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Murphy v. Allen

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

May 23, 2018

STEVEN MURPHY, #M04196, Plaintiff,
v.
TRAVIS J. ALLEN, JAMES MOUNT, BONNIE MAY, and CHERYL BROWN, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          J. Phil Gilbert United States District Judge

         Plaintiff Steven Murphy, who is currently incarcerated at Menard Correctional Center, brings this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. (Doc. 1). According to the Complaint, Plaintiff was denied medical treatment for his fractured foot and ankle during his detention at Jefferson County Jail in 2016. (Doc. 1, pp. 5-6). His injuries did not heal properly and resulted in constant pain and a loss of mobility. Id. He brings this action against those Jefferson County officials who allegedly denied him medical care for his injuries at the Jail, including Travis Allen (sheriff), James Mount (captain and jail administrator), Bonnie May (lieutenant), and Cheryl Brown (nurse). (Doc. 1, pp. 1-2). He seeks monetary damages and treatment with a specialist. (Doc. 1, p. 7).

         This case is now before the Court for a preliminary review of the Complaint (Doc. 1) 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 survives preliminary review under this standard.

         The Complaint

         During his detention at Jefferson County Jail (“Jail”) in 2016, Plaintiff was involved in a physical altercation with another inmate. (Doc. 1, p. 5). Both inmates were injured. Id. Plaintiff suffered from a fractured foot and ankle, and the other inmate sustained an injury to his eye and face. Id.

         Officer Conway sent the other inmate to an outside hospital for treatment and placed Plaintiff in segregation. (Doc. 1, p. 5). Plaintiff was initially placed in a cell with no running water. Id. He complained about this for “over a[n] hour or two” and was moved to a different cell. Id. Plaintiff requested medical treatment during the transfer, but his request was denied. Id.

         On May 24, 2016, Plaintiff met with Nurse Brown. (Doc. 1, p. 5). She scheduled an x-ray, which confirmed that his foot and ankle were fractured. (Doc. 1, pp. 5-6). The nurse gave Plaintiff a single ace bandage, pain medication, and ice. (Doc. 1, p. 5).

         He was then moved to the mental health/medical unit. (Doc. 1, p. 6). During his first night there, Plaintiff could not sleep. Id. Inmates with mental health problems kicked the walls and screamed during the night. Id. The following morning, Plaintiff complained about the conditions to Captain Mount and Nurse Brown. Id. He was transferred back to segregation and remained there for three months. Id. Plaintiff considered this was unfair because he did not start the fight that led to his placement in segregation. Id.

         Several days after being transferred back to segregation, he was scheduled for an appointment with an orthopedic specialist. (Doc. 1, p. 6). It was unclear whether surgery would be necessary to repair his foot and ankle injuries. Id. Plaintiff never found out. Id.

         On June 2, 2016, Captain Mount and Lieutenant May cancelled the appointment. (Doc. 1, p. 6). Plaintiff and his defense attorney wrote several grievances and letters to Sheriff Allen and Captain Mount to complain about the cancelled appointment. Id. Captain Mount responded to Plaintiff's attorney in writing, stating that the appointment would be rescheduled. Id. It wasn't. Id. Plaintiff continued writing grievances to Sheriff Allen on the Jail's kiosk machine, to no avail. Id.

         Because Plaintiff was denied timely and adequate medical treatment for his fractured foot and ankle, the injuries healed improperly. (Doc. 1, p. 6). Plaintiff allegedly suffers from constant pain. Id. He can no longer perform activities that he used to enjoy, like playing basketball, running, and “other things.” Id. He seeks a referral to an ...


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