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Byrd v. Wexford Health Sources, Inc.

United States District Court, C.D. Illinois

March 20, 2017

JUSTIN E. BYRD, Plaintiff,
v.
WEXFORD HEALTH SOURCES, INC. Defendants.

          MERIT REVIEW OPINION

          SUE E. MYERSCOUGH, U.S. District Judge.

         Plaintiff proceeds pro se from his incarceration in Taylorville Correctional Center. His Complaint is before the Court for a merit review pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. This section requires the Court to identify cognizable claims stated by the Complaint or dismiss claims that are not cognizable.[1] In reviewing the complaint, the Court accepts the factual allegations as true, liberally construing them in Plaintiff's favor and taking Plaintiff's pro se status into account. 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 (7thCir. 2013)(quoted cite omitted).

         During Plaintiff's incarceration in Jacksonville Correctional Center from January 2014 to April 2016, Plaintiff repeatedly sought medical care for rectal bleeding and bloody stools which were causing him nausea, dizziness, extreme fatigue, confusion, fever, extreme discomfort, pain, and emotional distress. (Compl. p. 4.) The prison doctors diagnosed Plaintiff with hemorrhoids and prescribed suppositories and hemorrhoid lotion. The hemorrhoid diagnosis was confirmed in May 2014 when Plaintiff had an upper and lower endoscopy. However, Plaintiff continued to suffer from rectal bleeding and the other symptoms throughout his entire time in Jacksonville Correctional Center.

         In April 2016, Plaintiff was transferred from Jacksonville to Taylorville Correctional Center. The next month, a class instructor asked Plaintiff if he was okay because Plaintiff looked as “white as a sheet.” Plaintiff replied, “No, I feel like I am going to pass out.” He was sent to the health care unit where the nurses diagnosed Plaintiff with dangerously low blood counts (a hemoglobin of 5.5 with a normal count being 14-15). Plaintiff was transferred to the hospital where he received three blood transfusions and emergency surgery. Plaintiff contends that Wexford Health Sources, Inc., the medical staff at Jacksonville Correctional Center, and the Warden and Assistant Warden at Jacksonville Correctional Center were deliberately indifferent and negligent to Plaintiff's medical condition.

         These allegations state a plausible Eighth Amendment claim against the medical staff at Jacksonville for deliberate indifference to Plaintiff's serious medical needs. Plaintiff also sues Wexford Health Sources, Inc., alleging an unconstitutional policy, which is a stretch on the current allegations. Plaintiff does not explain what corporate policy or practice caused the lack of medical care. However, dismissal of Wexford would be premature.

         No plausible inference of deliberate indifference arises against the wardens from these allegations. Wardens, like other prison officials without medical training, are generally entitled to rely on the professional expertise of the prison 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). Plaintiff's allegations do not suggest that the wardens knew about Plaintiff's medical problems or might have known that the medical attention Plaintiff was receiving was obviously deficient. King v. Kramer, 680 F.3d 1013, 1018 (7th Cir. 2012)(nonmedical defendants may be liable if “‘they have a reason to believe (or actual knowledge) that prison doctors or their assistants are mistreating (or not treating) a prisoner.'”)(quoted cite omitted). Plaintiff does not allege that he informed any of the wardens of the problem while Plaintiff was at Jacksonville, and the one grievance attached to the complaint was not filed until August 2016, after Plaintiff had been transferred to Taylorville Correctional Center.

         As for Plaintiff's malpractice claim, he must attach the affidavit and report required by 735 ILCS 5/2-622(a)(affidavit of qualified professional stating that the case has merit must be attached to a complaint alleging malpractice). The malpractice claim will be dismissed without prejudice to filing those documents.

         IT IS THEREFORE ORDERED:

         1) Pursuant to its merit review of the Complaint under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, the Court finds that Plaintiff states an Eighth Amendment claim for deliberate indifference to his serious medical needs against Defendants Wexford Health Sources, Inc., Becky (last name unknown)(Jacksonville Health Care Administrator), Eli Goodman, Thomas Baker, Nurse M.W. Sweetin, Nurse K. Boone, Nurse Hallock, and Nurse Pitchford. This case proceeds solely on the claims identified in this paragraph at this point. Any additional claims shall not be included in the case, except at the Court's discretion on motion by a party for good cause shown or pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15.

         2) Warden Gerski and the unidentified Assistant Warden of programs are dismissed, without prejudice.

         3) Plaintiff's malpractice claim is dismissed, without prejudice to refiling with the affidavit and report required by 735 ILCS 5/2-622(a).

         4) This case is now in the process of service. Plaintiff is advised to wait until counsel has appeared for Defendants before filing any motions, in order to give Defendants notice and an opportunity to respond to those motions. Motions filed before Defendants' counsel has filed an appearance will generally be denied as premature. Plaintiff need not submit any evidence to the Court at this time, unless otherwise directed by the Court.

         5) The Court will attempt service on Defendants by mailing each Defendant a waiver of service. Defendants have 60 days from the date the waiver is sent to file an Answer. If Defendants have not filed Answers or appeared through counsel within 90 days of the entry of this order, Plaintiff may file a motion requesting the status of service. After Defendants have been served, the Court will enter an order setting discovery and dispositive motion deadlines.

         6) With respect to a Defendant who no longer works at the address provided by Plaintiff, the entity for whom that Defendant worked while at that address shall provide to the Clerk said Defendant's current work address, or, if not known, said Defendant's forwarding address. This information shall be used only for effectuating service. Documentation of forwarding addresses shall ...


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