United States District Court, C.D. Illinois
LEWIS E. WHITE, JR., Plaintiff,
SHERIFF DOWNEY, et al., Defendants.
MERIT REVIEW OPINION
MYERSCOUGH UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
filed this case pro se from the Jerome Combs Detention
Center. The case is before the Court for a merit review
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. This statute requires the
Court to review a complaint filed by a prisoner to identify
the cognizable claims and to dismiss part or all of the
complaint if no claim is stated.
reviewing the Complaint, the Court accepts the factual
allegations as true, liberally construing them in
Plaintiff's favor. Turley v. Rednour, 729 F.3d
645, 649 (7th Cir. 2013). However, conclusory
statements and labels are insufficient. Enough facts must be
provided to "'state a claim for relief that is
plausible on its face.'" Alexander v. U.S.,
721 F.3d 418, 422 (7th Cir. 2013)(quoted cite
alleges that he takes unidentified psychological medicines
with side effects that caused him to fall out of the top bunk
on September 15, 2016. He believes he never should have been
placed on the top bunk because of those medications.
Plaintiff also alleges that Correctional Officer Memenga and
Nurse Beckymoved Plaintiff off the floor after he fell
even though Plaintiff was in great pain, and that they did
not get Plaintiff to a hospital or doctor until four days
later. Plaintiff alleges that he is still suffering from his
Court presumes that Plaintiff is a pretrial detainee, which
means that his claim arises from the Fourteenth
Amendment's Due Process Clause, but the analysis is
essentially indistinguishable from an Eighth Amendment
analysis. Thomas v. Cook County Sheriff's Dept.,
604 F.3d 293, 301 n.2 (7th Cir. 2010); Chapman v.
Keltner, 241 F.3d 842, 845 (7th Cir. 2001). Plaintiff
must allege facts which allow a plausible inference of
"(1) an objectively serious injury or medical need was
deprived; and (2) the [named defendant] knew that the risk of
injury was substantial but nevertheless failed to take
reasonable measures to prevent it." Chapman,
241 F.3d at 845.
state a constitutional claim based on Plaintiff's
placement on the top bunk, Plaintiff must allege facts to
plausibly suggest that the individual responsible for that
placement was deliberately indifferent to a substantial risk
of serious harm. Deliberate indifference means that the
individual responsible for the placement actually knew that
Plaintiff's placement on the top bunk presented a serious
risk of substantial harm and consciously disregarded that
risk. Thomas v. Cook County Sheriff's Dept., 604
F.3d 293, 301 (7th Cir. 2010). Negligence-a claim that the
individual should have known Plaintiff needed a bottom
bunk-is not enough to state a constitutional claim.
McGowan v. Hulick, 612 F.3d 636, 640 (7th Cir.
2010)(“[N]egligence, even gross negligence, does not
violate the Constitution.”)
Plaintiff's claim of denial of medical care, he must
allege facts to plausibly suggest deliberate indifference to
a serious medical need. A “serious medical need”
is a need diagnosed by a doctor as needing treatment, or a
need so obvious that even a layperson would recognize the
need for treatment. Pyles v. Fahim, 771 F.3d 403,
409 (7th Cir. 2014). Deliberate indifference means
that an individual actually knew that Plaintiff had a serious
medical need and consciously disregarded that need.
Duckworth v. Ahmad, 532 F.3d 675, 679 (7th
Cir.2008). An employee without medical training is generally
entitled to rely on the judgment of the medical staff.
Greeno v. Daley, 414 F.3d 645, 656 (7th Cir.
2005)(“‘If a prisoner is under the care of
medical experts... a nonmedical prison official will
generally be justified in believing that the prisoner is in
capable hands.'”)(quoted cite omitted).
individuals in charge such as the Sheriff, the Chief of
Corrections, and the Assistant Chief of Corrections cannot be
held liable simply because they are in charge. Brown v.
Randle, ___ F.3d ___, 2017 WL 491155 *3 (7th
Cir. 2017). They must have personally known that Plaintiff
was assigned to the top bunk and also that the top bunk
presented a substantial risk of serious harm to Plaintiff.
They must have personally known that Plaintiff was being
denied access to medical care.
allegations in Plaintiff's complaint do not allow a
plausible inference of deliberate indifference against the
named Defendants. Plaintiff does not explain how each of
these Defendants knew about Plaintiff's medications or
that the medications put Plaintiff at risk from falling off
the top bunk. Plaintiff does not explain his efforts to
obtain medical care after the injury and the responses he
received. He does not set forth what medical care he has
received for the injuries. Additionally, only the individuals
responsible can be sued. The “health care staff”
cannot be sued.
no plausible inference arises on these allegations that the
named Defendants were actually aware of a substantial risk of
harm to Plaintiff or were aware that Plaintiff was not
receiving medical care for a serious medical need.
Plaintiff's complaint will be dismissed for failure to
state a claim, without prejudice to filing an amended
complaint providing more factual detail.
Plaintiff's complaint is dismissed without prejudice for
failure to state a claim pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A.
Plaintiff may file an amended complaint by March 17, 2017. If
Plaintiff does not file an amended complaint or
Plaintiff's amended complaint still fails to state a
claim, then this action will be dismissed for failure to
state a claim and a strike will be assessed against Plaintiff
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. 1915(g). If Plaintiff files an amended