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Walkerr v. Wexford Medical Provider

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

October 25, 2017

ANDREW J. WALKER, Plaintiff,
v.
WEXFORD MEDICAL PROVIDER, MCGLORN, AMY LANG, and GAIL WALLS, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          J. Phil Gilbert U.S. District Judge

         Plaintiff Andrew J. Walker, an inmate currently incarcerated at Pontiac Correctional Center, brings this pro se action for alleged violations of his constitutional rights under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for events that occurred at Menard Correctional Center. (Doc. 1). Specifically, Plaintiff alleges that Defendants conspired to violate his Eighth and Fourteenth Amendment rights by serving him a soy-based diet. He seeks compensatory damages and declarative relief.

         This case is now before the Court for a preliminary review of the Complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. Under Section 1915A, the Court is required to promptly screen prisoner Complaints to filter out nonmeritorious claims. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). The Court is required to 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).

         The Complaint

         Plaintiff alleges that the Illinois Department of Corrections (“IDOC”) began using a soy/turkey meat substitute in place of beef in 2002. (Doc. 1, p. 4). When Plaintiff entered IDOC custody in 2014, he began suffering from gastrointestinal problems, painful cramping, bloating, and constipation. Id. Over time, his symptoms worsened. Id. Plaintiff self-administered an empirical food sensitivity test, and became convinced that his problems are associated with the soy in his diet. (Doc. 1, p. 5). Plaintiff's family also performed internet research that persuaded him that his symptoms are identical to food allergies associated with soy consumption. Id. Despite Plaintiff's research, McGlorn and Lang refused to prescribe a soy-free diet or treat Plaintiff for any food allergies. Id. Lang told Plaintiff that he just needed to eat around any soy on his tray. Id.

         Plaintiff was tested for prostate problems, which came back negative. (Doc. 1, p. 6). He was also given docusate sodium, a stool softener, and fiber lax, which helped his symptoms for a short time. Id. But ultimately, Plaintiff's problems continued to affect him and he continued to seek medical treatment. Id. Wexford staff refused to do anything but prescribe docusate sodium and fiber lax. Id.

         Plaintiff saw McGlorn and Lang on January 12, 2016. Id. He told McGlorn that he was suffering from gastro-intestinal problems, including bloating to the point of cramping, obstructed urination, trouble defecating on a regular basis, hemorrhoids, and estrogen symptoms, like weight gain and breast development. Id. McGlorn re-prescribed docusate sodium and fiber lax. (Doc. 1, p. 7). Plaintiff wrote letters to the Warden, the dietary supervisor, and the healthcare administrator, but his letters were ignored. Id.

         Plaintiff alleges that Wexford is engaged in a conspiracy to deny the fact that soy is detrimental to inmates' health. (Doc. 1, pp. 7-8).

         Discussion

         Based on the allegations, the Court finds it convenient to divide the pro se Complaint into the following enumerated claims. 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 regarding their merit. The following claim survives threshold review:

Count 1: McGlorn, Lang, and Walls, were deliberately indifferent to Plaintiff's serious medical needs when they persisted in a course of treatment known to be ineffective with regards to Plaintiff's gastrointestinal and estrogen symptoms in violation of the Eighth Amendment.

         Plaintiff has attempted to bring another claim, but for the reasons described below, this claim will be dismissed at this time:

Count 2: Wexford engaged in a conspiracy to deny that soy is detrimental to inmates' health in violation of the Eighth Amendment.

         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 ...


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