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Terrell v. Scott

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

June 14, 2018

RONNIE TERRELL, #Y12902, Plaintiff,
v.
DR. SCOTT, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          J. PHIL GILBERT UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This case was severed on May 22, 2018, from Terrell v. Shah, et al., No. 18-cv-710-JPG-SCW (S.D. Ill.). (Doc. 1). It contains the claim designated as Count 3 in the original case, described as follows:

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 found by a Cook County DOC doctor.

         Plaintiff's claims, which pertain to his incarceration at Pinckneyville Correctional Center (“Pinckneyville”) are now before the Court for a preliminary review 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). Any portion of the Complaint that is legally frivolous, malicious, fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or seeks money damages from a defendant who by law is immune from such relief, must be dismissed. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b).

         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 “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). Courts “should not accept as adequate abstract recitations of the elements of a cause of action or conclusory legal statements.” Id. 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).

         The Complaint

         Plaintiff's factual allegations relating to Count 3 are summarized below.

         While incarcerated at Pinckneyville, Plaintiff 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. 2-1, 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. 2-1, 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) demonstrate inadequate treatment on the part of Pinckneyville medical providers.

         Discussion

         In order to state a claim for deliberate indifference to a serious medical need, an inmate must show that (1) he suffered from an objectively serious medical condition; and (2) the defendant was deliberately indifferent to a risk of serious harm from that condition. An objectively serious condition includes an ailment that significantly affects an individual's daily activities or which involves chronic and substantial pain. Gutierrez v. Peters, 111 F.3d 1364, 1373 (7th Cir. 1997). “Deliberate indifference is proven by demonstrating that a prison official knows of a substantial risk of harm to an inmate and either acts or fails to act in disregard of that risk.” Gomez v. Randle, 680 F.3d 859, 865 (7th Cir. 2012).

         In the case at bar, the Complaint is devoid of allegations that would lead the Court to conclude Dr. Scott was deliberately indifferent. For example, Plaintiff does not make any allegations that Dr. Scott failed to treat him in a timely manner, delayed treatment, or failed to treat treatable pain. At the initial consultation, Dr. Scott performed simple exercises, prescribed medication for Plaintiff, and referred him to a therapist. When ...


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