United States District Court, S.D. Illinois
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
Phil Gilbert United States District Judge.
currently incarcerated at Pinckneyville Correctional Center
(“Pinckneyville”), has brought this pro
se civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §
1983. Plaintiff claims that Defendants were deliberately
indifferent to several serious medical conditions. This case
is now before the Court for a preliminary review of the
Complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. Additionally,
the Court must consider whether all of Plaintiff's claims
may appropriately proceed together in the same lawsuit. This
initial review reveals that 3 of Plaintiff's claims are
not properly joined in this action. These improperly joined
claims shall therefore be severed into separate cases, where
they shall undergo the required § 1915A evaluation.
§ 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).
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).
these standards, one claim that shall remain in this action
survives threshold review under § 1915A.
states that he brings his Complaint against the Medical Staff
at Pinckneyville and Wexford Health Source, for violations of
his Eighth Amendment rights. (Doc. 1, p. 9). However, he did
not name Wexford Health Source among the Defendants.
alleges that at some unspecified time, he told Dr. Shah about
his “constant headaches” and his belief that they
are related to a lump on the top of his head. (Doc. 1-1, p.
9). Dr. Shah responded that the lump was an “old
injury, ” and Plaintiff should wait until he leaves
IDOC custody to address it “because of the germ[s]
around here.” Id. Dr. Shah's failure to
use his knowledge, skill, and care to address Plaintiff's
headaches was negligent, according to Plaintiff.
further states that since he arrived at Pinckneyville, false
information in his medical records has contributed to the
inadequate care. (Doc. 1-1, pp. 4-5). The Intake Nurse (John
Doe #1) did not give him an examination, and wrote
in his records that he had no complaints or medication
orders. Plaintiff claims that in fact, his medical records
from Cook County and 2 other facilities documented that he
was on (unspecified) medication, and that he had the lump on
top of his cranium. This lump is growing and Plaintiff's
headaches are getting worse. When he brought it to the
attention of medical staff, it measured 10cm around, but he
estimates it is now 25cm. (Doc. 1-1, p. 5). It hurts
periodically and causes headaches.
alleges that if the Intake Nurse (Doe #1) had not altered his
records regarding the lump on his head, he would have had a
“fifty percent chance” of receiving adequate
medical care. (Doc. 1-1, p. 6). Further, if he had received
an examination at intake, Pinckneyville staff might have been
better prepared for his need for medical assistance - he
claims that this omission interfered with his medical
permission slip for a lower deck and bottom bunk placement.
He also claims to have had a second medical slip regarding a
physical challenge that would allow him to participate in
“ADA activity.” Id.
second experience with inadequate treatment was when he
consulted Dr. Scott for pain in his right knee. Dr. Scott
performed some simple exercises, prescribed medication for
Plaintiff, and referred him to a therapist. (Doc. 1-1, p. 2).
Plaintiff believed that Dr. Scott should have performed a
blood test and ordered a knee x-ray before sending him to
therapy. Three months later, Plaintiff was still having
“extreme bad pain” in the knee, and asked for an
x-ray. (Doc. 1-1, p. 3). The x-ray results showed “no
damage” to Plaintiff's knee. Plaintiff, however,
claims that this diagnosis is incorrect, because while he was
housed at the Cook County Department of Corrections, an x-ray
performed there showed results “totally the
opposite” of Pinckneyville. Id. Plaintiff
concludes that these allegedly different results (which he
does not further describe) demonstrated inadequate treatment
on the part of Pinckneyville medical providers.
another occasion, Plaintiff contracted food poisoning, which
also affected other inmates who ate the same meal. (Doc. 1-1,
p. 4). Plaintiff was seen by John/Jane Doe Nurse #2 and told
her about his symptoms of light-headedness, vomiting, and
“constantly stool usage.” Id. The Nurse
was instructed to give out medication for this problem (which
the Court assumes was diarrhea), but she told Plaintiff she
had left it behind and would return with it later. She never
came back to give Plaintiff the medication, which left him in
“a lot of discomfort.” Id.
describes a third medical issue, of “stomach
discomfort.” (Doc. 1-1, p. 7). The John Doe Nurse #3
refused to accept the stomach problem as a “medical
emergency” that would be immediately referred to a
doctor. Because this nurse considered Plaintiff's issue a
non-emergency, this meant that Plaintiff would only be
referred to the doctor after he first made 3 visits to Health
Care for the problem, paying a $5.00 co-payment each time.
The Nurse (Doe #3) prescribed “Fill Fiber Lax
Captabs” for Plaintiff, but he claims he did not need
them, because his symptoms were much worse than a stool
softener could relieve. (Doc. 1-1, p. 7).
submitted another request slip for this problem, but when the
same Nurse Doe #3 responded, he refused to see her. He then
continued to endure the problem for another 2-1/2 months,
after which it seemed to improve. Plaintiff asserts that he
has a “common law right to refuse treatment [as] part
of the doctrine of informed consent especially when a patient
know[s] he's getting the wrong or useless medication for
his symptom.” (Doc. 1-1, p. 8). He asserts that this
Nurse Doe #3 violated his Fifth and Eighth Amendment rights.
months later, Plaintiff's same stomach problems recurred,
and he submitted another request slip. This time, the nurse
(apparently not Doe #3) referred Plaintiff straight to the
doctor after he explained his symptoms. (Doc. 1-1, p. 7).
Tests were run, and a doctor prescribed a 6-month course of
Omeprazole for Plaintiff. (Doc. 1-1, p. 8).
seeks damages and unspecified injunctive relief for the
alleged violations of his rights. (Doc. 1-1, pp. 6, 8).
Review Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A
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. Shah for failing to provide
any treatment for Plaintiff's headaches and the lump on
Count 2: Eighth Amendment deliberate
indifference claim against the John Doe #1 Intake Nurse for
failing to examine Plaintiff or document the lump on his
head, and for interfering with his medical permits;
Count 3: Eighth Amendment deliberate
indifference claim against Dr. Scott for failing to
adequately treat Plaintiff's knee pain and for failing to
diagnose the knee problem that had been ...