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McKinnon v. Big Muddy River Correctional Center

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

January 11, 2018

ANDREW McKINNON, #B89426, Plaintiff,
v.
BIG MUDDY RIVER CORRECTIONAL CENTER and DENNIS LARSON, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          HERNDON, District Judge

         Plaintiff Andrew McKinnon, an inmate who is currently incarcerated at Big Muddy River Correctional Center (“Big Muddy”), brings this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. (Doc. 1). Plaintiff claims that Doctor Larson has denied him adequate medical care for numerous ailments at Big Muddy since 2014. (Doc. 1, pp. 5-10). He now asserts several Eighth Amendment claims against Doctor Larson and the prison. Id. Plaintiff seeks monetary damages against both defendants. (Doc. 1, p. 11).

         The Complaint is now subject to 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 survives screening under this standard.

         The Complaint

         Plaintiff alleges that he has generally been denied adequate medical care at Big Muddy since 2014. (Doc. 1, pp. 5-10). During the summer of 2014, he began suffering from headaches, stomachaches, and digestive problems. (Doc. 1, p. 5). Between August 2014 and May 2016, Plaintiff submitted numerous sick call slips about these health issues. Id. Rather than meeting with Doctor Larson to discuss them, he was routinely scheduled to meet with a physician's assistant instead. Id. Consequently, Plaintiff never learned what caused his symptoms, and he never received treatment for them. Id.

         Plaintiff began to wonder if the prison's water was the culprit. (Doc. 1, pp. 5-6). On October 24, 2015, he wrote a grievance to Counselor Kimberlee Wharton stating his concerns. (Doc. 1, p. 5). In the grievance, he traced his symptoms and the suspected prison water problems back to June 18, 2014. Id. When he received no response to the grievance, Plaintiff wrote another one. Id. When he still received no response, Plaintiff submitted a request for water treatment records to the City of Carbondale pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act. (Doc. 1, pp. 5-6). He also wrote to Attorney General Lisa Madigan. Id. He was unable to obtain any information which suggested to him that the prison's water was tainted. Id. Still, his symptoms persisted. Id.

         During the summer of 2015, Plaintiff fell from his top bunk bed onto his hands and knees. (Doc. 1, p. 6). Unable to move, he lay in pain on the floor for more than a half hour before help arrived. Id. When an officer took him to the prison's health care unit for treatment, a nurse gave Plaintiff a single pack of 8-10 ibuprofen (200 mg) and sent him back to his cell in excruciating pain. Id. Plaintiff requested additional treatment by submitting a nurse sick call slip, but his request was ignored. (Doc. 1, pp. 6-7). Meanwhile, he continued seeking treatment for his headaches, stomachaches, and digestive problems, to no avail. (Doc. 1, p. 7).

         Around April 2017, Plaintiff noticed an unusual protrusion on his chest. (Doc. 1, p. 7). He submitted a request to meet with Doctor Larson, but he was required to meet with a physician's assistant instead. Id. Although x-rays were ordered, Plaintiff did not meet with Doctor Larson to discuss the results until August 21, 2017. Id. On that date, the doctor indicated that the x-rays did not explain why Plaintiff had a lump on his chest. Id. When Doctor Larson questioned Plaintiff about recent accidents, Plaintiff could only recall the fall from his top bunk bed in 2015 and a traffic accident in 1991. Id. The doctor admitted that the fall could have caused Plaintiff's injury. Id. Even so, Doctor Larson took no further steps to diagnose or treat the condition, and he declined to send Plaintiff to an outside provider for this purpose. Id.

         Plaintiff also complains of ongoing problems obtaining prescription refills. (Doc. 1, p. 8). He has taken Claritin for sinus problems since he was 30 years old. Id. To obtain prescription refills, he must submit multiple written requests to see the doctor every other month and pay a $3.00 ...


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