United States District Court, S.D. Illinois
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
R. Herndon UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Jason Street, an inmate who is currently incarcerated at
Shawnee Correctional Center (“Shawnee”), brings
the instant civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §
1983. (Doc. 1). In the Complaint, Plaintiff claims that he
has been denied adequate medical care for progressive vision
loss associated with a right eye cataract, glaucoma, and
keratoconus for more than two years at Shawnee. (Doc. 1, pp.
6-19). Plaintiff brings claims against the defendants under
the Eighth Amendment. Id. He seeks money damages and
a preliminary injunction. (Doc. 1, p. 19).
Complaint is now subject to preliminary review under 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. 2009). The Complaint survives screening under
to the allegations in the Complaint, Plaintiff suffers from a
right eye cataract and glaucoma. (Doc. 1, p. 6). Doctor Els,
an eye doctor at Shawnee, diagnosed him with these conditions
in January 2015. Id. At the time, the doctor
indicated that Plaintiff was “going blind, ” and
there was “no possible chance” of correcting his
right eye vision loss. Id.
later learned that Doctor Els' opinion was incorrect and
merely reflected the policy of his employer, Wexford Health
Sources, Inc. (Doc. 1, p. 6). According to the Complaint,
Wexford has a longstanding policy of denying eye surgery to
any prisoner who has “one good eye.” (Doc. 1, pp.
6, 18-19). In other words, the private medical corporation
will not approve surgery until a prisoner is blind in both
eyes. Id. Doctor Els was aware of this policy when
he told Plaintiff that surgery would not benefit him on
January 8, 2015. (Doc. 1, pp. 6-8). Plaintiff's vision
subsequently deteriorated. (Doc. 1, p. 7).
February 2016, Plaintiff met with a different prison eye
doctor named Doctor Brummel. (Doc. 1, p. 7). Doctor Brummel
told Plaintiff that there was “a chance” that
vision could be restored in his right eye by surgically
removing the cataract and glaucoma. Id. However, the
delay in surgical treatment foreclosed the option.
Id. A corneal transplant was the only remaining
option for restoring vision in Plaintiff's right eye.
March 17, 2016, Plaintiff met with Doctor Umana at Marion Eye
Center to discuss his progressive vision loss. (Doc. 1, p.
8). Doctor Umana diagnosed him with keratoconus, a slowly
progressive ectasia of the cornea that is usually bilateral.
Id. The condition necessitates frequent changes in
eyeglass prescriptions due to changes in the shape of the
cornea. Id. Contact lenses “may provide better
visual correction” in patients with this condition and
are often tried when eyeglasses are not satisfactory.
Id. A corneal transplant is indicated when contact
lenses also fail to improve vision, when contacts are not
tolerated by the patient, or when corneal scarring occurs.
was fitted with contact lenses five different times, and four
of them did not work. (Doc. 1, p. 8). The fifth also stopped
working, after the right eye lens began causing pain,
discomfort, and scarring. (Doc. 1, p. 9). Doctor Brummel
referred Plaintiff to Doctor Fix at the Marion Eye Clinic for
further evaluation on seven or eight separate occasions.
Id. Each appointment yielded the same results,
i.e., a recommendation for a corneal transplant.
Id. Doctor Umana requested authorization for a
contact lens/evaluation before referring Plaintiff for the
the recommendations of these two outside providers, Doctor
Brummel “never request[ed] surgery, ” telling
Plaintiff that Wexford would not pay for it. Id.
Instead, Doctor Brummel continued sending Plaintiff to Doctor
Fix for new contact lenses, knowing that they would not help
him. (Doc. 1, pp. 10-11). Doctor Brummel allegedly acted
pursuant to the same unconstitutional policy espoused by
Wexford of denying surgery in prisoners who have “one
good eye.” (Doc. 1, pp. 9-11).
Alfonso David, the medical director at Shawnee, was also
directly involved in Plaintiff's treatment. (Doc. 1, p.
12). Doctor David, along with Doctor Brummel, approved the
outside referral and lenses instead of surgery because of
Wexford's policy. Id. Doctor David's
decision was motivated by costs concerns. ...