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Haywood v. Director Idoc

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

March 1, 2018

JOHN D. HAYWOOD, # B-44617, Plaintiff,


          MICHAEL J. REAGAN, United States District Court Chief Judge

         Plaintiff, currently incarcerated at Lawrence Correctional Center (“Lawrence”), has brought this pro se civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. He sues 21 individual Defendants and 2 groups of unknown Medical Defendants. Some of his claims date back to 1995, though most arose from 2007 through 2017. These claims involve events at 4 different prisons (Robinson Correctional Center, Menard Correctional Center, Lawrence, and Big Muddy Correctional Center). This case is now before the Court for a preliminary review of the Complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. Additionally, the Court must assess whether all of Plaintiff's claims may proceed in the same action.

         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. Further, it is clear that several of the claims are not properly joined in the same action. Those claims shall be severed into new cases, where they shall undergo the required § 1915A review.

         The Complaint

         Plaintiff begins his statement of claim by relating that while he was incarcerated at Robinson in 1995, a large tumor developed on his left foot. (Doc. 1, p. 5). Unidentified health care providers dismissed the condition and denied treatment for the tumor. Also at Robinson in 1995, Plaintiff “blew his back out” while powerlifting, which left him paralyzed from the waist down. Id. “Healthcare” said he was faking and had him put in segregation, where he had to crawl across the floor to get his meals. Id.

         After 2 weeks in segregation, Plaintiff was transferred to Big Muddy, where he was also refused medical treatment for his foot and back. Id. One year later, Plaintiff's left foot had to be partially amputated due to bone cancer. He eventually had therapy for his back injury and was able to walk with quad canes. Plaintiff was released from prison in 1998, but was reincarcerated in 2000 and again in 2006.

         Plaintiff's narrative resumes with his arrival at Menard in November 2007. (Doc. 1, p. 6). He had suffered a re-injury to his back in 2006 which left him paralyzed again. In addition to the partially amputated left foot, Plaintiff had suffered a fractured “heel bell” on his left foot in 2005 and a fractured tibia in 2001. Id. When Plaintiff came to Menard, he had a “weight displacement brace” and a “chair back brace” for his wheelchair. Id. Dr. Finnerman took both braces away, and told Plaintiff that due to his maximum security classification and the fact that Menard was not an accessible facility, he (with his wheelchair) would be housed in a non-handicapped-accessible area of the Health Care Unit.

         Plaintiff wrote to Warden Conder[1] seeking an emergency medical transfer to Big Muddy. Conder/Conners replied that Plaintiff must remain at Menard for 6 months before he could request a transfer. The next day, Dr. Finnerman told Plaintiff to pack his things, because “nobody goes over his head.” (Doc. 1, p. 6). Finnerman took away Plaintiff's wheelchair, and sent him away from the Health Care Unit to the North One housing area. Plaintiff was forced to crawl along the floor under threat to be placed in segregation if he did not make it to North One on time, based on Finnerman's orders. A Lieutenant went to Health Care to get a wheelchair for Plaintiff, but was told that Finnerman would not allow it. The Lieutenant then obtained a cart to transport Plaintiff to North One, but when he arrived there, he was forced to crawl up the stairs to the third floor cell. Workers then put Plaintiff on a “gallery cart” to bring him to his cell. (Doc. 1, p. 7).

         In December 2007, Plaintiff was moved to a first floor cell at Menard, and was placed on “Permanent Lay-in, ” which lasted until March 2016. Based on the lay-in status, Plaintiff did not go to yard, chow hall, gym, chapel, commissary, or the law library. He was never provided with a wheelchair for daily use, and the only time he was given a wheelchair was to go to health care visits. (Doc. 1, p. 7). He describes one incident after a blizzard in February 2008, when he was taken to Health Care in an ATV-ambulance. Dr. Finnerman yelled at Plaintiff, telling him he never had cancer. Finnerman ordered the officers not to use the ambulance to move Plaintiff. After the Sergeant responded that he would use the ambulance any time he wanted, Finnerman got rid of the ambulance 2 weeks later. (Doc. 1, p. 7).

