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Southard v. Wexford Medical

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

November 6, 2017

BENNY T. SOUTHARD, # S-00819, Plaintiff,
v.
WEXFORD MEDICAL, DR. SHAW, ILLINOIS DEPT. of CORRECTIONS, and PINCKNEYVILLE CORRECTIONAL CENTER, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          STACI M. YANDLE UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Plaintiff Benny Southard, currently incarcerated at Pinckneyville Correctional Center (“Pinckneyville”), has brought this pro se civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. He claims that the defendants were deliberately indifferent to his serious medical condition. The Complaint is now before the Court for a preliminary review pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A.

         Under § 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).

         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 “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).

         Applying these standards, the Court finds that Plaintiff's claims against some defendants survive threshold review under § 1915A.

         The Complaint

         In August 2015, during a previous incarceration (which also appears to have been at Pinckneyville), Plaintiff was seriously injured in an attack by another inmate. (Doc. 1, p. 7). Plaintiff's nose and face were badly broken. He was held in segregation for 3 days with no treatment while the matter was investigated, and was then taken out of segregation with no disciplinary action against him. Plaintiff asserts that because his release date was so close at that time, the medical department did nothing to treat him. Plaintiff wrote to the warden, who came to see him in his cell and was shocked by the condition of his face. The warden took him to medical, where a doctor employed by Wexford Medical put in a request for Plaintiff to be seen by an outside specialist. (Doc. 1, p. 7). However, the Wexford Medical Board denied this request 3 times.

         Pinckneyville and Wexford ignored all of Plaintiff's requests and grievances seeking medical care. (Doc. 1, p. 7). On September 17, 2015, Plaintiff was released from prison, without receiving any medical treatment.

         After his release, Plaintiff sought medical treatment on his own and underwent plastic surgery to begin to repair the damage to his face. (Doc. 1, p. 8). Plaintiff claims that he had to wait over 6 months to allow his face to heal before surgery could be performed because of Wexford's failure to give him any care at Pinckneyville. The surgery involved taking cartilage from Plaintiff's ribs to repair his face so he could breathe. Further surgery was planned but had not been performed.

         In 2017, Plaintiff went back to prison and was housed at Pinckneyville. Once again, Pinckneyville officials refused to answer Plaintiff's grievances. He believes that they are engaging in the same stall tactics as before in order to put off taking any action before Plaintiff's upcoming release date of November 10, 2017. (Doc. 1, p. 8).

         Plaintiff has nerve damage in his face because of Wexford's refusal to send him to an outside hospital or specialist. The Wexford Board denied those referral requests 3 times, even after the warden “got on Dr. Shaw, who put [Plaintiff] in to see [a] specialist one month later.” (Doc. 1, p. 8).

         Plaintiff seeks monetary damages for the violation of his rights, medical malpractice, pain and suffering and for the defendants ...


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