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Morales v. Vipin

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

June 13, 2018

JOSE MORALES, #M52533, Plaintiff,



         Plaintiff Jose Morales, an inmate of the Illinois Department of Corrections (“IDOC”) currently housed at Western Illinois Correctional Center filed this pro se action on May 15, 2018. (Doc. 1). Plaintiff asserts claims pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 pertaining to his prior incarceration at Lawrence Correctional Center (“Lawrence”). According to the Complaint, officials at Lawrence failed to properly treat Plaintiff for Human Papillomavirus (“HPV”).

         This case is now before the Court for a preliminary review of the Complaint 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).

         The Complaint

         In December 2015, when Plaintiff was incarcerated at Lawrence, he began seeking treatment for genital warts. (Doc. 1, p. 6). He was not referred to a physician, however, until August 29, 2016. Id. By that time, Plaintiff's genital warts had “turned black and had changed.” (Doc. 1, p. 7).

         On September 15, 2016, Plaintiff was examined by Dr. Vipin.[1] Id. Plaintiff showed Dr. Vipin his genital warts and said “I've had this problem for two years.” (Doc. 1, p. 11). Plaintiff told Dr. Vipin he thought he was suffering from herpes or HPV. (Doc. 1, pp. 7, 11). Dr. Vipin did not order any testing or refer Plaintiff to a specialist. Id.

         Eventually, in April 2017, Plaintiff was referred for testing. (Doc. 1, p. 7). At that time, an unspecified individual “noted that Plaintiff's warts were worsening and turning colors badly.” Id. Although testing was ordered in April 2017, the testing did not actually take place until July 2017. Id. According to the Complaint, “defendants doctors” and “the health care administrator” received Plaintiff's test results on or before July 5, 2017. The Complaint does not expressly state what type of testing was performed or the results of those tests, but an exhibit attached to the Complaint indicates that Plaintiff was informed he had HPV. (Doc. 1, p. 10).

         On August 10, 2017, “defendant doctor” attempted to remove the warts. (Doc. 1, p. 7). He performed the procedure himself because it cost too much to send Plaintiff to an outside specialist. Id. During the procedure, the “doctor” cut Plaintiff too deeply and the wound required “a stitch.” Id. Plaintiff was in excruciating pain, but “defendant doctor” did not give him any pain medication. Id.

         On August 13, 2017, the stitching broke, causing bleeding and severe pain. (Doc. 1, p. 8). Plaintiff could see “the white, meat flesh beneath the skin, ” and he asked Correctional Officer Bridgewell to send him to the healthcare unit for emergency treatment and pain medication. Id. That request was denied. Id.

         On August 17, 2017, Plaintiff's stitch was removed. Id. Plaintiff does not know “what the doctor did to him or whoever this doctor was, ” but he continues to have pain in his penis and has trouble urinating. Id. Plaintiff also states that he “saw more than one doctor” and that “he is not sure who is exactly who, but knows that the doctor defendants worked there.” (Doc. 1, p. 9).

         Plaintiff claims he wrote letters to the “warden” and “previous warden” regarding “this is[sue] as well as on the issue of delayed, needed tests and treatment.” (Doc. 1, p. 7). Additionally, after Plaintiff's stitching broke, Plaintiff submitted “emergency requests” and/or letters seeking medical treatment to the healthcare unit, healthcare unit administrator, and warden. Id. Plaintiff's correspondence was not answered. (Doc. 1, p. 8). Finally, Plaintiff claims that “Defendants John Doe Warden and the Health Care Administrator Duncan” violated their duties by failing to ensure that health care staff were following policies and providing proper medical care to inmates. Id. Plaintiff also claims that Defendants failed to properly treat him for HPV in retaliation for the “complaints and grievances he wrote.” (Doc. 1, p. 6).

         Dismissal of Certain Defendants

         Plaintiff has identified John/Jane Doe Health Care Administrator, Warden Kink, and Warden Dunkin as defendants. The body of the Complaint, however, does not direct any claims against “John/Jane Doe Health Care Administrator, ” “Warden Kink, ” or “Warden Dunk.” Plaintiff does assert claims against individuals with similar titles (e.g., “the warden, ” “the previous warden, ” “John Doe Warden, ” and “Health Care Administrator Duncan.”), but this is insufficient. Plaintiffs are required to associate specific defendants with specific claims, so that defendants are put on notice of the claims brought against them and so they can properly answer the complaint. See Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007); Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). Where a plaintiff has not included a defendant in his statement of the claim, the defendant cannot be said to be adequately put on notice of which claims in the complaint, if any, are directed against him. Merely invoking the name of a potential defendant is not sufficient to state a claim against that individual. See Collins v. Kibort, 143 F.3d 331, 334 (7th Cir. 1998). For this reason, John/Jane Doe Health Care Administrator, Warden Kink, and Warden Dunkin shall be dismissed from the action without prejudice.

         Plaintiff also has identified John Doe Doctor/John Doe Doctor #2 as a defendant.[2] This individual is subject to dismissal for the same reason. The body of the Complaint does not include any allegations directed against “John Doe Doctor” or “John Doe Doctor #2.” The Complaint includes several allegations directed against “defendant doctor” and “doctor.” (Doc. 1, pp. 7-8). These claims may relate to a single physician (possibly the physician that removed Plaintiff's genital warts on August 10, 2017), but that is not entirely clear. (See Doc. 1, p. 9) (“Plaintiff saw more than one doctor. He is not sure who is exactly who.”). Further, the Court cannot simply presume that claims directed against an unspecified doctor are associated with John Doe Doctor/John Doe Doctor #2 (as opposed to Dr. Vipin or ...

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