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Williams v. Duncan

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

May 10, 2017

RONALD WILLIAMS, #N-54017, Plaintiff,


          NANCY J. ROSENSTENGEL United States District Judge

         Plaintiff Ronald Williams, an inmate who is currently incarcerated at Lawrence Correctional Center (“Lawrence”), brings this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. (Doc. 1). In the Complaint, Plaintiff claims that he was denied adequate medical care for glaucoma and a bunion at Lawrence in 2015. (Doc. 1, pp. 4-6). Plaintiff asserts claims under the Eighth Amendment for deliberate indifference to his serious medical needs against the following defendants: Steve Duncan (warden), Phil Martin (medical director), L. Cunningham (healthcare administrator), and John Coe (doctor). Id. He seeks monetary damages and injunctive relief against them.[1] (Doc. 1, p. 6).

         The 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 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 screening under this standard and is subject to further review.


         Plaintiff complains that he was denied adequate medical care for two medical conditions at Lawrence in 2015. (Doc. 1). First, he suffered from glaucoma in his right eye that caused painful pressure and vision loss. (Doc. 1, pp. 4-6). Second, he suffered from a bunion on his foot that necessitated the use of special shoes. Id. Plaintiff claims that the defendants delayed or denied treatment for both conditions. Id.

         1. Glaucoma

         On May 26, 2015, Plaintiff was allegedly examined by a prison optometrist, Doctor Brummel. (Doc. 1, p. 4). The optometrist noted “extremely high pressure” in his right eye and referred him to Marion Eye Center. Id. He recommended a “surgical approach.” Id.

         While still waiting for approval of the referral and/or eye surgery on June 4, 2015, Plaintiff filed an emergency grievance. (Doc. 1, pp. 4, 10). In it, he complained of high pressure in his right eye and blurry vision. Id. Plaintiff also requested more eye drops. Id. The grievance was deemed a non-emergency on June 9, 2015. (Doc. 1, p. 10). A counselor's note dated June 15, 2015, indicates that Plaintiff was approved for a medical furlough and would receive eye drops in the “med line.” Id. The grievance was formally denied on August 14, 2015. (Doc. 1, p. 4). Plaintiff appealed the decision to the “director” on September 9, 2015. Id.

         On June 29 and July 6, 2015, Plaintiff was seen by Doctor Coe for “severe uncontrolled glaucoma.” (Doc. 1, pp. 4, 14). A medical referral and report prepared by Doctor Coe on each of those dates indicates that the situation was urgent. (Doc. 1, pp. 4, 13). The doctor recommended a consultation with a glaucoma specialist at Marion Eye Center. (Doc. 1, pp. 13-14).

         In the weeks that followed, Plaintiff sent multiple requests for medical care to Warden Treadway, “[h]ealthcare, ” and “[m]ental [h]ealth [s]ervices.” (Doc. 1, pp. 5, 15). He did not receive a response. Id. Plaintiff alleges that Warden Duncan, Medical Director Martin, Administrator Cunningham, and Doctor Coe would not approve the recommendation for surgery. (Doc. 1, p. 5). Plaintiff did not undergo surgery at Marion Eye Center until July 28, 2015. Id. He claims that the two-month delay caused him to suffer from a “cocked” right eye, vision loss, and unnecessary pain. Id.


         Plaintiff also claims that Doctor Coe ordered him special shoes because he has a painful bunion on his foot. (Doc. 1, pp. 5, 16). The doctor initially agreed that Plaintiff needed these shoes. Id. Unfortunately, however, the ones he ordered were too big for Plaintiff. Id.

         On June 30, 2015, Plaintiff was called to the prison health care unit to pick out a pair of shoes that fit him. (Doc. 1, p. 16). When he selected a replacement pair, Nurse Collins refused to give them to Plaintiff. Id. The nurse indicated that she needed to speak with Doctor Coe about special insoles for the shoes. Id. Weeks passed, and Nurse Collins never gave Plaintiff the shoes or followed up with him. Id.

         On July 30 and August 2, 2015, Plaintiff filed grievances to complain about the denial of shoes. (Doc. 1, p. 16). In one grievance, Plaintiff explained that he saw a shoebox with his name on it while making his way through the med line, but his name was marked out and replaced with another inmate's name. (Doc. 1, p. 17). In the same grievance, Plaintiff also indicates that he wrote to Nurse Collins, Director Martin, and Nancy Pageant about getting new shoes but did not attach copies of the written requests. (Doc. 1, p. 16). A response to the initial grievance dated July 31, 2015, indicates that ...

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