United States District Court, S.D. Illinois
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
MICHAEL J. REAGAN, CHIEF JUDGE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
currently incarcerated at Menard Correctional Center
(“Menard”), has brought this pro se
civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983.
Plaintiff claims that several Defendants were deliberately
indifferent to his medical needs after he injured his hand.
Later, he was subjected to excessive force when officers
refused to loosen his handcuffs, further injuring the same
hand. This case is now before the Court for a preliminary
review of the Complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A.
§ 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).
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).
these standards, the Court finds that some of Plaintiff's
claims survive threshold review under § 1915A.
30, 2016, Plaintiff severely injured his right hand while on
the yard. He sought help from Officers Doe and Macdonough,
but because it was nearly time for a shift change (2:20
p.m.), these officers refused to call medical staff or take
Plaintiff to the health care unit. (Doc. 1, pp. 2, 9). Later
on, at around 4:15 p.m., Plaintiff was taken to the health
care unit, where an examination noted the hand was swollen
and the pinky finger was at an awkward angle, out of its
normal position. (Doc. 1-1, pp. 16-17). The delay in medical
attention caused Plaintiff to suffer unnecessary pain.
Trost is a physician at Menard who saw Plaintiff on various
occasions. It is not clear when Plaintiff first consulted Dr.
Trost for examination or treatment of his hand injury. Trost
cancelled Plaintiff's sick call pass for June 8, 2016,
further delaying treatment. Plaintiff was again unable to see
the doctor on June 9, 2016. (Doc. 1, p. 11; Doc. 1-1, p. 15).
A nurse ordered x-rays and put a splint on Plaintiff's
hand. The x-rays were to have been sent to an outside
consultant, but it appears this was not done. (Doc. 1-1, p.
15). Plaintiff filed a grievance on June 19, 2016,
complaining about the lack of treatment. (Doc. 1-1, pp.
to Plaintiff's letter complaining about officials'
failure to address his grievances, Trost examined him on June
22, 2016, and noted there was still extensive swelling of the
right finger, discoloration, and lack of mobility. Trost
ordered more x-rays. On July 12, 2016, Trost saw him again
and noted the swelling had still not subsided, and the finger
was still at an awkward angle. He again ordered x-rays. (Doc.
1-1, p. 22).
Trost reviewed the x-ray results, and in a report dated July
21, 2016, concluded that the radiology results showed the
hand was “normal or stable.” (Doc. 1, p. 11; Doc.
1-1, p. 19). However, Plaintiff says the hand was not
“normal” at that time. Dr. Trost's
“misdiagnoses” delayed treatment for
Plaintiff's injury. (Doc. 1, pp. 11, 20).
13, 2016, Dr. Trost sought an orthopedic consult for
Plaintiff, but Dr. Ritz (a doctor with Wexford Health
Sources, Inc.) denied the referral request. (Doc. 1, p. 12;
Doc. 1-1, p. 21). Dr. Ritz asked for more information so the
referral could be reconsidered on July 29, 2016, but failed
to expedite that request. (Doc. 1, pp. 12, 20; Doc. 1-1, p.
21). Plaintiff's pain and restricted movement continued
and treatment was further delayed.
was eventually sent for a consultation with an orthopedic
specialist on September 8, 2016, and again on September 13,
2016. (Doc. 1, p. 10). The specialist concluded that the
injury was serious enough to require surgical repair, but
that even with surgery, his pinky finger could remain
immobile or permanently disfigured. Id. Plaintiff
states that the recommendation for surgery and other care was
ignored. (Doc. 1, p. 10).
submitted several requests for a medical permit to allow his
hands to be cuffed in the front because of his injury.
However, on October 18, 2016, Dr. Trost denied
Plaintiff's request for a front cuff permit. Plaintiff
asserts that this permit denial was in retaliation for
Plaintiff having filed a grievance against Dr.
Trost. (Doc. 1, p. 11; Doc. 1-1, p. 27).
