United States District Court, C.D. Illinois
MERIT REVIEW ORDER
E. SHADID UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
cause is before the Court for merit review of the
Plaintiff's complaint. The Court is required by 28 U.S.C.
§1915A to “screen” the Plaintiff's
complaint, and through such process to identify and dismiss
any legally insufficient claim, or the entire action if
warranted. A claim is legally insufficient if it “(1)
is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim upon which
relief may be granted; or (2) seeks monetary relief from a
defendant who is immune from such relief.” 28 U.S.C.
a pro se prisoner, has filed his complaint pursuant to 42
U.S.C. §1983 against several Defendants at East Moline
Correctional Center including Warden Christine Brannon,
Assistant Warden Robert Hamilton, Maintenance Engineer Pat
Ruhl, Grounds Supervisor Kenny Grant, Grounds Supervisor
Terry Stone, and an unspecified number of Jane and John Doe
Defendants. (Comp., p. 1, 2-3).
says on June 13, 2019, he was “directed to walk along a
certain route with his assigned housing unit while returning
from the Dietary Department.” (Comp., p. 5). Plaintiff
says while walking, he fell in a “sinkhole/hole”
which was about three feet deep and a half a foot wide.
Plaintiff says holes in the walkway are visible, but
residents are ordered to follow a particular pathway.
Plaintiff also says some prison employees believe the holes
are caused by erosion and improper upkeep of the grounds.
Plaintiff claims prison staff was deliberately indifferent to
the hazardous condition and “grossly negligent”
in their duty to maintain a safe environment for inmates.
(Comp., p. 6).
he fell, Plaintiff was in severe pain and unable to stand.
Plaintiff was transported to the prison hospital. Plaintiff
claims he suffered “permanent injuries, ” but he
does not provide any additional information or even state
what part of his body was injured. (Comp., p. 6).
does claim Dr. Rankin issued several medical restrictions and
crutches to assist Plaintiff. However, Plaintiff says Dr.
Rankin misdiagnosed his injury. Plaintiff refers to an x-ray
which is not attached to his complaint. Plaintiff again
provides no further explanation of this allegation, but
claims Dr. Rankin committed the state law tort of medical
are several problems with Plaintiff's complaint. First,
Plaintiff is attempting to allege Defendants violated his
Eighth Amendment rights based on the hazardous hole in the
walkway. To state a claim pursuant to §1983 claim,
Plaintiff must allege Defendants were deliberately
indifferent to a serious risk of substantial harm.
Grieveson v. Anderson, 538 F.3d 763, 775 (7th Cir.
2008)(internal citation omitted). “[T]he defendant need
not intend harm, but he must know that an excessive risk
exists to the plaintiff's health and safety if no
corrective action is taken.” Watkins v.
Lancor, 2013 WL 812521, at *1 (E.D.Wis. March 5, 2013)
citing Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 827 (1994).
However, the actual risk to the Plaintiff “is evaluated
on an objective basis—the allegedly dangerous prison
condition must deprive an inmate of the minimal civilized
measure of life's necessities.” Christopher v.
Buss, 384 F.3d 879, 882 (7th Cir.
2004)(internal citation omitted).
even if a defendant knew about a dangerous prison condition
and purposefully ignored it, a plaintiff will not be entitled
to relief if the complaint does not allege a sufficiently
serious condition. Christopher, 384 F.3d at 882.
Many courts have found “poorly maintained
surfaces….do not pose a substantial risk of serious
harm supporting a constitutional violation…”
Reyes v. Brown, 2017 WL 1355004, at *5 (S.D.Cal.
April 4, 2017)(listing cases); see also Christopher,
384 F.3d at 882 (exposure to a dangerous softball field did
not offend contemporary standards of decency);
Watkins, 2013 WL 812521, at *1 (plaintiff's
claim that prison failed to fix known leak resulting in
plaintiff's fall and injury “does not offend
contemporary standards of decency” and instead alleges
“ordinary negligence.”); Hopkins v.
Dittmann, 2012 WL 3882321, at *3 (E.D.Wis. Sept. 6,
2012)(even assuming defendants knew walkway was snow-covered
and icy, it was not an objectively serious condition pursuant
to the Eighth Amendment); Seymore v. Dep't of Corr
Servs., 2014 WL 641428, *4 (S.D. N.Y. Feb. 18,
2014)(alleged exposure to unsafe living conditions including
bathroom floor with potholes, cracks and leaks which caused
inmate to slip and fall, failed to meet the standard for an
Eighth Amendment violation).
Plaintiff's complaint alleges Defendants were negligent
when they failed to repair holes in the walkway or street
which does not rise to the level of an Eighth Amendment
violation. See Giles v. Tobeck, 895 F.3d 510, 513
(7th Cir. 2018)(“negligence or even gross negligence is
not enough to show a constitutional violation.”);
Hopkins, 2012 WL 3882321, at *3 (plaintiff's
slip and fall allegation “states a classic claim for
negligence, which he is free to allege in state
if Plaintiff was intending to allege a Defendant violated his
Eighth Amendment rights based on the medical care provided,
he has failed to adequately state a claim. To state a
constitutional claim, Plaintiff must allege a Defendant was
deliberately indifferent to a serious medical condition.
Hayes v. Snyder, 546 F.3d 516, 522 (7th Cir. 2008).
Plaintiff has failed to identify a serious medical condition
since he does not identify or describe his injury. In
addition, Plaintiff has not explained how any individual was
deliberately indifferent to his injury.
most, Plaintiff says the doctor somehow misdiagnosed his
injury, but again, Plaintiff has alleged negligence, not
deliberate indifference. Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S.
97, 106 (1976)(“a complaint that a physician has been
negligent in diagnosing or treating a medical condition does
not state a valid claim of medical mistreatment under the
Eighth Amendment. Medical malpractice does not become a
constitutional violation merely because the victim is a
prisoner.”); Parks v. McCoy, 35 Fed.Appx. 239,
241 (7th Cir. 2002) (“Numerous cases hold, however,
that medical misdiagnoses or malpractice do not violate the
has clearly alleged “medical malpractice, ” but
this is a state law claim. (Comp., p. 7). Plaintiff can only
proceed with a medical malpractice claim in federal court if
he also adequately states a federal claim such as deliberate
indifference to a serious medical condition. In addition,
Illinois law also requires any Plaintiff who is seeking
damages for medical malpractice to file an affidavit with the
complaint providing required information about his condition.
See 735 Ill. Comp. Stat. § 5/2-622(a); see
also Young v. United States, -- F.3d --, 2019 WL 5691878
(7th Cir. Nov. 4, 2019)(allowing pro se Plaintiff
until summary judgment stage to comply with affidavit
requirement in federal court).
while Plaintiff mentions Dr. Rankin in the body of his
complaint, he does not identify the doctor or any other
medical provider as a Defendant.
is further admonished liability under §1983 hinges on
personal involvement in a constitutional deprivation.
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 676 (2009).
Therefore, Plaintiff cannot simply list Jane and John Doe
Defendants without at ...