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Young v. United States

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

October 26, 2017

REGINALD YOUNG, #50081-066, Plaintiff,
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, FEDERAL BUREAU OF PRISONS, and DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          J. PHIL GILBERT UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Plaintiff Reginald Young, an inmate who is currently incarcerated at the Federal Correctional Institution located in Greenville, Illinois (“FCI-Greenville”), brings this action against the United States, Federal Bureau of Prisons, and Department of Justice pursuant to the Federal Tort Claims Act, 28 U.S.C. §§ 1346, 2671-2680. (Doc. 1). In the Complaint, Plaintiff alleges that he received inadequate medical care for vision problems at FCI-Greenville. (Doc. 1, pp. 1-7). As a result, he has suffered from progressive vision loss. Id. He seeks monetary damages and corrective eye surgery. (Doc. 1, pp. 1, 7).

         This case is before the Court for 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

         In the Complaint, Plaintiff describes himself as a 57-year-old inmate, who has suffered from cataracts since 2005. (Doc. 1, p. 2). He alleges that two different ophthalmologists have evaluated him and made recommendations for treatment. (Doc. 1, p. 4). Both specialists recommended surgery to prevent further vision loss. Id. To date, the recommendations of these specialists have not been followed with respect to his left eye. Id.

         In 2008, Doctor Bart Brine diagnosed Plaintiff with cataracts in both eyes. (Doc. 1, p. 3). Doctor Brine recommended surgery on November 3, 2008. Id. Consistent with this recommendation, Plaintiff underwent right eye cataract surgery that included implantation of an intraocular lens on May 11, 2009. (Doc. 1, p. 2). However, surgery was also recommended for a nuclear sclerotic cataract and macular puckering in Plaintiff's left eye. (Doc. 1, pp. 1-2). To date, Plaintiff has not received left eye surgery. (Doc. 1, p. 5).

         On October 17, 2011, Doctor Alan Montgomery also recommended surgery for Plaintiff's left eye cataract. (Doc. 1, p. 3). On January 15, 2014, the same doctor diagnosed Plaintiff with advanced retinopathy and opined that his vision was not expected to improve without surgery. Id. In April 2014, the prison's health services unit (“HSU”) attributed Plaintiff's vision problems to high blood pressure. Id. Doctor Montgomery disagreed with this assessment and noted that Plaintiff's deteriorating vision was unrelated to his blood pressure on June 1, 2016. Id.

         Because the Federal Bureau of Prisons refused to address Plaintiff's vision loss in its early stages, Plaintiff's condition deteriorated. (Doc. 1, p. 4). He now describes pain, inflammation, and progressive vision loss attributable to bilateral cataracts and “medically unmanageable open angle glaucoma.” Id. He also complains of persistent eye pain, blurred vision, and excruciating headaches, among other things. Id. Plaintiff struggles to read, climb stairs, interact socially, and focus his attention. Id.

         In support of his FTCA claim, Plaintiff asserts that he has reviewed the facts of the case with a qualified health professional, who will substantiate his claim. (Doc. 1, p. 5). He has also provided medical records and related documentation in support of his claim. (Doc. 1, pp. 5, 9-19). In addition, he has requested and is still ...


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