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Ruffin v. Trotter

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

November 18, 2019

MWAMBA M. RUFFIN, #B72799, Plaintiff,
v.
L. TROTTER, HALEY BASNETT, and NURSE BROOKS, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          STACI M. YANDLE, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Plaintiff Mwamba Ruffin, an inmate in the custody of the Illinois Department of Corrections (“IDOC”) and incarcerated at Big Muddy River Correctional Center (“Big Muddy”), brings this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for the alleged denial of mental health treatment at Lawrence Correctional Center (“Lawrence”). (Doc. 1). Plaintiff asserts an Eighth Amendment deliberate indifference claim (Count 1) and an Illinois medical negligence claim (Count 2) against the defendants.[1] (Id.). He seeks monetary relief from them. (Id. at p. 7).

         This case is 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. 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

         Plaintiff makes the following allegations in the Complaint: Plaintiff has been denied mental health treatment by Defendants Trotter, Basnett, and Brooks since June 2017. (Doc. 1, pp. 3-4, 6, 29-34, 40-43). Plaintiff does not disclose his exact diagnosis but includes documentation with the Complaint that refers to his history of depression and his treatment with two prescription medications commonly used for depression and/or bipolar disorder, Lamictal (i.e., Lamotrigine) and Remeron (i.e., Mirtazapine). (Id. at pp. 10, 13, 29-34). He also includes numerous grievances complaining of the ongoing denial of adequate and confidential mental health treatment. (Id.).

         Based on the allegations in the Complaint and the information contained in the attachments thereto, the Court designates the following Counts in this pro se action:

Count 1: Eighth Amendment claim against Defendants Trotter, Basnett, and Brooks for their deliberate indifference to Plaintiff's mental health needs at Lawrence. (Doc. 1, pp. 3-4, 6, 29-34, 40-43).
Count 2: Illinois medical negligence claim against Defendants Trotter, Basnett, and Brooks for delaying or denying Plaintiff access to mental health treatment at Lawrence. (Doc. 1, pp. 3-4, 6, 29-34, 40-43).

         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.

         Discussion

         Count 1

         An Eighth Amendment claim based on the denial of medical care or mental health treatment requires an inmate to show that he suffered from an objectively serious medical condition and that each defendant responded to it with deliberate indifference. Rasho v. Elyea, 856 F.3d 469, 476 (7th Cir. 2017). Plaintiff's documented history and treatment for depression satisfies the objective standard of this claim for screening purposes. Meriwether v. Falkner, 821 F.2d 408, 413 (7th Cir. 1987). The defendants' denial or disregard of his numerous requests for mental health treatment satisfies the subjective component at screening. Rasho, 856 F.3d at 476. Count 1 will therefore receive further review against all three defendants.

         Count 2

         Plaintiff's medical negligence claim derives from the same facts as his federal constitutional claim and will be allowed to proceed at this stage. 28 U.S.C. § 1367(a). However, to ultimately pursue this claim, before the completion of the summary judgment phase of the case, Plaintiff must file an affidavit stating that “there is a reasonable and meritorious cause” for litigation against the defendants and a physician's report to support the assertions in ...


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