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Mister v. Illinois Dept. of Corrections

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

June 17, 2019

SHARVELT MISTER, Plaintiff,
v.
ILLINOIS DEPT. OF CORRECTIONS, WEXFORD HEALTH SOURCES, INC., DR. SANTOS, LISA KREBS, and DR. JOHNNY, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          STACI M. YANDLE UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Plaintiff Sharvelt Mister, a former inmate[1] of the Illinois Department of Corrections (“IDOC”), brings this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for alleged constitutional deprivations that occurred at Centralia Correctional Center (“Centralia”). (Doc. 15). Plaintiff claims he received inadequate medical and dental care in violation of his Eighth Amendment rights. He seeks money damages and injunctive relief against IDOC, Wexford Health Sources, Dr. Santos, Dr. Johnny, and Lisa Krebs.[2] (Id.).

         The Second Amended Complaint[3] is now before the Court for preliminary review under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, which requires the Court to screen prisoner Complaints to filter out non-meritorious claims. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). Any portion of the Second Amended Complaint that is legally frivolous or malicious, fails to state a claim for relief, or requests money damages from an immune defendant must be dismissed. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b). At this juncture, the factual allegations are liberally construed. Rodriguez v. Plymouth Ambulance Serv., 577 F.3d 816, 821 (7th Cir. 2009).

         Second Amended Complaint

         Plaintiff makes the following allegations in the Second Amended Complaint (Doc. 15, pp. 1-30): After transferring to Centralia on February 6, 2015, Plaintiff was denied adequate medical and dental care for an undisclosed period of time.[4] (Id. at pp. 4-6). A specialist diagnosed him with a wrist and neck fracture, lower back injuries, and a stomach condition that required surgery. (Id. at pp. 4-6, 8). Dr. Santos and/or Nurse Krebs would not authorize surgery, refer him to a specialist for further evaluation, or explore other treatment options. (Id. at p. 11). They prescribed pain medication that was ineffective.[5] (Id. at p. 6). Plaintiff's condition deteriorated and he still suffers from pain. (Id.). During this same time period, Dentist Johnny and/or Nurse Krebs refused Plaintiff's request for a second set of dentures, despite his complaints of gum pain, swelling, and bleeding caused by his “worn out” set. (Id. at pp. 7, 12-13). Plaintiff maintains that Defendants' failure to treat these conditions resulted in unnecessary pain and suffering. (Id. at p. 9).

         Based on the allegations, the Court finds it convenient to divide the Second Amended Complaint into the following Counts:

Count 1: Eighth Amendment claim against Defendants for their deliberate indifference to Plaintiff's wrist and neck fractures, back injury, stomach condition, and resulting pain at Centralia beginning in 2015.
Count 2: Eighth Amendment claim against Defendants for their deliberate indifference to Plaintiff's dental pain, swelling, and bleeding at Centralia beginning in 2015.

         Any other claim that is mentioned in the Second Amended Complaint but not addressed herein is considered dismissed without prejudice as inadequately pled under Twombly.[6]

         Preliminary Dismissal

         IDOC must be dismissed from this action at the outset. The Eleventh Amendment bars suits in federal court against the State and its agencies for money damages. Will v. Mich. Dep't of State Police, 491 U.S. 58, 71 (1989); Wynn v. Southward, 251 F.3d 588, 592 (7th Cir. 2001). As this case now only involves a request for money damages, IDOC will be dismissed with prejudice on grounds of sovereign immunity.

         Counts 1 and 2

         The Eighth Amendment prohibits cruel and unusual punishment of inmates by prison officials. U.S. Const. amend. VIII. An Eighth Amendment claim for the denial of medical or dental care requires a plaintiff to show that (1) he suffered from a serious medical condition (objective element); and (2) each defendant was deliberately indifferent to a risk of serious harm from that condition (subjective element). Roe v. Elyea, 631 F.3d 843, 857 (7th Cir. 2011). A condition that significantly affects an individual's daily activities or involves chronic and substantial pain is considered objectively serious. Gutierrez v. Peters, 111 F.3d 1364, 1373 (7th Cir. 1997); Berry v. Peterman, 604 F.3d 435, 440 (7th Cir. 2010). The medical and dental conditions described in the Complaint satisfy the objective component of this claim at screening.

         Knowingly disregarding the condition or persisting in an ineffective course of treatment satisfies the subjective element. Conley v. Birch, 796 F.3d 742, 747 (7th Cir. 2015) (citations omitted). To state a valid claim, however, the allegations must at least suggest that the defendant was personally responsible for the constitutional deprivation. Sanville v. McCaughtry, 266 F.3d 724, 740 (7th Cir. 2001) (citations omitted) (personal responsibility may arise where the individual directly participates in, directs, or condones the conduct causing the violation). With respect to Count 1, the allegations suggest that Dr. Santos and Nurse Krebs responded to Plaintiff's fractured wrist and neck, back injuries, and stomach issues with deliberate indifference by prescribing ineffective pain medication and nothing more. Conley, 796 F.3d at 747 (provision of ibuprofen and ice pack to inmate suffering suspected fracture may amount to deliberate indifference). With respect to Count ...


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