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Johnson v. Bonnk

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

July 12, 2018

STEVEN E. JOHNSON, # 430881, Plaintiff,


          J. Phil Gilbert United States District Judge

         Plaintiff brought this pro se civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 while he was incarcerated at the St. Clair County Jail (“the Jail”). (Doc. 1, pp. 1, 7). He has since been released from the Jail. (Doc. 4). Plaintiff claims that the sick call system at the Jail is inadequate, and 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). Although Plaintiff is no longer in the Jail, this requirement applies to the instant action because it was filed while he was a prisoner. See Kerr v. Puckett, 138 F.3d 321, 323 (7th Cir. 1998) (applicability of the Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA) is determined as of the date the lawsuit is brought). 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 states that the Jail has a kiosk on every cell block which has a sick call button for inmates to use in order to submit a request for medical attention. (Doc. 1, p. 5). Several nurses, including Nurse Bonnie, [1] Nurse Barbara, and Nurse Kristi, instructed Plaintiff to use the kiosk sick call service. The system is provided by Securus. Id. Plaintiff used the kiosk procedure, but did not receive help for his medical problems. He believes that the nurse supervisor (Deborah Hale) stated that she did not think the system was working, because her office did not receive requests submitted through the kiosk. Id.

         Plaintiff describes a particular incident where he dislocated or fractured a finger, and was in extreme pain. He told C/O Zirchabach and C/O Smith about the injury, submitted a sick call request to Bonnie, and sent a request through the kiosk. However, Plaintiff never received any medical attention for the finger injury. (Doc. 1, p. 5). Plaintiff and other inmates “set the bone straight” on their own, and made a cast out of t-shirts and string. Id. Plaintiff then soaked the finger in hot water each night for weeks, until the pain finally stopped on May 28, 2018.

         At another unspecified time, Plaintiff had a swollen leg which made him unable to walk. Bonnie “refused to look into [his] issue.” (Doc. 1, p. 5).

         Plaintiff seeks monetary damages for the violations of his rights. (Doc. 1, p. 6).

         Merits Review Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A

         Based on the allegations of the Complaint, the Court finds it convenient to divide the pro se action into the following counts. 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 as to their merit. Any other claim that is mentioned in the Complaint but not addressed in this Order should be considered dismissed without prejudice.

Count 1: Fourteenth Amendment deliberate indifference claim against Smith and Zirchabach, for failing to summon medical assistance for Plaintiff's injured finger;
Count 2: Fourteenth Amendment deliberate indifference claim against Nurses Bonnk/Bonnie, Barbara, and Kristi, for failing to provide treatment for Plaintiff's medical conditions;
Count 3: Fourteenth Amendment deliberate indifference claim against Securus, for failing to provide a functional sick call system in ...

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