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Garde v. Wexford Health Sources, Inc.

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

July 11, 2018

JACOB GARDE, # S-08108, Plaintiff,
v.
WEXFORD HEALTH SOURCES, INC., VENERIO SANTOS, JESSICA KNEBEL, and SUSAN WALKER, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          MICHAEL J. REAGAN CHIEF JUDGE

         Plaintiff, currently incarcerated at Centralia Correctional Center (“Centralia”), has brought this pro se civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff claims that Defendants were deliberately indifferent to a serious medical condition. This case is now before the Court for a preliminary review of the Complaint 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). 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).

         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). 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).

         Applying these standards, the Court finds that some of Plaintiff's claims survive threshold review under § 1915A.

         The Complaint

         Plaintiff alleges that on February 6, 2018, he injured his knee while playing basketball at Centralia. (Doc. 1, pp. 2-3). He could not walk, and was taken in a wheelchair to the Health Care Unit, where he was given a knee brace, crutches, and Ibuprofen. The injury was bad enough that Plaintiff was housed in the infirmary until a doctor could see him. (Doc. 1, p. 3).

         The next day (February 7, 2018), Dr. Garcia saw that Plaintiff's knee was swollen and discolored. He ordered an x-ray, changed/increased Plaintiff's pain medication, extended his stay in the infirmary, and scheduled Plaintiff to see Dr. Santos (medical director). (Doc. 1, p. 3).

         On February 13, 2018, Plaintiff saw Dr. Santos and told him that he could not put any weight on the injured knee, which was still swollen and painful. (Doc. 1, p. 4). Santos opined that the injury was merely a knee sprain. He extended Plaintiff's stay in the infirmary and told him to take it easy for 3 weeks for the injury to heal.

         On February 20, 2018, Santos examined Plaintiff again and performed several range of motion exercises. Those caused Plaintiff severe pain, and he asked Santos to stop. Santos instructed Plaintiff to perform daily exercises while using crutches. (Doc. 1, p. 4).

         Days later, Santos took away Plaintiff's crutches and gave him a cane. Plaintiff's knee was still visibly swollen and bruised. Plaintiff stayed in the infirmary, and reported daily to the nurses that the pain prevented him from walking or doing the prescribed exercises. Id.

         On February 26, 2018, Santos planned to release Plaintiff because he “looked fine, ” but then gave Plaintiff one more day in the infirmary after Plaintiff begged for more time because of the pain and continued swelling. (Doc. 1, p. 5).

         On March 7, 2018, Dr. Garcia examined Plaintiff and concluded that an MRI was needed for further diagnosis, because Plaintiff's condition had not improved. Garcia forwarded the MRI request to Santos. On March 12, 2018, Plaintiff met with Santos, who agreed that an MRI was required due to Plaintiff's continuing pain and inability to put weight on the knee. Santos forwarded the MRI request to Wexford Health Sources, Inc./Collegial (“Wexford”). (Doc. 1, p. 5).

         On March 23, 2018, Santos informed Plaintiff that Wexford denied the MRI request. Plaintiff asked Santos to “go over their head” because he could barely walk, but Santos said he could not. (Doc. 1, pp. 5-6). Santos ordered therapy to help Plaintiff “deal with it.” (Doc. 1, p. 6). Walker (grievance officer) denied Plaintiff's emergency grievance over the MRI denial. (Doc. 1, pp. 6, 13). Walker noted that Plaintiff had been given a physical therapy ...


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