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Fernandez v. Shah

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

January 17, 2017

OSIA FERNANDEZ, # Y-11935, Plaintiff,


          J. Phil Gilbert District Judge.

         Plaintiff Osia Fernandez, an inmate who is currently incarcerated at Robinson Correctional Center (“Robinson”), brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. According to the Complaint, Plaintiff was diagnosed with numerous food and drug allergies prior to his incarceration at Robinson. (Doc. 1, pp. 5-9). He claims that Vipin Shah (prison doctor), Phil Martin (health care administrator), and Wexford Health Care Sources (“Wexford”) (private medical corporation) suspended all treatment for his allergies during his incarceration, in violation of the Eighth Amendment. Id. Plaintiff seeks monetary damages against these defendants. (Doc. 1, p. 10).

         This case is now before the Court for a preliminary review of the Complaint (Doc. 1) pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, which provides:

(a) Screening - The court shall review, before docketing, if feasible or, in any event, as soon as practicable after docketing, a complaint in a civil action in which a prisoner seeks redress from a governmental entity or officer or employee of a governmental entity.
(b) Grounds for Dismissal - On review, the court shall identify cognizable claims or dismiss the complaint, or any portion of the complaint, if the complaint-
(1) is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted; or
(2) seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief.

         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). Frivolousness is an objective standard that refers to a claim that any reasonable person would find meritless. Lee v. Clinton, 209 F.3d 1025, 1026-27 (7th Cir. 2000). 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. At this juncture, the factual allegations in the pro se complaint are to be liberally construed. See Rodriguez v. Plymouth Ambulance Serv., 577 F.3d 816, 821 (7th Cir. 2009). Upon careful review of the Complaint and supporting exhibits, the Court finds that the Complaint survives screening under § 1915A.

         The Complaint

         Since July 2016, Plaintiff has sought medical treatment for nightly bouts of hives resulting from severe allergies. (Doc. 1, pp. 6, 9). He has seen Doctor Shah on several occasions to discuss his condition. Id. Plaintiff has provided Doctor Shah with documentation of his food and drug allergies from his primary physician. Id. Plaintiff explained that he was diagnosed with these allergies[1] prior to his incarceration and suffers from “constant[ ] . . . discomfort, pain, and itching” because of them. (Doc. 1, p. 6). To manage his allergies, Plaintiff's primary physician prescribed him hydroxyzine for use three times per day. Id. Plaintiff told Doctor Shah that he “understood” if the doctor could not issue him his regular medication, but he requested a “simple Benadryl (antihistamine)” in its place. Id. Plaintiff noted that other inmates at Robinson receive Benadryl. (Doc. 1, pp. 6, 9).

         In response, Doctor Shah instructed Plaintiff to “come to medical to be seen” whenever he develops hives. (Doc. 1, p. 6). Plaintiff pointed out that this is often not possible because he experiences flare-ups of his hives and severe itching around 3:00 a.m. each night. Id. No inmate is allowed to go anywhere at that time. Id. In the alternative, Doctor Shah instructed Plaintiff to purchase “allergy tablets” from the prison commissary. (Doc. 1, pp. 6-7, 9). Plaintiff did so, but insists that they “do not help at all.” (Doc. 1, pp. 7, 9). Still, Doctor Shah refused to do anything to treat Plaintiff's condition, such as conferring with Plaintiff's primary physician or offering him Benadryl. Id.

         Plaintiff has filed detailed grievances to complain about his untreated allergies. (Doc. 1, p. 7; Doc. 1-1, pp. 1-13). Phil Martin, the prison health care administrator, is aware of Plaintiff's untreated medical condition because he has reviewed these grievances. Id. Even so, Administrator Martin has taken no action to ensure Plaintiff's receipt of proper care. Id. Plaintiff also blames Wexford and Roger Matticks[2] for the denial of medical care. The private medical corporation offers incentives to employees who “stay under budget.” Id. These policies reward employees for denying inmates medical care and resulted in the suspension of Plaintiff's treatment for allergies. (Doc. 1, pp. 7-8).

         Plaintiff now claims that Doctor Shah, Administrator Martin, and Wexford violated the Eighth Amendment's proscription against cruel and unusual punishment by suspending his treatment for allergies and subjecting him to unnecessary pain ...

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