December 23, 2016, C/O Larry was on duty when Plaintiff was
placed in handcuffs behind his back for a 4-hour period.
(Doc. 1, p. 15). Plaintiff told Larry about his pre-existing
hand injury and the fact that he had a medical permit for a
finger spring/ACU-spring extension assist device (granted to
him after a November 28, 2016, orthopedic consultation).
(Doc. 1, pp. 15; Doc. 1-1, p. 40). Plaintiff asked Larry to
loosen the restraints, or call the Health Care Unit because
his fingers were becoming numb and his shoulder was burning.
However, Larry refused to notify medical staff or to loosen
the cuffs. As a result, Plaintiff suffered pain, swelling,
and welts that persisted for several days, and the incident
set back Plaintiff's physical therapy for the injured
right hand. (Doc. 1, p. 16).
(Plaintiff's counselor) allegedly retaliated against
Plaintiff by failing to process his grievances over the
delays and lack of medical care for Plaintiff's injured
hand. This retaliation was prompted by Plaintiff's
actions of filing grievances and bringing a lawsuit (Case No.
15-cv-770-NJR-DGW) against Meyer's co-workers. (Doc. 1,
the former Menard Warden, ruled that Plaintiff's
“emergency” grievance filed June 17, 2016, over
the lack of treatment for his hand injury, did not qualify as
an emergency matter. (Doc. 1, p. 16; Doc. 1-1, pp. 16-17). As
a result, Plaintiff's suffering was prolonged when
treatment was further delayed. She also deemed his earlier
“emergency” grievance of January 12, 2016, a
was the acting warden at the time Plaintiff filed the instant
action and the grievances of December 2016 and January 2017.
(Doc. 1, pp. 17-18). Lashbrook deemed those grievances to be
names “Menard HCU” and Gail Walls (the Health
Care Unit Administrator) as Defendants. He complains that
they failed to act on his December 31, 2015, request for
medical treatment for a variety of issues unrelated to the
later hand injury. (Doc. 1, p. 9; Doc. 1-1, pp. 11-13). They
similarly ignored two sick call requests in February 2016. As
a result, Plaintiff was denied his annual physical. Later,
after Plaintiff sustained the hand injury, Walls and the HCU
failed to send records to the orthopedic specialist. (Doc. 1,
seeks compensatory and punitive damages, as well as other
non-monetary punishment of the Defendants. (Doc. 1, p. 24).
Review Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A
on the allegations of the Complaint, the Court finds it
convenient to divide the pro se action into the
following counts. The parties and the Court will use these
designations in all future pleadings and orders, unless
otherwise directed by a judicial officer of this Court. The
designation of these counts does not constitute an opinion as
to their merit. Any other claim that is mentioned in the
Complaint but not addressed in this Order should be
considered dismissed without prejudice.
Count 1: Eighth Amendment deliberate indifference claim
against Macdonough and the John Doe Lieutenant, for refusing
to summon medical staff after Plaintiff's hand was
injured on May 30, 2016;
Count 2: Eighth Amendment deliberate indifference claim
against Dr. Trost and Dr. Ritz for denying and delaying
medical attention for Plaintiff's injured hand;
Count 3: Eighth Amendment deliberate indifference claim
against unnamed Defendants for ignoring the orthopedic
specialist's recommendations for surgery and other
treatment for Plaintiff's hand injury;
Count 4: First Amendment retaliation claim against Dr. Trost
for denying Plaintiff a medical front-cuff permit after
Plaintiff filed grievances against him;
Count 5: Eighth Amendment claims against C/O Larry for
deliberate indifference and excessive force, for refusing to
loosen Plaintiff's handcuffs or consult medical staff on
December 23, 2016;
Count 6: First Amendment retaliation claim against Meyer, for
refusing to process Plaintiff's grievances after he sued
her co-workers and filed grievances against her;
Count 7: Eighth Amendment deliberate indifference claim
against Butler for failing to act on Plaintiff's
grievances complaining about lack of medical care ...