         In 2011, still at Menard, Plaintiff was moved to North One, where he contracted a bad staph infection in his toe after it was immersed in stagnant water in the shower. (Doc. 1, p. 8). He was treated with antibiotics, and then painful surgery and follow-up treatment on the toe, performed by Dr. Nawawaby (who is not named as a Defendant).

         In 2012, Plaintiff was moved to “South Lowers” in a “test” of housing handicapped inmates there, near a shower and yard. (Doc. 1, p. 8). C/O Maue did not allow Plaintiff to use the shower (where he needed a shower chair) alone, because (Plaintiff believes) he did not want handicapped inmates in that unit. (Doc. 1, p. 9). Instead, Maue required Plaintiff to shower along with the other inmates. Plaintiff disliked being in the shower with 31 other naked men, so he stopped going to the shower. When another officer asked him why, Plaintiff told him. After that, Plaintiff was allowed to shower alone; he claims this “upset” Maue. Id.

         Also in 2012, C/O Predi observed Plaintiff reading his Bible and praying on his knees at his cell bars, and told Plaintiff, “I wouldn't do that if I was you.” (Doc. 1, p. 9). Plaintiff did not stop his religious practice, and 2 days later, when Predi again saw him praying, Predi ordered him to “cuff up” for disobeying a direct order. Predi took Plaintiff to segregation (in a wheelchair after another officer intervened), where he spent 2 days. (Doc. 1, p. 10). The disciplinary ticket was thrown out, but Plaintiff had to spend 52 days in the “segregation kickout” area before a space opened for him to move back to the South Lowers. He was also notified that he was given 3 months of “C-grade” on the disciplinary ticket, which was apparently a computer mistake. Id.

         Plaintiff next complains about a May 2014 incident with C/O Maue. (Doc. 1, p. 10). Plaintiff had been moved to a cell with another inmate (Doyle) who, like Plaintiff, had a bottom bunk permit. Rather than report the problem, Doyle tried to force Plaintiff out of the cell by starting an argument and accusing Plaintiff of acting aggressive. (Doc. 1, p.11). Plaintiff states that he was not aggressive, but merely packed his property so that he could request another cell, which he explained to C/O Mrs. K (not a Defendant). Later that day, Maue and several other officers came to the cell with Doyle (who had been at work), and Maue sent Doyle into the cell to fight Plaintiff. Plaintiff swung first, Doyle ran out of the cell, and the force of Plaintiff's swing caused him to fall. Maue caught Plaintiff in a head lock, and then a choke hold that Plaintiff felt was an attempt to break his neck. (Doc. 1, p. 11). A Lieutenant arrived and ordered Maue to let Plaintiff go before he killed him. (Doc. 1, p. 12). Maue released Plaintiff but then shoved his face into the floor and put his knee on the back of Plaintiff's neck. The Lieutenant ordered Maue to get off Plaintiff; he then took Plaintiff to Health Care in a wheelchair. Plaintiff believes he suffered a broken elbow, and he could not speak for 4 days because of the injury to his neck. X-rays were not taken until 3 weeks later, and Plaintiff got no medical treatment. Plaintiff was told nothing was wrong with his elbow or neck, but he insists he can still move a piece of his elbow, and claims the x-ray report he received showed a fracture. (Doc. 1, p. 13).

         Plaintiff was charged with a disciplinary infraction for the “fight” with Doyle. (Doc. 1, p. 12). On the day his ticket was to be heard, C/O Chandler (Estato)[2] told Plaintiff to get ready as he would be back to get him. Plaintiff requested a wheelchair. (Doc. 1, p. 12). Chandler never returned, however, and when Plaintiff questioned him later that day, Chandler responded that Plaintiff had “refused” to attend the hearing when he asked for a wheelchair. (Doc. 1, p. 13). Plaintiff was found guilty of a staff assault for the incident with Maue. He was moved from the Health Care Unit (where he had spent the previous 3 weeks) to segregation, thinking he had been given a 30-day segregation punishment. However, he spoke to Warden Butler when she visited the wing, and she informed him that his punishment was for 90 days in segregation. Plaintiff disputes that the incident amounted to a staff assault, because Maue entered his cell as he was falling, so that Plaintiff fell onto him. (Doc. 1, p. 14).

