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Greenn v. Wexford Health Sources Inc.

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

August 9, 2019

JEROME GREEN, Plaintiff,
v.
WEXFORD HEALTH SOURCES INC. and DR. RITZ, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          PHIL GILBERT UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Plaintiff Jerome Green, an inmate of the Illinois Department of Corrections (“IDOC”) who is currently incarcerated at Menard Correctional Center, brings this action for deprivations of his constitutional rights pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. In the Complaint, Plaintiff alleges Dr. Ritz and Wexford Health Sources, Inc. (“Wexford”) was deliberately indifferent in treating Plaintiff's keloid, in violation of the Eighth Amendment. Plaintiff seeks monetary damages.

         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

         In his Complaint, Plaintiff makes the following allegations (Doc. 1): Beginning in April 2017, Plaintiff started experiencing breathing problems due to a large keloid located on the side of his neck. (Doc. 1, p. 4). The keloid grew to three times its original size and eventually burst open and became infected. (Id. at pp. 4-5). Despite putting in several requests and asking Dr. Ritz to have the swollen keloid removed, Dr. Ritz, the utilization manager for Wexford, denied Plaintiff's requests for the removal and only provided Plaintiff with aspirin despite being in serious pain. (Id. at p. 6). The keloid eventually “erupted” and became infected, but Plaintiff was only provided with Band-Aids and tape, as well as a feed in permit due to the infection. (Id. at pp. 5, 7). Plaintiff suffered with the keloid for over a year before he was finally referred Plaintiff for outside surgery. (Id. at pp. 6-7). Plaintiff further alleges that Wexford is liable for Dr. Ritz's actions as he is their employee and acted on their behalf. (Id. at p. 5).

         Discussion

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

Count 1: Dr. Ritz and Wexford Health Sources Inc. were deliberately indifferent under the Eighth Amendment in delaying Plaintiff's removal of his keloid.

         The parties and the Court will use these designations in all future pleadings and orders, unless otherwise directed by a judicial officer of this Court. Any other claim that is mentioned in the Complaint but not addressed in this Order should be considered dismissed without prejudice as inadequately pled under the Twombly pleading standard.[1]

         Plaintiff states a viable claim for deliberate indifference against Dr. Ritz for delaying Plaintiff's surgery for the removal of his keloid for over a year. Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 104 (1976); Chatham v. Davis, 839 F.3d 679, 684 (7th Cir. 2016); Gomez v. Randle, 680 F.3d 859, 865 (7th Cir. 2012) (delay in treatment).

         However, Plaintiff fails to state a claim against Wexford for deliberate indifference. Wexford is a private corporation that employs prison medical providers to provide medical care at the prison. However, the corporation cannot be liable on this basis alone because respondeat superior liability is not recognized under § 1983. Shields v. Illinois Dept. of Corr., 746 F.3d 782 (7th Cir. 2014) (citing Iskander v. Village of Forest Park, 690 F.2d 126, 128 (7th Cir. 1982)). Thus, Plaintiff fails to state a claim against Wexford when he alleges that it is responsible for Dr. Ritz's actions. Wexford will only be liable for deliberate indifference if an unconstitutional policy or practice of the corporation caused the constitutional deprivation. Plaintiff cites to only a vague practice of employees “cutting corners” and “denying adequate and timely medical care” without pointing to a specific policy or practice that is attributable to Wexford and which caused his constitutional deprivation. See Olive v. Wexford Corp., 494 Fed.Appx. 671, 673 (7th Cir. 2012) (allegation that Wexford had a policy of “denying prison inmates adequate medical care” insufficient, as it did not “identify any concrete policy, let alone an unconstitutional one”). As such, Wexford is DISMISSED without prejudice from Count 1.

         Disposition

         IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that Count 1 shall proceed as to Dr. Ritz, but Wexford Health Sources, Inc. is DISMISSED without prejudice. The Clerk is DIRECTED to TERMINATE Wexford Health Sources, Inc. from the Court's Case Management/Electronic Case Filing (“CM/ECF”) system.

         IT IS ORDERED that the Clerk of Court shall prepare for Defendant Dr. Ritz: (1) Form 5 (Notice of a Lawsuit and Request to Waive Service of a Summons), and (2) Form 6 (Waiver of Service of Summons). The Clerk is DIRECTED to mail these forms, a copy of the Complaint, and this Memorandum and Order to the defendant's place of employment as identified by Plaintiff. If the defendant fails to sign and return the Waiver of Service of Summons (Form 6) to the Clerk within 30 days from the date the forms were sent, the Clerk shall take appropriate steps to effect formal service on the ...


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