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Thomas v. Doe

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

January 16, 2018

TRACY ALLEN THOMAS, #R-21405, Plaintiff,



         Plaintiff Tracy Thomas, an inmate who is currently incarcerated in Dixon Correctional Center (“Dixon”), brings this action for deprivations of his constitutional rights at Lawrence Correctional Center (“Lawrence”) pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff originally filed this action in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, and the Northern District transferred the case to this District on December 18, 2017. See Thomas v. Doe, No. 17-cv-07811 (N.D. Ill. filed Oct. 30, 2017) (Doc. 5). In the Complaint, Plaintiff alleges that he was denied adequate medical treatment for a knee injury and broken arm that he sustained in the prison yard at Lawrence on or around May 1, 2015. (Doc. 1, pp. 4-11). He asserts an Eighth Amendment claim against Doctor John Doe, Warden Duncan, and the Illinois Department of Corrections (“IDOC”). (Doc. 1, p. 11). The Court also recognizes claims under the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”), 42 U.S.C. §§ 12101 et seq., and/or Rehabilitation Act, 29 U.S.C. §§ 794-794e. Plaintiff seeks monetary damages. (Doc. 1, p. 12).

         This case is now before the Court for a preliminary review of the Complaint 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

         According to the Complaint, Plaintiff injured his knee and arm while playing basketball at Lawrence on or around May 1, 2015. (Doc. 1, p. 4). Plaintiff lay on the basketball court for almost 45 minutes before prison officials arrived to help him. Id. He told one of the officers that he needed immediate medical attention, but he was not taken for treatment. Id. When Plaintiff later asked the officer why, the officer admitted that he failed to contact the health care unit (“HCU”) on Plaintiff's behalf. Id.

         As Plaintiff made his way back to the housing unit, his left knee gave out. (Doc. 1, p. 5). Plaintiff fell to the floor. Id. The officer could see that Plaintiff's knee was red and swollen, and he contacted the nursing staff for assistance. Id. Several nurses arrived 45 minutes later and transported Plaintiff to the HCU in a wheelchair. Id. There, Plaintiff complained of pain in his left knee and arm. Id. A nurse took his vital signs and told Plaintiff that he would be seen by a doctor. Id.

         An unknown doctor (“Doctor John Doe”) examined Plaintiff. (Doc. 1, p. 6). Doctor Doe said that he was only concerned about Plaintiff's arm. Id. The doctor set Plaintiff's arm and gave him pain medication before sending him back to his housing unit by wheelchair. Id. The nurse who transported Plaintiff to his housing unit then took the wheelchair from him. Id. When Plaintiff insisted that he needed the wheelchair, she told Plaintiff that he would “have to walk as best as [he] could.” Id.

         Plaintiff was unable to use his left leg to walk, and he soon injured himself again by falling. (Doc. 1, p. 6). While hopping out of the shower on one leg with his left arm in a sling, Plaintiff fell onto his left arm and dislocated it again. (Doc. 1, p. 7). At the same time, he felt a tearing pain in his left knee. Id. An officer contacted the HCU on his behalf, and Plaintiff was transported to the HCU for treatment. Id.

         By the time he arrived, Doctor Doe was gone for the day, and Plaintiff was taken to a local hospital for further evaluation and treatment. (Doc. 1, p. 7). X-rays confirmed that Plaintiff suffered from a torn ACL in his left leg and a broken left arm. Id. The doctor placed his arm in a soft cast, issued him a knee brace, and prescribed him pain medication. Id. He also scheduled an MRI of Plaintiff's left knee and referred him to an orthopedist. Id.

         The following day on May 2, 2015, Plaintiff attended a follow-up appointment with Doctor Doe. (Doc. 1, p. 8). At the appointment, Plaintiff described his more recent injuries and his treatment at the hospital. Id. He also informed the doctor about his referral to an orthopedist. Id. Doctor Doe confiscated Plaintiff's knee brace and told Plaintiff that he “wouldn't be seeing anyone at all” if Doctor Doe “had anything to do with it.” Id. Plaintiff was sent back to his housing unit without a knee brace or any other medical device to assist with mobility. Id.

         Plaintiff fell 4 or 5 more times after meeting with Doctor Doe on May 2, 2015. (Doc. 1, p. 9). As a result, he suffered additional injuries to his knee and arm, including a chipped bone in his arm that ...

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