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Thornton v. Lashbrook

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

July 24, 2017

CHARLES E. THORNTON, #Y19115, Plaintiff,


          David R. Herndon, United States District Judge

         Plaintiff Charles Thornton, an inmate who is currently incarcerated at Menard Correctional Center (“Menard”), brings the instant civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. (Doc. 1). In the Complaint, Plaintiff alleges that Nurse Walls, Doctor Trost, and Warden Lashbrook would not authorize a prescription refill for Neurontin, which he needs to treat nerve pain associated with an old gunshot wound. (Doc. 1, pp. 9-12). As a result, Plaintiff suffered from debilitating pain while he waited for the refill from March 7-29, 2017. Id. Plaintiff now seeks declaratory judgment and monetary damages against the defendants. He also seeks “immediate” injunctive relief, in the form of an order requiring prison officials to send him to an expert for further evaluation and physical therapy before his prescription expires. (Doc. 1, p. 13).

         The Complaint is subject to preliminary 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 Complaint survives screening under this standard.


         According to the allegations in the Complaint, Plaintiff was shot in the mouth prior to his incarceration. (Doc. 1, p. 9). The bullet lodged in his spine near his C2 and C3 vertebrae. Id. Because it was lodged next to Plaintiff's spinal cord, surgical removal of the bullet could result in paralysis. Id. Doctors at John H. Stroger Hospital and Cook County Jail recommended against surgery. Id.

         Plaintiff consequently suffers from “chronic and agonizing pain” that is treated with Neurontin.[1] (Doc. 1, p. 9). On March 6, 2017, a nurse at Menard informed Plaintiff that his prescription was set to expire the following day. Id. Plaintiff submitted several urgent sick call slips, in which he requested a prescription refill and warned medical staff that he would suffer from excruciating pain without it. Id.

         In response, Plaintiff was scheduled for an appointment with Doctor Trost on March 12th, but it was cancelled before Plaintiff ever met with the doctor. (Doc. 1, p. 9). The same day, Plaintiff filed an emergency grievance with Warden Jacqueline Lashbrook. (Doc. 1, pp. 9-10). In it, Plaintiff explained that he was experiencing “severe pain” that was chronic in nature and prevented him from performing daily tasks. (Doc. 1, p. 10). He allegedly suffered from discomfort and pricking pain in his right shoulder and arm that made it difficult to get out of his top bunk. (Doc. 1, p. 11). At times, he could not read, write, or leave his cell. Id. He complained that the prison's health care unit and its director, Nurse Gail Walls, had “done nothing to even reduce the pain.” (Doc. 1, p. 10).

         He was scheduled for appointments with Doctor Trost on March 15th and 17th. (Doc. 1, p. 10). However, these appointments were also cancelled. Id. Doctor Trost never inquired into the status of Plaintiffs pain or his prescription. Id. He never provided Plaintiff with any treatment in response to these complaints. Id.

         On March 19th, the prescription was finally refilled. (Doc. 1, p. 11). However, Plaintiff did not actually receive it until ten days later on March 29th. Id. In the ...

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