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Daniel v. Justice

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

October 4, 2019

ASHTON DANIEL, #R69925, Plaintiff,
v.
NIKOLE JUSTICE, K. HAMMERSIEY, KAREN SMOOT, and JEFF DENNISON, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          NANCY J. ROSENSTENGEL CHIEF U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Plaintiff Ashton Daniel, an inmate of the Illinois Department of Corrections who is currently incarcerated at Shawnee Correctional Center (“Shawnee”), brings this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff claims that Defendants provided him with inadequate medical treatment. Following an initial screening of the Complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, Plaintiff was allowed to proceed on an Eighth Amendment claim of inadequate mental health treatment against Dennison, Justice, Hammersiey, and Allard for denying Plaintiff mental health services for fourteen months (Count 1). (Doc. 6).

         After Defendants filed an answer to the Complaint, Plaintiff filed a Motion for Leave to File an Amended Complaint and submitted a proposed amended complaint. (Doc. 27). Defendants did not file a response to the motion. The Court now considers the Motion for Leave to File an Amended Complaint.

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15(a) provides that leave to amend should be freely given when justice so requires. The Seventh Circuit maintains a liberal attitude toward the amendment of pleadings “so that cases may be decided on the merits and not on the basis of technicalities.” Stern v. U.S. Gypsum, Inc., 547 F.2d 1329, 1334 (7th Cir. 1977). The Circuit recognizes that “the complaint merely serves to put the defendant on notice and is to be freely amended or constructively amended as the case develops, as long as amendments do not unfairly surprise or prejudice the defendant.” Toth v. USX Corp., 883 F.2d 1297, 1298 (7th Cir. 1989). A court may also deny a party leave to amend if there is undue delay, dilatory motive or futility. Guise v. BMW Mortgage, LLC, 377 F.3d 795, 801 (7th Cir. 2004).

         Plaintiff's motion is not unduly delayed or brought with any apparent dilatory motive. Nonetheless, the First Amended Complaint is still subject to review under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A.[1]Accordingly, prior to granting leave to amend, the Court will screen the First Amended Complaint in accordance with this statute.

         Amended Complaint

         In the First Amended Complaint, as also stated in the original Complaint (Doc. 1), Plaintiff alleges that he was denied mental health and medical treatment for his manic depression and insomnia for fourteen months. He brings this claim against existing Defendants Justice and Hammersiey, and new Defendant Karen Smoot, Administrator of Health Care. He alleges that Defendants are no longer treating his manic depression and insomnia, and that Justice wrongly reported that: (1) Plaintiff only needs to be seen once a month; (2) Plaintiff had no need to see a psychiatrist; and (3) Plaintiff's conditions of manic depression and insomnia were nothing more than sleep disturbances. He claims that Justice and Smoot are informing inmates that they no longer give medication for sleep disturbances, and that Justice and Smoot are denying him medication and to treat his insomnia because of his past abuse of medication.

         Plaintiff also voluntarily dismisses Defendants Jeff Dennison and Harry Allard and modifies his request for relief.

         Upon review of the First Amended Complaint, the Court finds that Plaintiff has pled the following claim:

         Count 1: Eighth Amendment claim of inadequate medical treatment against Justice, Hammersiey, and Smoot for denying Plaintiff mental health services and medical treatment for fourteen months and continuing to provide inadequate treatment for Plaintiff's manic depression and insomnia.

         The parties and the Court will use this designation in all future pleadings and orders, unless otherwise directed by a judicial officer of this Court. Any other claim that is mentioned in the First Amended Complaint but not addressed in this Order should be considered dismissed without prejudice as inadequately pled under the Twombly pleading standard.[2]

         Plaintiff's claims that Defendants have denied him medical treatment and continued to provide inadequate treatment for his manic depression and insomnia are sufficient state a claim of deliberate indifference to a serious medical need against Justice, Hammersiey, and Smoot. See Sanvill v. McCaughtry, 266 F.3d 724, 733 (7th Cir. 2001); Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 104 (1976). Accordingly, Count 1, as designated in this Order, survives preliminary review.

         His request to dismiss all claims against Dennison and Allard is granted. See Taylor v. Brown, 787 F.3d 851, 858 (7th Cir. 2015). Because Plaintiff is seeking injunctive relief, Dennison, as the warden of Shawnee, shall remain a defendant in his official capacity only. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 17(d) & 21; Gonzalez v. Feinerman, 663 F.3d 311, 315 (7th Cir. 2011) (proper defendant in a claim for injunctive relief is the government official responsible for ensuring any injunctive relief is carried out).

         Request for Preliminary Hearing and ...


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