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Owens v. Wexford Health Sources, Inc.

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

June 5, 2019

JAMES OWENS, K-83253, Plaintiff,
v.
WEXFORD HEALTH SOURCES, INC., NICHOLAS LAMB, CUNNINGHAM, LORI JACKMAN, DON McFARLAND, JOHN COE, DeDe BROOKHART, COUNSELOR SCHOON, COUNSELOR STRUBHART, COUNSELOR PETTY, COUNSELOR McCASLIN, JOHN DOE 1 Wexford Employees, and JOHN DOE 2 Medical Personnel, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          NANCY J. ROSENSTENGEL CHIEF U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Plaintiff James Owens's Second Amended Complaint filed pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 is now before the Court for a preliminary review. (Doc. 19). In this latest Complaint, Owens alleges that he was denied medication for joint pain and sinus congestion by eleven known and numerous unknown defendants at Lawrence Correctional Center (“Lawrence”) from 2012 through 2017. (Id. at pp. 1-70). He seeks declaratory judgment, money damages, and injunctive relief.[1] (Id. at p. 19). The Court notes that this case is one of several lawsuits Owens filed to address these claims. Owens v. Duncan, No. 14-cv-00510-MJR-SCW (S.D. Ill. 2014) (“2014 case”); Owens v. Duncan, No. 15- cv-01169-MJR-SCW (S.D. Ill. 2015) (“2015 case”); Owens v. Lamb, No. 17-cv-00667-SMY-RJD (S.D. Ill. 2017) (“2017 case”).

         The Second Amended Complaint is now subject to preliminary review pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. Under Section 1915A, the Court is required to screen prisoner complaints to filter out non-meritorious claims. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). Any portion of the Second Amended 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 must be dismissed. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b). The factual allegations must be liberally construed. Rodriguez v. Plymouth Ambulance Serv., 577 F.3d 816, 821 (7th Cir. 2009).

         Second Amended Complaint

         The Second Amended Complaint sets forth the following allegations (Doc. 19, pp. 1-19): Owens suffers from daily pain in his left hip and lower back. (Id. at pp. 4, 14). In recent years, he has transitioned from using a cane to requiring a wheelchair. To manage his pain, doctors have prescribed Owens the maximum daily dosage of Mobic and Naproxen.[2] He also suffers from blinding headaches and sinus congestion associated with an environmental allergy. Since 2014, he has been prescribed the maximum daily dosage of Claritin and Chlor-Trimeton[3] (CTM). (Id.)

         Owens complains of lapses in these medications that have occurred during his incarceration at Lawrence from December 2012 to May 2017. He sets forth a detailed chronology in a timeline spanning nine pages and five years. (Id. at pp. 5-13). But the timeline mentions only three defendants: Doctor Coe;[4] DeDe Brookhart;[5] and Counselor Petty.[6] Owens omits reference to all other defendants.[7] He instead refers to non-parties by name (e.g., “N.P. Phillippe” and “Boswell Pharmacy”) or uses generic names for others (e.g., “the warden, ” “my counselor, ” “cellhouse lieutenant, ” “sick call nurse, ” “medical director, ” “grievance officer, ” “CAO, ” and “ARB”).

         Owens then asserts that the “defendants - to be named through discovery” failed to provide him with medications prescribed by Illinois Department of Corrections doctors, including his Naproxen for a total of 274 days and CTM for 234 days. (Id. at p. 14). Medical records allegedly reveal that Boswell Pharmacy did not provide Owens with 270 of 1, 110 Mobic tablets, 262 of 2, 472 Naproxen tablets, and 880 of 3, 498 CTM tablets. He allegedly requested blister packs 60 times and filed 14 grievances. In addition, Owens spoke with Assistant Warden Brookhart five times, Medical Director Cunningham twice, and other non-parties. Owens blames Wexford Health Sources, Inc., Cunningham, Coe, McFarland, and Jackman for failing to ensure compliance with Wexford's standard medication protocol. (Id. at pp. 15-18). Finally, he claims that the increase in medication lapses after filing his 2014 case supports a retaliation claim against defendants. (Id. at pp. 18-19).

         The Court previously divided this pro se action into three counts. Upon review of the Second Amended Complaint, the Court now divides the claims into two counts, which the parties and the Court should use in all future pleadings and orders in this case, unless otherwise directed:

Count 1: Eighth Amendment deliberate indifference claim against Defendants for failing or refusing to provide Owens with adequate supplies of Naproxen, Mobic, CTM, and Claritin.
Count 2: First Amendment retaliation claim against Defendants for refusing to refill Owens's prescriptions for Naproxen, Mobic, CTM, and Claritin because he filed suit against Lawrence medical staff in Owens v. Duncan, No. 14-cv-510-MJR-SCW (S.D. Ill. filed May 5, 2014).

         The designation of these counts does not constitute an opinion as to their merit. Any other claim that is mentioned in the Second Amended Complaint but not addressed in this Order should be considered dismissed without prejudice.

         Discussion

         Count 1

         To state an Eighth Amendment claim based on the denial of adequate medical care, a plaintiff must establish: (1) the existence of a sufficiently serious medical condition (i.e., objective standard); and (2) each defendant's deliberate indifference to that condition ...


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