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Owens v. Bednarz

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

October 24, 2017

CHRISTOPHER OWENS, #M38210, Plaintiff,



         Plaintiff Christopher Owens, an inmate in Centralia Correctional Center, brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for deprivations of his constitutional rights. In his Complaint, Plaintiff claims Defendant Bednarz has been deliberately indifferent to his serious mental health issues in violation of the Fourteenth and Eighth Amendments, as well as Illinois state law. (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 March 26, 2016, Plaintiff spoke with Defendant Bednarz about his depression and overall mental health. (Doc. 1, p. 4). That day, while speaking with Bednarz, Plaintiff agreed to take Paxil for his depression and mental health issues. Id. Plaintiff began going to the medication line and taking the medication he received shortly thereafter. Id. Over the next several weeks, Plaintiff's “depression started worsening due to the medication.” Id. Plaintiff's “mood and level of agitation started to become extremely unpredictable because of the new medication.” Id.

         Plaintiff began to have “uncontrollable thoughts of violently lashing out and severe thoughts of suicide, worsening depression, and hopelessness.” Id.

         The week of May 13, 2016, Plaintiff sent a request slip to mental health to speak with someone about his declining mental health and the issues he was having as a result of his new medication. Id. At this point, Plaintiff was also experiencing muscle stiffness and “complications in [his] thought process including confusion.” (Doc. 1, p. 5). Plaintiff's abdomen and chest also “felt as if they were stuffed full of fuzz which caused this Plaintiff difficulty breathing.” Id. Plaintiff believes these symptoms were a result of the new medication he was taking. Id.

         Plaintiff spoke with a Mental Health Professional (“MHP”) and informed him of the issues he was experiencing as a result of the medication. Id. Plaintiff also “informed a nurse at medline that something was wrong with [his] medication.” Id. On May 20, 2016, Plaintiff filed an emergency grievance with the help of another inmate. Id. On May 21, 2016, Plaintiff spoke with Defendant Bednarz. Id. He informed Bednarz “of the complications [he] was having with [his] thought process.” Id. Before Plaintiff was able to fully explain his difficulties, Bednarz told Plaintiff that “he noticed in [his] medical file that [he] was not being given the medication that [he] had consented to take and that [he] was being given a medication that [he] had not consented to take.” (Doc. 1, pp. 5-6). Bednarz told Plaintiff that he was being given Prozac by mistake. (Doc. 1, p. 6).

         Bednarz had written Plaintiff a prescription for Prozac on March 26, 2016 without giving Plaintiff the information necessary for him to give informed consent to taking it and without him having consented to take it at all. Id. Plaintiff then explained to Bednarz that he was experiencing adverse side effects, including worsening depression, suicidal thoughts, confusion, and difficulty breathing. Id. Bednarz then informed Plaintiff that he was going to increase Plaintiff's Prozac dosage, despite Plaintiff telling him that it was causing him harm which included suicidal thoughts. (Doc. 1, p. 7). Bednarz then increased Plaintiff's dosage of Prozac, even after he acknowledged that Plaintiff never consented to take it in the first place. Id. Plaintiff discontinued taking the medication after speaking with Bednarz. Id.

         Within a day or two of quitting the medication, Plaintiff began having new complications, including abnormal dreams, violent nightmares, and thrashing in his sleep. (Doc. 1, p. 8). Plaintiff began experiencing increased anxiety and insomnia and did not get much sleep for at least two weeks. Id. Plaintiff also “began experiencing uncontrollable body movements, mostly [his] arms jerking and [having spasms] but also in [his] legs.” Id. During the week of May 23, 2016, Plaintiff requested a crisis team because of the withdrawal symptoms he was experiencing. Id. Plaintiff was referred to Bednarz. (Doc. 1, p. 9).

         Plaintiff informed Bednarz of the side effects he was experiencing. Id. When he was a teenager, Plaintiff took Prozac and it caused him to experience many of the same side effects he experienced after taking it again in 2016. Id. Plaintiff was also committed to a psych ward because of the adverse side effects of the Prozac he took when he was a teenager, including severe agitation, aggression, suicidal thoughts, and more. Id. Because of this experience, Plaintiff “would never have consented or agreed to take Prozac.” Id. In fact, “[i]n IDOC on a previous occasion, [Plaintiff] had informed another psychiatrist that [he] would not consent to Prozac because of the ...

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