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McClinton v. Dean

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

May 15, 2018

MAURICE MCCLINTON, #R62401, Plaintiff,



         Plaintiff Maurice McClinton, an inmate of the Illinois Department of Corrections (“IDOC”) currently incarcerated in Menard Correctional Center (“Menard”), brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for deprivations of his constitutional rights that allegedly occurred at Shawnee Correctional Center (“Shawnee”). In his Complaint, Plaintiff claims the defendants have been deliberately indifferent to his serious medical issues in violation of the Eighth Amendment. (Doc. 1). He also claims that the defendants denied him grievance responses in violation of the First 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: at all times relevant to this action, Plaintiff was housed in segregation unit 1, cell 19, and had a cellmate named Marius Harris. (Doc. 1, p. 12). On May 29, 2017, at about 7:00 a.m., Plaintiff was waiting at his door to be put on the list for outside recreation. Id. Plaintiff believes he saw C/O Dean write or check his name down in front of his door. Id. At about 7:30 a.m., Plaintiff was experiencing shortness of breath and wheezing, so he took two puffs on his inhaler. Id. By 8:00-8:30 a.m., Plaintiff was experiencing an asthma attack. Id. He stood by his door to notify someone. Id. Around 9:00 a.m., Defendant Waters came to the back of the segregation unit where Plaintiff's cell was located. Id. Plaintiff got his attention and told him that he was having an asthma attack. Id. Waters responded that he would get the sergeant, though he did not activate the emergency response or call a Code 3, which left Plaintiff “hampering for breaths waiting.” Id.

         At about 11:00 a.m., Defendants Dean, Waters, and Sergeant Grear, along with inmate Valentine, came to pass out lunch trays. Id. Plaintiff got Waters's and Grear's attention and told them that he was having an asthma attack. Id. Grear responded, “It sounds like it, ” in a voice mocking Plaintiff's shortness of breath. Id. He then laughed along with Dean and Waters like it was a joke. Id. Inmate Valentine went around collecting lunch trays about an hour later, along with Dean. Id. Plaintiff asked Valentine why they were treating him this way, and Valentine told him that “Grear never works back here, but he never does anything for anybody.” Id. Valentine then told Plaintiff that he would try to get him help next shift. Id.

         Plaintiff planned to go outside for recreation time and get the attention of medical technicians there, but he never got the chance. Id. Instead, at approximately 12:45 p.m., while Defendants Waters and Dean were letting inmates out for recreation, Dean stopped at Plaintiff's cell, looked in at him, and proceeded to the next cell. (Doc. 1, p. 13). Dean ignored Plaintiff's attempts to tell him he signed up for yard. Id. No one came back down his hallway for the rest of the shift. Id. Plaintiff believes he was left in his cell because the defendants were watching a baseball game or “just wanted [him] to suffer or worst just die.” Id.

         At approximately 3:00 p.m. that day, Plaintiff waited at his cell door to notify the guards that he was having an asthma attack and had been since that morning. Id. As Defendants Levanti and Botarf were bringing inmates inside from yard, Plaintiff tried to speak to Levanti but was told to wait. Id. Once Levanti got to Plaintiff's door, Plaintiff asked him to notify the nurse that he was having an asthma attack. Id. Levanti told him that the nurse would be doing rounds shortly. Id. In fact, the nurse's rounds were not until an hour and a half later. Id. At this point, Plaintiff was wheezing badly, to the point where he had to breathe in a controlled rhythm to try to eliminate some of his pain. Id. Plaintiff could not lie down because it made breathing difficult. Id. At about 4:00-4:30 p.m., Defendant Nurse Casey arrived for rounds. Id. When she was near Plaintiff's cell, Plaintiff got Levanti's attention to remind him of his distress. Id. Levanti held up a finger to Plaintiff acknowledging he remembered his request. Id. Levanti then whispered in Casey's ear, and Casey proceeded to Plaintiff's cell. Id.

         Plaintiff told Casey he was having an asthma attack and in need of treatment. Id. She told him that she could only treat him with doctor's orders but that if he was still feeling the same way when she returned, she would follow protocol. Id. She then left Plaintiff to suffer, struggling for breath. Id. His chest and upper back were in pain with every breath. Id. Casey returned an hour or two later. Id. When she walked past Plaintiff's cell, Plaintiff got Levanti's attention. Id. He said something in a low voice to Casey and pointed at Plaintiff. Id. Casey then looked up at Plaintiff, said no to Levanti, and walked off to continue rounds. (Doc. 1, p. 15). By this time, Plaintiff was very weak and tired. Id. He wanted to sit or lie down, but his labored breathing became more difficult and painful when he tried to do so. Id. Plaintiff had been denied medical treatment by Nurse Casey on two previous occasions as well. Id.

         Plaintiff became desperate for medical attention and believed he was flagged to be denied medical treatment by the first shift officers. Id. Around 7:00-7:30 p.m., Plaintiff got Defendant Botarf's attention. Id. Plaintiff told him that he needed to go to health care because he was having an asthma attack. Id. Botarf told him that he would call and left. Id. At 8:00 p.m., he returned. Id. Plaintiff asked Botarf where health care was at, ...

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