United States District Court, S.D. Illinois
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
HERNDON United States District Judge.
Jeffrey Eastman, an inmate in Taylorville Correctional
Center, brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983
for deprivations of his constitutional rights that allegedly
occurred at Big Muddy River Correctional Center (“Big
Muddy”) 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
and have failed to accommodate his disabilities. (Doc. 1).
This case is now before the Court for a preliminary review of
the Complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, which
(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
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.
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
Complaint In his Complaint (Doc. 1), Plaintiff makes the
following allegations: Plaintiff was born with a medical
condition that causes the bones of his feet and ankles to
collapse out of alignment when weight is put on them. (Doc.
1, p. 24). This misalignment and malformation causes
Plaintiff's bones to bear weight in an unnatural way, and
as a result, Plaintiff has difficulty walking. Id.
This condition “causes extreme pain and discomfort that
is only alleviated if [Plaintiff is] wearing braces that hold
the ankles and feet in correct alignment.” Id.
Plaintiff suffers from three types of pain: stabbing pain
when he puts weight on his feet and ankles without corrective
footwear; a dull, throbbing, burning pain that started in
February 2015 and continues; and a sharp, sudden, stabbing,
debilitating pain that began in March 2016 and occurs without
warning when Plaintiff does not have something to support
himself with, such as a cane. Id. This pain has
caused Plaintiff to fall many times. Id.
child, Plaintiff wore custom-fitted orthopedic braces until
he was approximately 12-years old. Id. While
Plaintiff was imprisoned at Big Muddy, Defendant Dr. John Doe
prescribed him foam insoles, which he received August 20,
2014. Id. After he was transferred to Centralia,
Plaintiff received medical lay-ins after suffering injuries
on March 5, 2016 and April 11, 2016. Id. Dr. Santos
issued Plaintiff the same type of foam insoles on March 5,
2016 after his first injury. Id. Dr. Santos ordered
an X-ray after the April 11, 2016 injury. Id. The
X-ray “showed the presence and progression of permanent
damage/arthritis in the same areas affected by
[Plaintiff's] medical condition.” Id.
Garcia issued Plaintiff a slow-walker pass on September 21,
2016 and prescribed Plaintiff ACE wraps. Id. On
October 26, 2016, Garcia renewed the slow-walker pass and
issued Plaintiff a “No Prolonged Standing Order.”
Id. On November 9, 2016, Garcia referred Plaintiff
back to Dr. Santos for orthopedic shoes, but Santos denied
them. Id. Garcia recommended orthopedic shoes on
March 15, 2017. Id. Santos issued Plaintiff AFO
braces on July 3, 2017, which Plaintiff received on July 17,
2017. Id. Santos also issued Plaintiff gel insoles
on August 18, 2017. (Doc. 1, p. 25). Dr. Baker issued
Plaintiff a cane and ordered X-rays on September 22, 2017.
Id. These X-rays showed “bi-lateral flat feet
deformity.” Baker ordered lace-up ankle supports on
November 28, 2017, which Plaintiff received on February 8,
the medical devices issued by the Illinois Department of
Corrections (“IDOC”) and Wexford have no
corrective ability. Id. The insoles and gel do not
provide ankle support or correct the ankles or arches.
Id. The AFO braces are not designed for
Plaintiff's medical condition and do not correct his bone
alignment. Id. The ACE wraps are also not corrective
but instead “simply wrap around the foot.”
Id. The lace-up supports provide stiff support for
Plaintiff's ankles but do not correct the alignment of
his ankles or arches and “so are ineffective against
[his] medical condition.” Id.
October 2011 until July 2014, Plaintiff's complaints
regarding his medical condition were ignored, as were his
requests to see an orthopedic specialist. Id. These
requests and complaints were directed at John Doe. (Doc. 1,
p. 33). Then from October 2014 to November 2015 when
Plaintiff complained that his foam insoles were ineffective,
he was also ignored. (Doc. 1, p. 25). These events took place
at Big Muddy. Id.
