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Dowaun v. Wexford Health Sources, Inc.

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

January 15, 2020

ANDREW DOWAUN, #R51695 Plaintiff,
v.
WEXFORD HEALTH SOURCES, INC., JOHN BALDWIN, JACQOLINE LASHBROOK, SIDDIQUI, MOLDENHAUER, ZIMMER, ANGELA CRAIN, MEARS, FRANK LAWRENCE, ROB JEFFREYS, and GAIL WALLS, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          STACI M. YANDLE, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Plaintiff Andrew Dowaun, an inmate of the Illinois Department of Corrections (“IDOC”) currently incarcerated at Menard Correctional Center (“Menard”), brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for alleged deprivations of his constitutional rights. Plaintiff asserts deliberate indifference claims under the Eighth Amendment and a state law claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress. (Doc. 1). He seeks monetary damages and injunctive relief.

         This case is now before the Court for preliminary review of the Complaint under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, which requires the Court to screen prisoner Complaints to filter out nonmeritorious claims. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). Any portion of the Complaint that is legally frivolous, malicious, fails to state a claim for relief, or requests money damages from an immune defendant must be dismissed. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b).

         The Complaint

         Plaintiff makes the following allegations in the Complaint: Menard is overcrowded and the number of doctors and nurses on hand is inadequate to provide proper medical care for the inmate population. (Doc. 1, p. 5). IDOC Director Baldwin, Dr. Siddiqui, (former) Menard Warden Lashbrook, and Wexford Health Sources, Inc. (“Wexford”) have been made aware of this fact by countless lawsuits filed by inmates. (Id.). They have the ability to fix this issue but have ignored the situation, which has resulted in Plaintiff and other inmates suffering in pain without proper medical care. (Id., pp. 5, 6). They were given a report from medical experts in a class action lawsuit that shows Wexford was deliberately understaffing its health care units to save money. (Id., p. 6). This policy has delayed and denied inmates access to medical care. (Id.). They knew these issues existed and turned a blind eye to them. (Id., pp. 6, 12, 15).

         Plaintiff suffered from a broken left hand and nerve damage in his right hand and was treated by a nurse and nurse practitioner instead of a doctor. (Id.). The nurse and nurse practitioner lack the medical knowledge to treat these serious medical conditions. (Id., p. 7). Because of deliberate understaffing by Defendants, nurses are given responsibilities that exceed their medical expertise. (Id.). Because of inadequate medical staffing, Plaintiff was denied access to medical care and suffered in pain from an untreated broken hand. (Id.). Defendants' intentional acts and omissions caused extreme conditions that they knew would cause Plaintiff to suffer emotional distress and pain. (Id., pp. 7, 8).

         Wexford has a policy to deny inmates any pain medication other than ibuprofen, Mobic, naproxen, and other over the counter medications even when those medications are ineffective at pain management. (Id.). Wexford initiated this policy to save money. (Id., p. 10). Baldwin and Lashbrook have ignored Wexford's actions. (Id.). Wexford has trained its medical staff to enforce this policy and they do so even though they know it results in inmates suffering excruciating pain. (Id., pp. 9-10). On several occasions, Plaintiff made NP Zimmer, NP Moldenhauer, and Dr. Siddiqui aware that he was in constant pain from injuries to his left and right hands and that the pain medication he was given was not alleviating the pain. (Id., p. 9). Additionally, he advised them the pain medication was causing constipation. (Id.). Defendants refused to discontinue the medication or prescribe him a stronger pain medication. (Id.). They have ignored his complaints of pain and know he is suffering unnecessarily. (Id., p. 10).

         Plaintiff has requested proper medical care for his right-hand nerve pain but has only been seen by NP Zimmer, NP Moldenhauer, and Dr. Siddiqui who lack the medical expertise to determine whether he is experiencing nerve damage or nerve pain. (Id., pp. 10, 11). Plaintiff needs to be sent to a specialist for examination and diagnostic testing. (Id., p. 11). Defendants' refusal to address this issue is pursuant to a policy to save money by denying access to medical care. (Id.). Plaintiff's right-hand nerve damage and pain was not adequately assessed or treated by Nurse Mears, NP Zimmer, Crain, Dr. Siddiqui, or NP Moldenhauer because they lacked the medical expertise to do so. (Id., pp. 13, 14). In response to a grievance he filed, NP Zimmer, Dr. Siddiqui, and Crane acknowledged that Plaintiff has nerve damage and that they have done nothing about it. (Id., pp. 11, 12).

         Plaintiff injured his left hand on August 10 or 11, 2018. (Id., pp. 12, 16). He notified a gallery officer, showed the officer his swollen hand, and requested a nurse and/or crisis team. (Id., pp. 12, 16). He also wrote sick call requests and placed them in the sick call box. (Id.). He was not seen by medical staff until August 15, 2018 at which time he had an appointment for his right-hand nerve damage and pain. (Id., pp. 12, 13). He explained to NP Zimmer that his left hand was swollen and possibly broken. (Id., p. 13). She ordered an x-ray, which was done on August 17, 2018. (Id., p. 17). Plaintiff saw NP Moldenhauer on August 30, 2018 to discuss the results of the x-ray which showed that his hand was broken. (Id.). The delay was caused by the policies of Wexford, which are enforced by Dr. Siddiqui, Crain, NP Zimmer, NP Moldenhauer, Nurse Mears, Healthcare Unit Administrator Walls, and Ritz. These individuals are aware of delays in medical care provided to Plaintiff and other inmates which results in unnecessary pain and suffering. (Id., p. 18). Defendants were made aware of these delays in medical care by a class action lawsuit and from countless inmate grievances written about this problem. (Id.). Defendants have done nothing to stop the delays. (Id., pp. 18, 19).

         On August 20, 2018, NP Moldenhauer told Plaintiff that his finger was broken and needed to be splinted. (Id., p. 19). However, NP Moldenhauer refused to splint Plaintiff's finger because it was not approved by security. (Id., p. 20). NP Moldenhauer allowed non-medical staff to overrule a medical decision and denied Plaintiff necessary medical care. (Id.). Medical Director Dr. Siddiqui and Health Care Unit Administrator Walls have a policy that allows non-medical staff to overrule medical decisions. (Id., pp. 20, 21). Plaintiff was not seen again until September 13, 2018 when his hand was placed in a cast. (Id., p. 21). The delay of over a month from the time of injury until medical treatment was provided caused Plaintiff unnecessary pain and suffering. (Id.).

         Baldwin and Lashbrook created policies that interfere with inmates receiving proper medical care. They have created policies that determine what medical personnel can prescribe and/or what treatment can be provided. (Id., p. 22). As a result of these policies, Plaintiff's finger could not be splinted, and he was forced to suffer pain. (Id.). Baldwin and Lashbrook know that these policies deliberately denied Plaintiff and other inmates access to adequate medical care for serious medical needs and caused unnecessary pain. (Id.).

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

Count 1: Eighth Amendment deliberate indifference to serious medical needs claim arising from the denial of adequate medical treatment due to understaffing of medical providers by Wexford, Baldwin, Lashbrook, and Siddiqui.
Count 2: Eighth Amendment deliberate indifference to serious medical needs claim against Wexford, Zimmer, Moldenhauer, Siddiqui, Mears, and Crain for denying Plaintiff adequate ...

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