United States District Court, S.D. Illinois
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
HERNDON, DISTRICT JUDGE
is currently incarcerated at Robinson Correctional Center
(“Robinson”). He originally brought this civil
rights action on February 6, 2018, when it was filed as
Mays v. Santos, et al., No. 18-181-MJR-SCW. After
screening the Complaint, the Court severed a number of
Plaintiff's claims from the original case into separate
actions. (Doc. 1). The instant case contains Counts 8, 9, and
10, which arose at Robinson and were described as follows:
Count 8: Eighth Amendment deliberate
indifference claim against Shah, Ritz, and Martin for denying
and delaying treatment for Plaintiff's nasal condition at
Robinson during 2017;
Count 9: Eighth Amendment deliberate
indifference claim against Martin, Erickson, Walton, Wampler,
Rains, Neese, Lehr, Phoenix, McCarty, and Anderson for
failing to intervene to ensure that Plaintiff would be given
adequate medical treatment at Robinson;
Count 10: First Amendment retaliation claim
against Shah, for prematurely terminating Plaintiff's
post-surgery medication and nasal rinses in January 2018
because Plaintiff filed grievances against Shah.
(Doc. 1, pp. 10-11).
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).
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.
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, the Court finds that some of Plaintiff's
claims survive threshold review under § 1915A.
portions of the Complaint which relate to Counts 8, 9, and 10
are summarized as follows.
had undergone surgery in April 2014 for nasal polyps, while
he was incarcerated at Lawrence Correctional Center. (Doc. 2,
p. 6). He subsequently had 2 follow-up visits for
“nasal cleansing” to the outside hospital where
he had the surgery, but in February 2015, he was not allowed
to return to the hospital for another 6-month follow-up.
According to Plaintiff, he continues to suffer from chronic
nasal polyps which impair his ability to breathe, interfere
with his sense of smell, cause pain and dizziness when he
blows his nose, and cause nosebleeds. He also gets a sore
throat and sometimes chokes from breathing through his mouth.
(Doc. 2, p. 9). He suffers from asthma and severe lower back
pain as well. Plaintiff was confined at Centralia
Correctional Center before being transferred to Robinson, and
while there, he unsuccessfully sought a referral to an
outside specialist to address his nasal condition. (Doc. 2,
pp. 9, 15).
February 8, 2017, Plaintiff was transferred to Robinson.
(Doc. 2, p. 14). The conditions in his housing area there
were not clean, and the dry air irritated his throat.
Id. On February 14, 2017, Plaintiff consulted Health
Care Administrator Martin about obtaining prednisone (which
had been prescribed for Plaintiff in the past) to treat his
nasal polyps. Martin was arrogant and condescending, and
would not allow Plaintiff to speak. (Doc. 2, p. 16).
Plaintiff wrote to the warden and filed a grievance over
being denied distilled water for his nasal rinse kit in early
February and March 2017, Plaintiff consulted Dr. Shah and
requested “collegial review” for a referral to an
outside specialist for evaluation of his nasal polyps. Shah
and Dr. Ritz denied the referral on March 13, 2017, while
Plaintiff's condition continued to deteriorate. (Doc. 2,
p. 16; Doc. 2-2, pp. 22-23). Shah did order prednisone and a
nasal rinse kit for 3 months, but he later reduced
Plaintiff's dosage of prednisone. (Doc. 2, pp. 16-17).
filed grievances over Shah's treatment, claiming his
nasal polyps were getting progressively worse. Martin,
Erickson (Clinical Service Supervisor), Walton (Counselor),
Wampler (Casework Supervisor), and Warden Rains denied his
grievances and “failed to exercise their authority to
intervene” to correct Shah's improper treatment.
(Doc. 2, pp. 17, 19, 22; Doc. 2-2, pp. 30). Administrative
Review Board members Lehr, Phoenix, McCarty, and Anderson
denied Plaintiff's numerous grievances over medical
treatment. (Doc. 2, pp. 19, 22; Doc. 2-2, pp. 31-33, 36-37,
2017, Shah requested collegial review for an outside
consultation for Plaintiff's nasal polyps, but Ritz (for
Wexford Health Sources) denied the request. (Doc. 2, p. 17;
Doc. 2-2, pp. 26-27).
August 11, 2017, Plaintiff wrote a letter to Rains and Neese
(Warden for Programs, over the Health Care Unit) detailing
his inadequate medical care and his worsening symptoms of
pain, dizziness, and obstructed breathing. This letter was
also mailed to Dr. Steve Meeks, the IDOC Chief Medical
Director (Meeks is not a Defendant). (Doc. 2, p. 17; Doc.
2-2, p. 34). Meeks overruled Ritz's “third
denial” of the outside consultation, and Plaintiff had
a CAT scan with an ear, nose, and throat specialist on August
29, 2017. (Doc. 2, pp. 17-18; Doc. 2-2, p. 26). Plaintiff
also includes a consultation report dated September 8, 2017,
from an outside doctor. (Doc. 2-2, p. 35).
January 5, 2018, Plaintiff had endoscopic nasal surgery for
the polyps at Carle Hospital. (Doc. 2, p. 17). On January 8,
2018, Plaintiff was in the infirmary when Dr. Shah asked him
why he was there and what happened.
responded by asking Shah why he was asking crazy questions.
Shah asked Plaintiff to leave. Plaintiff complained to Neese
and Martin ...