United States District Court, S.D. Illinois
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
J. ROSENSTENGEL United States District Judge
Dallas McIntosh, an inmate in Menard Correctional Center,
brings this action for deprivations of his constitutional
rights pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. In his Complaint,
Plaintiff claims the defendants were deliberately indifferent
to his serious medical issues and failed to protect him from
harming himself during his time at St. Clair County Jail, in
violation of the Fourteenth Amendment. (Doc. 1). This case is
now before the Court for a preliminary review of the
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
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 of the pro se
complaint are to be liberally construed. See Rodriguez v.
Plymouth Ambulance Serv., 577 F.3d 816, 821 (7th Cir.
Complaint (Doc. 1), Plaintiff makes the following
allegations: at all relevant times, Plaintiff was a pre-trial
detainee in custody at the St. Clair County Jail. (Doc. 1, p.
2). On or about October 10, 2013, Plaintiff was transported
to the St. Clair County Jail from St. Louis University
Hospital to await trial. (Doc. 1, p. 5). Plaintiff was listed
in poor physical condition because he had recently had
surgery for gunshot wounds, had upwards of twenty surgical
staples in his abdomen, had a drain attached to his body, was
urinating blood, and was forced to depend on a walked and
wheelchair for mobility. Id. Because of these
medical issues, Plaintiff was housed in the infirmary under
the care of nurses and assigned correctional officers.
Id. Plaintiff suffered great physical pain and
discomfort during this time, and he was also severely
depressed and stressed. (Doc. 1, p. 6).
February 8, 2013, Plaintiff's bunk and property were
searched, and a corrections officer discovered a suicide
note, which was addressed to Plaintiff's friends and
family members; in it, Plaintiff expressed the intent to end
his life. Id. Plaintiff was then moved to the
suicide watch room and placed in a suicide restraint chair.
Id. Nurse Nancy Keen was on duty when the suicide
note was discovered, and she was personally responsible for
securing Plaintiff in the restraint chair and checking the
restraints. Id. McLaurin also was aware of
Plaintiff's circumstances and personally informed
Plaintiff's family of the note. (Doc. 1, p. 7). Plaintiff
was eventually released from suicide watch to his previous
housing in the infirmary. Id.
days immediately following Plaintiff's return to the
infirmary, Keen began to give a variety of prescription pills
to Plaintiff during the times she was responsible for
dispensing pills to the other detainees, as well as on other
occasions. Id. Keen instructed Plaintiff on how to
take the pills with respect to which pills, in what
combinations, and at what time. Id. Keen told
Plaintiff the pills would make him feel better. Id.
These pills likely included sleeping pills, anxiety and
depression pills, pain killers, and opioids. (Doc. 1, p. 8).
Plaintiff became heavily addicted to the medication, so Keen
gave him more pills in greater strengths and provided him
with excess pills so that he could last between her shifts.
Id. This occasionally included several days-worth of
pills at once being given to Plaintiff. Id. Keen
suggested Plaintiff put the pills up, or conceal them from
the correctional staff, when she gave him extra. Id.
the first six weeks of Plaintiff's prescription pill
regimen, Plaintiff frequently experienced excruciating
headaches, severe stomach pain, diarrhea, cramps, and nausea,
which caused him to violently vomit, sometimes with blood,
leaving his throat and esophagus painfully raw. Id.
Plaintiff felt feelings of confusion, grief, depression,
sadness, and anger; he also suffered mood swings and had
increased and constant thoughts of suicide. Id.
Plaintiff slept 16-18 hours per day in a state of narcosis,
to the point where McLaurin, on at least one occasion, asked
the other detainees if Plaintiff was “even
alive.” (Doc. 1, pp. 8, 14). Plaintiff missed 2-3 meal
trays per day due to his drowsiness and the medicine's
suppression of his appetite. (Doc. 1, p. 8). Plaintiff
suffered abrupt weight loss, causing him to be placed on a
high-calorie diet by the jail physician. (Doc. 1, p. 9).
Plaintiff was kept in this drug-induced state, completely
addicted to the medication, for almost six consecutive
months. Id. The corrections officers assigned to the
infirmary witnessed Plaintiff's behavior, and instead of
assisting him, eventually stopped trying to wake Plaintiff up
during meal times and gave away his meal trays to other
August 4, 2013, a shakedown of the infirmary supervised by
Lieutenant Nancy Sutherlin took place. Id.
Corrections Officer Chris Lazante searched Plaintiff's
bunk and possessions and discovered multiple bundles of
various pills, including Trazedone, Lortab, Phenegren, and
Tramadol. (Doc. 1, pp. 9-10). In total, 55 prescription pills
were located in Plaintiff's property. (Doc. 1, p. 10).
Nurse Barbara Rodriguez examined the pills and advised
Sutherlin that Plaintiff was not prescribed any of them, nor
were some of them from the Wexford formulary. Id.
Keen and Rodriguez, the on-duty nurses at the time the pills
were discovered, did not screen Plaintiff for suicidal
ideation at this time. Id. Instead, McLaurin ordered
Plaintiff be placed in punitive segregation, so Sutherlin,
Lazante, Beattie, and Fulton moved him to cell block
“F-Max” into a cell that was not suicide-proof.
(Doc. 1, pp. 10-11, 14). These defendants allowed Plaintiff
to keep his mattress from the infirmary, which contained
another bundle of pills. (Doc. 1, p. 11). Plaintiff
immediately sent a grievance explaining that he was given the
pills over a period of several months. Id. Plaintiff
also requested to speak to someone. Id.
could not think straight given he was still affected by the
pills. Id. He became increasingly depressed as the
evening wore on, so he took more pills and started to
contemplate suicide. Id. Plaintiff took the rest of
the 10-15 pills and attempted to hang himself using a sheet
as a rope. Id. The sheet came loose, causing
Plaintiff to fall and strike his head on the bed frame and
floor. Id. His head ached, his vision blurred, and
he was very dizzy from the fall. Id. Plaintiff began
to vomit violently, felt chest pains, and struggled to catch
his breath. Id. Plaintiff then lost consciousness
for several hours. Id. The assigned officers failed
to regularly monitor or conduct a wellness check of Plaintiff
during this time, which would have revealed that Plaintiff
was unconscious. (Doc. 1, p. 16). Plaintiff believes the
pills influenced him to attempt to overdose and hang himself,
as he had never taken any actual, physical steps toward
suicide before taking them. (Doc. 1, p. 12).
days later, Steve Strubberg informed Plaintiff that he was
under criminal investigation concerning the pills that were
discovered with his property. Id. Strubberg also
told Plaintiff that he and the other defendants, given the
discovery of the pills, realized why Plaintiff had been
sleeping all the time and barely eating. Id.
Plaintiff told Strubberg the situation was not his fault and
that he wanted to file a grievance, but Strubberg told him
that the first step in the grievance process would be the
completion of the criminal investigation. (Doc. 1, pp.
12-13). Without medication, Plaintiff began to suffer from
withdrawal symptoms, including panic attacks, profuse
sweating, vomiting, diarrhea, headaches, and urinating in his
sleep. (Doc. 1, p. 13). Plaintiff also suffered alternative