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Singleton v. Rains

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

May 18, 2017

AVERY SINGLETON, # R-29723, Plaintiff,
v.
DAVID RAINS, PHIL MARTIN, and DR. SHAH, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          Judge Herdon United States District Judge

         Plaintiff, currently incarcerated at Jacksonville Correctional Center (“Jacksonville”), has brought this pro se civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. He filed the case while he was incarcerated at Robinson Correctional Center (“Robinson”), where his claims arose. Plaintiff asserts that Defendants were deliberately indifferent to a serious medical condition. This case is now before the Court for a preliminary review of the complaint 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 August 6, 2016, while waiting for an appointment with Dr. Shah on an unrelated medical issue, Plaintiff advised the nurse that he was having pain in his back, knee, and neck as a result of an accident while he was a passenger on the Cook County Jail's transportation bus. (Doc. 1, p. 6). The nurse promised to schedule Plaintiff for another appointment with the doctor for this pain. During the August 6 visit, Dr. Shah told Plaintiff that he could not examine Plaintiff on his neck, back, and knee issues until he received Plaintiff's medical records from the Cook County Jail.

         About a week later, Plaintiff requested another appointment with Dr. Shah because he was having extremely sharp pains in his knee. At that time, Dr. Shah had still not received the Cook County medical records, and refused to examine Plaintiff's knee. However, Dr. Shah gave Plaintiff Ibuprofen (400 mg) to treat the pain. (Doc. 1, pp. 6-7).

         Another week later, Plaintiff was called back to health care to see Dr. Shah. The Cook County medical records had arrived, and Dr. Shah told Plaintiff that his records stated that “no trauma was sustained from the bus accident.”[1] (Doc. 1, p. 7). In light of that information, Dr. Shah again refused to examine Plaintiff. Upon learning Plaintiff's age, Dr. Shah opined that Plaintiff's pain was “probably arthritis.” Id.

         Plaintiff submitted a grievance to complain about Dr. Shah's refusal to examine his knee. (The grievance, dated Oct. 7, 2016, is attached at Doc. 1, pp. 15-16). In his grievance, Plaintiff stated that he was never examined for any injuries while at Cook County Jail. (Doc. 1, p. 16). He acknowledged that Dr. Shah prescribed him 400 mg Ibuprofen and issued him a low bunk permit for 4 months, but protested Dr. Shah's decision not to treat or examine Plaintiff to find out the cause of his pain. Id.

         Plaintiff asserts that the counselor's response to his grievance falsely stated that he had received treatment including follow-up appointments from Dr. Shah. (Doc. 1, pp. 8, 14-15). According to the Grievance Officer's report, Martin (Health Care Unit Administrator) stated that Plaintiff:

(Doc. 1, p. 14).

         When Plaintiff received the counselor's response to his grievance, he resubmitted it for the chief administrative officer to review. Martin reviewed the grievance and denied it. (Doc. 1, p. 9). Plaintiff asserts that because Martin could have instructed Dr. Shah to examine Plaintiff but did not, Martin is accountable for denying treatment to Plaintiff.

         Warden Rains also reviewed Plaintiff's grievance against Dr. Shah, but concurred with Martin's response and denied the grievance. (Doc. 1, p. 9).

         Plaintiff later returned to sick call because of increasing severe pain in his back, and was scheduled to see Dr. Shah again. At that appointment, Dr. Shah again advised Plaintiff that he would not examine him, but he would prescribe 600 mg of Ibuprofen.

         Plaintiff continues to experience pain in his back, neck, and knees. (Doc. 1, p. 9). He seeks ...


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