         Between the above 2014 incident and 2016, Plaintiff was told that he could not be housed on South Lowers because Maue and Doyle felt unsafe with him. Plaintiff was then shuffled between several non-handicap-accessible housing areas until he was transferred to Lawrence in 2016. (Doc. 1, p. 14). Before that transfer, Plaintiff contracted pneumonia after a flood. He was not treated for 2 weeks, until an officer finally took him to Health Care, where he was given antibiotics. (Doc. 1, p. 15).

         On March 9, 2016, Plaintiff was told he was being transferred. (Doc. 1, p. 15). His request for a wheelchair was initially refused, but eventually an officer took him in a wheelchair to the chapel, where the outgoing inmates were strip searched. (Doc. 1, p. 16). However, the wheelchair was then taken away, forcing Plaintiff to crawl on the floor until he fell and some fellow inmates carried him outside where the bus was waiting. An officer threatened those inmates with segregation, so they put Plaintiff down, and he crawled across the pavement to the bus, where the driver helped him to board it. Plaintiff had to change buses at Lincoln Correctional Center, where he was given a wheelchair at first. However, Lt. Beyler/Baylor[3]would not allow anybody to help Plaintiff board the Lawrence bus, and laughed while Plaintiff crawled through the mud and rain to get on. (Doc. 1, p. 17).

         Upon his arrival at Lawrence, Plaintiff was given a wheelchair to get to his cell. He was having trouble breathing because of the pneumonia. After some delay, Plaintiff was taken to Health Care where a nurse gave him a breathing treatment and said he would need to see the doctor. Plaintiff was moved to another cell and the wheelchair was taken away. (Doc. 1, p. 18). For at least a week, while the doctor (Dr. Coe, who is not a Defendant) was on vacation, Plaintiff was forced to crawl from the bed to the door to get his medications, water, and food.

         After Dr. Coe returned, he issued Plaintiff permits for a low bunk, low gallery, two mattresses, ice, daily cleaning of his cell, and a wheelchair. (Doc. 1, p. 19).

         In July 2016, C/O Tubbs began working on Plaintiff's wing. Tubbs refused to give Plaintiff ice, despite the fact Plaintiff had the medical permit and all other inmates received ice. Tubbs stopped Plaintiff and his attendant from using cleaning supplies to clean Plaintiff's cell, because the permit did not say “cleaning supplies.” (Doc. 1, p. 19). Plaintiff had Dr. Coe change the permit, but then Tubbs said it did not include bleach or pink soap. Finally Tubbs asked to see all Plaintiff's permits. When Plaintiff handed them over, Tubbs wrote on them that they were canceled. Plaintiff wrote a series of 25 grievances against Tubbs. Later on, Tubbs stopped Plaintiff and his attendant from cleaning the shower chair, saying he would do it. Tubbs began “shaking down” Plaintiff's attendant, and some of his items disappeared, so the attendant quit. Plaintiff reported the problems with Tubbs to his counselor, a Lieutenant, a Major, and Wardens. Warden Goings told Plaintiff to stop writing grievances because he was aware of the problems with Tubbs. (Doc. 1, pp. 19-20). However, Goings did not respond for 4 months.

         Goings eventually told Plaintiff that he had a “permit problem” - meaning he had too many of them. (Doc. 1, p. 20). Goings called Mrs. Cunningham (Health Care Administrator) and told her to take Plaintiff's medical permits, and set him an appointment with the doctor.

         Two days later, Plaintiff saw Dr. Shev[4] (or Dr. Shef), who said that because of the medical permits, Plaintiff would be made a permanent part of Health Care and would “live in the back.” (Doc. 1, p. 20). Plaintiff protested, pointing out that his permits had been issued by the IDOC Medical Director, Dr. Shev's/Shef's boss. Dr. Shev/Shef had Plaintiff removed and taken back to his cell. Plaintiff wrote a grievance against Warden Goings.

