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McClurkin v. Baldwin

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

January 10, 2018

BRYAN McCLURKIN, #B13440, Plaintiff,


          MICHAEL J. REAGAN Chief Judge United States District Court

         This matter is now before the Court for consideration of the First Amended Complaint filed by Plaintiff Bryan McClurkin on November 30, 2017. (Doc. 11). Plaintiff is currently incarcerated in Stateville Correctional Center ("Stateville"). He brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §1983 against current and former employees of Menard Correctional Center ("Menard") and the Illinois Department of Corrections ("IDOC") who allegedly denied him medical care for injuries he sustained when his chair collapsed during a "shakedown" at Menard on or around April 8, 2014. (Doc. 11, pp. 11-20). Plaintiff seeks declaratory judgment and monetary damages against the defendants. (Doc. 11, pp. 20-21).

         The First Amended Complaint is now subject to 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.

Id. 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 in the pro se complaint are to be liberally construed. See Rodriguez v. Plymouth Ambulance Serv., 577 F.3d 816, 821 (7th Cir. 2009). Plaintiffs First Amended Complaint survives screening under this standard.

         First Amended Complaint

         Plaintiff alleges that he was badly injured during a shakedown that was conducted by Menard's Orange Crush Tactical Team on or around April 8, 2014. (Doc. 11, pp. 11-20). At the time, he was cuffed behind his back and seated in a chair in the prison's auditorium. (Doc. 11, p. 11). The chair suddenly collapsed, and Plaintiff fell to the floor. Id. As he fell, Plaintiffs lower neck and shoulder hit a metal brace that supported several adjoined chairs. Id. He landed on his cuffed wrists. Id. Plaintiff immediately felt intense pain in his wrists and neck. Id.

         Officer Winters helped Plaintiff up and asked him if he needed medical treatment. (Doc. 11, p. 11). Plaintiff stated that he did. Id. The officer escorted Plaintiff to see Mike Nelson, a medical technician who was stationed in the area. Id. Despite the emergency nature of Plaintiffs injuries, Nelson took his blood pressure but explained that there was nothing else he could do during the ongoing tactical operation. (Doc. 11, p. 12). He told Plaintiff that someone would "follow up" with him later, but no one ever did. Id.

         Plaintiff filed an inmate grievance two days later. (Doc. 11, p. 12). He sent it directly to the Office of Inmate Issues on April 10, 2014. Id. Hearing nothing, he filed an emergency grievance with Warden Kimberly Butler on or around April 17, 2014. Id. He complained of intense pain and numbness. Id. Warden Butler agreed that the grievance presented an emergency. Id. Even so, a grievance officer later determined that the grievance was "moot, " and Butler concurred with the decision. Id. Plaintiff blames this decision on an unnamed nurse who incorrectly stated that Plaintiff refused medical attention and "chose to go to yard" on a day that yard was cancelled. (Doc. 11, p. 13).

         Plaintiff saw Doctor Fuentes on April 22, 2014. (Doc. 11, pp. 13, 25). He was given naproxen for pain at the appointment, but it was ineffective. Id. On May 11, 2014, Nurse Martha Oakley noted Plaintiffs complaints of persistent neck pain and numbness in his fingers and hand, but she allegedly "sat idly by as ibuprofen was prescribed again [and] again with full knowledge it didn't work." (Doc. 11, pp. 4, 13).

         Plaintiff continued to request medical treatment for his injuries, but his appointments were "constantly being cancelled." (Doc. 11, p. 13). When he was seen, Plaintiff regularly complained that his pain was "constant" and "spreading, " and his treatment with naproxen and ibuprofen was ineffective. Id. His medical records reflected the onset of additional symptoms, including a "gait disturbance, limitation of movement[, ] and distress and/or pain with movement." (Doc. 11, pp. 13-14). However, no changes were made to his treatment plan. Id.

         On June 20, 2014, Nurse Practitioner M. Moldenhauer examined Plaintiff after he complained of "spreading pain." (Doc. 11, p. 14). Although Moldenhauer charged Plaintiff a $5.00 copayment for services, "no action" was taken to treat him. Id. An x-ray was taken of Plaintiffs back and spine on June 24, 2014, and Nurse Rupport noted that the x-ray was "done." (Doc. 11, p. 30). It showed "'multi-level' degeneration" that was "most prominent in [his] mid[-] to lower[-] thoracic region, " according to Doctor Ha's interpretation of the test results. (Doc. 11, p. 14). Despite these results, Doctor Ha and Nurse Rupport made no recommendations for treatment, and Moldenhauer reduced Plaintiffs prescription for pain relievers from 400 milligrams of ibuprofen to 325 milligrams of Tylenol on July 3, 2014. (Doc. 11, pp. 6, 14, 30).

         Plaintiff filed another grievance on September 22, 2014. (Doc. 11, p. 14). He complained of "constant neck [and] back pain, a numb finger on his right hand[, ] and an entire left arm that [wa]s numb." Id. Plaintiff explained that his past treatment with pain relievers was ineffective, and he requested an MRI to determine the cause of his increasing pain and numbness. Id. Nursing Supervisor Charlotte Miget noted Plaintiffs complaints and his request for an MRI on October 10, 2014, but she took no action on the request. (Doc. 11, p. 15). The grievance officer declared the issue "moot, " and Warden Butler concurred. Id. Plaintiff appealed, and the Administrative Review Board ("ARB") and IDOC Director Salvadore Godinez denied the appeal. Id. In a "desperate attempt to allev[iate] the pain, " Plaintiff purchased additional ...

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