United States District Court, S.D. Illinois
STEVEN D. MONROE, # R-14337, Plaintiff,
ILLINOIS DEPT. of CORRECTIONS, WEXFORD HEALTH SOURCES, INC., JOHN R. BALDWIN, DAVE WHITE, JACQUELINE LASHBROOK, LORI F. OAKLEY, DR. SIDDIQUI, HOLLY HAWKINS, DR. SHAH, DR. MOLDENHAUER, JANE DOES #1 & #2 Med-Tech, JOHN DOE #1 Med-Tech, and JOHN DOE #2 Med-Tech, R.N., Defendants.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
MICHAEL J. REAGAN CHIEF JUDGE
currently incarcerated at Menard Correctional Center
(“Menard”), has brought this pro se
civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. He
claims that Defendants were deliberately indifferent to his
serious medical condition. This case is now before the Court
for a preliminary review of the Complaint pursuant to 28
U.S.C. § 1915A.
§ 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. 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). 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.
October 17, 2017, Plaintiff began having excruciating
headaches, accompanied by a loss of hearing in his right ear.
(Doc. 1, p. 6). Early that morning, he handed a request slip
to a medical technician making medication rounds, reporting his
symptoms and asking to be seen immediately by a health care
provider. (Doc. 1, pp. 6-7). Plaintiff was not called for an
appointment until October 23, 2017. (Doc. 1, p. 8). In the
intervening 5 days, while Plaintiff continued to suffer
severe pain and hearing loss, he made daily inquiries to his
gallery officers regarding the status of his sick-call
request. They contacted Health Care, and were told that
Plaintiff was not on the list to be seen. (Doc. 1, p. 7). On
October 22, 2017, Plaintiff submitted another request slip
seeking emergency treatment.
October 23, 2017, Plaintiff submitted another emergency
health care request slip. He was seen that morning by
Med-Tech Jane Doe #1, who examined him and told him he had
ear wax buildup, but she did not know why he was having
headaches. (Doc. 1, p. 8). Based on the examination by
Med-Tech Jane Doe #1, Dr. Moldenhauer prescribed medicated
ear drops, ibuprofen, an antibiotic (Floxin), and scheduled
Plaintiff to be seen in a week for an ear flush. Plaintiff
notified Dr. Moldenhauer that he has a “PCN”
allergy; the doctor said the prescribed medication
should not be a problem. Plaintiff began using the ear wax
removal drops and ibuprofen.
October 25, 2017, Med-Tech John Doe #1 brought Plaintiff the
medicated ear drops and antibiotic pills. (Doc. 1, p. 9).
Plaintiff questioned whether these medications would trigger
his PCN allergy. Med-Tech John Doe #1 said he would check on
this and bring the medications back, but he never returned,
so Plaintiff did not get his dosage for that day.
October 26, 2017, Med-Tech Jane Doe #2 brought
Plaintiff's ear drops and antibiotics. Plaintiff
explained his PCN allergy and asked if the medications were
PCN-related. Med-Tech John Doe #1 did not know if they were,
and left it up to Plaintiff to take the medications or not.
He declined to take them, out of concern for a possible
allergic reaction. (Doc. 1, p. 9).
next day (October 27, 2017), no medications were delivered to
Plaintiff; he sent a request addressed to the Medical
Director explaining his symptoms and need to be seen
immediately. (Doc. 1, p. 10).
next morning (October 28, 2017), Plaintiff was called to see
a medical technician, who called Health Care and confirmed
that neither the ear drops nor the prescribed antibiotic was
PCN-related. Plaintiff began taking both as prescribed.
days later (November 7, 2017), Plaintiff submitted a health
care request to explain that his symptoms had not improved,
the medications were not working, and he had not been called
to have his ear flushed even though more than a week had
elapsed. (Doc. 1, p. 10).
next day (November 8, 2017), Plaintiff saw Dr. Shah. (Doc. 1,
p. 11). Plaintiff explained that his right ear was swollen
and the pain was “10 out of 10.” Id. Dr.
Shah said Plaintiff's ears would not be flushed unless he
examined Plaintiff first. Plaintiff asked Dr. Shah not to
push the audioscope tool all the way into his ear, but Dr.
Shah did so anyway. This caused a “pop” noise in
Plaintiff's ear, accompanied by severe pain and profuse
bleeding. A Med-Tech then cleaned up the blood and flushed
Plaintiff's ear. She told him to run water in his ear if
it continued to bleed.
Plaintiff returned to his cell, he passed out from the pain.
