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Gurley v. Doe

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

April 26, 2018

JEFFREY ROBERT GURLEY, #Y21744, Plaintiff,


          J. Phil Gilbert, District Judge United States District Court

         Plaintiff Jeffrey Gurley, an inmate who is currently incarcerated at Western Illinois Correctional Center, filed a civil rights action pro se pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, in order to address numerous violations of his constitutional rights at Cook County Jail and Menard Correctional Center (“Menard”). See Gurley v. Doe, et al., Case No. 18-cv-00407-JPG (S.D. Ill.) (“original action”). This Court screened the Complaint and determined that the claims arising at Cook County Jail were unrelated to the claims arising at Menard. (Doc. 2). In addition, they involved different groups of defendants. Id. Pursuant to George v. Smith, 507 F.3d 605, 607 (7th Cir. 2007), the Court severed the claims arising at Menard against John Doe 54 (an unknown doctor) (“Doctor Doe 54”) and Wexford Health Services (“Wexford”) into the instant case. (Doc. 1; Doc. 2-1, pp. 49-52).

         This matter is now before the Court for 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

         The factual allegations offered in support of Plaintiff's claims against Doctor Doe 54 and Wexford are found at pages 49-52 of Doc. 2-1. There, Plaintiff alleges that he arrived at Menard sometime before July 2, 2017. (Doc. 2-1, pp. 49-50). On July 2, 2017, he filed a written medical request for an extra mattress and pain medication. (Doc. 2-1, p. 50). Plaintiff explained that he was suffering from back and neck pain caused by his fall down a set of stairs at Cook County Jail earlier that year. (Doc. 2, p. 40; Doc. 2-1, p. 50). He explained that the pain prevented him from sleeping. (Doc. 2-1, p. 50). He was given pain medication, but it proved to be ineffective. Id.

         On August 1, 2017, Plaintiff requested stronger medication. (Doc. 2-1, p. 50). He described his pain as “severe” at the time. Id. The allegations do not indicate whether he was given different pain medication in response to this request. Id.

         On September 4, 2017, Plaintiff met with Doctor John Doe 54 and explained that his prescription pain medication was not helping him “cope with continuous pain and suffering” resulting from his back and neck injuries. (Doc. 2-1, p. 50). He requested a “more useful” medication or treatment aimed at addressing his pain. Id. Plaintiff also requested an extra mattress. Id. Doctor Doe 54 denied both requests. Id. Instead, the doctor ordered a 6-week course of physical therapy. (Doc. 2-1, pp. 50-51). Plaintiff attended 9 sessions over the course of 6 weeks but describes the results as “poor.” (Doc. 2-1, p. 51).

         On January 20, 2018, Plaintiff again met with Doctor Doe 54 to discuss his back and neck pain. (Doc. 2-1, p. 51). Plaintiff explained that the pain medication was still not working to control his pain, and he again requested a “more useful” pain medication or some other treatment for pain management. Id. The doctor encouraged Plaintiff to just give the medicine “some time.” Id. When Plaintiff asked the doctor to review his medical records from Cook County to gain a better understanding of his injuries, the doctor failed to do so. Id.

         Plaintiff claims that Doctor Doe 54 responded to his complaints of pain with deliberate indifference and negligence. (Doc. 2-1, p. 52). He also names Wexford Health Services (“Corporation #55”) in connection these claims. Id. Plaintiff asserts that Wexford failed to carry out its duty to “protect and serve and provide medical care.” Id. He points to the denial of ‚Äúsuitable quarter's ...

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