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Ryan v. Armor Health

United States District Court, E.D. Wisconsin

May 21, 2018

BOBBY RYAN, Plaintiff,


          William C. Griesbach, United States District Court Chief Judge

         Plaintiff Bobby Ryan, a Wisconsin state prisoner who is representing himself, filed a complaint under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The case was assigned to U.S. Magistrate Judge David E. Jones. On January 12, 2018, after finding that Mr. Ryan had not stated a claim against the named defendants, Judge Jones gave him the opportunity to file an amended complaint. ECF No. 10. Due to his simultaneous filing of two amended complaints, Judge Jones gave Mr. Ryan a second opportunity to file an amended complaint. ECF No. 13. Mr. Ryan filed his amended complaint on April 12, 2018. ECF No. 14.

         Because not all parties have had the opportunity to consent to magistrate judge jurisdiction, the case was randomly referred to a U.S. District Court judge for the limited purpose of screening the complaint. The case will be returned to Judge Jones for further proceedings after entry of this order.

         Screening of the Complaint

         The court is required to screen complaints, including amended complaints, brought by prisoners seeking relief against a governmental entity or officer or employee of a governmental entity. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). To state a cognizable claim under the federal notice pleading system, a plaintiff is required to provide a “short and plain statement of the claim showing that [he] is entitled to relief[.]” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). To state a claim, a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, “that is plausible on its face.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). “A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Id. (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556).

         To state a claim for relief under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, a plaintiff must allege that: 1) he was deprived of a right secured by the Constitution or laws of the United States; and 2) the deprivation was caused by the defendant acting under color of state law. Buchanan-Moore v. County of Milwaukee, 570 F.3d 824, 827 (7th Cir. 2009) (citing Kramer v. Village of North Fond du Lac, 384 F.3d 856, 861 (7th Cir. 2004)); see also Gomez v. Toledo, 446 U.S. 635, 640 (1980). The court is obliged to give a plaintiff's pro se allegations, “however inartfully pleaded, ” a liberal construction. See Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007) (quoting Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 106 (1976)).

         Allegations in the Complaint

         Mr. Ryan alleges that in January 2016 he was incarcerated at the Milwaukee House of Corrections. While there, he received treatment for “post-traumatic stress disorder, ‘dissacioative' disorder, depression, seizures, degenerative disorder, and ‘coranary' artery ‘desiese.'” ECF No. 14 at 2. His treatment allegedly involved “the maximum doses” of prescription medications. Id. Mr. Ryan explains that it is the policy of Milwaukee County and Armor Health to release inmates with “[three] days medical medications and [five] days psychotropic medication.” Id. at 2-3. He states upon his release on November 15, 2016, he was not given any medications. He requested his release medication from Officer John Doe, but the officer told Mr. Ryan that he did not have any medications for him. Mr. Ryan requested that the officer call health services for his medications. The officer called and spoke with Nurse Jane Doe who also stated that “she had no meds for [Mr. Ryan].” Id. Mr. Ryan asserts that he then explained to Officer John Doe and Nurse Jane Doe “the policy and risks of not having [his medications].” Id. He also explained to them that the policy was insufficient because “three to five days of meds was not enough to insure [his] safety as it takes more time to see a doctor in Milwaukee.” Id. Mr. Ryan states that Nurse Jane Doe said “that's the way it is and she had no meds for [him].” Id.

         Mr. Ryan asserts that as a result of not being provided with his medication he suffered an “aphasia attack, ” was hospitalized, and lost his job and home. Id.

         Mr. Ryan seeks punitive and compensatory damages and for Milwaukee County and Armor Health's release medication policy to be changed.

         The Court's Analysis

         Mr. Ryan asserts that all of the defendants violated his Eighth Amendment rights to adequate medical care. For the following reasons, the court finds that he has only sufficiently asserted such a claim against Nurse Jane Doe.

         With regard to Milwaukee County, “a municipality may be liable for harm to persons incarcerated under its authority ‘if it maintains a policy that sanctions the maintenance of prison conditions that infringe upon the constitutional rights of the prisoners.'” Estate of Novack ex rel. Turbin v. Cty. of Wood, 226 F.3d 525, 530 (7th Cir. 2000) (citations omitted). Armor Health is subject to the same liability constraints for any policies it has implemented at a prison as well. See Glisson v. Ind. Dep't of Corr., 849 F.3d 372, 378 (7th Cir.), cert. denied sub nom. Corr. Med. Servs., Inc. v. Glisson, 138 S.Ct. 109, 199 L.Ed.2d 30 (2017). However, for liability to be triggered, the policy at issue “must be the ‘direct cause' or ‘moving force' behind the [alleged] constitutional violation.” Id. Mr. Ryan asserts that Milwaukee County and Armor Health have a “shared” policy to provide release medication to inmates that are being released; however, he does not allege that it was this policy that caused his harm. In fact, he specifically states that it was Officer John Doe and Nurse Jane Doe's failure to implement the policy that caused his harm. He, therefore, may not proceed on a claim against Milwaukee County and Armor Health.

         Additionally, Mr. Ryan may not proceed with a claim against Sheriff David Clarke. Section 1983 requires personal involvement in the violation of a plaintiff's rights for there to be liability. See Morfin v. City of East Chi., 349 F.3d 989, 1001 (7th Cir. 2003). There is not supervisory liability, collective liability or vicarious liability under section 1983. See Pacelli v. DeVito, 972 F.2d 871, 877 (7th Cir. 1992). Although he names Clarke in the caption of his complaint, Mr. Ryan does not assert what ...

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