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Vickerss v. Gertch

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

June 14, 2019




         Plaintiff Tracey Vickers, an inmate of the Illinois Department of Corrections (“IDOC”) who is currently incarcerated at Lawrence Correctional Center (“Lawrence”), brings this action for deprivations of his constitutional rights pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. In the Complaint, Plaintiff alleges Defendants were deliberately indifferent in the treatment of his broken ankle. He asserts claims against the defendants under the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments. Plaintiff seeks monetary damages and injunctive relief.

         This case is now before the Court for preliminary review of the Complaint 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 a 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 Complaint

         Plaintiff makes the following allegations: At 7:05 a.m. on July 12, 2018, while working in the kitchen at Lawrence, Plaintiff fell on a wet and slippery floor in the bathroom, breaking his left ankle. (Doc. 1, p. 9). He had previously reported the wet and slippery condition of the bathroom to Dietary Supervisors Kohn and Gertch, but the conditions were ignored. He reported the injury to Dietary Security Supervisor Sanders and Gertch, but they refused to send him to the healthcare unit. Gertch informed Plaintiff that it was probably just twisted. Instead of getting medical attention, Plaintiff was sent back to his housing unit for a scheduled appointment to have his picture taken. (Id. at pp. 9-10). In his housing unit, he reported the injury to C/O Rue, who provided him with ice and told him to take ibuprofen, but informed Plaintiff that the dietary staff would have to send him to the healthcare unit, because that was where he injured his ankle. (Id. at pp. 9-10).

         Plaintiff returned to work and again asked Sanders and Gertch to go to the healthcare unit but they refused, despite Plaintiff showing them his discolored and swollen ankle. (Doc. 1, pp. 11-12). Plaintiff continued to work in dietary on his injured ankle for several hours until Lt. McCarthy came to dietary. (Id. at pp. 12-13). Plaintiff showed McCarthy his ankle, which was swollen, and McCarthy called the healthcare unit. Plaintiff went to the healthcare unit on his own and waited fifteen minutes for Nurse Ward to take his vitals. (Id. at p. 13). Nurse Ward examined him, and he was then seen by Dr. Ahmed who ordered x-rays. Dr. Ahmed informed Plaintiff that his ankle was broken in three places and sent him to an outside hospital for care. (Id.).

         Plaintiff was transported to Richland Memorial Hospital in Olney, Illinois, by C/O's Sloan and Hawes who shackled his legs, despite Plaintiff informing them that his ankle was broken in three places and he could not walk. (Doc. 1, p. 13). They made him walk on his ankle despite the injury. At the hospital, Plaintiff was informed that his ankle was further damaged from the delay he experienced in being transported to the hospital and from walking on the ankle all morning. (Id. at p. 14). Plaintiff required surgical repair of his ankle including eight screws, two pins, and two plates to hold his ankle together. (Id. at pp. 14-15).

         Plaintiff was released from the hospital on July 14, 2018. He was provided with crutches and instructions not to put weight on his foot. Upon his arrival at the prison, Nurse Ward had him walk to his housing unit. (Doc. 1, p. 15). When he almost fell, she brought him a wheelchair. Plaintiff describes the wheelchair as a “reject”-it had a missing sideboard and footrest, and the seat was torn. Plaintiff saw Ahmed upon his return and was reminded not to bear any weight on the foot. (Id. at p. 16). Plaintiff complained of pain and wrote requests to the healthcare unit on several occasions. Dr. Ahmed saw Plaintiff on August 4, 2018, when Plaintiff's cast started splitting. Despite the cast splitting and Dr. Ahmed stating that the ankle might not heal properly because of the issues with the cast, Dr. Ahmed did not do anything further with Plaintiff's ankle. (Id.).

         The cast was eventually removed Plaintiff's leg, and he was instructed to walk on his left foot. Although he was prescribed Trammadol/Ultram for the pain by the surgeon, it was ineffective. (Doc. 1, p. 16). He continued to suffer from pain in the ankle and reported the pain to N.P. Stover on September 12, 2018. N.P. Stover increased his ibuprofen dosage. (Id. at p. 17). He continued to suffer from pain. During a visit with the surgeon in October, the surgeon deferred to Dr. Ahmed on Plaintiff's pain management and rehabilitation. Plaintiff continued to complain of pain and was seen by Nurse Welty on November 8, 2018, who told him he would have to wait for his follow-up appointment on November 21, 2018. (Id. at p. 18). Plaintiff saw Dr. Shah on November 21, 2018, but he just told him not to use ice for swelling. Plaintiff continued to submit nurse call requests for pain and was seen by N.P. Stover on February 25, 2019, who recommended that he have a follow-up with the surgeon. (Id. at pp. 18-19). Plaintiff continues to suffer from pain and swelling, but his nurse sick call passes are cancelled or rescheduled. Plaintiff alleges that his treatment at Lawrence is a result of the racial animus that the staff has towards African American inmates.


         Based on the allegations in the Complaint, the Court finds it convenient to divide the pro se action into the following five counts:

Count 1: Dietary Supervisor Kohn, Dietary Supervisor Gertch, and Dietary Supervisor Densmore were deliberately indifferent under the Eighth Amendment to Plaintiff's conditions of confinement when they ignored complaints of wet and slippery floors.
Count 2: C/O Sanders, Dietary Supervisor Gertch, C/O Rue, Lt. McCarthy, Nurse Ward, and Dr. Ahmed were deliberately indifferent under the Eighth Amendment to Plaintiff's broken ankle.
Count 3: C/O Sloan and C/O Hawes were deliberately indifferent under the Eighth Amendment when they made Plaintiff walk, ...

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