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Chambers v. Butler

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

June 5, 2017

NOLEN CHAMBERS, N64570, Plaintiff,


          MICHAEL J. REAGAN Chief Judge United States District Court.

         Plaintiff Nolen Chambers, an inmate who is currently incarcerated at Menard Correctional Center (“Menard”), brings this pro se civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for violations of his constitutional rights. In his First Amended Complaint, Plaintiff claims that he has been denied adequate medical care for a heart condition since 2015. (Doc. 12). He seeks monetary relief. (Doc. 12, p. 11).

         The First Amended Complaint is now subject to 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 First Amended Complaint survives screening under this standard.

         First Amended Complaint

         Plaintiff claims that Menard officials have denied him adequate medical care for a heart condition for two years. (Doc. 12). Since April 9, 2015, Plaintiff has allegedly been “left to intentionally suffer and nearly die several times.” (Doc. 12, p. 4). On that date, Plaintiff collapsed in his cell at Menard and was rushed to St. Elizabeth Hospital. (Doc. 12, p. 5). He underwent a heart catheterization, which revealed arterial blockage. (Doc. 12, pp. 4-5). One artery was ninety percent obstructed, requiring the immediate placement of a stint. Id. Another was thirty or forty percent blocked. Id.

         Plaintiff was sent back to Menard with orders to take his prescription medication. (Doc. 12, p. 5). He spent “days” “begging and pleading” with the head warden, [1] medical director, [2]medical staff, and security staff before he was given his medication. Id.

         Plaintiff allegedly spent the next two years complaining about various medical issues to Menard's security staff, medical staff, counselors, medical director, and wardens. (Doc. 12, p. 5). He requested treatment for dizziness, headaches, fatigue, sweats, body sores, rashes, a hernia, back problems, chest pain, and numbness in his extremities. (Doc. 12, p. 4). Plaintiff made these complaints in person and in grievances. Id. However, the staff “d[e]liberately tried to kill . . . Plaintiff by ignoring intentionally” his healthcare needs. (Doc. 12, p. 6).

         Instead of improving during this two-year time period, Plaintiff's health declined. (Doc. 12, p. 3). In February 2017, he met with Doctor Satwoni about his heart condition in Sparta, Illinois. (Doc. 12, pp. 3, 5). Plaintiff was referred to St. Elizabeth Hospital for another heart catheterization on February 23, 2017. (Doc. 12, p. 3). He was diagnosed with four blocked arteries. (Doc. 12, p. 7). Plaintiff underwent quadruple bypass surgery on February 27, 2017. Id. He maintains that the surgery could have been avoided if he had received adequate medical care during the preceding two years.

         Following surgery, Plaintiff returned to Menard on March 7, 2017. (Doc. 12, p. 7). At the time, he suffered from pain and stress. Id. Even so, Plaintiff was placed into a “cold naked room” with two beds that were three feet off the floor. Id. He was issued a “totally worn out mattress” that smelled of urine and feces. Id. He was denied pain medication, therapy, and a kosher diet.[3] Id. He was subjected to “hostile” treatment by medical staff. Id.

         On March 13, 2017, Doctor Trost and Nurse Walters entered the room around 8:00 a.m. (Doc. 12, pp. 7-8). In an attempt to wake Plaintiff, the doctor “kick[ed] things around [while] cursing.” (Doc. 12, p. 7). Nurse Walters checked Plaintiff's blood pressure, while stating that he “shouldn't be up here.” (Doc. 12, p. 8). In response, Doctor Trost said, “[W]e will get him out of here with good ridd[a]nce.” Id.

         Within two hours, Plaintiff was ordered to gather his belongings and prepare to move. (Doc. 12, p. 8). Plaintiff protested, stating that he should not be forced to return to the general prison population until he was well enough to function and defend himself. Id. He asked to return to the hospital instead, but Doctor Trost and Nurse Walters ignored his request. Id.

         As Plaintiff exited the infirmary, a security staff sergeant confiscated his “breathing exercise machine” and a pillow that was used to prevent pain while coughing. (Doc. 12, p. 8). When Plaintiff questioned the sergeant, he was threatened with disciplinary action. Id. He returned to his old cell with a cellmate, where he was left “weak and vulnerable.” Id.

         Plaintiff could not walk to the chow hall during this time period. (Doc. 12, p. 9). When he asked to have a kosher tray delivered to his cell, correctional officers denied his requests. Id. He was subjected to cell shakedowns, in retaliation for his requests for food service. Id. Plaintiff asked the medical director and Doctor Trost to issue him a permit for a temporary lay in, a low bunk, and feeding assistance. Id. They laughed at the request and told Plaintiff he did not need the permits. Id.

         Between March 7 and April 8, 2017, Plaintiff was also denied pain medication for his chest and heart pain by “every nurse and med-tech he stopped and asked” even though he was prescribed the medication. (Doc. 12, p. 9). The pain was so bad that Plaintiff eventually convinced an inmate trustee to speak with a member of the nursing staff on his behalf. Id. He was rushed to Chester Memorial Hospital and treated for pain before being sent back to the prison. (Doc. 12, p. 10). The outside treatment did little to control his pain. Id.

         Plaintiff claims that the conduct of defendants caused his health to deteriorate over a two-year period. He suffered unnecessarily. He seeks only monetary relief against the defendants. (Doc. 12, p. 11).


         To facilitate the orderly management of future proceedings in this case, and in accordance with the objectives of Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 8(e) and 10(b), the Court deems it appropriate to organize the claims in ...

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