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Nichols v. St. Clair County Jail

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

April 4, 2018

LEE EVERETT NICHOLS, #429794, Plaintiff,



         Plaintiff Lee Everett Nichols, an apparent pretrial detainee at St. Clair County Jail (“Jail”), brings this action for deprivations of his constitutional rights pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff claims that Jail officials have exhibited deliberate indifference to his medical needs. In connection with his claims, Plaintiff seeks monetary damages and injunctive relief.[1]

         The Complaint is now before the Court for a preliminary review 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

         Plaintiff brings three generalized complaints about his medical care at the Jail: (1) A “number of times” Plaintiff has been denied medical treatment; (2) after submitting a sick call, it can take up to 43 days to be seen; and (3) after submitting a request for mental health treatment, it can take over 70 days to be seen. (Doc. 1, p. 5). With the exception of an incident relating to an injury to his hand (described below), Plaintiff does not provide any additional information pertaining to these claims.[2] Additionally, Plaintiff does not associate these claims with any particular individual.

         Plaintiff provides a few specific allegations regarding allegedly inadequate treatment for an injury to his hand. Id. According to the Complaint, Plaintiff “smashed” his hand in a power door on February 7, 2018. Id. The nurses and officers told Plaintiff his hand was broken.

         However, Dr. Larson refused to show Plaintiff his x-rays. Dr. Larson simply told Plaintiff to avoid using his “damaged hand” and he would be fine. Id. According to the Complaint, as of the date of filing, Plaintiff's hand is still injured (“hand is not 100% usable”), and Plaintiff has three scars on his hand. Id.

         Dismissal of Certain Defendants

         Defendants not Associated with Specific Allegations

         Before outlining Plaintiff's claims, the Court finds it appropriate to address Plaintiff's failure to include specific allegations against Watson (the Sheriff), McLaurin (Jail Director), and Nurse Debbra (Medical Records/Lead Nurse) in the body of his Complaint, despite his having listed them among the defendants. Plaintiffs are required to associate specific defendants with specific claims, so that defendants are put on notice of the claims brought against them and so they can properly answer the complaint. See Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007); Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2).

         Where a plaintiff has not included a defendant in his statement of claim, the defendant cannot be said to be adequately put on notice of which claims in the complaint, if any, are directed against him. Furthermore, merely invoking the name of a potential defendant is not sufficient to state a claim against that individual. See Collins v. Kibort, 143 F.3d 331, 334 (7th Cir. 1998). And in the case of those defendants in supervisory positions, the doctrine of respondeat superior is not applicable to § 1983 actions. Sanville v. McCaughtry, 266 F.3d 724, 740 (7th Cir. 2001) (citations omitted). Because Plaintiff has failed to include any specific allegations in the statement of claim pertaining to these individuals, they will be dismissed from this action without prejudice. The Court notes, however, that Plaintiff is seeking injunctive relief. Accordingly, Watson, the Sheriff, shall remain a defendant, in his official capacity only, for the purpose of carrying ...

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