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Solomon v. Armor Correctional Health Services, Inc.

United States District Court, E.D. Wisconsin

August 13, 2019

LANIS E. SOLOMON, JR., Plaintiff,
v.
ARMOR CORRECTIONAL HEALTH SERVICES, INC., HEALTHCARE PROVIDERS, and NURSE PRACTITIONERS, Defendants.

          ORDER

          J. P. Stadtmueller U.S. District Judge.

         Plaintiff Lanis E. Solomon, Jr. proceeds in this matter pro se. He filed a complaint alleging that Defendants violated his constitutional rights. (Docket #1). This matter comes before the court on Plaintiff's petition to proceed without prepayment of the filing fee (in forma pauperis). (Docket #2). Plaintiff's initial partial filing fee was waived in this action, and Plaintiff has not notified the Court of his desire to voluntarily dismiss the case. The Court will therefore proceed with screening the action.[1]

         The Court shall screen complaints brought by prisoners seeking relief against a governmental entity or an officer or employee of a governmental entity. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). The Court must dismiss a complaint or portion thereof if the prisoner has raised claims that are legally “frivolous or malicious, ” that fail to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or that seek monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. Id. § 1915A(b).

         A claim is legally frivolous when it lacks an arguable basis either in law or in fact. Denton v. Hernandez, 504 U.S. 25, 31 (1992); Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325 (1989); Hutchinson ex rel. Baker v. Spink, 126 F.3d 895, 900 (7th Cir. 1997). The Court may, therefore, dismiss a claim as frivolous where it is based on an indisputably meritless legal theory or where the factual contentions are clearly baseless. Neitzke, 490 U.S. at 327. “Malicious, ” although sometimes treated as a synonym for “frivolous, ” “is more usefully construed as intended to harass.” Lindell v. McCallum, 352 F.3d 1107, 1109- 10 (7th Cir. 2003) (citations omitted).

         To state a cognizable claim under the federal notice pleading system, the 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). It is not necessary for the plaintiff to plead specific facts and his statement need only “give the defendant fair notice of what the . . . claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (quoting Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 47 (1957)). However, a complaint that offers mere “labels and conclusions” or a “formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555). To state a claim, a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, “that is plausible on its face.” Id. (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570). “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). The complaint's allegations “must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555 (citation omitted).

         In considering whether a complaint states a claim, courts should follow the principles set forth in Twombly by first, “identifying pleadings that, because they are no more than conclusions, are not entitled to the assumption of truth.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679. Legal conclusions must be supported by factual allegations. Id. If there are well-pleaded factual allegations, the Court must, second, “assume their veracity and then determine whether they plausibly give rise to an entitlement to relief.” Id.

         To state a claim for relief under 42 U.S.C. Section 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 visited upon him by a person or persons acting under color of state law. Buchanan-Moore v. County of Milwaukee, 570 F.3d 824, 827 (7th Cir. 2009) (citing Kramer v. Vill. of N. 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 the 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)).

         Plaintiff was an inmate at the Milwaukee Criminal Justice Facility (“MCJF”) in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. (Docket #1 at 2). During an initial nursing assessment, he informed the nurse that he had a traumatic brain injury and often had seizures. Id. He signed two consent forms: a release of information so that medical providers could obtain his health files, and a permission form in order to continue off-site treatment. Id. In the six months after he signed these consent forms, he had severe seizures that often resulted in him losing control over his bowels. Id. During this six-month period, healthcare providers did not acknowledge the severity of his disability and did not provide adequate treatment. Id. For example, MCJF correctional officers refused to answer his medical emergency button or notify medical providers when he was having a seizure. Id. at 3. At one point, while having a seizure, correctional officers dragged his body from one area to another, under the eye of the medical supervisor. Id.

         Plaintiff asks to proceed on an Eighth Amendment right to medical care claim. Prison officials violate this right when they “display deliberate indifference to serious medical needs of prisoners.” Greeno v. Daley, 414 F.3d 645, 652 (7th Cir. 2005) (quotation omitted). Deliberate indifference claims contain both an objective and a subjective component: the inmate “must first establish that his medical condition is objectively, ‘sufficiently serious, '; and second, that prison officials acted with a ‘sufficiently culpable state of mind,' - i.e., that they both knew of and disregarded an excessive risk to inmate health.” Lewis v. McLean, 864 F.3d 556, 562-63 (7th Cir. 2017) (quoting Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 834 (1994) (internal citations omitted)).[2]

         Generously construed, Plaintiff's allegations state a claim for deliberate indifference against MCJF's medical staff. Plaintiff alleges that he notified medical staff of his seizures and suffered from several severe episodes while at MCJF, but was either ignored or inadequately treated.

         The Court notes that one of the defendants, Armor Correctional Health, Inc., (“Armor”) may not be a correct defendant in this matter. Only those officials who are directly responsible for a constitutional violation may be sued under Section 1983. Minix v. Canarecci, 597 F.3d 824, 833-34 (7th Cir. 2010). However, Armor will be retained in the case so that they can assist in disclosing the identities of the individual Doe defendants. See Donald v. Cook Cty. Sheriff's Dep't, 95 F.3d 548, 556 (7th Cir. 1996). Additionally, the Doe defendants, “Healthcare Providers” and “Nurse Practitioners, ” should be substituted with the correct individuals when their identities are known. Finally, the Court notes that the complaint makes allegations against officers who ignored Plaintiff's seizures and dragged him across the floor, but does not name those officers as defendants. Plaintiff is free to move to amend his complaint to include allegations against those officers if he sees fit.

         Accordingly, IT IS ORDERED that Plaintiff's motion for leave to proceed without prepayment of the filing fee (in forma pauperis) (Docket #2) be and the same is hereby GRANTED;

         IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that Plaintiff's motion to appoint counsel (Docket #8) be and the same is hereby DENIED;

         IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the United States Marshal shall serve a copy of the complaint and this order upon the defendants pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 4. Plaintiff is advised that Congress requires the U.S. Marshals Service to charge for making or attempting such service. 28 U.S.C. § 1921(a). The current fee for waiver-of-service packages is $8.00 per item mailed. The full fee schedule is provided at 28 C.F.R. §§ 0.114(a)(2), (a)(3). Although Congress requires the court to order service by the U.S. Marshals Service precisely because in ...


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