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Willis v. Newbold

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

July 25, 2017

WAYNE WILLIS, Plaintiff,


          J. Phil Gilbert, U.S. District Judge

         Plaintiff Wayne Willis, an inmate in Menard Correctional Center, brings this action for deprivations of his constitutional rights pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff requests compensatory and punitive damages, as well as fees. 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).

         The Complaint

         On or around March 2016, Plaintiff began experiencing a severe toothache with swelling, drainage, and extreme pain. (Doc. 1, p. 8). Plaintiff estimates that the pain was a “10” on a scale of 1-10. Id. Additionally, it was difficult for Plaintiff to eat certain foods or sleep. Id.

         Plaintiff began sending Newbold kites regarding his condition in March 2016, as well as submitting sick call slips. (Doc. 1, p. 7). He never received answers to either. Id. On May 13, 2016, Plaintiff went to health care to see the eye doctor. (Doc. 1, p. 8). He was able to speak to Newbold, the prison dentist, at that time. Id. Plaintiff explained his symptoms to Newbold. Id. Newbold acknowledged receiving Plaintiffs kites and told Plaintiff he would be seen. (Doc. 1, p. 9). Plaintiff asked Newbold when he would be seen, but Newbold didn't know. Id. Plaintiff asked Newbold for something to treat his pain and infection in the interim, but Newbold said he couldn't give Plaintiff anything without examining him. Id. Newbold also told Plaintiff that the dental department is a few hundred people behind. Id.


         Based on the allegations of the Complaint, the Court finds it convenient to divide the pro se action into 1 count. The parties and the Court will use this designation in all future pleadings and orders, unless otherwise directed by a judicial officer of this Court. The following claim survives threshold review:

Count 1 - Newbold was deliberately indifferent to Plaintiff's toothache in violation of the Eighth Amendment when he refused to schedule a prompt appointment or provide Plaintiff with pain medication or other over-the-counter treatment without an appointment;

         As to Plaintiff's Count 1, prison officials impose cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the Eighth Amendment when they are deliberately indifferent to a serious medical need. Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 104 (1976); Chatham v. Davis, 839 F.3d 679, 684 (7th Cir. 2016). In order to state a claim for deliberate indifference to a serious medical need, an inmate must show that he 1) suffered from an objectively serious medical condition; and 2) that the defendant was deliberately indifferent to a risk of serious harm from that condition. Petties v. Carter, 836 F.3d 722, 727 (7th Cir. 2016). An objectively serious condition includes an ailment that has been “diagnosed by a physician as mandating treatment, ” one that significantly affects an individual's daily activities, or which involves chronic and substantial pain. Gutierrez v. Peters, 111 F.3d 1364, 1373 (7th Cir. 1997). The subjective element requires proof that ...

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