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Rowling v. Illinois Dept. of Corrections

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

February 6, 2017

CLIFFORD ROWLING, #B-87063, Plaintiff,


          NANCY J. ROSENSTENGEL United States District Judge.

         This matter is now before the Court for consideration of the First Amended Complaint (Doc. 23) filed by Plaintiff Clifford Rowling, an inmate at Big Muddy River Correctional Center (“Big Muddy”). Plaintiff brings this action for deprivations of his federal rights pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”), 42 U.S.C. § 21312, et seq., and the Rehabilitation Act (“RA”), 29 U.S.C. § 794(a). In his First Amended Complaint, which he prepared with the assistance of recruited counsel, Plaintiff alleges that he has been consistently denied medical, mental health, and psychiatric care at Big Muddy. He asserts claims against the defendants under the Eighth Amendment, the ADA and the RA. (Doc. 23, p. 2). Plaintiff seeks declaratory judgment, monetary damages, and injunctive relief. (Doc. 23, pp. 18-19).

         This case is now before the Court for a preliminary review of the First Amended Complaint 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. The First Amended Complaint survives preliminary review under this standard.

         First Amended Complaint

         According to the First Amended Complaint, Plaintiff is mentally impaired and disabled. (Doc. 23, pp. 2-3). He has a “long history of severe documented mental illness and psychological problems, disabilities[, ] and impairments.” (Doc. 23, p. 5). Plaintiff has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, paranoia, obsessive compulsive disorder (“OCD”), suicidal ideations, delusions, low mood, depression, and attention deficit disorder (“ADD”), among other things. Id. All of the defendants named in this action “were and are” aware of these issues. Id.

         Defendants Larson, Gerst, and Lifchitz have met with Plaintiff and evaluated him at Big Muddy on several occasions. (Doc. 23, p. 5). They are aware that Plaintiff's previously prescribed medications are ineffective. Consequently, he suffers from numerous adverse side effects that include “weakness, bad mood swings, migraine headaches, dizziness, lack of focus, black outs, blurred vision, paranoia, . . . difficulty sleeping, and drowsiness.” (Doc. 23, p. 6). Plaintiff also talks to birds and inanimate objects. Id.

         On numerous occasions, Plaintiff has asked Defendants Larson, Gerst, and Lifchitz to adjust his medication, in order to reduce or eliminate the adverse side effects. Despite multiple requests, however, the defendants have “continually delayed and refused to make any meaningful effort to alter or adjust [his] medications.” (Doc. 23, p. 7). Plaintiff claims that the conduct of these defendants amounts to deliberate indifference to his serious medical needs, in violation of his rights under the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments. (Doc. 23, pp. 7-8).

         Wexford Health Sources, Inc. (“Wexford”), a private corporation that provides mental health and psychiatric care to inmates at Big Muddy, also “knew, through its agents and employees, ” of Plaintiff's mental impairments and his need for psychiatric treatment. (Doc. 23, pp. 8-10). Even so, Wexford has denied Plaintiff appropriate care, in violation of his rights under the Eighth Amendment. Id. Wexford has instituted a number of “unconstitutional policies, customs, procedures, plans, and guidelines, to reduce, contain and limit the costs of medical care” provided to inmates. (Doc. 23, pp. 10-11). The corporation elevates concerns about costs of services over the quality of services it provides. Id. These policies and practices are allegedly the “moving force” behind Plaintiff's denial of adequate mental health and psychiatric treatment at Big Muddy. (Doc. 23, p. 11). Plaintiff names Wexford in this action for denying him appropriate mental health care in violation of the Eighth Amendment. (Doc. 23, pp. 11-14).

         In addition, he asserts a claim for money damages under the ADA and RA. (Doc. 23, pp. 14-17). Plaintiff contends that he has been subject to discrimination because of his mental illness and impairments. (Doc. 23, pp. 15-16). Defendants refuse to accommodate his psychiatric needs, by providing him with proper medical care. Id. As a result, Plaintiff is unable to enjoy basic life activities, such as caring for himself, working, sleeping, learning, or performing manual tasks. (Doc. 23, pp. 5, 14-16).

         Plaintiff now requests declaratory judgment and monetary damages against the defendants. (Doc. 23, pp. 18-19). He also seeks mandatory and permanent injunctive relief, in the form of a court order requiring Warden Garnett, Wexford, and Doctor Lifchitz to “provide him with the medications and other psychiatric treatment required to stop those ...

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