United States District Court, N.D. Illinois
HARLEY M. BRADY, Y-13122, Plaintiff,
JOHN BALDWIN, STEVE DUNCAN, DR. JAMES, DR. AHMED, JOHN DOE 3, UNKNOWN PARTY, TARRY WILLIAMS, JANE DOE 1-10, JOHN/JANE DOE 11-20, WEXFORD HEALTH SOURCES INC., JANE DOE 21 MISS KIMMEL, JOHN COE, JANE DOE 22, JANE DOE 23, and MR. SHAH, Defendants.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
J. ROSENSTENGEL UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Harley M. Brady, an inmate of the Illinois Department of
Corrections (“IDOC”) currently incarcerated at
Lawrence Correctional Center (“Lawrence”), brings
this pro se action for deprivations of his
constitutional rights pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. On
November 1, 2017, the Court screened the original Complaint
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. As part of screening, the
Court severed unrelated claims into new actions. The claims
remaining in this action, all of which were directed against
an Unknown Party did not survive preliminary review, and
the original Complaint was dismissed without prejudice. On
April 13, 2018, after receiving four extensions, Plaintiff
filed his Amended Complaint.
Amended Complaint (Doc. 19) is now before the Court for a
preliminary review pursuant to Section 1915A. In the Amended
Complaint, Plaintiff claims officials at Stateville Northern
Reception and Classification Center (“Stateville
NRC”) and Lawrence have violated his constitutional
rights. As set forth below, the Court finds that the claims
pertaining to Stateville NRC are not properly joined with the
claims pertaining to Lawrence. Accordingly, the Court will
exercise its discretion and sever unrelated claims into
separate actions once again.
Review - Applicable Standard Section 1915A
provides as follows:
(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
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.
part of screening, the Court is also allowed to sever
unrelated claims against different defendants into separate
lawsuits. See George v. Smith, 507 F.3d 605, 607
(7th Cir. 2007). In George, the Seventh Circuit
emphasized that the practice of severance is important,
“not only to prevent the sort of morass” produced
by multi-claim, multi-defendant suits “but also to
ensure that prisoners pay the required filing fees”
under the Prison Litigation Reform Act. Id. This
practice is encouraged. The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals
has recently warned district courts not to allow inmates
“to flout the rules for joining claims and defendants,
see Fed. R. Civ. P. 18, 20, or to circumvent the
Prison Litigation Reform Act's fee requirements by
combining multiple lawsuits into a single complaint.”
Owens v. Godinez, 860 F.3d 434, 436 (7th Cir. 2017).
See also Wheeler v. Talbot, No. 15-3325, 2017 WL
2417889 (7th Cir. June 5, 2017) (district court should have
severed unrelated and improperly joined claims or dismissed
one of them). Consistent with George,
Owens, and Wheeler, improperly joined
parties and/or claims will be severed into new cases, given
new case numbers, and assessed separate filing fees.
October 2014, Plaintiff was housed at Stateville NRC. (Doc.
19, p. 2). Approximately one month later, in November 2014,
Plaintiff was transferred to Lawrence, which became his
“parent facility.” Id. Since then,
Plaintiff has been housed at Lawrence. Id. For
approximately five months (from November 2014 through March
2015), however, Plaintiff was periodically transferred
between Lawrence and Stateville NRC to attend hearings and
status conferences in his criminal proceeding. Id.
claims that officials at Stateville NRC (from October 2014
through March 2015) and Lawrence (beginning in November 2014)
have exhibited deliberate indifference to his painful
digestive symptoms and other medical issues. (Doc. 19, pp.
2-22). According to Plaintiff, his painful digestive symptoms
include: (1) acid reflux symptoms that cause him to wake up
in the middle of the night; (2) excessive, foul gas; (3)
intestinal cramping; (4) bouts of constipation; (5) loose
bowels, lasting for days at a time; (6) vomiting and dry
heaving; and (7) being “painfully tired.” (Doc.
19, p. 11). Plaintiff also brings allegations pertaining to
other medical issues, including thyroid problems, a suspected
hernia, a rash that covers his back, and lumps in his throat.
(Doc. 19, pp. 2-22). A more detailed summary of
Plaintiff's claims, as they relate to each institution,
is provided below.
