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Finney v. David

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

March 28, 2017

BILLY J. FINNEY, # B-88695, Plaintiff,


          STACI M. YANDLE United States District Judge

         Plaintiff, currently incarcerated at Shawnee Correctional Center (“Shawnee”), has brought this pro se civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff claims that Defendants were deliberately indifferent to his serious medical condition. The Complaint is now before the Court for a preliminary review pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A.

         Under § 1915A, the Court is required to screen prisoner complaints to filter out non-meritorious claims. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). The Court must dismiss any portion of the complaint that is legally frivolous, malicious, fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or asks for money damages from a defendant who by law is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b).

         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 “no reasonable person could suppose to have any merit.” 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. Conversely, a complaint is plausible on its face “when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009).

         Although the Court is obligated to accept factual allegations as true, see Smith v. Peters, 631 F.3d 418, 419 (7th Cir. 2011), some factual allegations may be so sketchy or implausible that they fail to provide sufficient notice of a plaintiff's claim. Brooks v. Ross, 578 F.3d 574, 581 (7th Cir. 2009). Additionally, Courts “should not accept as adequate abstract recitations of the elements of a cause of action or conclusory legal statements.” Id. At the same time, however, the factual allegations of a pro se complaint are to be liberally construed. See Arnett v. Webster, 658 F.3d 742, 751 (7th Cir. 2011); Rodriguez v. Plymouth Ambulance Serv., 577 F.3d 816, 821 (7th Cir. 2009).

         Applying these standards, the Court finds that some of Plaintiff's claims survive threshold review under § 1915A.

         The Complaint

         On March 12, 2016, Plaintiff sought medical attention for a large knot that had formed on the back of his scalp. He had been experiencing severe headaches, night sweats and chest pains at the time. (Doc. 1-1, p. 6). He described his symptoms to Nurse McGee, who checked his vital signs. However, McGee refused to examine the knot on Plaintiff's scalp. McGee did call in another nurse (Woods) to examine Plaintiff's chest and breathing. As a result, Woods scheduled Plaintiff for a chest x-ray.

         On March 15, 2016, Plaintiff again sought treatment for the knot on his scalp, which was growing larger. He was still experiencing severe headaches and had begun to sweat continuously and to turn pale. Woods refused to examine the knot but upon taking Plaintiff's temperature, noticed that it was high enough to warrant keeping Plaintiff in the infirmary. (Doc. 1-1, p. 7).

         Plaintiff had the chest x-rays on March 16, 2016. Dr. David told Plaintiff that the x-rays showed a large mass in his right lung. Plaintiff told Dr. David about the excruciating pain he was having from the knot on his head. Dr. David examined the knot, but told Plaintiff it was only fat tissue and that it did not require any medical treatment. (Doc. 1-1, p. 7).

         On three occasions between March and May 2016, Plaintiff told Dr. David that he was still constantly having severe headaches and requested treatment for the lump on his scalp. Dr. David became agitated and told Plaintiff that it was only fat tissue and that Plaintiff would have to seek treatment for it after he was paroled. David, McGee and Woods deliberately failed to document in Plaintiff's medical records that he had complained about the lump/knot on his scalp. Only on April 7, 2016 did an unknown nurse record that complaint. (Doc. 1-1, pp. 7-8).

         Also between March and the end of May 2016, Plaintiff submitted 5 grievances complaining about the medical staff's failure to treat the lump/knot on his head. (Doc. 1-1, p. 11; Doc. 1-2, pp. 19-24). Shawnee Warden Denison replied to one of these and determined that Plaintiff's complaint did not constitute an emergency. Plaintiff never received a response to his other grievances. Plaintiff also complained several times to Nursing Director LeCrane about the lack of treatment, to no avail. (Doc. 1-1, p. 12).

         Following the x-ray that disclosed the lung mass, Dr. David sought and obtained approval from Wexford Health Sources, Inc. to send Plaintiff out to have a CT scan of his chest. This test was performed on March 18, 2016. Plaintiff was taken to Memorial Hospital of Carbondale on several other occasions between March and June 2016 for a PET scan and other tests. A lung specialist (Dr. Bambra) diagnosed him with pulmonary Blastomycosis Hemoptysis and referred him to the infectious disease clinic.

         On June 2, 2016, Plaintiff saw Dr. Bobo, an infectious disease specialist. She examined the knot on Plaintiff's scalp after he told her how long it had been there, that it was growing larger and that he had been regularly coughing up blood. (Doc. 1-1, p. 9). Dr. Bobo immediately admitted Plaintiff to the hospital where he had a CT scan of the head. This test showed that the Blastomycosis infection had spread from Plaintiff's scalp into his skull. He underwent surgery to remove the infection. Due to its advanced stage, Plaintiff needed a metal plate to replace a piece of his skull. Plaintiff now suffers from tremors, numbness in his right arm and leg and has lost most of the vision in his right eye. Plaintiff's surgeon and Dr. Bobo told him that had he ...

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