Centralia, Dr. Santos refused Plaintiff pain medication on
two separate occasions. Id. During every visit with
Santos after his March 5, 2016 fall, on at least 11
occasions, Plaintiff asked for and was denied a mobility aid
to prevent falls, orthopedic shoes, and an exam with an
orthopedic specialist. Id. Even after Dr. Garcia
recommended orthopedic shoes, and after Plaintiff complained
of falls, Santos insisted on issuing Plaintiff foam insoles
knowing that he was already wearing the same insoles when he
was injured. Id. Santos also would not schedule
Plaintiff for any type of rehabilitation services after
discovering that Plaintiff had arthritis. Id.
Krebs, the Health Care Unit administrator, refused to
intervene and allow Plaintiff to be seen by an orthopedic
specialist. Id. She also refused to investigate
Plaintiff's claims of ineffective treatment, and she lied
in her written response to Plaintiff, which was later used to
deny Plaintiff relief in a grievance. Id. Warden
Mueller failed to investigate Plaintiff's claims of
medical malpractice and deliberate indifference against
Santos, as well as Plaintiff's claims “of medical
device interference by a black box device against Majors
Johnson and McAbee.” (Doc. 1, p. 26). He also refused
to intervene and stop these alleged abuses. Id.
Warden Kink and Warden Stock refused to investigate
Plaintiff's claims of medical device interference by a
black box device, and refused to intervene and stop these
alleged abuses. Id.
Downes forced Plaintiff to stand against medical orders,
“resulting in 11 falls and near-falls, and he also
sadistically laughed about a comment he made of
‘kicking [Plaintiff's] legs out from under
[him].'” Id. He could have allowed
Plaintiff to sit down at a stone bench feet away from where
he was standing. Id.
and McAbee ignored Plaintiff's medical needs by forcing
him to wear a black box device though it prevented Plaintiff
from being able to use his cane. Id. They also
refused to swap the black box for waist chains, which would
have allowed Plaintiff to use his cane, or the cane for a
wheelchair, which would have enabled the black box device to
be used. Id. These solutions would have prevented
unnecessary pain and suffering. Id. Plaintiff had a
“near-fall as a result of Major McAbee's order to
use the black box device on Tuesday, October 10, 2017. Major
Johnson's unconstitutional order was made on Wednesday,
October 4, 2017.” Id.
Walker, Zelasko, and Wegman, along with Lahr, refused to
allow Plaintiff's grievances to be reviewed by an ADA
Coordinator. Id. Lahr also refused to investigate
Plaintiff's claims in the two grievances that she
reviewed. Id. “Because of the rules and
regulations as stated, Counselors Walker, Deborah Zelasko,
and Robert Wegman, along with Ann Lahr, were not permitted to
review and answer [Plaintiff's] grievances.”
“knowingly employs officials who have a track record
for not providing the correct type of care, or outright
refusing to provide care at all, for serious medical
needs.” Id. IDOC allowed employees and
contractors to ignore Plaintiff's medical needs.
Id. As a result of his condition and the pain he
experiences walking, Plaintiff has missed meals, religious
services, recreational periods, job assignment opportunities,
mental health services, and other general activities. (Doc.
1, p. 28).
requests a preliminary and permanent injunction requiring
that he be seen by an orthopedic specialist, that he receive
corrective orthopedic shoes, and that he be allowed to work
“any job assignment that [he] otherwise qualif[ies]
for.” (Doc. 1, p. 30). Plaintiff also seeks declaratory
and monetary relief. (Doc. 1, pp. 30-31).
on the allegations of the Complaint, the Court finds it
convenient to divide the pro se action into 5 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 regarding their merit.
Count 1 - While Plaintiff was at Big Muddy, John Doe showed
deliberate indifference to Plaintiff's serious medical
need involving a deformity and arthritis in his feet and pain