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Terrell v. Madison County Sheriff's Dept.

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

July 10, 2017



          Phil Gilbert United States District Judge

         Plaintiff, currently incarcerated at the Madison County Jail (“the Jail”), has brought this pro se civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. 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

         On August 30, 2016, at the Madison County Jail, Plaintiff was seen by Dr. Blankenship and Nurse Brandy. (Doc. 1, p. 12). Plaintiff informed them that he had been shot. His medical records reflect that the shooting happened on August 21 or 22. (Doc. 1, p. 17). Upon examining Plaintiff, Blankenship and Brandy said that it looked like a “graze” and not a bullet wound. They gave Plaintiff Motrin and band-aids while they waited for his hospital records.

         Plaintiff continued to have pain in his wounded leg. On September 10, 2016, Plaintiff saw Brandy again and explained his belief that he had a bullet lodged in his thigh. Brandy again responded that Plaintiff had not been shot, but only grazed. She ordered x-rays and continued him on Motrin and band-aids.

         On September 12, 2016, x-rays were taken. Plaintiff could see the fragment in the images. (Doc. 1, pp. 12-13). He requested pain medication, but was denied (he does not say by whom). Plaintiff was told that he would be called back when the x-ray results were in.

         On September 23, 2016, Plaintiff sent a request to the Captain, asking him to look into the x-ray status as Plaintiff was still in pain. On September 27, a response came back saying that the x-rays did not reveal a bullet, as reflected in Plaintiff's original records. (Doc. 1, pp. 4, 13). Plaintiff disputes this comment, however, because the original records “clearly state left thigh retained round.” (Doc. 1, pp. 13, 19-20). Plaintiff includes an x-ray report dated August 22, 2016, as well as other medical records, stating that a bullet fragment was identified in his upper medial left thigh. (Doc. 1, p. 15, 21). Based on this contradiction, he claims Jail officials knowingly lied to him about the bullet wound.

         Plaintiff's exhibits include a request dated September 29, 2016, from Nurse Major for Plaintiff's hospital records, which states, “Please send records that bullet was or was not removed from inmate's left femur for [date] 8-22-16.” (Doc. 1, p. 35).

         Plaintiff continued to suffer pain as time went on. On October 24, 2016, his public defender requested Plaintiff's medical records from the Jail. On November 3, 2016, Nurse Major saw Plaintiff. She told him he did not have a bullet in his thigh, but put him on 300 mg Neurontin. This medication did not help Plaintiff.

         On November 10, 2016, Plaintiff was called to see Dr. Blankenship and Nurse Major again. They continued to insist that Plaintiff had not been shot and did not have a bullet in his leg. Plaintiff told them that he had an entry wound but no exit wound, and asked where the bullet went. Another set of x-rays was taken on November 15, 2016. A correctional officer who was present saw the bullet in the x-ray, as did the technician. (Doc. 1, pp. 6-7; 13). The report from the x-ray stated: “Bullet medial left upper thigh compatible with given history.” (Doc. 1, pp. 13, 43).

         Based on these events, Plaintiff claims that Blankenship, Major, and Brandy knowingly lied about his bullet wound and refused to give him proper medical care. (Doc. 1, ...

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