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Reese v. Trost

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

January 13, 2018

KIEARRE REESE, # M-23769, Plaintiff,
DR. JOHN TROST, and JOHN DOE #1, Defendants.



         Plaintiff Kiearre Reese, currently incarcerated at Menard Correctional Center (“Menard”), brings this pro se civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff claims that Defendants, both medical providers at Menard, were deliberately indifferent to a serious medical condition. The Complaint is now before the Court for a preliminary review pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. Along with the Complaint, Plaintiff has filed a motion seeking a preliminary injunction requiring prison officials to provide him with treatment. (Doc. 3).

         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 some of Plaintiff's claims survive threshold review under § 1915A.

         The Complaint

         Plaintiff asserts 3 Counts in his Complaint. In Count 1, he alleges that in April 2017, Dr. Trost (the former medical director at Menard) referred him to an outside medical provider who diagnosed him with severe hemorrhoids and successfully treated the condition. (Doc. 1, p. 5). Trost made that referral, however, only after Plaintiff complained and filed grievances over a period of time during 2016-2017, in which Plaintiff explained that he was suffering from severe pain and inflammation around his rectum and blood in his stool.

         Sometime after April 2017, Plaintiff's hemorrhoids returned and became much worse than before. (Doc. 1, p. 5). The tissue around his rectum is so severely inflamed and painful that Plaintiff has great difficulty defecating and cannot properly clean himself. As a result, Plaintiff's body smells of stool and infection, and his rectal area is draining pus. He is in so much pain that he cannot sit or comfortably lie down.

         Plaintiff reported his symptoms to Trost and requested treatment. Trost examined him, determined that the hemorrhoids had come back, and decided that Plaintiff would need to be treated again at an outside facility. (Doc. 1, p. 6). However, Trost refused to make the referral at that time because he thought it “would make Menard officials look incompetent, ” and instead decided to “wait for a little while” before sending Plaintiff for the necessary treatment. Id. Plaintiff's protests about the delay were unavailing, and soon after this encounter, Trost was terminated from his position at Menard. Id. Plaintiff asserts that Trost exhibited deliberate indifference to his medical condition by delaying necessary treatment.

         Count 2 asserts a claim for deliberate indifference against the John Doe Defendant, described in the Complaint as an “Unknown Medical Staff” person. (Doc. 1, p. 6). Plaintiff consulted with this John Doe Defendant (who shall be designated herein as John Doe #1) following Trost's termination. Plaintiff explained his symptoms and history of earlier treatment for hemorrhoids as well as Dr. Trost's conclusion that Plaintiff's condition again required treatment from an outside provider. John Doe #1 told Plaintiff that “there isn't much that can be done” for hemorrhoids, and gave Plaintiff cream and ibuprofen, neither of which had been effective in treating Plaintiff's symptoms when he was given them earlier. (Doc. 1, pp. 6-7). The cream had even made Plaintiff's condition worse. John Doe #1 refused to examine Plaintiff in order to see the severity of his inflammation and drainage of pus, blood, and stool. John Doe #1 also refused to send Plaintiff to another provider who could examine and treat him.

         In Count 3, Plaintiff identifies Trost and “Unknown Medical Staffs” as the responsible parties. (Doc. 1, p. 7). This deliberate indifference claim is based on chest pain, “tightness, ” and severe burning sensations in his chest, which Plaintiff has been experiencing for 3 years. The pain is so severe that Plaintiff has to stop walking and bend over in order to relieve the tightness in his chest, or alternatively to sit up if he is in a lying-down position. (Doc. 1, p. 7). Plaintiff has also suffered from asthma for many years, but believes the chest pain is unrelated to the asthma because it began more recently than the onset of Plaintiff's asthma.

         “Staff” has given Plaintiff an asthma pump and acid reflux pills, which have not relieved the chest pain/tightness/burning. (Doc. 1, p. 7). Plaintiff made repeated complaints and sick call requests, which finally prompted “medical staff” to order x-rays. (Doc. 1, p. 8). The x-rays, however, revealed nothing. Subsequently, Plaintiff has pleaded with unnamed medical staff to approve him for an MRI, EKG, and an outside specialist consultation, all of which have been refused. Plaintiff is concerned that he may have a hereditary condition causing his symptoms, because his uncle died in Menard in 2011 after suffering from chest pain and “associated complications.” Id.

         As relief, Plaintiff seeks damages and an injunction requiring Menard officials to send him to a specialist to treat his “known and unknown conditions.” (Doc. 1, p. 9).

         Merits Review Pursuant to 28 ...

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