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McCaskill v. Wexford Health Sources, Inc.

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

May 26, 2017

STEPHEN DOUGLAS McCASKILL, # K-77293, Plaintiff,


          NANCY J. ROSENSTENGEL United States District Judge.

         Plaintiff brought this pro se civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 while he was incarcerated at Shawnee Correctional Center (“Shawnee”). Since he filed the case, he has been released from custody. (Doc. 6). Plaintiff claims that Defendants transferred him from the prison's Health Care Unit to general population, where he was unable to access meals or meet his hygiene needs, due to his stroke-related impairments. The Complaint is now before the Court for a preliminary review 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

         Plaintiff suffered a stroke in 2011 (Doc. 1, p. 7). As a result, he cannot lift a food tray, and he cannot walk or mobilize after any period of rest until he sits up for 25-30 minutes. He has extreme weakness on the left side of his body and needs a cane for support while walking. He often does not have bowel control and cannot make it to the bathroom, so he needs a constant supply of wipes and a bedpan in order to clean himself after accidents. (Doc. 1, p. 8). Plaintiff's condition had caused him to miss many meals while he was in general population, and officers complained about Plaintiff having to depend on kitchen workers to bring his food trays to his table for him and clean up after him. Plaintiff explained his problems to Dr. David on many occasions. (Doc. 1, p. 7).

         Because of Plaintiff's mobility impairments and medical needs, he was placed in Shawnee's Health Care Unit on February 23, 2016. Former Warden Etienne made this housing decision on the advice of Dr. David, and the warden ordered this to be a permanent housing assignment for Plaintiff. (Doc. 1, p. 7). On November 3, 2016, however, current Warden Dennison ordered Plaintiff to be moved back into general population. Plaintiff's condition had not changed. When Plaintiff discussed the matter with Dr. David, he responded that “it was the Warden's call and not his” to return Plaintiff to general population.

         Since November 3, 2016, Plaintiff was required to walk to the chow hall in order to eat. He was not allowed enough time to get there in light of his impairments, so he was forced to miss meals 99% of the time. (Doc. 1, pp. 8, 12). Three days after Plaintiff's reassignment to general population, on November 6, 2016, Plaintiff was assigned an inmate aide. Even with the aide's help, however, Plaintiff continued to miss meals. Further, he was no longer provided with the wipes or bedpan that he needed in order to maintain his personal hygiene in light of his bowel control problems. Lecrone (Director of Nursing) refused or delayed meeting with Plaintiff when he sought help obtaining these supplies. (Doc. 1, pp. 10, 12). Plaintiff also complained to Smoot (Health Care Administrator) about the discontinuation of his supplies after his move to general population, and his inability to get meals, but she took no action. (Doc. 1, pp. 12-13; Doc. 1-1, p.3-8).

         Plaintiff asserts that his reassignment to general population without adequate assistance to meet his nutritional and health/hygiene needs violated the “Disability Act of Illinois.” (Doc. 1, p. 9). He also complains that Shawnee does not provide a yard or gym for disabled inmates. (Doc. 1, p. 10).

         Plaintiff asserts that numerous officials lied and conspired to remove him from the Health Care Unit. (Doc. 1, p. 10). He specifically claims that Lecrone, Dennison, and David worked together to get him out of the Health Care Unit in retaliation for Plaintiff's alleged involvement in assisting another inmate with a lawsuit against those officials. Plaintiff denied acting as the inmate's attorney, but then states in the Complaint that he prepared a motion to dismiss these defendants from the suit. (Doc. 1, p. 11).

         Plaintiff also sues Wexford Health Sources, Inc., for hiring employees who are not professional, capable, or competent to provide medical care. (Doc. 1, p. 12). Finally, Plaintiff alleges that Counselor Reeder failed to process Plaintiff's grievances. (Doc. 1, p. 13).

         Plaintiff seeks damages for the violations of his rights. (Doc. 1, p. 14).

         Merits Review Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A

         Based 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 claim for deliberate indifference to Plaintiff's medical, nutritional, and hygiene needs, for causing him to miss meals and discontinuing his hygiene supplies after housing him in the general population;

         Count 2: Claim under the Americans with Disabilities Act and/or Rehabilitation Act, for failing to accommodate Plaintiff's disabilities after moving him to general population, causing him to ...

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