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Conway v. Baldwin

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

June 12, 2017

GREGORY CONWAY, #N83890, Plaintiff,



         Plaintiff Gregory Conway, who is currently incarcerated in Lawrence Correctional Center (“Lawrence”), brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. According to the Complaint, Plaintiff suffered from and sought treatment for abdominal pain for an extended period of time during his incarceration in Pinckneyville Correctional Center (“Pinckneyville”). He maintains that the defendants were deliberately indifferent to his medical needs related thereto, in violation of the Eighth Amendment. (Doc. 1). Plaintiff seeks monetary damages and injunctive relief mandating his transfer to Dixon or Centralia Correctional Center. (Doc. 1, p. 24). 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 exercise its authority under § 1915A; certain claims in this action are subject to summary dismissal.

         The Complaint

         According to the Complaint, on May 21, 2015, Plaintiff began having stomach and chest pains. (Doc. 1, p. 8). Nearly a year later, on May 6, 2016, Plaintiff went to Pinckneyville's Health Care Unit and was examined by Nurse Practitioner Angel Rector. Id. On June 6, 2016, Plaintiff was diagnosed with Helicobacter Pylori infection, which Rector explained is contracted from exposure to feces. (Doc. 1, pp. 8-9). Plaintiff was given the four different medications used to treat Helicobacter Pylori infections, and he took them as prescribed. (Doc. 1, p. 9).

         After 7 days of taking the medicine, Plaintiff began having severe stomach pains. Id. He sent a request slip to health care and saw a medical technician on July 10, 2016 who told him that he was scheduled to see the doctor. (Doc. 1, p. 10). On July 14, 2016, Plaintiff received a call pass to see Dr. Scott to be tested for the infection and to be prescribed something for the pain that he was experiencing because of the medication. Id. Upon entering the examination room, Dr. Scott asked Plaintiff what he wanted from the visit and told him he was aware that the Attorney General's office had received a copy of Plaintiff's medical records because he had filed a lawsuit. Id. He then told Plaintiff, in stronger words, that he was “sick and tired” of prisoner's filing lawsuits and that he did not care about Plaintiff or his lawsuits. (Doc. 1, p. 11). He then demanded that Plaintiff leave the examination room and when Plaintiff asked him why, Dr. Scott loudly told Plaintiff to get out. Id. As Plaintiff was leaving, Dr. Scott screamed that he “was going to give [Plaintiff] some medication” but that now he was “not giving [him] shit.” Id. Plaintiff claims these actions by Dr. Scott constituted retaliation in violation of the First Amendment in response to the lawsuits filed by Plaintiff and deliberate indifference to Plaintiff's medical needs. (Doc. 1, p. 12).

         Plaintiff further alleges that on October 14, 2016, he was suffering from severe stomach pains that resulted in diarrhea and vomiting. Id. He submitted a request to health care that day and saw Medical Technician Neff on October 16, 2016. Id. Neff gave Plaintiff a Pepto tablet to treat his symptoms, but the symptoms continued. (Doc. 1, p. 12-13). On October 17, 2016, Plaintiff sent requests to health care explaining that he was suffering from stomach pains, diarrhea and vomiting. (Doc. 1, p. 13). The next day, he was called to sick call by Medical Technician Ms. Elder. Id. He informed Elder of his Helicobacter Pylori infection diagnosis in June 2016 and told her about his current stomach pain, diarrhea and vomiting symptoms. Id. Elder told Plaintiff to drink water and further stated that they would not give him anything for stomach pains. Id. Plaintiff claims that these actions by Elder constitute deliberate indifference to his medical needs and cruel and unusual punishment. (Doc. 1, pp. 13-14).

         On October 19, 2016, Plaintiff saw Medical Technician Ms. William and informed her of his previous infection. (Doc. 1, p. 14). He explained his symptoms to her including vomiting, stomach pains and diarrhea after eating on October 14, 2016. (Doc. 1, pp. 14-15). He asked her for medication for his pain, but William told him that she was under instructions from her superiors not to give any medication to inmates complaining about stomach pains from the food. (Doc. 1, p. 15). Plaintiff claims that these actions by Elder constitute deliberate indifference to his medical needs. Id.

         Plaintiff also alleges that Wexford Health Sources, Inc., the Director of the Illinois Department of Corrections (“IDOC”) John Baldwin, the IDOC Medical Director Lewis Shicker, Pinckneyville Warden Jacqueline Lashbrook and Pinckneyville Healthcare Administrator Christine Brown have a policy “insinuating” to Neff, Elder and William that they should utilize the most cost effective medical treatment possible and provide as little medical treatment as possible for the inmates. (Doc. 1, p. 16). Plaintiff further claims that this policy caused him to suffer, as evidenced by the allegations in the Complaint. Id. He alleges that Baldwin is on notice of how Wexford's staff performs it duties because of the civil complaints that have been filed against it. (Doc. 1, pp. 16-17). Plaintiff also alleges that Wexford has “continuously ignored this unauthorized practice by defendant which resulted in Plaintiff being subjected to unnecessary pain and suffering.” Id. Plaintiff claims that the failure of Shicker and Wexford to respond to the systemic health and safety problems preventing Plaintiff and other inmates from receiving appropriate care was the moving force behind the constitutional deprivations suffered by Plaintiff. (Doc. 1, pp. 17-18). Plaintiff also asserts that Wexford is the final policy maker of healthcare provisions being implemented throughout IDOC by its employees and that Shicker and Brown are responsible for carrying out these policies. (Doc. 1, p. 18). Finally, Plaintiff alleges that Lashbrook denied his grievance, stating that it was “not an emergency for the Plaintiff to receive medical attention after complaining for 6 months.” (Doc. 1, p. 19).

         Plaintiff demands monetary damages as well as permanent injunctive relief ordering that Plaintiff to be sent to an outside doctor to be retested for Helicobacter Pylori infection, that IDOC and Wexford follow the recommendations in the 2014 report from Lippert v. Godinez, and that Plaintiff to be transferred to Dixon or Centralia Correctional Center. (Doc. 1, p. 24).


         The Court finds it proper to divide the claims in the pro se Complaint into the following counts. The parties and the Court will use these designations in all pleadings and orders, unless otherwise directed by the Court.

COUNT 1: Scott violated Plaintiff's Eighth Amendment rights by failing to test him for the Helicobacter Pylori infection and by failing to provide him medication to treat pain related to his Helicobacter Pylori infection on July 14, 2016.
COUNT 2: Scott retaliated against Plaintiff in violation of the First Amendment by refusing to give Plaintiff medication to treat his pain and failing to test him for Helicobacter Pylori infection on July 14, 2016 because Plaintiff ...

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