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Washington v. Harris

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

November 2, 2017

JULIUS WASHINGTON, #S09629, Plaintiff,


          STACI M. YANDLE U.S. District Judge.

         Plaintiff Julius Washington, an inmate at Graham Correctional Center, brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for deprivations of his constitutional rights that allegedly occurred at Pinckneyville Correctional Center (“Pinckneyville”). Plaintiff claims that the defendants subjected him to unconstitutional conditions of confinement and were deliberately indifferent to his serious medical issues, in violation of the Eighth Amendment. (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

         Plaintiff makes the following allegations in his Complaint (Doc. 1): On September 21, 2016, while working in the Pinckneyville dietary department as an assigned cook, Plaintiff stepped onto a water drainage grate which then flipped inward, causing Plaintiff to fall knee deep into the drain. (Doc. 1, p. 7). The fall also caused Plaintiff's arm to get stuck inside of a cooking kettle until he was able to pull it free and regain his balance. Id. This contact with the contents of the cooking kettle, which occurred while the kettle was cooking on high, caused Plaintiff to burn the skin completely off his forearm. Id. Plaintiff believes Defendant Harris, a T/A Dietary Manager, Defendant Lashbrook, the Pinckneyville Warden, and Pinckneyville itself “knew of these unsafe grates but refused to fix them.” Id.

         After Plaintiff was helped out of the drain by fellow inmates, he sought help from a kitchen supervisor, but none were around. (Doc. 1, p. 8). He eventually found CFFS Wilson and told him what had happened and requested medical attention. Id. Wilson called Defendant Health Care Unit (“HCU”) and informed then “an inmate had gotten burned and needed medical attention.” Id. Plaintiff was then sent to the HCU where a doctor and “five to six nurses” examined him and agreed he had a “pretty good burn.” Id. Defendant Nurse Mary Rogers began Plaintiff's treatment and told him “that the burn would need daily treatment until it healed.” Id. She also told Plaintiff that he would be added to the inmate call pass line to make it to his daily treatment. (Doc. 1, pp. 8-9). When Rogers finished treating Plaintiff, he was sent back to his housing unit and then back to work, where he learned another inmate had been burned. (Doc. 1, p. 9).

         On September 22, 2016, Plaintiff and the other inmate who was burned, Mourey, began daily treatment for their burns. Id. Defendant Nurse Tina Neff treated Plaintiff that day and informed him that he would need three weeks of daily treatment for his second degree burn. Id. She also told Plaintiff and Mourey that they “should start getting [their] call passes to come over for [their] treatment and not to worry of the hassle trying to make it over without a pass.” Id. On September 23, 2016, Mourey received one week's worth of call passes, and Plaintiff received none. Id. Plaintiff explained to his cell house officer that he needed to be sent for his daily treatment and that he did not have a call pass yet. After the officer checked on Plaintiff's claims, Plaintiff was sent to the HCU. (Doc. 1, pp. 9-10).

         Once he arrived at the HCU, Plaintiff explained to Neff how he had trouble making it to his treatment. (Doc. 1, p. 10). Neff responded that Defendant Rogers “probably never got around to submitting [Plaintiff] for the call pass line and she said not to worry she would do it herself.” Id.

         After about a week, Plaintiff had still not been added to the call pass line. Id. He was having trouble trying to leave his cell house without a call pass for his daily treatment. Id. Because of this, he filed a grievance on September 28, 2016. Id. Plaintiff also wrote Defendant Warden Lashbrook a letter that day “explaining everything to her, that [he] was burned in the dietary department and that [he] needed daily treatment for [his] burn and that health would not add [him] to the call pass line, and [he] had issues going over without a call pass.” (Doc. 1, pp. 10-11). Plaintiff submitted another grievance on October 10, 2016 after he did not receive a timely response to his first grievance. (Doc. 1, p. 10). Plaintiff was later ...

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