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Soderlin v. Doehling

United States District Court, W.D. Wisconsin

June 26, 2019

MATTHEW SODERLIN, Plaintiff,
v.
LORI DOEHLING, ANGELA THOMPSON, PAULA BRADY, Z. CASPER, T. GIMENEZ, A. LAMORE, S. BUNK, BUREAU OF HEALTH SERVICES, and MAXIM HEALTHCARE SERVICES, Defendants.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          WILLIAM M. CONLEY DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Pro se plaintiff Matthew Soderlin, a prisoner at the Fox Lake Correctional Institution (“FLCI”), filed this lawsuit pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Soderlin claims that defendants, various health care providers, violated his rights under the Eighth Amendment and state law by delaying or failing to provide him with refills for his prescribed medications. Soderlin's complaint is ready for screening as required by 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. Even construing his allegations liberally, however, the court has determined that Soderlin's complaint is subject to dismissal but will give him one opportunity to file a proposed amended complaint that corrects the deficiencies explained below.

         ALLEGATIONS OF FACT[1]

         While Soderlin is currently incarcerated at FLCI, he was incarcerated at Redgranite Correctional Institution (“RGCI”) during the relevant time period. Soderlin has named nine defendants: the Wisconsin Department of Corrections Bureau of Health Services (“BHS”); six individuals who appear to have been working as nurses in RGCI's Health Services Unit (“HSU”) during the relevant time period: Lori Doehling, Angela Thompson, Z. Casper, T. Gimenez, A. Lamore and S. Bunk; Maxim Healthcare Services (“Maxim”); and one Maxim employee, Paula Brady.

         Soderlin suffers from Addison's disease, also called adrenal insufficiency, and hypothyroidism. Both of these conditions relate to his body's inability to produce sufficient hormones. To treat those conditions, Soderlin has been prescribed hydrocortisone and fludrocortisone. He alleges that his prescription dosages have steadily increased since 2013, and that he needs these medications to live.

         Between May 17, 2017, and October 12, 2017, Soderlin stopped receiving his refills of his prescriptions in a timely fashion, resulting in him experiencing delays of up to five days before he received refills. When this happened, Soderlin alerted prison officials and HSU staff in an attempt to obtain timely refills. Soderlin alleges that he informed defendants, either by submitting Health Services Requests or directly informing them that he had run out of his medication, but he still experienced several-day delays when he needed refills. Soderlin does not allege who received his requests or when he informed them that his prescriptions were running out.

         Soderlin next alleges, without providing any dates or names, that correctional officers informed the defendants that Soderlin was suffering from “stress” and that his condition was deteriorating because he was not receiving his medications in a timely fashion. Soderlin further alleges that after his endocrinologist at UW-Madison learned that his refills were repeatedly delayed, that doctor emailed defendant Brady about the problem. Again, Soderlin does not allege when Brady received the email from the endocrinologist, nor does he allege how Brady responded to the email or if Brady simply ignored it.

         Finally, Soderlin alleges that RGCI's psychologist informed Thompson about the delays and that Doehling and Thompson both were responsible for managing the HSU. Again, Soderlin does not provide any dates as to when any of the defendants learned that his prescriptions were delayed, nor has he described how individual defendants responded when these defendants learned about the delays.

         OPINION

         Plaintiff seeks leave to proceed against all of the defendants on Eighth Amendment deliberate indifference and Wisconsin claims. The court begins by explaining why the Bureau of Health Services and Maxim Healthcare Services will both be dismissed, and then will explain why plaintiff's claims against the remaining defendants are subject to dismissal.

         I. Improper defendants

         The court is dismissing the Bureau of Health Services as a defendant because it is not a “person” that may be sued under § 1983. Smith v. Knox Cty. Jail, 666 F.3d 1037, 1040 (7th Cir. 2012) (“A prison or department in a prison cannot be sued because it cannot accept service of the complaint.”). Additionally, as for Maxim, a private company, plaintiff can only sue it as a state actor under § 1983 if he alleges that Maxim contracted to provide essential government services and had a “policy or custom” that caused him not to receive his medications in a timely fashion. Shields v. Ill. Dep't of Corr., 746 F.3d 782, 790 (7th Cir. 2014) (citing Monell v. Dep't of Soc. Servs., 436 U.S. 658, 691 (1978)). Since plaintiff has not alleged that such a policy or custom was responsible for his medication lapses, Maxim will be dismissed as a defendant.

         II. Merits

         Turning to the individual defendants, a prison official who violates the Eighth Amendment in the context of a prisoner's medical treatment demonstrates “deliberate indifference” to a “serious medical need.” Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 104-05 (1976). Forbes v. Edgar, 112 F.3d 262, 266 (7th Cir. 1997). “Serious medical needs” include (1) life-threatening conditions or those carrying a risk of permanent serious impairment if left untreated, (2) withholding of medical care that results in needless pain and ...


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