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Santiago v. USA

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

January 27, 2017

JOSEPH SANTIAGO, # 10325-089, Plaintiff,
USA, Defendant.


          MICHAEL J. REAGAN Chief District Judge.

         Plaintiff is a federal inmate currently incarcerated at the FCI-Greenville. In this pro se action, he seeks relief under the Federal Tort Claims Act for the medical negligence/malpractice of several prison medical providers, who failed to diagnose or properly treat his fractured left ankle. This case is now before the Court for a preliminary review of the complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A.

         Under § 1915A, the Court is required to screen prisoner complaints to filter out non-meritorious claims. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). The Court must 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). Frivolousness is an objective standard that refers to a claim that “no reasonable person could suppose to have any merit.” 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. 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 Arnett v. Webster, 658 F.3d 742, 751 (7th Cir. 2011); Rodriguez v. Plymouth Ambulance Serv., 577 F.3d 816, 821 (7th Cir. 2009).

         Applying these standards, the Court concludes that this action is subject to summary dismissal. However, Plaintiff shall be given an opportunity to comply with the Illinois state law requirements for medical malpractice actions, if he wishes to further pursue the dismissed claim.

         The Complaint

         On June 4, 2011, Plaintiff injured his left leg and ankle while playing softball. He sought treatment at Greenville's Health Services Department. His left ankle was extremely swollen and painful. Nurse Thomason wrapped the ankle and instructed Plaintiff to return to sick call the following day. (Doc. 1, p. 1).

         An x-ray was performed, which was reported on June 6, 2011, to show no fracture. Plaintiff was issued crutches but was denied a wheelchair. (Doc. 1, p. 2).

         On July 15, Plaintiff sought treatment for extreme pain and swelling. PA Adesanya gave him Motrin and requested an MRI of the ankle.

         On July 21, 2011, Plaintiff returned to health services with severe pain. He then learned that the June 6, 2011, x-ray report should have been interpreted as “positive” for a fracture. The failure to properly treat the broken ankle for over four weeks subjected Plaintiff to extreme pain.

         Much later, on January 4, 2012, Plaintiff continued to have extreme pain in his injured ankle. An orthopedist (Dr. Sola) recommended an MRI. The Complaint does not disclose whether that test was performed. (Doc. 1, p. 2).

         Several months later, on June 13, 2012, Plaintiff again sought treatment from the prison health services for pain and soreness in the left ankle. He states that Greenville Hospital had suggested he receive physical therapy, but only two sessions were provided before health services terminated the therapy.

         Plaintiff's problems have continued through the date he filed the Complaint. On an April 19, 2013, visit to health services, he learned that he had torn ligaments as well as the fracture of the ankle. (Doc. 1, p. 3). On July 24, 2015, Plaintiff again reported to health services with severe pain. As a result, PA Schneider suggested more physical therapy. However, no physical therapy was ever ordered. Plaintiff continues to experience pain and swelling in the injured ankle. Id.

         Plaintiff asserts that these events demonstrate a breach in the duty of care owed to him by Greenville health services staff. They delayed proper diagnosis and treatment, failed to properly treat his injury, and caused him unnecessary pain and suffering. Further, he claims to have developed permanent ...

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