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Thurstonn v. Wexford Health Sources, Inc.

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

May 30, 2018

DARRELL THURSTON, Sr., #N-50920, Plaintiff,
v.
WEXFORD HEALTH SOURCES, INC., DR. VIPIN SHAH, DR. EVARISTO AGUINALDO, and NURSE PRACTITIONER WILLIAMS, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          Michael J. Reagan District Judge

         This matter is now before the Court for consideration of the Second Amended Complaint filed by Plaintiff Darrell Thurston, Sr. (Doc. 23). Plaintiff is currently incarcerated at Stateville Correctional Center (“Stateville”). He brings this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for deprivations of his constitutional rights at Stateville and Pinckneyville Correctional Center (“Pinckneyville”).[1] Id.

         In the Second Amended Complaint, Plaintiff claims that medical providers at both prisons provided him with inadequate medical treatment for his high blood pressure. (Doc. 23, pp. 1-8). He asserts an Eighth Amendment deliberate indifference to medical needs claim against Vipin Shah (Pinckneyville doctor), Evaristo Aguinaldo (Stateville doctor), Nurse Practitioner Williams (Stateville nurse), and Wexford Health Sources, Inc. (“Wexford”) (private medical corporation). Id. Plaintiff seeks monetary damages against the defendants, as well as medical treatment.[2] (Doc. 23, pp. 7-8).

         The Second Amended Complaint is now subject to preliminary review under 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. As part of the screening order, the Court will also consider whether any claims in the Second Amended Complaint are improperly joined in this action and are subject to severance. See George v. Smith, 507 F.3d 605, 607 (7th Cir. 2007).

         Second Amended Complaint

         Plaintiff suffers from hypertension. (Doc. 23, p. 1). In the Second Amended Complaint, Plaintiff claims that he has received inadequate medical care for the condition since 2013. (Doc. 23). Doctor Vipin Shah allegedly prescribed him the wrong medication at Pinckneyville, and Doctor Evaristo Aguinaldo and Nurse Practitioner Williams have continued to do so at Stateville. (Doc. 23, pp. 1-2). Plaintiff attributes this inadequate medical care, in part, to Wexford, the private medical corporation that staffs both prisons. (Doc. 23, pp. 7-8).

         1. Pinckneyville

         Doctor Shah treated Plaintiff for high blood pressure during his incarceration at Pinckneyville between April or May 2013 and “early 2015” or the “summer of 2015.”[3] (Doc. 23, pp. 1, 4). Doctor Shah prescribed Plaintiff Clonidine, a medication that is more commonly referred to as Catapres. Id. Rather than reducing his blood pressure, however, the medication increased it to dangerously high levels. Id. Plaintiff's systolic pressure increased from approximately 140 to 215, and his diastolic pressure increased from approximately 70 to 110. (Doc. 23, p. 4). Doctor Shah nevertheless continued to treat Plaintiff with the same medication for approximately 18 months. Id.

         Another physician at the prison, named Doctor Smith, discontinued the medication in early 2015, after notifying Plaintiff that he was suffering from kidney problems caused by Clonidine. (Doc. 23, pp. 1, 4-5). The doctor did not make any other changes to Plaintiff's treatment regimen. (Doc. 23, p. 5). Following the discontinuation of Clonidine, Plaintiff's blood pressure dropped to more stable levels. Id.

         That summer, Plaintiff underwent kidney dialysis at a hospital located in Marion, Illinois. (Doc. 1, p. 5). He was then transferred from to Graham Correctional Center in Hillsboro, Illinois. Id. Medical providers at Graham informed Plaintiff that he was suffering from renal failure but placed him back on Clonidine. Id.

         2. Stateville

         Plaintiff transferred to Stateville in October 2015. (Doc. 23, p. 5). There, Doctor Saleh Obaisi[4] continued to treat Plaintiff with Clonidine. (Doc. 23, p. 2). In addition, the doctor prescribed other blood pressure medications. (Doc. 23, p. 5). Plaintiff's blood pressure “skyrocket[ed]” as a result. (Doc. 23, pp. 2, 5).

         At some point before January 2018, Doctor Aguinaldo and Nurse Practitioner Williams assumed responsibility for Plaintiff's care after Doctor Obaisi passed away. (Doc. 23, pp. 2, 5). They continued to treat him with Clonidine. (Doc. 2, pp. 2, 6). The medication failed to stabilize Plaintiff's blood pressure and also caused additional health problems. Id. Plaintiff required regular dialysis. Id. He lost the ability to urinate on his ...


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