October 2014, when Plaintiff was housed at Stateville NRC,
Plaintiff began experiencing painful digestive issues and
bowel problems. (Doc. 19, pp. 2, 11). Plaintiff yelled for
help, but the nurses (Jane Does 1-10) and correctional
officers (John and Jane Does 11-20) ignored him.
March 11, 2015, Plaintiff was transferred to Stateville NRC
to attend a hearing. (Doc. 19, pp. 14-15). According to
Plaintiff, “Unknown Party” failed to provide him
with his prescription medication. (Doc. 19, p. 14).
while at Stateville NRC, between March 13, 2015, and March
15, 2015, Jane Doe Nurse No. 22 denied Plaintiff his
prescription medication. (Doc. 19, pp. 14-15).
filed an emergency grievance pertaining to being denied his
medication. (Doc. 19, p. 15). Warden Williams denied the
grievance, deeming it a nonemergency. Id.
Plaintiff arrived at Lawrence, Nurse Arbuckle (not a
defendant in this action) completed his intake examination.
(Doc. 19, p. 11). Plaintiff complained to Nurse Arbuckle
about his digestive issues. Id. She explained that
the purpose of an intake examination is to identify serious
issues such as risk for a heart attack and suicidal ideation.
(Doc. 19, p. 12). Nurse Arbuckle said she would place
Plaintiff on sick call so another medical official could
evaluate his digestive symptoms. Id.
early February 2015, Plaintiff was seen by Jane Doe Nurse No.
21. Id. Plaintiff complained to Jane Doe Nurse No.
21 about indigestion, gas, cramping, constipation, and loose
bowels. Id. Jane Doe Nurse No. 21 referred Plaintiff
for further treatment with a physician, but the referral was
limited to treatment for indigestion and did not reference
his other symptoms. Id.
February 11, 2015, Plaintiff was examined by Dr. Coe.
Id. Dr. Coe diagnosed Plaintiff with
gastroesophageal reflux disease (“GERD”) and
prescribed antacids. (Doc. 19, pp. 13-14). Dr. Coe refused to
discuss Plaintiff's other symptoms, stating he “was
not here for that.” (Doc. 19, p. 13). Plaintiff also
told Dr. Coe he believed his symptoms might be related to a
food allergy or sensitivity and/or thyroid problems.
Id. Plaintiff told Dr. Coe he suspected thyroid
problems because his sister has thyroid issues. (Doc. 19, p.
14). Dr. Coe refused to address any of these issues. (Doc.
19, pp. 13-14).
claims that Dr. Coe refused to address his other symptoms
because he was enforcing a cost-cutting policy implemented by
Wexford. Id. According to Plaintiff, Wexford has
implemented a policy directing staff to restrict sick call
referrals and medical appointments to one medical issue per
visit. Id. Pursuant to this policy, a prisoner may
only discuss one medical issue per medical appointment; if a
prisoner is experiencing multiple issues he must request
additional appointments. Id. Plaintiff claims that
Dr. Coe enforced this policy because, if he successfully
controls costs, he receives financial incentives from
27, 2015, Plaintiff met with Dr. Paul (not a defendant in
this action) via teleconferencing regarding his recent blood
panels. (Doc. 19, p. 15). The testing revealed Plaintiff's
thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) was 3.42, which Plaintiff
describes as being “high but in range” (according
to Plaintiff normal range is .35 to 4.0). Id. Jane
Doe Nurse No. 23 told Dr. Paul she would discuss the results
with Dr. Coe and determine how he wanted to address any
potential thyroid concerns. Id. Plaintiff was not
immediately examined by Dr. Coe or put on thyroid medication
at that time. Id. Plaintiff does not know why his
treatment was delayed. Id.
after the visit with Dr. Paul, Plaintiff ran out of the
antacid medication previously prescribed by Dr. Coe.
Id. As a result, Plaintiff claims his digestive
symptoms returned. Id. According to Plaintiff, in an
effort to cut costs, Wexford has implemented policies that
delay prescription refills, meaning prisoners often run out
of medication. Id.
7, 2015, Plaintiff was seen by Nurse Kimmel. (Doc. 19, pp.
