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Wallace v. Sheriff, Wayne County

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

July 7, 2017

CHARLES WALLACE, # S-16839, Plaintiff,
v.
SHERIFF (Wayne County), NURSE (Wife of C/O Mike), and BRET FULK (FAULK), [1] Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          J. Phil Gilbert United States District Judge.

         Plaintiff, currently incarcerated at Taylorville Correctional Center (“Taylorville”), has brought this pro se civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. His claims arose while he was detained at the Wayne County Jail (“the Jail”). Plaintiff claims 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

         Plaintiff asserts that between July 16, 2014, and July 7, 2015, he was denied “all of [his] medication for pain etc.” (Doc. 1, p. 5). C/O Brett Faulk (Fulk) took Plaintiff off the medications “cold turkey, ” which caused Plaintiff to be sick for 28 days from withdrawal. Id. Plaintiff's medications included Fentanyl patches and blood pressure medicine. He states that he suffers from scoliosis and spinal stenosis in his back and neck, which caused him ongoing pain for the year he spent in county jail. Faulk/Fulk refused to give Plaintiff a Fentanyl patch, although he had one available. Faulk/Fulk also refused to give Plaintiff Tylenol at least 6 times.

         According to the Complaint, Plaintiff told the C/O's and the Defendant Nurse about his medical problems, and sent in a grievance, but his concerns were ignored. (Doc. 1, p. 3). Someone responded to the grievance by noting that Plaintiff could buy Tylenol or Ibuprofen for pain relief. Id.

         During the winter, Plaintiff's blood pressure was very high, and he asked for a doctor's help. This request was refused for “almost a month.” (Doc. 1, p. 5). Jail staff did check Plaintiff's blood pressure when he asked them to. At some point Plaintiff's blood pressure was 198/158. “Kurt” (who is not a named Defendant, nor is he otherwise identified) was aware of the reading but did not do anything about it. Plaintiff asked Kurt to tell the Sheriff. Plaintiff was taken to the Wayne County Hospital, where he received blood pressure medications. However, none of his other ailments were checked. Id.

         In addition to the medical issues recited above, Plaintiff states that in July and August, “The Bailif[f]” (who is not a Defendant) told people about his case involving his minor daughter. (Doc. 1, p. 5). Faulk/Fulk told other inmates that Plaintiff was guilty of the charges, which caused Plaintiff to be harassed and threatened. Id. He gives no further detail. When Plaintiff confronted Faulk/Fulk, he called Plaintiff a “sick person” for what he had done.

         As relief, Plaintiff seeks compensation for his pain, suffering, and major depression caused by his pain. He also wants the Wayne County Sheriff's Department to improve their grievance system and health care system. (Doc. 1, p. 6).

         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: Fourteenth Amendment claim against all Defendants, for refusing to provide Plaintiff with necessary medications for his pain and high blood pressure, and delaying medical care for Plaintiff's high blood pressure;
Count 2: Claim against Faulk/Fulk for disclosing the nature of Plaintiff's pending criminal charges to other inmates, which caused ...

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