United States District Court, S.D. Illinois
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
J. ROSENSTENGEL, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
an inmate of the Illinois Department of Corrections currently
incarcerated at Pinckneyville Correctional Center
(“Pinckneyville”), 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, and that
Defendant Wolfe discriminated against him on the basis of his
racial/ethnic background. The Complaint is now before the
Court for a preliminary review pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
§ 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).
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).
these standards, the Court finds that some of Plaintiff's
claims survive threshold review under § 1915A.
November 4, 2016, Plaintiff injured his left knee while
playing soccer at Pinckneyville (this was an approved
recreational activity). (Doc. 1, p. 4). He could not walk on
his own. He immediately notified Lt. Wolfe that he was
injured and needed medical attention. Wolfe refused to call
for help, telling Plaintiff that he did not like
“people like you.” (Doc. 1, p. 5). Plaintiff is a
United States citizen originally from Mexico; he assumed
Wolfe was referring to his Hispanic background when he
refused to summon medical assistance. Additionally, Wolfe was
aware that Plaintiff could not walk on his own and had an
injury requiring medical care. (Doc. 1, p. 6).
other inmates helped Plaintiff back to his cell. That
movement was excruciatingly painful, and Plaintiff could feel
tissue in his knee tearing. On the way, Plaintiff told C/O
Clark that he could not walk and needed to go to the HCU
(Health Care Unit). Clark told Plaintiff that she would not
call in a medical emergency but would inform the next shift
of his needs. (Doc. 1, p. 7).
came to assist Plaintiff during the next shift, so he relayed
a message to Wing Officer Spiller through an inmate porter
that he could not walk because of his injury and needed
medical attention. The inmate returned shortly and relayed
Spiller's response that Plaintiff should submit a
sick-call request. (Doc. 1, p. 7). Plaintiff climbed to his
top bunk, which caused more pain and tissue tearing. He was
in too much pain to climb down to go to dinner.
Plaintiff's cellmate informed Major Lively of
Plaintiff's injury and his need for immediate medical
care. Lively wrote down the information and promised the
cellmate he would check it out, but he failed to follow up on
the request. When no help came, Plaintiff's cellmate
filled out a sick-call form for Plaintiff and gave it to a
nurse that evening.
next day, November 5, 2016, Plaintiff saw Nurse Williams
during sick call. He had to hop on one leg in order to get
there, and he suffered more pain and tissue damage as a
result. (Doc. 1, p. 9). Plaintiff explained to Williams that
he was unable to walk, could not get to meals, and could not
access the top bunk without severe suffering. Williams
offered Plaintiff ibuprofen but told Plaintiff nothing else
could be done until he saw the doctor on Monday, November 7.
November 7, when nobody came to take Plaintiff to the HCU, he
hopped to the phone and called his mother. She in turn called
Warden Lashbrook to relay Plaintiff's condition and ask
that he be given crutches or a wrap to immobilize the knee.
Around 2:30 p.m. that afternoon, Plaintiff was taken to the
HCU in a wheelchair. (Doc. 1, p. 10). Nurse Knope gave
Plaintiff crutches, but did not wrap or immobilize his knee,
or allow him to see the doctor. Plaintiff continued to suffer
excruciating pain and stress to his knee while walking with
the crutches. (Doc. 1, p. 11).
November 8, Plaintiff again called his mother to say he had
not yet seen a doctor and the pain was nearly unbearable.
Later that day, Plaintiff was taken to the HCU, where he saw
Dr. Scott. Dr. Scott berated Plaintiff for having his family
call and told him his situation was not an emergency because
he had returned to his cell “just fine after the
injury” and had been going to chow. Plaintiff responded
that those statements were a lie; he had gone to the dining
hall only once since receiving his crutches and did not try
again because it was too hard to maneuver over the wet floor.
(Doc. 1, p. 12). Dr. Scott wrapped Plaintiff's knee with
a cloth bandage, gave him two 400 mg ibuprofen pills, and
ordered an x-ray.
Scott issued Plaintiff a bottom-bunk permit, which Plaintiff
received on November 11. Plaintiff's cellmate already had
a low-bunk permit, however, and Plaintiff stayed on the top
bunk because the cellmate was an older man in his sixties.
Plaintiff continued to suffer tissue damage from climbing to
the top bed.
November 17, Dr. Scott told Plaintiff that the x-rays showed
no broken bones, and he recommended physical therapy for what
was likely ligament damage. Plaintiff told Dr. Scott that he
was unable to use the bottom bunk despite the permit, but Dr.
Scott responded that it was not his problem, and he would do
nothing else. (Doc. 1, p. 13).
January 9, 2017, Plaintiff was screened for physical therapy,
but was informed it would not help his injury. On February 7,
2017, Plaintiff was sent to an outside hospital for an MRI.
He learned on March 16, 2017, that the test revealed
“extensive ligament displacement and damage.”
(Doc. 1, p. 13). Dr. Dan (who is not a Defendant) planned to
give Plaintiff 8-12 weeks of physical therapy to try to
realign the misplaced ligaments. Between March 16 and May 4,
2017, Plaintiff had seven therapy sessions. Dr. Dan then
ended the therapy and sent Plaintiff to a specialist at the
Orthopedic Institute of Southern Illinois, where on May 30,
2017, he had more x-rays and two injections into his knee.
(Doc. 1, p. 14). Plaintiff still struggles to mobilize. His
pain medication has been interrupted, and he must buy his own
meals from the commissary because he cannot navigate over the
wet dining room floor with his crutches.
January 3 and March 9, 2017, Plaintiff wrote to Health Care
Administrator Brown to tell her of his severe pain, his
difficulties in continuing to receive prescribed medication,
the worsening of his condition, and inadequate medical care.
(Doc. 1, p. 14). For example, the pain medication prescribed
by Dr. Scott would only last for twelve days, and Nurse
Williams refused to issue more medication or schedule
Plaintiff to see Dr. Scott to receive more. (Doc. 1, p. 15).
lists a number of steps that each Defendant could have taken,
but did not, that would have protected him against further
knee damage and pain. (Doc. 1, pp. 18-20).
relief, Plaintiff seeks a declaratory judgment and an
injunction to require Dr. Scott to issue Plaintiff a knee
brace, and to direct Lashbrook to have Plaintiff's meals
served to him in his cell while he is on crutches. He also
seeks compensatory and punitive damages. (Doc. 1, pp. 22-23).
Review Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A
on the allegations of the Complaint, the Court finds it
convenient to divide the prose action into
the following counts. The parties and the Court will use
these designations in all future pleadings and orders, unless
otherwise directed by a judicial officer of this Court. The
designation of these counts does not constitute an opinion as
to their merit. Any other claim that is ...