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Watson v. Kink

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

June 15, 2018

MARCUS WATSON, #Y18453, Plaintiff,
v.
KEVIN W. KINK, JOHN DOE, DOCTOR COE, WEXFORD HEALTH SERVICES, INC., PATTY THULL, and JOHN R. BALDWIN, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          HERNDON, DISTRICT JUDGE

         Plaintiff Marcus Watson, a former inmate of Lawrence Correctional Center (“Lawrence”), brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for alleged deprivations of his constitutional rights. In his Complaint, Plaintiff claims the defendants have been deliberately indifferent to his serious medical issues in violation of the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments, among other things. (Doc. 1). This case is now before the Court for a preliminary review of the Complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, [1] 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. At this juncture, the factual allegations of the pro se complaint are to be liberally construed. See Rodriguez v. Plymouth Ambulance Serv., 577 F.3d 816, 821 (7th Cir. 2009).

         Upon careful review of the Complaint and any supporting exhibits, the Court finds it appropriate to allow this case to proceed past the threshold stage.

         The Complaint

         In his Complaint (Doc. 1), Plaintiff makes the following allegations: as late as January 28, 2018, Plaintiff submitted request slips to Defendant John Doe, a health care administrator at the prison, “to be seen for consent, appointment, and major surgery” for Plaintiff's ongoing chronic umbilical hernia. (Doc. 1, p. 3). The Tylenol and girdle Plaintiff received from the physician had not been effective for treating his injury. Id. John Doe did not respond to Plaintiff's request, despite having prior knowledge of Plaintiff's injury. (Doc. 1, p. 4). Plaintiff continued to submit request slips to John Doe, complaining of complications with physical movement, including getting out of bed and lifting heavy objects. Id. He also requested a lower-bunk permit. Id. All of his requests were denied, and he “was denied further treatment beyond said ineffective treatment received.” Id.

         Before Plaintiff was admitted into the Illinois Department of Corrections (“IDOC”), the Cook County Medical Unit physician determined that Plaintiff needed surgery to repair his umbilical hernia. Id. Plaintiff was scheduled for surgery, but before it was performed, he was reclassified to IDOC. Id. Plaintiff's injury was deemed an emergency by former CAO, Nicholas Lamb, after Plaintiff filed an emergency grievance on March 28, 2017 detailing his medical issues. Id. Sometime after April 11, 2017, Plaintiff was seen by Dr. Coe, and he repeated to Coe what he told Lamb about his medical issues. Id. Coe told Plaintiff that he would be prescribed pain pills and an abdominal binder. Id. He also told Plaintiff that there was nothing more they could do for him because “the state does not have money for [him] to be sent to an outside hospital to have surgery.” Id.

         Plaintiff had already been through treatment similar to that which was prescribed by Coe before he was admitted into IDOC custody. (Doc. 1, p. 5). He therefore continued to use the sick call process to seek treatment for his condition, because the treatment Coe gave him was ineffective. Id. In response to his requests, Plaintiff was told by health care unit staff that the state did not have funds and that he had already been treated for his issue. Id. On March 15, 2018, Plaintiff filed a second emergency grievance, notifying Defendant Kink of his issues. Id. Kink classified Plaintiff's situation as a “non-emergency.” (Doc. 1, p. 6). Plaintiff has suffered and will continue to suffer in pain. (Doc. 1, p. 7). His pain has been aggravated by the inadequate treatment he has received. Id.

         Defendants Wexford, Thull, Baldwin, Kink, John Doe, and Coe have colluded to engage in a practice or policy “to deprive Plaintiff, and those similarly situated, of medical treatment in order to decrease the financial burden on the state, through the defendants' actions and/or inactions, done in bad faith.” (Doc. 1, pp. 7-9). Baldwin also may have also established said policy, and contracted with Wexford to engage in it. (Doc. 1, p. 9). Defendant Thull “is required to investigate the conduct of the work of the department with which it may be associated.” Id. Thull neglected these duties after reviewing Plaintiff's grievance on April 10, 2018. (Doc. 1, p. 10). Kink and Baldwin also neglected their duties after they received Plaintiff's grievance. Id.

         “[T]he individual Defendants, in a meeting of the minds, reached an agreement amongst themselves to become deliberately indifferent to Plaintiff's medical needs . . . and to thereby deprive Plaintiff of his constitutional rights.” (Doc. 1, p. 13). “Defendants intended to maliciously and willfully cause, and were in reckless disregard to the probability that their conduct would cause, severe emotional distress to Plaintiff; said actions, and/or inactions, and conduct did directly and proximately cause Plaintiff to suffer severe emotional distress.” (Doc. 1, p. 16). This emotional distress included “mental and emotional damage and trauma, humiliation, damage to his personal reputation, loss of liberty, mental distress, and anguish.” Id. Plaintiff seeks declaratory and monetary relief. (Doc. 1, p. 19).

         Discussion

         Based on the allegations of the Complaint, the Court will consider 6 counts in this pro se action.[2] The parties and the Court will use these designations in all future pleadings and orders, unless otherwise directed by a judicial officer of this Court. The designation of these counts does not constitute an opinion regarding their merit.

Count 1 - Defendants showed deliberate indifference to Plaintiff's serious medical need involving an umbilical hernia and pain associated therewith in violation of the Eighth Amendment.
Count 2 - Defendants conspired to show deliberate indifference to Plaintiff's serious medical need involving an umbilical hernia and pain associated therewith.
Count 3 - Defendants violated Plaintiff's due process rights by depriving him of adequate medical treatment, in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment.
Count 4 - Defendants intentionally inflicted emotional distress on Plaintiff in violation of Illinois law by depriving ...

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