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Marin-DeJesus v. Szoke

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

April 26, 2018

EDWARD MARIN-DeJESUS, # 33653-069, Plaintiff,



         Plaintiff is a federal prisoner, currently incarcerated at Butner Federal Medical Center in North Carolina (“Butner”). He brings this pro se action for alleged violations of his constitutional rights by persons acting under the color of federal authority. See Bivens v. Six Unknown Named Agents, 403 U.S. 388 (1971). His claims arose while he was detained at the USP-Marion (“Marion”). Plaintiff claims that Defendants, all medical providers at Marion, were deliberately indifferent to a serious medical condition. This case is now before the Court for a preliminary review of the Complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A.

         Under § 1915A, the Court is required to screen prisoner complaints to filter out non-meritorious claims. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). The Court must dismiss any portion of the complaint that is legally frivolous, malicious, fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or asks for money damages from a defendant who by law is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b).

         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 “no reasonable person could suppose to have any merit.” 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. Conversely, a complaint is plausible on its face “when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). Although the Court is obligated to accept factual allegations as true, see Smith v. Peters, 631 F.3d 418, 419 (7th Cir. 2011), some factual allegations may be so sketchy or implausible that they fail to provide sufficient notice of a plaintiff's claim. Brooks v. Ross, 578 F.3d 574, 581 (7th Cir. 2009). Additionally, Courts “should not accept as adequate abstract recitations of the elements of a cause of action or conclusory legal statements.” Id. At the same time, however, the factual allegations of a pro se complaint are to be liberally construed. See Arnett v. Webster, 658 F.3d 742, 751 (7th Cir. 2011); Rodriguez v. Plymouth Ambulance Serv., 577 F.3d 816, 821 (7th Cir. 2009).

         Applying these standards, the Court finds that Plaintiff's deliberate indifference claim survives threshold review under § 1915A.

         The Complaint

         Plaintiff suffers from “stage 4” kidney failure, and is now dependent on dialysis for his survival. (Doc. 1, pp. 1, 4). He has been a federal prisoner since 2009, and was initially housed at MDC-Puerto Rico. Id. In June of 2010 he was transferred to Marion, and he remained there until May 2014, when he was moved to another institution. (Doc. 1, pp. 3, 5).

         During the time Plaintiff spent at Marion, he underwent blood testing and urinalysis in June 2010, June 2012, and August 2013. Plaintiff asserts that his test results showed high levels of creatinine and cholesterol, and indicated that he was developing kidney problems, yet he was led to believe that all his lab results were normal. Specifically, Physician Assistant Castillo ordered tests in June 2012, which showed creatinine of 1.9 and cholesterol of 237. (Doc. 1, p. 3). Plaintiff alleges that from these results, Castillo “knew” that Plaintiff was at risk of harm from his kidney condition, yet failed to order monthly tests to monitor his condition, and failed to refer him to a specialist.

         Dr. Szoke (clinical director) reviewed Plaintiff's June 2012 test results, which showed high levels of blood and protein in Plaintiff's urine, indicating kidney failure. However, Szoke did not order a nephrologist consultation or any further testing or treatment. (Doc. 1, pp. 3-4).

         In August 2013, blood tests ordered by Physician Assistant Duncan showed a higher creatinine level of 2.1, which indicated kidney failure, according to Plaintiff. Duncan did nothing to address the risk to Plaintiff's health, failing to refer Plaintiff to Dr. Szoke or to a specialist, and did not schedule additional testing. (Doc. 1, p. 4).

         Plaintiff asserts that Szoke was aware from his medical records that Plaintiff was experiencing kidney failure in 2012 and 2013, yet disregarded the risk to his health and never informed Plaintiff of the problem. Szoke's failure to treat Plaintiff's condition or refer him to a specialist during the 3 years Plaintiff was at Marion, led to Plaintiff developing irreversible stage 4 kidney failure. (Doc. 1, pp. 4-5). In May 2014, Szoke “allowed Plaintiff to be transferred . . . while he knew Plaintiff's kidneys were rapidly deteriorating[.]” (Doc. 1, p. 5).

         After Plaintiff's transfer to FCI-Jesup, his medical providers there diagnosed him with kidney disease and sent him to a nephrologist who concluded that his disease was chronic and serious, eventually worsening to stage 5. (Doc. 1, pp. 5, 18-19). The Jesup providers informed Plaintiff that the Defendants at Marion knew from his 2012 and 2013 lab reports that he was experiencing kidney failure. (Doc. 1, p. 5).

         Plaintiff also includes records from his current institution from 2016, indicating that he continued to suffer from kidney disease. (Doc. 1, pp. 20-23).

         As relief, Plaintiff seeks monetary damages, and an injunction to allow him to undergo a kidney transplant, transfer him to FMC-Devins to receive the ...

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