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Remmer v. Wexford Health Sources, Inc.

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

August 22, 2019

DARREN REMMER, #K54667, Plaintiff,


          J. Phil Gilbert United States District Judge

         Plaintiff Darren Remmer, an inmate of the Illinois Department of Corrections (“IDOC”) who is currently incarcerated at Lincoln Correctional Center (“Lincoln”), brings this action for deprivations of his constitutional rights. Plaintiff alleges that he has not received adequate medical care for two hernias that he sustained while working as an inmate aid in the medical unit of Lawrence Correctional Center (“Lawrence”). He seeks monetary damages and any other relief the Court deems appropriate.

         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). At this juncture, the factual allegations of the pro se complaint are to be liberally construed. Rodriguez v. Plymouth Ambulance Serv., 577 F.3d 816, 821 (7th Cir. 2009).

         The Complaint

         In his Complaint, Remmer alleges that his problems began on November 25, 2017, when he reported to work at Lawrence Correctional Center as a prison healthcare porter (Doc. 1 at 12). He alleges that on that date Defendant Dowdy requested his assistance with inmate Leonard Blair, a patient in the healthcare unit (Id.). Dowdy had discovered that Blair was dead, and she asked Re mmer t o help her move Blair from the bed to the floor. Blair weighed approximately 270 pounds (Id.). While moving him to the floor, Dowdy allegedly dropped Blair's feet, s o more weight shift ed to Remmer (Id. at 13). The sudden shift of weight caused Remmer to feel a strain in his groin area (Id.). Remmer reported the issue to Dowdy, who recommended that he file a request slip to see a doctor (Id.).

         Subsequently on November 27, 2017, Remmer informed Defendant Cunningham, the healthcare administrative director, about the incident and his injury (Id. at 13). Cunningham apologized for Remmer's involvement with Blair and Dowdy and immediately sent an email request for him to be seen by a doctor. Drs. Ahmed and Shah diagnosed Remmer with two inguinal hernias-one on the left and one on the right (Id.). Outside specialist, Dr. Guerriero, verified the diagnosis (Id.).

         Remmer alleges that Defendant Dowdy is responsible for physical and emotional trauma that he sustained as a result of being asked to help move a dead inmate's corpse (Id.). He suffers from chronic pain, nightmares, stress, depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder (“PTSD”) (Id. at 13-14). He was diagnosed with PTSD and now suffers side effects from the Paxil prescription he was given to cope with his symptoms (Id. at 14). Physically, he alleges that Nurse Dowdy exhibited deliberate indifference to his serious medical need by failing to provide pain relievers for his hernias or to make an immediate recommendation that he see a doctor (Id.). He seeks $1 million dollars in compensation from Defendant Dowdy.

         Remmer also alleges that Defendant Dr. Ahmed was deliberately indifferent to his serious medical needs because he failed to order hernia surgery on two occasions, he failed to supply adequate pain medications, and he did not adequately address blood pressure problems. First, he alleges that Ahmed refused to recommend hernia surgery because Wexford would not pay for surgery for inguinal reducible hernias (Id. at 15). Remmer worked around this refusal and secured surgery on January 24, 2018, by pursuing an emergency grievance with Warden Lamb and Director Cunningham (Id. at 15-16). After the surgery on his left side, the outside care provider recommended that he follow-up in a few months to address the second hernia. Defendant Ahmed refused to make a second recommendation for surgery (Id.). Subsequently, Dr. Ahmed informed Remmer that Wexford denied approval for a second surgery on June 8, 2018 (Id. at 16).

         Remmer claims that Ahmed was deliberately indifferent because he also did not provide alternative treatment by way of proper pain medications (Id. at 16-17). In the interim, Remmer claims that his blood pressure skyrocketed because of pain, and the medications he was prescribed were not helpful in treating the issue. He claims that on February 3, 2018, he was rushed to the hospital after being found unconscious and with a high blood pressure (Id. at 17). Later follow-up with a cardiologist resulted in new prescriptions (Id.). As a result of Defendant Ahmed's actions, he alleges that he was forced to suffer extreme and debilitating pain that interfered with his ability to carry on a normal life (Id. at 18). He seeks $1 million dollars in compensatory damages and $100, 000 in punitive damages (Id.).

         Likewise, Remmer alleges that Defendant Dr. Shah provided inadequate care for his serious medical needs (Id. at 18-19). Shah recommended a hernia belt and told Remmer not to lift over 15 pounds, but he did not recommend surgery because he believed Wexford would not pay for it (Id. at 18-19). After surgery, Shah was not responsive to Remmer's complaints about swelling and pain at the surgical site (Id. at 19). Remmer alleges that he suffered undue pain and suffering as a result of Shah's chosen course of treatments (Id.). He seeks $1 million dollars in compensatory damages and $100, 000 in punitive damages (Id. at 19-20).

         Finally, Remmer allege that Wexford violated his Eighth Amendment rights by maintaining a policy or practice of denying treatment because of the cost, regardless of his individual circumstances (Id. at 20-21). Despite his grievances about his hernias being deemed an emergency at the institutional level, Wexford refused to act or authorize surgery (Id.). Remmer alleges that it is not appropriate to deny care simply because a surgery is deemed elective (Id.). He seeks $1 million dollars in compensatory damages and $100, 000 in punitive damages.

         In support of his Complaint, Remmer appended more than eighty pages of medical records and grievances. The records are consistent with the allegations he makes in his pleadings regarding the nature of his injuries and the available treatment options.


         Based on the allegations in the Complaint, the Court finds it convenient to adopt the Counts in the pro se action as follows:

Count 1: Defendant Dowdy was deliberately indifferent by forcing Remmer to touch a deceased inmate's corpse, and for failing to provide any treatment for injuries ...

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