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Harris v. Jones

United States District Court, C.D. Illinois

July 25, 2018

JONES, et al., Defendants.



         The plaintiff, proceeding pro se, and currently incarcerated at the Shawnee Correctional Center, was granted leave to proceed in forma pauperis. The case is now before the court for a merit review of plaintiff's claims. The court is required by 28 U.S.C. § 1915A to “screen” the plaintiff's complaint, and through such process to identify and dismiss any legally insufficient claim, or the entire action if warranted. A claim is legally insufficient if it “(1) is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted; or (2) seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief.” 28 U.S.C. § 1915A.

         In reviewing the complaint, the court accepts the factual allegations as true, liberally construing them in the plaintiff's favor. Turley v. Rednour, 729 F.3d 645, 649 (7th Cir. 2013). However, conclusory statements and labels are insufficient. Enough facts must be provided to “state a claim for relief that is plausible on its face.” Alexander v. U.S., 721 F.3d 418, 422 (7th Cir. 2013)(citation omitted). The court has reviewed the complaint and has also held a merit review hearing in order to give the plaintiff a chance to personally explain his claims to the court.

         Plaintiff filed this lawsuit pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 alleging that, while he was incarcerated at Pontiac Correctional Center, his knee became infected to the point where he was unable to walk. Plaintiff alleges that Defendant Jones, a correctional lieutenant, and Defendant Hawk, a nurse, refused to carry him to the healthcare unit, refused to provide treatment other than pain pills and ice, and charged him a $5 co-pay. Plaintiff alleges that he was then taken to a holding cell where Defendant Oelberg would not allow him to use the bathroom. Plaintiff alleges that he urinated on himself as a result. Plaintiff alleges Defendants Millard and King found him guilty of a disciplinary infraction.

         Plaintiff states a claim for deliberate indifference to a serious medical need against Defendants Jones and Hawk. See Petties v. Carter, 836 F.3d 722, 729-30 (7th Cir. 2016) (en banc). Plaintiff also states an Eighth Amendment conditions-of- confinement claim against Defendant Oelberg for the alleged denial of access to a toilet. Townsend v. Fuchs, 522 F.3d 765, 773 (7th Cir. 2008).

         Plaintiff does not state a claim based upon the charging of a co-pay for healthcare services. Poole v. Isaacs, 703 F.3d 1024 (7th Cir. 2012) (charging a co-pay is not unconstitutional). Defendants Millard and King did not have personal involvement in the alleged deprivations and the fact that they found him guilty of a disciplinary infraction is not, by itself, sufficient. Plaintiff's allegation that Defendant Hilgendorf escorted him to the holding cell does not allow for a plausible inference that Defendant Hilgendorf violated Plaintiff's constitutional rights.

         Plaintiff also does not state a claim against Defendant Wexford as no plausible inference arises that the denial of treatment was based upon a Wexford policy or practice. Monell v. Dep't of Social Srvcs. of City of New York, 436 U.S. 658 (1978). Finally, the Illinois Department of Corrections should also be dismissed as it is not a person amenable to suit. See Will v. Michigan Dep't of State Police, 491 U.S. 58, 71 (1989) (“[N]either a State[, ] nor its officials acting in their official capacities are “persons” under §1983.”).


         1. Pursuant to its merit review of the Complaint under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, the court finds that the plaintiff states Eighth Amendment claims for (1) deliberate indifference to a serious medical need against Defendants Jones and Hawks, and (2) conditions of confinement against Defendant Oelberg. Any additional claims shall not be included in the case, except at the court's discretion on motion by a party for good cause shown or pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15.

         2. This case is now in the process of service. The plaintiff is advised to wait until counsel has appeared for the defendants before filing any motions, in order to give the defendants notice and an opportunity to respond to those motions. Motions filed before defendants' counsel has filed an appearance will generally be denied as premature. The plaintiff need not submit any evidence to the court at this time, unless otherwise directed by the court.

         3. The court will attempt service on the defendants by mailing each defendant a waiver of service. The defendants have 60 days from the date the waiver is sent to file an answer. If the defendants have not filed answers or appeared through counsel within 90 days of the entry of this order, the plaintiff may file a motion requesting the status of service. After the defendants have been served, the court will enter an order setting discovery and dispositive motion deadlines.

         4. With respect to a defendant who no longer works at the address provided by the plaintiff, the entity for whom that defendant worked while at that address shall provide to the clerk said defendant's current work address, or, if not known, said defendant's forwarding address. This information shall be used only for effectuating service. Documentation of forwarding addresses shall be retained only by the clerk and shall not be maintained in the public docket nor disclosed by the clerk.

         5. The defendants shall file an answer within 60 days of the date the waiver is sent by the clerk. A motion to dismiss is not an answer. The answer should include all defenses appropriate under the Federal Rules. The answer and subsequent pleadings shall be to the issues and claims stated in this opinion. In general, an answer sets forth the defendants' positions. The court does not rule on the merits of those positions unless and until a motion is filed by the defendants. Therefore, no response to the answer is necessary or will be considered.

         6. This district uses electronic filing, which means that, after defense counsel has filed an appearance, defense counsel will automatically receive electronic notice of any motion or other paper filed by the plaintiff with the clerk. The plaintiff does not need to mail to defense counsel copies of motions and other papers that the plaintiff has filed with the clerk. However, this does not apply to discovery requests and responses. Discovery requests and responses are not filed with the clerk. The plaintiff must mail his discovery requests and responses directly to defendants' counsel. Discovery requests or responses sent to the clerk will be returned unfiled, unless they are attached to and the subject of ...

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