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Cook v. Duncan

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

July 13, 2017

TYRELL COOK, Plaintiff,
v.
STEPHEN DUNCAN, C/O BREEDEN, C/O SENN, KENNETH BROWN, JOHN BALDWIN, WEXFORD HEALTH SOURCES, INC., DR. JOHN COE, and RN WELTY, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          David R. Herndon United States District Judge.

         Plaintiff Tyrell Cook, an inmate in Lawrence Correctional Center (“Lawrence”), brings this action for deprivations of his constitutional rights pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. In his Complaint, Plaintiff claims the defendants were deliberately indifferent to his serious medical needs and subjected him to unconstitutional conditions of confinement in violation of the Eighth Amendment. (Doc. 1). 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 allow this case to proceed past the threshold stage.

         The Complaint

         In his Complaint (Doc. 1), Plaintiff makes the following allegations: on May 2, 2016, Plaintiff fell to the floor and injured himself when he landed on an “obstruction” in the carpet of the gym floor at Lawrence while playing basketball. (Doc. 1 p. 4). As a result of the fall, Plaintiff's hip popped, his ankle twisted, and he broke his wrist in several places. Id. C/O McCormick called for medical assistance, and approximately 5 minutes after the incident, Nurse Aulery arrived, secured Plaintiff in a wheelchair with the help of other inmates, and took him to the Health Care Unit (“HCU”) approximately 30 feet from the gym. (Doc. 1, p. 5). Plaintiff was examined by Defendant Dr. Coe, who told Plaintiff he thought his wrist looked bad but his “hip not so bad.” Id. Coe ordered x-rays, and Plaintiff was taken to the x-ray room inside the HCU where he was examined by Technician Judge. Id. Judge took an x-ray of Plaintiff's wrist. Id. All the while, Plaintiff was in “excruciating pain.” Id. When Coe examined the x-ray afterwards, he told Plaintiff he would keep him in the infirmary and visit with him the next day. Id. When Judge immediately protested that Plaintiff's wrist was broken, Coe agreed with Judge that he should be sent to the emergency room. Id. At that point, Plaintiff was in so much pain “he literally begged defendant Coe for some sort of medication to reduce/relieve his pain.” Id. At his request, Plaintiff received a bag of ice and a Toradal injection approximately 20 minutes after he sustained his injuries. Id.

         Coe “made Plaintiff wait until shift changed (Second/3-11 Shift) before he was transported to the hospital.” Id. During the wait, Plaintiff asked a second-shift nurse when he would be leaving for the hospital, and she replied: “They don't want to give overtime pay to the C/O's taking you, so someone on 3-to-11 shift will take you shortly.” (Doc. 1, pp. 5-6). Plaintiff was eventually taken to Lawrence County Hospital, where Plaintiff was given an injection and received an x-ray of his wrist. (Doc. 1, p. 6). Plaintiff then waited for approximately 2 more hours until a nurse returned and informed C/Os Breeden and Senn that Plaintiff needed to be taken to another hospital, in Champaign, Illinois, because it would be better equipped to handle Plaintiff's injuries. Id. Plaintiff returned to the transport vehicle, and en route to Carle Hospital Emergency Room, at approximately 7:30pm, Breeden and Senn stopped at Arby's for food. Id. Plaintiff asked to order something as well, since he had not eaten since lunch at 10:00am, but Breeden denied the request. (Doc. 1, pp. 6-7). Plaintiff immediately told the officers that he was hungry and in pain, but when Breeden asked Senn if he had brought Plaintiff's dinner bag, Senn told Plaintiff he would eat when he returned to Lawrence. (Doc. 1 p. 7). After further back and forth, Senn concluded the conversation, telling Plaintiff he would eat when they got back. Id.

         Just before 8:00pm, Plaintiff arrived at the hospital. Id. Within 15 minutes, a doctor visited Plaintiff to examine his x-rays, and informed Plaintiff that his wrist needed to be set but that he could not do it at that point because there was too much swelling. Id. The doctor noted that if Plaintiff would have come sooner, they might have been able to set it, but that he would schedule Plaintiff to come back for surgery. Id. On the way back to Lawrence, Plaintiff asked for something to eat because he was having hunger pains. Id. Breeden told Plaintiff that they would be back soon and that he would be fed then. Id. They returned to Lawrence at nearly 1:15am on May 3, 2016. Id. Plaintiff asked a nurse for something to eat, but she replied that there was nothing to eat and that they would be passing out breakfast 2 to 3 hours later. Id.

