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Gordon v. Campanella

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

March 23, 2017

PATRICK GORDON, #N50657, Plaintiff,


          David R. Herndon United States District Judge.

         Plaintiff Patrick Gordon, an inmate who is currently incarcerated at Vienna Correctional Center (“Vienna”), brings this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for deprivations of his constitutional rights at Vienna. (Doc. 1). According to the Complaint, Plaintiff was denied treatment for an ear infection from March 13, 2016 until January 24, 2017. (Doc. 1, pp. 6-14). He was not referred to an ear, nose, and throat specialist until eight months after his diagnosis. Id. As a result of this delay, Plaintiff endured unnecessary pain and suffered permanent hearing loss. Id. He now requires the use of hearing aids.

         Plaintiff names the following defendants in connection with his federal and state claims for the denial of adequate medical care and mishandling of his grievances: Warden Campanella, Assistant Warden Luce, Health Care Administrator George, Doctor Apostol, Counselor Buckmeier, Major Campbell, Lieutenant Parish, ADA Coordinator Vineyard, Unknown Party/Utilization Management, and Wexford Health Sources, Inc. (Doc. 1, pp. 1-3). Plaintiff seeks monetary damages and injunctive relief against the defendants. (Doc. 1, pp. 14-19).

         This case is now before the Court for a preliminary review of the Complaint (Doc. 1) 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. 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. 2009). The Complaint survives preliminary review under this standard.

         The Complaint

         According to the Complaint, Plaintiff suffered from an untreated, diagnosed ear infection for eight months at Vienna. (Doc. 1, pp. 6-13). During this same time period, he made thirty-seven visits to the prison's health care unit (“HCU”). (Doc. 1, p. 15). He was repeatedly prescribed eye drops for the ear infection. (Doc. 1, pp. 6-13). Plaintiff's symptoms grew worse. Id. When he was finally referred to a specialist, Plaintiff learned that he suffered permanent hearing loss in his left ear and required a hearing aid for his right ear. Id. He now claims that the defendants were negligent in their treatment of him and responded to his serious medical needs with deliberate indifference. (Doc. 1, p. 18).

         Plaintiff provides the following timeline of events in support of his claims:

December 30, 2015: Plaintiff visited the HCU with complaints of left ear and neck pain, bad headaches, and shortness of breath. He was told that his condition was “nothing serious.” (Doc. 1, p. 6).
February 25, 2016: Plaintiff went to the HCU again with complaints of pain in his left ear and the left side of his head. He was reminded that he was only in the HCU for an appointment with the eye doctor and told to flush his ear with warm soapy water and to take an aspirin. Id.
March 31, 2016: After speaking directly with Lieutenant Parish and Assistant Warden Luce about his health concerns, Plaintiff awoke to find blood and puss all over his pillow and shirt. Doctor Apostol diagnosed Plaintiff with an ear infection the same day and prescribed him eye drops for the ear infection. Id.
April 9, 2016: Plaintiff sent three requests to see Doctor Apostol after the eye drops made his left ear worse. Id.
April 27, 2016: Plaintiff met with a nurse in the HCU, who claimed that she only received one of the three sick call slips that he submitted. After requiring Plaintiff to pay a third co-pay[1] for the visit, the nurse looked into his left ear and diagnosed him with a perforated ear drum. She gave Plaintiff acetaminophen (325 mg) and referred him to the doctor. Plaintiff filed a grievance to complain about the “medical neglect” and the nurse's “bad attitude.” (Doc. 1, p. 7).
April 28, 2016: Plaintiff met with Doctor Apostol and complained of pain in his ear and neck that radiated into his left eye and caused throbbing headaches. Instead of examining Plaintiff, the doctor prescribed him more eye drops, Claritin, and ibuprofen. Plaintiff received no antibiotics. Id.
May 10, 2016: After blood was drawn from Plaintiff for “no reason, ” he spoke with Warden Campanella about his ear infection. The warden indicated that she was going to speak with Administrator George. In addition, Plaintiff wrote “several times” to ADA Coordinator Vineyard. Id.
May 17, 2016: A collegial review of Doctor Apostol's recommendations for diagnosis and treatment of Plaintiff was commenced. (Doc. 1, p. 8).
June 1, 2016: Plaintiff directed multiple written requests for treatment and grievances regarding the lack thereof to George, Vineyard, Campanella, Luce, Buckmeier, Parish, and Campbell. Id.
June 7, 2016: Plaintiff filed another grievance indicating that he was misdiagnosed with an ear infection when his condition was far more serious. Id.
June 17, 2016: After Plaintiff described his symptoms of hearing loss and significant pain to a nurse at sick call, she indicated that something was “seriously wrong.” The nurse then observed gray and red inflammation when examining Plaintiff's left ear. Id.
June 21, 2016: Plaintiff spoke with Doctor Apostol on the call line. The doctor told Plaintiff that he was still waiting for the results of the collegial review. Id.
June 27, 2016: Doctor Apostol attempted to conduct a hearing test on Plaintiff but did not know how to use the equipment. When he asked a nurse for help, she refused to assist the doctor and walked away “with an attitude.” Doctor Apostol indicated that Plaintiff failed his hearing test in both ears. (Doc. 1, pp. 8-9).
June 28, 2016: Plaintiff spoke with Counselor Buckmeier about his medical issues and was told to file a grievance. When Plaintiff explained that he had filed many grievances, the counselor said he received none of them. (Doc. 1, p. 9).
July 9 or 10, 2016: Plaintiff spoke with Warden Campanella about his miscellaneous issues, including his ear infection, stomach issues, staff conduct, and grievances. Rather than addressing his complaints, the warden asked ...

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