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Belk. v. Watson

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

November 19, 2019

CAMERON BELK, SR., #468008, Plaintiff,
v.
RICHARD WATSON, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          J. PHIL GILBERT UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Plaintiff Cameron Belk, a pretrial detainee at St. Clair County Jail (“Jail”), filed this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Sheriff Richard Watson on May 13, 2019. (Doc. 1). In the Complaint, Plaintiff complained of unconstitutional conditions of confinement he encountered at the Jail beginning in February 2019. (Doc. 1, pp. 1-10). He requested money damages, injunctive relief, and release from confinement. (Id. at pp. 5-8).

         Following an initial screening of the Complaint on May 21, 2019, Plaintiff was allowed to proceed with two claims against Sheriff Watson:

Count 1 - Defendant violated Plaintiff's Fourteenth Amendment rights by delaying his medical intake evaluation and access to blood pressure medication for four days in February 2019.
Count 4 - Defendant violated Plaintiff's Fourteenth Amendment rights by housing him alongside twelve other inmates in a 432 square foot space without proper temperature controls, poor ventilation, and a heightened risk of infection for 24 hours per day beginning in February 2019.

(Doc. 11, pp. 7-9). The Court dismissed five other claims (Counts 2, 3, 5, 6, 7) against the sheriff, as well as two motions for emergency medical care filed May 13 and 15, 2019. (Docs. 2, 4, 9).

         In the weeks that followed, Plaintiff filed two more Motions for Injunctive Medical Care on May 28 and June 10, 2019. (Docs. 17 and 20). Both motions targeted claims that were dismissed at screening and addressed the ongoing denial of medical care for two suspected strokes. Rather than dismiss the motions outright, the Court entered an Order deferring a decision on them and recruiting counsel to represent Plaintiff on June 12, 2019. (See Doc. 21). The Court instructed Plaintiff to file a First Amended Complaint, if he sought reinstatement of any dismissed claims, and to supplement or replace his Motions for Injunctive Medical Care, if he intended to pursue his request for interim relief in connection with the claims.[1] (Id.). Plaintiff filed a new Motion for Preliminary Injunction (Doc. 43) on August 22, 2019, and two Motions for Leave to File First Amended Complaint (Docs. 47 and 49) on September 22 and 23, 2019.[2]

         The Court now considers Plaintiff's Motion for Leave to File First Amended Complaint (Doc. 49). Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15(a)(2) provides that leave to amend should be freely given when justice so requires. Because Plaintiff seeks leave to reinstate dismissed claims and name additional defendants in connection with the claims at this early stage in litigation, the Court is inclined to grant his motion. Before doing so, however, Plaintiff's First Amended Complaint is subject to review under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A.[3]

         Amended Complaint

         In his First Amended Complaint, Plaintiff expands upon factual allegations originally set forth in the Complaint to bring ten separate claims against Sheriff Watson and thirteen (13) additional defendants (Major Grime, Captain Collins, Wexford, Dr. Larson, Aramark, Aramark Correction Services, Mary Robinson, Janice McCarron, [4] John Doe ##1-2, and Jane Doe ##1-3). Plaintiff alleges that he has been denied adequate and timely medical care for damage caused by a stroke he suffered prior to his detention at the Jail on February 8, 2019. He has since suffered from additional suspected strokes and related health problems. Plaintiff also complains of unsafe and unsanitary conditions in I Block, LL-D Block, and the chow hall.

         Consistent with Plaintiff's designations in the First Amended Complaint, the Court recharacterizes the claims involved in this pro se action, as follows:

Count 1 - Watson, Wexford, and Jane Doe ##1-3 violated Plaintiff's Fourteenth Amendment rights by delaying or denying him medical care and access to stroke medication from February 8-11, 2019. (Doc. 49-1, pp. 3-5).
Count 2 - Larson violated Plaintiff's Fourteenth Amendment rights when he refused to conduct testing and evaluation for stroke-related damage to Plaintiff. (Doc. 49-1, pp. 5-9).
Count 3 - Watson, Wexford, Grime, Collins, and Larson violated Plaintiff's Fourteenth Amendment rights by denying him access to therapeutic aids. ...

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