When he awoke nearly 2 hours later, his ear was still
bleeding. (Doc. 1, p. 11).
days later (November 10, 2017), Plaintiff's ear was still
swollen and bleeding, he was still having excruciating
headaches, and he had not regained the hearing in his right
ear. He submitted a health care request slip.
next day (November 11, 2017), Plaintiff was called to see a
Med-Tech, who saw dried blood, swelling, and scarring in his
right ear canal. She told Plaintiff he would be immediately
scheduled to see a doctor. (Doc. 1, p. 12). However,
Plaintiff did not see Dr. Siddiqui until November 20, 2017, 9
days later. Id. Meanwhile, Plaintiff submitted a
grievance complaining about inadequate medical care.
examining Plaintiff on November 20, Dr. Siddiqui opined that
he never should have been given the ear drops or antibiotics.
Plaintiff requested a referral to a specialist. (Doc. 1, p.
November 30, 2017, Plaintiff received the response to his
grievance from Dr. Siddiqui and Nursing Director Hawkins,
stating that Plaintiff's issues were addressed in the
November 20 visit. On December 6, 2017, Plaintiff submitted
another health care request, stating that his headaches and
hearing loss continued, and asking for a specialist referral.
Plaintiff appealed his grievance to Grievance Officer Oakley,
noting his problems were not resolved and he had not been
sent to a specialist. Oakley ruled his grievance as moot, and
Warden Lashbrook concurred with the decision. (Doc. 1, p.
14). Plaintiff appealed the grievance to White
(Administrative Review Board) and Baldwin (Director of the
Illinois Department of Corrections, “IDOC”).
(Doc. 1, pp. 14-15). On January 20, 2018, White and Baldwin
denied the grievance appeal, stating that Menard officials
had properly addressed Plaintiff's issues. (Doc. 1, p.
submitted another request slip seeking a specialist referral
on December 18, 2017. On December 21, 2017, Dr. Siddiqui
examined Plaintiff's ear, which was still red and showed
scarring. Plaintiff reported his symptoms were no better. Dr.
Siddiqui said he would schedule a specialist visit in 1 week.
(Doc. 1, p. 14).
January 12, 2018, Plaintiff was seen by Med-Tech/R.N. John
Doe #2, who announced he was the “institutional
specialist.” (Doc. 1, p. 15). However, he had never
before performed an ear test. After completing the hearing
test, Med-Tech/R.N. John Doe #2 told Plaintiff that he
“really [is] deaf” and he would be scheduled to
see an off-site specialist. Id.
Complaint does not indicate whether that outside specialist
visit ever occurred, or whether Plaintiff's condition was
asserts that he received substandard medical care as a result
of inadequate staffing of doctors and nurses at Menard, and
the lengthy delays in obtaining treatment were a direct
result of too few medical providers at the prison. IDOC and
Wexford Health Sources, Inc., (“Wexford”)
maintain policies and procedures that understaff Menard's
Health Care department in light of the overcrowding of
inmates there. (Doc. 1, pp. 15-17; 19-20). Under
Wexford's policies/practices, medical providers fail to
examine inmates' medical conditions, fail to timely
respond to inmates' request slips, and fail to give
adequate care for serious medical conditions. (Doc. 1, pp.
19-200. Wexford fails to adequately train medical staff.
Id. In addition to the delays occasioned by
inadequate staffing, providers have misdiagnosed
Plaintiff's conditions. (Doc. 1, p. 17). Because of these
policies/practices, Plaintiff's ear problem and headaches
were not adequately treated and he has endured months of pain
and suffering. (Doc. 1, p. 20).
sues IDOC Director Baldwin in his official and individual
capacity. (Doc. 1, p. 3). He asserts that he informed Baldwin
of Menard officials' failure to provide him with adequate
medical care and treatment for his serious symptoms through
at least 13 letters and grievances submitted “to him
and Menard officials” between October 17, 2017, and
January 17, 2018. (Doc. 1, pp. 20-21). Referring to
Plaintiff's narrative, this list includes Plaintiff's
health care request slips submitted on October 17, 22, 23,
and 27; November 7 and 10; and December 6 and 18, 2017; and
Plaintiff's grievance submitted on November 20, 2017,
which he appealed on December 14, 2017, and on January 10,
2018. (Doc. 1, pp. 6-15). Despite allegedly having knowledge
of Plaintiff's serious medical condition and lack of
adequate medical care, Baldwin did nothing to intervene.
(Doc. 1, p. 22).
repeats the above allegations with reference to White,
Lashbrook, and Oakley, charging these Defendants with
knowledge of the risk to Plaintiff's health ...