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Morris v. Trost

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

November 30, 2017

ROBERT E. MORRIS, #R71372, Plaintiff,
v.
DR. TROST, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          J. PHIL GILBERT UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Plaintiff Robert Morris, an inmate who is incarcerated at Menard Correctional Center, filed a civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for deprivations of his constitutional rights. See Morris v. Lee, et al., No. 17-cv-00857-NJR-DGW (S.D. Ill.) (“original action”). He brought several unrelated claims against different groups of defendants in the original action. (Doc. 1, original action). On October 24, 2017, this Court severed the claims into two additional cases. (Doc. 7, original action; Doc. 1, instant case) (“Severance Order”). The instant case addresses a single Eighth Amendment claim against Doctor Trost, a doctor at Menard who allegedly cancelled a medical permit for two mattresses that was issued to Plaintiff at Stateville Correctional Center. (“Count 1, ” original action). (Doc. 1, p. 7). Plaintiff claims that Doctor Trost “deliberately” disregarded his permit and, in doing so, committed medical malpractice. (Doc. 2, pp. 10, 15-21). He seeks monetary damages against the doctor. Id.

         This case is now before the Court for a preliminary review of the Eighth Amendment claim in Count 1 and a related Illinois medical negligence claim in Count 2 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

         The Complaint indicates that Plaintiff suffers from chronic back pain. (Doc. 2, pp. 10, 17-19). During his incarceration at Stateville Correctional Center, he received a medical permit for two mattresses. (Doc. 2, pp. 10, 15-21). Doctor Obasi, the prison medical director, issued a one-year permit on March 15, 2016. (Doc. 2, pp. 10, 17).

         After transferring to Menard on November 26, 2016, Plaintiff met with Doctor Trost on December 7, 2016. (Doc. 2, p. 10). The doctor took notice of the permit and also noted that it expired on March 15, 2017. Id. Without examining Plaintiff's back or considering his complaints of chronic pain, Doctor Trost decided to cancel the permit. Id. As a result, Plaintiff suffered from “excruciating pain and agony.” Id. He filed a grievance seeking reinstatement of the permit. (Doc. 2, pp. 18-19). In the grievance, he rated his back pain as an “11” on a scale from “1” to “10, ” where “10” represents the highest level of pain. Id. He also requested physical therapy. Id. Plaintiff's grievance was denied. (Doc. 2, pp. 20-21). Plaintiff now claims that Doctor Trost committed medical malpractice when cancelling his permit and subjecting him to ongoing pain. (Doc. 2, p. 10).

         Discussion

         To facilitate the orderly management of future proceedings in this case, and in accordance with the objectives of Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 8(e) and 10(b), the Court deems it appropriate to re-characterize the severed claim in Plaintiff's pro se Complaint (Doc. 2) into the following two counts:

Count 1 - Eighth Amendment deliberate indifference claim against Trost for failing to honor the two mattress medical permit issued when Plaintiff was incarcerated ...

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