         Tubbs continued to harass Plaintiff, refusing to honor any of his permits. Tubbs would shake down Plaintiff's cell and discard his purchased commissary items for allegedly being in the wrong place or in the wrong package. Plaintiff complained to the counselor, saying he was tired, he had just lost his mother, and just found out he was terminally ill, [5] and since he was dying, “who can I take with me?” (Doc. 1, p. 21). Plaintiff was moved to 4 House, away from Tubbs, where he still remained as of the date he filed this action.

         In February 2017, Plaintiff complained and filed a grievance over a set of headphones which he sent to be repaired, and for which he was charged a repair fee and postage, but which were never returned. (Doc. 1, p. 21). He was at one point offered a replacement set, but was later told there would be no replacement, and he was merely reimbursed for his postage cost. (Doc. 1, p. 22).

         On November 24, 2017, Plaintiff saw Dr. Shev/Shef (who was not his regular doctor). Dr. Shev/Shef took away Plaintiff's high blood pressure medication that Dr. Armid had just prescribed, and increased Plaintiff's heart medication. (Doc. 1, p. 23). Plaintiff complained, and mistakenly said he was out of Lasix, when he was actually out of potassium. Dr. Shev/Shef told Nurse Collins to look into the matter, so she had Plaintiff's cell shaken down. Various medications were found there and Nurse Collins kept all but Plaintiff's antibiotics. (Doc. 1, p. 23). The fact that Plaintiff was out of potassium was never discovered.

         On the evening of November 24, 2017, the med line nurse gave Plaintiff the higher dose of heart medication, but no blood pressure medication or potassium. (Doc. 1, p. 24). Plaintiff questioned the heart medication dosage, but was told to take it as Dr. Shev/Shef had prescribed. During the night, Plaintiff had to urinate every 30 minutes, and by 8:00 a.m. he was dehydrated and “fell out.” Id. Plaintiff was able to hear, but not speak, and heard his cellmate tell officers that Plaintiff had gone to med line at 5:00 a.m. but he didn't know if he took anything.

         Plaintiff was taken to Health Care, where Nurse Tammy decided that he must have overdosed, based on the cellmate's alleged statement that Plaintiff had hidden pills and taken a handful that morning. Plaintiff's cell was shaken down again and several medications were found there, which he claims he was authorized to have. Plaintiff kept asking for water, but Nurse Tammy refused to let him have a drink until he told her what pills he had taken. After 2 hours, Plaintiff was moved to an observation room, and he then drank a large amount of water. (Doc. 1, pp. 24-25). He got up to urinate but fell and apparently hit his head, then had to vomit when he came to. An ambulance was called, and Plaintiff was taken to an outside facility, where several hours later, blood tests showed no drugs in his system, but a dangerously low potassium level. Plaintiff was treated and returned to Lawrence about 8 hours later. (Doc. 1, pp. 25-26).

         Plaintiff was found guilty of a conduct violation for having the pills in his cell, and punished with 3 months of C-grade, 3 months of B-grade, and 6 months of no contact with his family, even though he is terminally ill. Plaintiff claims his blood pressure is still abnormally high, yet his blood pressure medications have never been restored. (Doc. 1, p. 26).

         Plaintiff seeks compensatory and punitive damages. (Doc. 1, p. 27).

         Merits Review Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A

         Based on the allegations of the Complaint, the Court finds it convenient to divide the pro se action into the following counts. The parties and the Court will use these designations in all future pleadings and orders, unless otherwise directed by a judicial officer of this Court. The designation of these counts does not constitute an opinion as to their merit. Any other claim that is mentioned in the Complaint but not addressed in this Order should be considered dismissed without prejudice.[6]

Count 1: Eighth Amendment deliberate indifference claims against Robinson Medical Staff, for delaying and denying treatment for Plaintiff's foot tumor and back injury in 1995;
Count 2: Eighth Amendment deliberate indifference claims against Big Muddy Medical Staff, for delaying and denying treatment for Plaintiff's foot tumor and back ...

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