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Ford v. Larson

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

December 13, 2019

MELVIN ANTONI FORD, #M48792, Plaintiff,
DR. LARSON, and GERST, Defendants.



         Plaintiff Melvin Ford, an inmate of the Illinois Department of Corrections (“IDOC”) who is currently incarcerated at Graham Correctional Center, brings this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for deprivations of his constitutional rights that occurred while incarcerated at Big Muddy River Correctional Center (“Big Muddy”). Ford claims that Defendants have been deliberately indifferent to his medical needs; he seeks monetary and injunctive relief.

         Ford'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

         Ford makes the following allegations: During his time at Big Muddy, he received inadequate care for his heart, knees, and ankle. On multiple occasions, he informed Defendants Dr. Larson and Physician Assistant Gerst that he was having extreme pain in his heart, knees, and ankle, but his requests to (1) see a cardiologist; (2) have an MRI; (3) be prescribed a low sodium diet; (3) receive a medical gym permit; and (4) have a coronary calcium exam, were all denied. (Doc. 1, pp. 19-22). He was told that Big Muddy does not allow inmates to see cardiologists and does not like for the medical staff to order MRI's because of the costs. (Id. at pp. 20, 21). He was also prescribed a medication that caused him to become dehydrated, without instructions on how much water to drink in order to stay hydrated. (Id. at p. 22). Instead of prescribing a special diet for Ford, Gerst told him that if he wanted to lose weight he should stop eating. (Id. at p. 20).

         Because of the inadequate care, on May 5, 2019, Ford had a heart attack. Following the heart attack, Dr. Larson still denied his requests to see a cardiologist and to be placed on a bland heart healthy diet. (Id. at p. 19). While at Big Muddy, Ford continued to have difficulty losing weight to help his heart condition because of the high sodium diet of the cafeteria. And, because his knees and ankle have gone untreated, he cannot run or put weight on his knees and ankle without causing extreme pain. (Id. at pp. 22-23).


         Based on the allegations in the Complaint, the Court finds it convenient to designate one Count:

Count 1: Eighth Amendment claim of deliberate indifference to a serious medical need against Dr. Larson and Gerst for providing inadequate treatment for Ford's heart condition and knee and ankle pain.

         The parties and the Court will use this designation 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

         Inmates are entitled to adequate medical care. Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 104 (1976). The “receipt of some medical care does not automatically defeat a claim of deliberate indifference.” Edwards v. Snyder, 478 F.3d 827, 831 (7th Cir. 2007). Deliberate indifference may occur where a prison official, having knowledge of a significant risk to inmate health or safety, administers “blatantly inappropriate” medical treatment, Edwards, 478 F.3d at 831, acts in a manner contrary to the recommendation of specialists, Arnett v. Webster, 658 F.3d 658, 753 (7th Cir. 2011), or delays a prisoner's treatment for non-medical reasons, thereby exacerbating his pain and suffering. McGowan v. Hulick, 612 F.3d 636, 640 (7th Cir. 2010). Furthermore, a medical professional's actions may reflect deliberate indifference if he “chooses an easier and less efficacious treatment without exercising professional judgment or simply continues with a course of treatment that he knows is ineffective in treating the inmate's condition.” Arnett, 658 F.3d at 754 (citations and quotations omitted).

         Ford's claims that, despite repeatedly informing Dr. Larson and Gerst that he was experiencing heart, knee, and ankle pain, they continued with an inadequate and ineffective line of treatment, ultimately resulting in a heart attack, is sufficient for Count 1 to survive preliminary review.

         Injunctive ...

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