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Leach v. Menard Correctional Center

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

May 16, 2018

JAVARUS LEACH, SR., # R-03102,, Plaintiff,



         Plaintiff, an inmate of the Illinois Department of Corrections (“IDOC”) currently incarcerated at Menard Correctional Center (“Menard”), has brought this pro se civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff claims that the defendants have been deliberately indifferent to a serious medical condition. The Complaint is now before the Court for a preliminary review pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A.

         Under Section 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 some of Plaintiff's claims survive threshold review.

         The Complaint

         Plaintiff has two bumps/growths on his neck, which were diagnosed as keloids sometime in early 2017. (Doc. 1, pp. 11-12, 18). In approximately June 2017, he complained that the bumps were growing in size and had become painful and irritating. (Doc. 1, pp. 8, 18). In August 2017, Plaintiff saw Dr. Siddiqui about this problem. At Plaintiff's request, Dr. Siddiqui sought approval to send Plaintiff to an outside doctor for the keloids to be surgically removed. (Doc. 1, pp. 2, 22, 27). Dr. Siddiqui did not give Plaintiff any medication for the condition. (Doc. 1, p. 2). In an apparent reference to Dr. Siddiqui, Plaintiff says “the doctor” told him that there was no medication that would help the pain, so he put in a request for surgery. (Doc. 1, p. 7).

         On August 18, 2017, Dr. Ritz denied the request for a surgical evaluation. (Doc. 1, pp. 1, 22, 27). Plaintiff asserts, and his medical record reflects, that Dr. Ritz and Dr. Siddiqui were aware that the keloids were painful, caused “intermittent burning, stinging, and itching, ” and were “tender to palpation.” (Doc. 1, pp. 1, 22). Dr. Ritz noted that removal of the keloids/nodules “is considered cosmetic and does not meet guidelines.” (Doc. 1, p. 22). Plaintiff contends that by denying the surgery and leaving Plaintiff to suffer in pain, Dr. Ritz violated his Eighth Amendment rights. (Doc. 1, p. 8).

         According to Plaintiff, Dr. Siddiqui “is trying or did stop the process, of the mentally stress & further results I was suppose[d] to have done, that N.P. Zimmer put me in for, an ultrasound!” (Doc. 1, p. 8). Dr. Siddiqui told Plaintiff he did not know why the keloids developed, when other scars in the same area did not lead to keloids. Id.

         As to the other defendants, Plaintiff states that he saw Nurse Moll about the keloids at a sick call in 2017, and he wants to sue her. (Doc. 1, p. 2). He saw N.P. (Nurse Practitioner) Zimmer on December 8, 2017, about the two cyst-like areas. (Doc. 1, p. 3). Nurse Heather told Plaintiff that the bumps “could be a fatty tumor, ” and that it didn't “sit well with her” because it had an oval, not circular, shape. She believed the condition was “a problem.” (Doc. 1, p. 4). Plaintiff lists “Wexford” as a defendant along with Dr. Ritz. (Doc. 1, p. 1).

         Warden Lashbrook denied Plaintiff's emergency grievance and returned it to Plaintiff stating his problem was not an emergency. (Doc. 1, p. 5). The grievance stated that Plaintiff was in daily pain, and he feared the cysts could be cancerous. Id.

         As relief, Plaintiff seeks injunctive relief to require Dr. Ritz to approve surgery to remove the keloids. (Doc. 1, p. 10). He also seeks compensatory damages. Plaintiff further states that a “Nurse Tee” (whom he does not include as a defendant) told him on April 7, 2018, that she would recommend steroid shots for the keloids, and he wants to have this steroid treatment approved. (Doc. 1, p. 9).

         Merits Review Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A

         Based on the allegations of the Complaint, the Court finds it convenient to divide the pro se action into the following 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 as to their merit. Any other claim that is mentioned in the Complaint but not addressed in this Order should be considered dismissed without prejudice.

Count 1: Eighth Amendment deliberate indifference claim against Dr. Ritz, for denying Plaintiff's referral for possible surgery to remove his painful keloids;
Count 2: Eighth Amendment deliberate indifference claim against Wexford, in connection with Plaintiff's request for possible surgery to remove ...

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