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Green v. Palm

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

October 10, 2019

STEPHEN D. GREEN, #K91760, Plaintiff,
v.
DAVE PALM, and RONALD VITALE, ROB JEFFREYS, SUSAN GRIFFIN, DR. AFUWAPE, WEXFORD HEALTH SOURCE, INC., ST. ELIZABETH'S HOSPITAL, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

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

         Plaintiff Stephen Green, an inmate of the Illinois Department of Corrections (“IDOC”) who is currently incarcerated at Southwestern Illinois Correctional Center (“Southwestern Illinois CC”), brings this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for deprivations of his constitutional rights. Plaintiff claims that after a pallet of sandbags was dropped on his foot, he received inadequate medical care. He seeks monetary damages and injunctive relief.

         Plaintiff's Complaint is now before the Court for preliminary review 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. Rodriquez v. Plymouth Ambulance Serv., 577 F.3d 816, 821 (7th Cir. 2009).

         The Complaint

         Plaintiff makes the following allegations: On June 7, 2019, correctional officer Dave Palm lowered a pallet of sandbags onto his foot. (Doc. 1, p. 6). That same day Plaintiff was examined by Dr. Afuwape, who grabbed and twisted his injured foot. Plaintiff was taken to St. Elizabeth's Hospital, where he was kept chained and confined to a transport wheelchair. He was not allowed to have an MRI or to be examined on an examination table. On July 10, 2019, despite trying to show Dr. Afuwape paperwork from St. Elizabeth's Hospital and telling Dr. Afuwape that he was still experiencing pain in his foot, Dr. Afuwape took Plaintiff's crutches. Id. at p. 7. Health Care Administrator, Susan Griffin, also knew Plaintiff still had persistent foot pain and disregarded the paperwork from the hospital. Id.

         Discussion

         Based on the allegations in the Complaint, the Court finds it convenient to designate the following three Counts:

Count 1: Eighth Amendment claim of deliberate indifference to Plaintiff's safety against Palm, Vitale, and Jeffreys.
Count 2: Illinois state law claim of negligence against Palm, Vitale, and Jeffreys.
Count 3: Eighth Amendment claim of deliberate indifference to a serious medical need against Vitale, Griffin, Dr. Afuwape, Wexford, and St. Elizabeth's Hospital.

         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 claim that is mentioned in the Complaint but not addressed in this Order is considered dismissed without prejudice as inadequately pled under the Twombly[1] pleading standard.

         Count 1

         The Eighth Amendment's prohibition of cruel and unusual punishment requires prison officials to “take reasonable measures to ensure an inmate's safety.” Christopher v. Buss, 384 F.3d 879, 882 (7th Cir. 2004) (citing Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825 (1994)). “To state a claim premised on prison officials' failure to protect him from harm, [plaintiff] must allege that the defendants knew of and disregarded an ‘excessive risk' to his ‘health and safety.'” Id. An excessive risk “is one that society considers so grave that to expose any unwilling individual to it would offend contemporary standards of decency”. Id. (citing Helling v. McKinney, 503 U.S. 25, 36 (1993)).

         Because Plaintiff claims a pallet of sandbags was lowered onto his foot causing an injury that required treatment by an outside hospital, he has alleged enough to demonstrate that his work conditions exposed him to a sufficiently serious risk of harm at the pleading stage. He also claims that Warden Vitale was present onsite for several days supervising the sandbag operations, knew about the unsafe ...


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