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Hamilton v. Woods

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

March 20, 2018

KENNETH HAMILTON, #R-12594, Plaintiff,
v.
BLAKE WOODS, ALFONSO DAVID, TAMMY PITTAYATHIKHAN, K. SEIP, JEFFREY DENNISON, DEBBIE KNAUER, NURSE TERRY, KAREN SMOOT, and VENERIO SANTOS, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          HERNDON, District Judge

         Plaintiff Kenneth Hamilton, an inmate in East Moline Correctional Center, brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for deprivations of his constitutional rights that allegedly occurred at Shawnee Correctional Center (“Shawnee”) and Centralia Correctional Center (“Centralia”). In his Complaint, Plaintiff claims the defendants have been deliberately indifferent to his serious medical issues in violation of the Eighth Amendment. (Doc. 1). 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).

         As a part of screening, the Court is also allowed to sever unrelated claims against different defendants into separate lawsuits. See George v. Smith, 507 F.3d 605, 607 (7th Cir. 2007). In George, the Seventh Circuit emphasized that the practice of severance is important, “not only to prevent the sort of morass” produced by multi-claim, multi-defendant suits “but also to ensure that prisoners pay the required filing fees” under the Prison Litigation Reform Act. Id. This practice is encouraged. The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals has recently warned district courts not to allow inmates “to flout the rules for joining claims and defendants, see Fed.R.Civ.P. 18, 20, or to circumvent the Prison Litigation Reform Act's fee requirements by combining multiple lawsuits into a single complaint.” Owens v. Godinez, 860 F.3d 434, 436 (7th Cir. 2017). See also Wheeler v. Talbot, 695 F. App'x 151 (7th Cir. 2017) (district court should have severed unrelated and improperly joined claims or dismissed one of them). Consistent with George, Owens, and Wheeler, unrelated claims will be severed into new cases, given new case numbers, and assessed separate filing fees.

         The Complaint

         In his Complaint (Doc. 1), Plaintiff makes the following allegations: Plaintiff met with Defendant Woods seeking treatment for his foot problems, because his feet began to crack and swell. (Doc. 1, p. 3). On March 21, 2016, Woods prescribed Plaintiff with Miconazole, an anti-fungal cream. Id. Shortly thereafter, Plaintiff met with Defendant Terry to report unusual complications from the Miconazole. (Doc. 1, p. 3). Terry scheduled Plaintiff to meet with David. Id. When he did, he told David that his feet became more swollen and painful and his toenails thickened, turned black, and began to peel and fall off after he began using the Miconazole. Id. David told Plaintiff that the Miconazole did not cause the reported symptoms and encouraged him to continue using it. Id. Plaintiff continued using the Miconazole. Id. He continued reporting to David that it was not helping with the pain, bleeding, discoloration, and peeling of his nails. Id. David told him to continue using it. Id.

         Months later, Plaintiff met with Defendant Pittayathikhan, who told him to cease using the Miconazole. Id. Instead, Plaintiff was prescribed Lamisil and Clotrimazole. Id. The Lamisil was originally prescribed for 12 weeks, but Pittayathikhan “failed to monitor Plaintiff's prescription causing him to self-administer the Lamisil for months.” Id. Plaintiff later met with David and Pittayathikhan who told him they forgot to discontinue his Lamisil after 12 weeks. (Doc. 1, p. 4). They also discovered that Plaintiff had developed an infection that went untreated for months. Id. “As a result of the overuse of Lamisil and the untreated infection, Plaintiff developed limited motion in his legs due to the infection in his foot.” Id. This resulted in Plaintiff being removed from his job assignment because he could barely move, “excess weight gain resulting in the diagnosis as a diabetic, ” and a persistent abnormal heartbeat and enlarged heart. Id.

         On October 25, 2017, Plaintiff was transferred to Centralia. Id. He met with Defendant Santos and was diagnosed with foot ulcers. Id. Santos discontinued Plaintiff's antibiotics and “did not provide him with any substitution to relieve him of the pain, swelling, and infection.” Id. Plaintiff told Santos he had a medical order from the Shawnee doctor for special medical shoes, but Santos told him to buy shoes from commissary. Id. “Plaintiff was left to walk around in painful shoes purchased from the inmate commissary.” (Doc. 1, p. 5). Plaintiff told Defendants Seip, Dennison, and Knauer about his treatment and how he was “overdosed on Lamisil” which resulted in him developing a heart condition and contracting a diabetic condition. (Doc. 1, pp. 5-6). “Seip, Dennison, Smoot, and Knauer were made aware of Plaintiff's predicament by way of his grievance and other correspondences.” (Doc. 1, p. 6). Seip, Dennison, and Knauer ruled that the defendants had acted with routine and careful medical care, and they, along with Smoot, neglected to investigate or attempt to intervene in Plaintiff's treatment. (Doc. 1, pp. 5-6). “Plaintiff continues to experience extreme levels of pain, discomfort in his feet, and heart problems.” (Doc. 1, p. 5).

         Discussion

         Based on the allegations of the Complaint, the Court finds it convenient to divide the pro se action into 2 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 ...


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