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Joness v. Wexford Healthcare Sources

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

May 1, 2017



          STACI M. YANDLE U.S. District Judge

         Plaintiff Hamilton Jones, a former inmate now on parole from Robinson Correctional Center, brings this action for deprivations of his constitutional rights pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. In his Complaint, Plaintiff claims that Defendant Dr. Coe made inappropriate comments and touched Plaintiff inappropriately during a medical visit at Lawrence Correctional Center in violation of the Eighth 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 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).

         Upon careful review of the Complaint and any supporting exhibits, the Court finds it appropriate to allow this case to proceed past the threshold stage.

         The Complaint

         Plaintiff makes the following allegations in his Complaint (Doc. 1): In early 2016, Plaintiff had a doctor's visit with Coe for jock itch and an abscess near his rectum. (Doc. 1, p. 6). Coe said to Plaintiff: “If you let me see your pecker, then maybe I could help.” Id. Coe also told Plaintiff, among other things, that if he had something going on between his legs, he “should stop humping on [his] celly.” Id. Plaintiff informed Mrs. Phillippe that he was not comfortable dealing with Dr. Coe and that he wished to see James, the Physician's Assistant. (Doc. 1, pp. 6-7).

         Plaintiff reported Coe's “sexually harassing remarks” to the PREA hotline and was interviewed by Jeffrey Molenhour soon thereafter. (Doc. 1, p. 7). Molenhour told Plaintiff that Coe may have a strange sense of humor but that Molenhour did not believe Coe desired Plaintiff. Id. Plaintiff also saw a clinical psychologist who told Plaintiff “Dr. Coe was a strange duck.” Id.

         On February 19, 2016, Plaintiff had another doctor's visit with Coe for his jock itch and abscess. Id. Coe instructed Plaintiff to bend over and pull his pants down, which he did. Id. Coe then put on his gloves and stated: “let me grab my joy juice.” Id. Coe proceeded to squeeze the abscess with one hand and pushed his fingers into Plaintiff's rectum. Id. Plaintiff jumped and pulled his pants up, at which time Coe asked if Plaintiff was in pain. Id. Plaintiff stated he was not in pain, but that what Coe did was unnecessary. Id. Coe told Plaintiff to pull his pants down again, and reconvened squeezing the abscess. Id. After informing Plaintiff the abscess was getting smaller and could be draining, he “again tried putting his fingers into [Plaintiff's] rectum.” Id. At that point, Plaintiff told Coe that was not necessary. (Doc. 1, pp. 7-8).

         After the appointment ended, Plaintiff spoke with a lieutenant about what happened with Coe, who told him to speak with his lieutenant when he got back to his housing. (Doc. 1, p. 8). Plaintiff reported the situation to Counselor Bare and Lieutenant Williams and had another appointment with Molenhour during which Molenhour implied that Plaintiff had another motive for reporting the incident. Id. Plaintiff was also seen by Warden Russ Goins, who mistakenly said Plaintiff saw Coe for a prostate exam, which Plaintiff refuted. Id.

         Plaintiff claims he has experienced mental anguish and embarrassment from this incident and that he could have been protected from this happening. He also alleges that “Wexford Healthcare has a policy and custom of giving less than adequate treatment to inmates [which] can be substantiated by their own Wexford Contract Handbook through ‘Cost ...

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