United States District Court, C.D. Illinois
EDWARD J. BARKES, JR. Plaintiff,
STEVEN MEEKS, et al., Defendants.
MERIT REVIEW ORDER
MICHAEL M. MIHM UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
proceeding pro se, files an action under 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983 alleging deliberate indifference to his serious
medical needs at the Pontiac Correctional Center
(“Pontiac”). The case is before the Court for a
merit review pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. In reviewing
the Complaint, the Court accepts the factual allegations as
true, liberally construing them in Plaintiff's favor.
Turley v. Rednour, 729 F.3d 645, 649-51 (7th Cir.
2013). However, conclusory statements and labels are
insufficient. Enough facts must be provided to “state a
claim for relief that is plausible on its face.”
Alexander v. United States, 721 F.3d 418, 422 (7th
Cir. 2013)(citation and internal quotation marks omitted).
While the pleading standard does not require “detailed
factual allegations, ” it requires “more than an
accusation.” Wilson v. Ryker, 451 Fed.Appx.
588, 589 (7th Cir. 2011) quoting Ashcroft v. Iqbal,
556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009).
December 22, 2018, prior to the events at issue, Plaintiff
was incarcerated at the Menard Correctional Center
(“Menard”). On January 15, 2009, Dr. Munos,
presumably a physician at Menard, prescribed him a nine-week
regimen of Klonopin .5 mg daily for treatment of anxiety.
Plaintiff was subsequently transferred to Pontiac and, on
March 17, 2009, Defendant Dr. Matthews prescribed him
Klonopin 1 mg daily for six months. Plaintiff alleges that,
for the next 10 years, he was maintained on Klonopin despite
the risk of serious side effects, including addiction,
dementia, brain damage, nervous system damage, seizures and
severe tremors and shaking. Plaintiff alleges that after nine
years on the drug, he developed all of these symptoms as well
as a life-altering social anxiety.
alleges that Defendant psychiatrists and psychologists
Matthews, Dempsey, McCormick, Sangster, Puga and Basu knew
that the use of Klonopin for more than a six-month period
would result in addiction, dependence and debilitating side
effects. He claims that despite this knowledge, Defendants
wrongfully maintained him on long-term treatment, failed to
adequately monitor the side effects, failed to create a
long-term treatment plan to treat the anxiety, and failed to
create a treatment plan to address Plaintiff's addiction
Count II, Plaintiff asserts a claim against Steven Meeks, the
Medical Director of the Illinois Department of Corrections
(“IDOC”), and those individuals who preceded him
in office. Plaintiff claims that Defendant Meeks and the
prior IDOC Medical Directors acted in concert with Wexford
Health Sources, Inc., to maintain a formulary of
pharmaceuticals to be prescribed to prisoners. Plaintiff
asserts that the medical staff was limited to prescribing
formulary medications, leading to the over-prescription of
Klonopin. Plaintiff also asserts that Defendant Meeks and
Wexford, collectively, failed to hire enough staff so that
Plaintiff's mental health and neurological status could
have been adequately monitored.
Count III, Plaintiff alleges that Wexford Health Sources,
Inc., wrongfully denied him referral to a neurologist.
Plaintiff pleads that on October 30, 2018, Nurse Practitioner
Sarah Mara, not a party, examined Plaintiff for complaints of
dementia, seizures, uncontrollable shaking, and possible
brain damage. When Ms. Mara recommended referring Plaintiff
to a neurologist, Wexford denied the request. Plaintiff
asserts that this denial was in furtherance of Wexford's
widespread practice of denying referrals to outside providers
in an effort to save money.
names two Doe Defendants in the caption but directs no
allegations against them. Plaintiff requests compensatory and
punitive damages as well as injunctive relief, that he be
referred to a neurologist and that he be provided the
treatment recommended by the neurologist.
violate the Eighth Amendment where they are deliberately
indifferent to a prisoner's serious medical needs.
Snipes v DeTella, 95 F.3d 586, 590 (7th Cir. 1996),
citing Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. at 104, 97 S.Ct.
285 (1976). A claim does not rise to the level of an Eighth
Amendment violation, however, unless the punishment is
“deliberate or otherwise reckless in the criminal law
sense, which means that the defendant must have committed an
act so dangerous that his knowledge of the risk can be
inferred or that the defendant actually knew of an impending
harm easily preventable.” Antonella v.
Sheehan, 81 F.3d 1422, 1427 (7th Cir. 1996). Mere
negligence or even gross negligence does not constitute
deliberate indifference. Snipes, 95 F.3d at 590
(citations omitted). Furthermore, a prisoner's
dissatisfaction with a doctor's prescribed course of
treatment does not give rise to a constitutional claim unless
the medical treatment is “so blatantly inappropriate as
to evidence intentional mistreatment likely to seriously
aggravate the prisoner's condition.” Id.
at 591, citing Thomas v. Pate, 493 F.2d 151, 158
(7th Cir. 1974).
states a colorable claim that Defendants Matthews, Dempsey,
McCormick, Sangster, Puga and Basu maintained him on a
decade-long course of Klonopin while allegedly knowing that
continual use for more than six months would result in
addiction and serious side effects. The case will go forward
on this, and the claim that Defendants failed to adequately
monitor Plaintiff and create a treatment plan.
fails, however, to plead a claim against Defendants Meeks and
Wexford for the alleged over-prescription of Klonopin.
Plaintiff does not claim that Klonopin was the only
anti-anxiety medication in the formulary and, therefore, the
only medication that could have been given. The mere fact
that the medication was on the formulary does not make
Defendants Meeks or Wexford liable for the physicians and
psychologists allegedly over-prescribing it. Section 1983
limits liability to public employees “for their own
misdeeds, and not for anyone else's.” Burks v.
Raemisch, 555 F.3d 592, 595-96 (7th Cir.2009). To be
liable, a defendant must be “personally responsible for
the deprivation of a constitutional right.”
Sanville v. McCaughtry, 266 F.3d 724, 740 (7th
Cir.2001) (quoting Chavez v. Ill. State Police, 251
F.3d 612, 651 (7th Cir.2001)). “A defendant will be
deemed to have sufficient personal responsibility if he
directed the conduct causing the constitutional violation, or
if it occurred with his knowledge or consent.” Ames
v. Randle, 933 F.Supp.2d 1028, 1037-38 (N.D.Ill.2013)
(quoting Sanville, 266 F.3d at 740). These claims
are DISMISSED though Plaintiff will be given an opportunity
to amend in the event that he is able to state a claim.
also asserts that Defendants Meeks and Wexford are liable for
not hiring enough staff to adequately monitor him and
formulate treatment plans. Here, however, Plaintiff reveals
that he was treated by six different mental health providers.
He offers nothing to support that, had more providers been
available, he would have received better or different
treatment. This claim is also DISMISSED though Plaintiff will
be given an opportunity to replead it.
also asserts a claim against Wexford under Monell v.
Dep't of Social Servs. Of City of New York, 436 U.S.
658, 690-91 (1978). Monell provides that a private
corporation acting under color of law may be liable for a
constitutional injury caused by its policies, practices or
customs. Here, Plaintiff asserts that a medical professional
recommended that he be evaluated by a specialist for alarming
neurological symptoms he was experiencing. As Plaintiff