his rights under the Eighth Amendment. Id. Plaintiff seeks declaratory judgment, monetary damages, and injunctive relief against them. (Doc. 1, pp. 10-11).

         Merits Review Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A

         The Complaint is subject to preliminary review under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. Under § 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). Plaintiff's Complaint is subject to further review under this standard.

         Complaint

         Plaintiff alleges that he was denied proper medical treatment for a lump in his left testicle at Pinckneyville and Centralia in 2015-16. (Doc. 1, pp. 3-11). Medical providers at both facilities recommended an ultrasound. Id. However, Wexford would not approve the test. Id. Consequently, the mass in Plaintiff's left testicle was never properly diagnosed or treated and resulted in significant, persistent pain. Id.

         1.Pinckneyville

         During his incarceration at Pinckneyville, Plaintiff developed a painful mass in his left testicle. (Doc. 1, pp. 3-4). He notified medical staff about the condition and requested testing to properly diagnose it. (Doc. 1, p. 3). Plaintiff wanted to rule out the possibility of cancer.

         In response, Nurse Practitioner Angel Rector performed a manual examination and confirmed the presence of a lump. Id. She recommended an ultrasound to properly diagnose his condition. Id. Plaintiff waited “weeks” for the ultrasound before learning that Wexford would not approve it. Id.

         Without examining Plaintiff, an unidentified doctor (“John Doe”) scheduled him for a follow-up appointment six months later. (Doc. 1, p. 3). Plaintiff met with the prison's “crisis team” and was scheduled for an earlier appointment with the same doctor. (Doc. 1, pp. 3-4). Doctor Doe met with Plaintiff and, like the nurse practitioner, discovered a mass in his left testicle during a manual examination. Doctor Doe opined that the mass “might be [e]pididymitis, ”[1] but it was probably not testicular cancer. (Doc. 1, p. 4). Doctor Doe decided that no treatment was necessary. Id. Plaintiff was instead scheduled for a follow-up appointment six months later. Id.

         Plaintiff filed an emergency grievance with Warden Jacqueline Lashbrook. (Doc. 1, p. 4). In the grievance, he described the denial of medical care for his condition in detail. The warden “ordered that the grievance be expedited.” Id. However, it was eventually denied by an unidentified grievance officer, Warden Lashbrook, and Administrative Review Board (“ARB”) Member Sherry Benton. (Doc. 1, pp. 3-4). Before attending his follow-up appointment at Pinckneyville, Plaintiff transferred to Centralia on May 4, 2016. Id.

         2.Centralia

         Within days of his arrival at the prison, he notified medical staff about his testicular mass. (Doc. 1, p. 4). Doctor Shah examined Plaintiff on May 8, 2016. Id. After performing still another manual examination, the doctor confirmed the presence of a mass in Plaintiff's left testicle. (Doc. 1, pp. 4-5). Doctor Shah then stated, “You were recently seen by the doctor at Pinckneyville and he recommended that you be examined in six months so get out of here.” (Doc. 1, p. 5). Doctor Shah also denied Plaintiff's request for pain medication. Id.

         Plaintiff filed an emergency grievance with Warden Mueller the same day. (Doc. 1, p. 5). Warden Mueller ordered that the grievance be expedited. Id. After investigating the matter, Grievance Officer Zelasko concluded that Plaintiff's “medical concerns [we]re being addressed by the facility's healthcare staff.” Id. The emergency grievance was denied on May 19, 2016, by Zelasko and Mueller. Id.

         Plaintiff informed Centralia's medical staff that the mass was causing pain that radiated from his left testicle through his left leg. (Doc. 1, p. 5). He was scheduled to meet with Doctor Santos, who confirmed the presence of a mass in Plaintiff's left testicle by performing a manual examination. Id. The doctor agreed that the mass was likely epididymitis and required no treatment. Id. When Plaintiff complained of tenderness and pain, Doctor Santos recommended masturbation instead of pain medication. Id.

         Plaintiff filed another emergency grievance with Warden Mueller on August 11, 2016. (Doc. 1, p. 6). The warden again ordered that the grievance be expedited. Id. While the grievance was being processed, Plaintiff informed medical staff that he was still experiencing severe pain. Id. In response to this complaint, Doctor Garcia examined Plaintiff on August 17, 2016. Id. The doctor suspected an infection and prescribed Plaintiff Levofloxacin (500 mg), an antibiotic used to treat a ...


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