15-16). The purpose of the visit was to renew Plaintiff's
antacid prescription. Id. Plaintiff told Nurse
Kimmel he was experiencing the following symptoms: acid
reflux, causing burning in his throat and nose; waking up at
night with a choking sensation; excessive foul gas;
intestinal cramps; constipation; loose stools; vomiting and
dry heaving; and exhaustion. (Doc. 19, p. 16). Plaintiff
suggested his symptoms could be related to food allergies
and/or thyroid issues. Id. Plaintiff's
suggestion angered Nurse Kimmel, and she stated,
“McDonald's serves the same type of food and you
ate that before you got locked up.” Id.
Plaintiff disagreed, told Nurse Kimmel she was not qualified
to make a diagnosis, and asked for a physician referral.
Id. Nurse Kimmel then had an officer remove
Plaintiff from the nurse's station. Id. Nurse
Kimmel did refer Plaintiff for further treatment.
Id. However, the referral was limited to treatment
for Plaintiff's indigestion. Id.
13, 2015, Plaintiff was again examined by Dr. Coe.
Id. At that time, Dr. Coe renewed Plaintiff's
antacid prescription, but he refused to treat Plaintiff's
severe gas and irregular bowel movements. Id.
Plaintiff contends that Dr. Coe refused to discuss other
medical issues in furtherance of Wexford's cost cutting
policies and because he receives financial benefits for
controlling costs. (Doc. 19, pp. 16-17).
2015, Plaintiff's symptoms worsened. (Doc. 19, p. 17). He
was increasingly tired and constantly cold, and he developed
a rash on his back. Id.
February 5, 2016, Plaintiff received additional blood
testing, but thyroid testing was not performed. Id.
Approximately one week later, Plaintiff met with Dr. Coe to
request a refill on his antacid prescription. Id.
Plaintiff told Dr. Coe his symptoms were getting worse.
Id. He explained that he was constantly cold, had
developed a rash, and was excessively tired. Id.
Plaintiff requested additional thyroid testing and asked to
see a specialist. Id. Dr. Coe prescribed more
antacids, but the prescription was only for two months (as
opposed to six months). Id. Dr. Coe refused
Plaintiff's other requests. Id. In denying
Plaintiff's request for thyroid testing, Dr. Coe noted
that Plaintiff's previous TSH level, which was taken in
May 2015, was high but in range. Id. Plaintiff
claims that Dr. Coe refused to refer him to a specialist or
to order additional thyroid testing in an effort to control
costs. (Doc. 19, pp. 17-18).
February 18, 2016, Plaintiff was seen by Dr. Paul via
teleconferencing. (Doc. 19, p. 18). Dr. Paul told Plaintiff
his liver enzymes were very high. Id. Plaintiff
relayed his recent symptoms (weight gain, inability to stay
warm, exhaustion, headaches, joint and back pain, and a rash
on his back). Id. Dr. Paul indicated his symptoms
could be related to thyroid issues. Id. Dr. Paul
ordered additional blood testing, including another TSH test.
March 2, 2016, Plaintiff received additional blood testing,
and on March 16, 2016, Nurse Baker (not a defendant in this
action) told Plaintiff his TSH level was 4.82 (normal range
is .35 to 4.0). Id. Plaintiff believes that Nurse
Baker, with the approval of Dr. James, placed him on
medication to treat this condition and to treat the rash on
his back. Id. Specifically, Plaintiff was prescribed
Synthroid (to treat his elevated TSH level) and antibiotics
(to treat his rash). Id.
March 23, 2016, Plaintiff received his prescriptions, but
John Doe No. 3, the pharmacist, substituted Synthroid with
Levothyroxine. Id. The pharmacist did not disclose
the possible side effects of Levothyroxine. Id.
Within a few days of taking Levothyroxine, Plaintiff began
experiencing severe headaches, vertigo, difficulty
swallowing, and a sensation of having lumps or knots in his
throat. Id. Plaintiff complained to
“medical” about his symptoms by submitting
“2 requests.” Id. Plaintiff also
submitted a third request to Cunningham, the healthcare
April 1, 2016, Plaintiff received additional blood testing.
(Doc. 19, p. 19). The testing revealed that Plaintiff's
TSH level was 3.71. Id. Shortly thereafter, on April
7, 2016, Plaintiff's prescription for ...