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Armour v. Santos

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

October 1, 2019



          Staci M. Yandle United States District Judge.

         Plaintiff Charles Armour, an inmate of the Illinois Department of Corrections (“IDOC”) who is currently incarcerated at Taylorville Correctional Center, brings this action for alleged deprivations of his constitutional rights pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff alleges that while at Centralia Correctional Center, Defendants were deliberately indifferent to his serious medical needs, in violation of the Eighth Amendment. He also asserts claims under the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”), 42 U.S.C. § 12101 et seq. and the Rehabilitation Act (“RA”), 29 U.S.C. §§ 794-94e. 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 in his Complaint (Doc. 1): Prior to Plaintiff's incarceration, he had spinal fusion surgery in his neck on the C-4 through C-7 vertebras. (Doc. 1, pp. 2 and 22). He also suffered from chronic lower back pain, degenerative disc disease, seizure/convulsive muscle spasms, and fibromyalgia. (Id. at pp. 2 and 30). The disease has progressed to the point where Plaintiff is now confined to a wheelchair due to his lower back pain. (Id. at pp. 3 and 38).

         Plaintiff was transferred to Centralia Correctional Center (“Centralia”) on June 8, 2016 and remained there until April 13, 2018. (Doc. 1, pp. 2-3). Despite the fact that he suffered from numerous muscle spasms, seizures, and convulsions, that his blood pressure would spike to dangerous levels, and that he lost use of his right arm, neither Dr. Santos nor Dr. Garcia would provide him with medical assistance. (Id. at pp. 3 and 4). His medical records prior to his incarceration indicated that he needed immediate surgical intervention for his lower back, but both doctors refused to refer Plaintiff to an outside neurologist. Dr. Santos also refused to order Plaintiff a wheelchair and other necessary devices for his condition. (Id. at p. 4). Dr. Garcia refused to prescribe Plaintiff adequate pain medication. Dr. Santos also continued ordering Plaintiff physical therapy, despite the fact that Plaintiff's physical therapists found it unsafe to continue with such therapy. (Id. at pp. 3-4). Several nurses, including Dana Shoemaker, Terry Dean, Tish Finney, Becky Pickett, and Beverly Habbea, were also aware that physical therapy had been discouraged, yet they implemented their own physical therapy, which caused painful muscle spasms and convulsions in Plaintiff's legs. (Id. at p. 6).

         Lisa Krebs was aware of Plaintiff's pre-incarceration medical history but also refused to provide him with necessary medical equipment including a wheelchair with removable arms. (Id. at p. 5). On numerous occasions, she was aware that Plaintiff defecated and urinated on himself but refused to provide him with access to the shower immediately, and Plaintiff remained in his own filth for seven to ten hours at a time. (Id.). The defendant nurses were also present when Plaintiff urinated on himself, but also refused to provide him with any cleaning supplies and refused to call a doctor when they witnessed his muscle convulsions. (Id. at pp. 6-7). Nursing Director Jessica Kneleb also witnessed these seizures in July 2017 and refused Plaintiff care as well as refused to contact his treating physician. (Id. at pp. 5-6).

         Robert Mueller and David Stock, both wardens at Centralia, implemented shower policies which limited showers to 3 to 11 pm and prevented Plaintiff from showering when he had incontinence incidents. (Id. at p. 8). As a result, Plaintiff developed sores due to the lack of showers. They also failed to refer him to an emergency room for his uncontrolled spasms.

         On April 5, 2018, Plaintiff had a medical emergency in his cell and requested medical attention from Correctional Officer Zerlinie. (Doc. 1, p. 9). Despite numerous requests for help, Zerlinie refused to provide Plaintiff with medical attention.

         Robyn Weh had access to Plaintiff's pre-incarceration and post-incarceration medical records but refused to provide him with his records upon request. (Doc. 1, p. 7). Weh also destroyed some of Plaintiff's medical records. As a result, Plaintiff was denied access to the courts and had difficulty obtaining an adequate evaluation and care for his medical condition.

         The deliberate indifference Plaintiff experienced from the medical staff at Centralia was the fault of Wexford Health Sources, Inc. and John Baldwin, the Director of IDOC. (Doc. 1, pp. 10-11). Wexford was responsible for the supervision of its staff and its staff's performance. Both Wexford and Baldwin implemented policies that prevented Plaintiff from receiving adequate medical care. (Id.).

         In addition to his claims for deliberate indifference, Plaintiff also asserts claims under the ADA and RA. He alleges that he suffers from a disability due to his chronic back pain, which leaves him confined to a wheelchair. Despite having a disability, Plaintiff was denied access to timely showers, the yard, and the law library, as well as accessible bathrooms and dormitory facilities. (Id. at pp. 9-10). He also was denied access to needed equipment including a specialized wheelchair, foot wear, and other orthopedic devices. (Id. at p. 10).

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

Count 1: V. Santos, A. Garcia, Lisa Krebs, and Jessica Kneleb were deliberately indifferent under the Eighth Amendment to Plaintiff's ...

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