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Elkins v. Schmidt

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

March 21, 2018

TIMOTHY W. ELKINS, JR., #Y24242, Plaintiff,
v.
THOMAS SCHMIDT, SGT. SELLERS, CIT OFFICER, B.K., A., and V.B., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          MICHAEL J. REAGAN CHIEF JUDGE

         Plaintiff Timothy Elkins, Jr., an inmate in Jacksonville Correctional Center, brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for deprivations of his constitutional rights that allegedly occurred at the Madison County Jail (“Jail”). In his Complaint, Plaintiff claims the defendants were deliberately indifferent to his serious medical and mental health 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).

         Upon careful review of the Complaint and any supporting exhibits, the Court finds it appropriate to allow this case to proceed past the threshold stage.

         The Complaint

         In his Complaint (Doc. 1), Plaintiff makes the following allegations: on January 31, 2017, Plaintiff was booked in the Jail. (Doc. 1, p. 6). Plaintiff has been taking Xanax for severe anxiety disorder since approximately 2003. Id. The Jail was aware of Plaintiff's anxiety, depression, and drinking problem, but Plaintiff did not see mental health about any of these issues. Id. Plaintiff did not get treatment for his depression until May 27, 2017. (Doc. 1, p. 7). He was never treated for alcohol withdrawal, which caused him problems eating and using the restroom. Id. Plaintiff “quickly lost a lot of weight.” Id. He already had bowel issues, including a bowel rupture and surgery in 2006. Id. He “lost about 50 pounds in a short time.” Id. Plaintiff sent multiple requests about his anxiety depression, sleeplessness, and trouble eating and using the restroom. Id.

         Plaintiff also needed dental work, which was not completed until June 27, 2017, at which point seven of his teeth had to be pulled. Id. When his teeth were pulled, “on the few days after when [he] ran out of cotton, [he] had to use [his] clothes to soak the blood in [his] mouth because no officer would give [him] cotton for it.” (Doc. 1, p. 8). Plaintiff sent multiple requests for dental care from March 21, 2017 to June 21, 2017 prior to receiving care. (Doc. 1, p. 7).

         This neglect caused Plaintiff to have a breakdown on August 10 at 9:45pm, at which point he gave a note to Deputy Harold Wilson that stated: “I am having thoughts of killing myself.” Id. Plaintiff was placed on suicide watch that night. (Doc. 1, p. 6). While Plaintiff was on Block A South, he “was forced to drink hot water for about 2 months. [His] food was also taken by other inmates.” (Doc. 1, p. 7).

         On July 23, 2017, when Plaintiff stood up in front of Cell #8 on Block D North, he fell and hit his head on the chuck hole. Id. Plaintiff gashed a 2.5 inch tear in his forehead and has a permanent scar there because of medical neglect. Id. He also suffers from constant neck pain that goes up and down in his back and head. Id. His “memory is bad also, mostly short term.” Id. Deputy Thomas Schmidt and Sgt. Sellers took photographs of the injury and determined it did not need medical treatment, though they are not qualified to make that decision. (Doc. 1, pp. 7-8). Plaintiff needed stitches on his head. (Doc. 1, p. 8). Plaintiff's head and neck were never treated by a doctor. Id. “They just put a butterfly stitch and a bandaid on it.” Id. Plaintiff filed a grievance on these issues on August 21, 2017, but he never received a response. Id.

         While at the Jail, Plaintiff “observed little black maggots in the sink and raw sewage leaks in the walkway that ...


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