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Bell v. Wexford

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

December 18, 2017

RICKY BELL, Plaintiff,
v.
WEXFORD and RALPH JOHNNIE, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          J. PHIL GILBERT UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Plaintiff, currently incarcerated at Centralia Correctional Center (“Centralia”), brings this pro se civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff raises claims of deliberate indifference to medical needs (broken tooth and associated pain). The Complaint is now before the Court for a preliminary review 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

         On Saturday, June 17, 2017, Plaintiff's tooth “broke off” while Plaintiff was eating ice. (Doc. 1, p. 7). Plaintiff asked a correctional officer to contact the healthcare unit. Id. After contacting the healthcare unit and relaying the problem to individuals at the healthcare unit, the officer advised Plaintiff he could not be seen by a dentist without completing a healthcare request. Id. Plaintiff immediately submitted the request. Id.

         On Sunday, June 18, 2017, when Plaintiff did not receive a response to his healthcare request, he spoke to another correctional officer. (Doc. 1, p. 8). The officer told Plaintiff that there was not a dentist on duty over the weekend and Plaintiff would have to wait until Monday. Id. Plaintiff submitted a second healthcare request slip, labeling it a “dental emergency” on Wednesday June 21, 2017. (Doc. 1, p. 9).

         According to the Complaint, Johnnie, the dentist at Centralia, received Plaintiff's original healthcare request on Tuesday, June 20, 2017. (Doc. 1, p. 9). Plaintiff additionally alleges that Johnnie received the second healthcare request on Thursday, June 22, 2017. Id. Nonetheless, Johnnie did not respond to the request until Monday, June 26, 2017. Id. It appears that, at that time, Johnnie extracted Plaintiff's broken tooth and provided pain medication. (Doc. 1, p. 10).

         Between Saturday, June 17, 2017, and Monday, June 26, 2017, Plaintiff was in excruciating pain and was unable to eat or sleep properly. (Doc. 1, pp. 8-10). Plaintiff did not receive any treatment, including pain medication, until Monday June 26, 2017. Id.

         Plaintiff contends that Johnnie exhibited deliberate indifference to his serious medical need by ignoring his healthcare requests and delaying treatment until Monday, June 26, 2017. (Doc. 1, pp. 9-10). Plaintiff alleges that Wexford is liable for deliberate indifference because it maintained a policy or practice ...


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