         On May 9, 2016, Plaintiff was transported back to the hospital for surgery. (Doc. 1, p. 8). Before surgery, the doctor mentioned that he had ordered something stronger for Plaintiff than the Ibuprofen 400 mg that he received. Id. Plaintiff told the doctor that the Ibuprofen had not helped him with the pain at all. Id. During Plaintiff's surgery, the doctor put six screws and a plate in Plaintiff's wrist. Id. The next day, Plaintiff stopped by the HCU prior to a visit with his friend because “he was experiencing excruciating pain.” Id. Plaintiff asked Defendant Nurse Welty for medication that would relieve his pain, but despite her familiarity with Plaintiff's injury, she denied him any medication. Id. Plaintiff attended his visit without any medication to relieve his pain, and “the pain forced him to cut the visit short.” Id. After leaving the visiting room, Plaintiff was told by C/O Hopper that he had tripped on the same carpet that Plaintiff fell on, that other individuals had complained about the damaged carpet, that work orders had been put in, and that Defendant Kenneth Brown had been made aware of it. Id.

         On May 10, 2016, at approximately 8pm, a nurse came to Plaintiff's cell with Tylenol 3. (Doc. 1, p. 9). From May 11, 2016 through May 16, 2016, Plaintiff received Tylenol twice per day. Id. On the evening of May 17, 2016, Plaintiff was denied Tylenol 3s by a nurse who was doing rounds with C/O Blake. Id. Because of this, “Plaintiff was in continuous pain throughout the night and was unable to sleep.” Id. On May 18, 2016, Plaintiff's mother called to complain about Plaintiff's treatment, and later that day, Plaintiff was called to the HCU and was given a shot to relieve his pain. Id. On May 23, 2016, Plaintiff was taken to the Carle - Champaign Surgicenter to have his stitches removed. Id. Plaintiff asked the doctor if he could write Plaintiff a new prescription because the medical staff at Lawrence had ceased giving him medication. Id. The doctor replied that he would, but on May 28, 2016, five days later, a nurse told Plaintiff that he would receive Tylenol 3 twice per day for only 4 days. Id. Plaintiff was scheduled to return to Carle Orthopedic on August 4, 2016, but he was not taken there “even after Wexford and Lawrence were made aware of the date Plaintiff was to return for follow-up care.” Id.

         Plaintiff further alleges that Defendants Brown, Baldwin, and Duncan are “well aware of the conditions of the gymnasium floor due to prior grievances, complaints from both inmates and staff alike, work orders, and/or repairs.” (Doc. 1, p. 11). Plaintiff asserts that the defendants are responsible for “providing a safe recreation and exercise environment. Hence, defendants should have discovered the dangerous conditions in the gym through their own regular maintenance procedures.” Id. He also claims that “Defendants knew from grievances and formal complaints that delays in repairing the damaged sections of carpet on floor [sic] posed a substantial and excessive risk of harm to similarly situated inmates, ” and that “Duncan and Baldwin have a continued policy and practice of disregarding the substantial and excessive risk to inmates similar to Plaintiff's health, safety, and medical needs.” Id. Plaintiff claims that the acts of the defendants caused him to suffer “great physical injury, permanent irreparable, grievous bodily harm, and extreme pain (arthritis/disabled).” Id. Plaintiff further alleges that Duncan and Baldwin were aware that the members of the medical staff were failing to exercise their medical judgment, and that Plaintiff suffered unconstitutional conditions of confinement, but turned a blind eye to it. (Doc. 1, pp. 11-12).

         Plaintiff asserts that Wexford Health Sources Inc. (“Wexford”) is the contracted medical provider for Lawrence and that it “maintains policies and customs that pertain to inmates receiving medical treatment by their on-site doctors/medical staff.” (Doc. 1, p. 13). Plaintiff claims that Wexford, Coe, and Welty “unreasonably and unnecessarily failed to promptly treat the patient's condition, ” “establish adequate safeguards and measures to assure that prescribed medication was not delayed or denied for any reason other than medical, ” and were “otherwise careless, and deliberately indifferent.” Id. Further, Plaintiff alleges that the ‚Äúdefendants have a ...


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