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Gore v. Wolfe

United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Indianapolis Division

December 19, 2014

JERRY A. GORE, Plaintiff,
v.
DR. WILLIAM WOLFE, NURSE C. MEYERS, Defendants.

Entry Discussing Amended Complaint, Dismissing Insufficient Claims, and Directing Further Proceedings

JANE MAGNUS-STINSON, District Judge.

I. Screening

Plaintiff Jerry A. Gore filed an amended complaint on November 19, 2014, alleging that his constitutional rights were violated by the defendants when they delayed medical care for the treatment of heatstroke. Because Gore is a "prisoner" as defined by 28 U.S.C. § 1915(h) this court has an obligation under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A to screen his complaint before service on the defendants, and must dismiss the complaint if it is frivolous or malicious, fails to state a claim for relief, or seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such relief. In determining whether the complaint states a claim, the court applies the same standard as when addressing a motion to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). See Lagerstrom v. Kingston, 463 F.3d 621, 624 (7th Cir. 2006). To survive dismissal under federal pleadings standards,

[the] complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim for relief that is plausible on its face. 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.

Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). Pro se complaints such as that filed by Gore are construed liberally and held to a less stringent standard than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers. Obriecht v. Raemisch, 517 F.3d 489, 491 n. 2 (7th Cir. 2008). It must further be recognized that the composition and content of the complaint are entirely the responsibility of the plaintiff, for "even pro se litigants are masters of their own complaints and may choose who to sue-or not to sue." Myles v. United States, 416 F.3d 551, 552 (7th Cir. 2005).

Gore's claims are brought pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. A cause of action is provided by 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against "[e]very person who, under color of any statute, ordinance, regulation, custom, or usage, of any State or Territory, ... subjects, or causes to be subjected, any citizen of the United States or other person within the jurisdiction thereof to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws" of the United States. Section 1983 is not itself a source of substantive rights; instead, it is a means for vindicating federal rights conferred elsewhere. Graham v. Connor, 490 U.S. 386, 393-94 (1989) (citing Baker v. McCollan, 443 U.S. 137, 144 n.3 (1979)). The initial step in any § 1983 analysis is to identify the specific constitutional right which was allegedly violated. Id. at 394; Kernats v. O'Sullivan, 35 F.3d 1171, 1175 (7th Cir. 1994); see also Gossmeyer v. McDonald, 128 F.3d 481, 489-90 (7th Cir. 1997).

The right implicated by Gore's complaint is the Eighth Amendment's proscription against cruel and unusual punishment. Specifically, Gore alleges that the defendants were deliberately indifferent to his serious medical needs. Constitutional claims are to be addressed under the most applicable provision. See Conyers v. Abitz, 416 F.3d 580, 586 (7th Cir. 2005); Helling v. McKinney, 509 U.S. 25, 31 (1993) ("It is undisputed that the treatment a prisoner receives in prison and the conditions under which he is confined are subject to scrutiny under the Eighth Amendment."). The Constitution does not mandate comfortable prisons, but neither does it permit inhumane ones. Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 832, 114 S.Ct. 1970, 1976 (1994). A claim based on deficient medical care must demonstrate two requirements: 1) an objectively serious medical condition, and 2) an official's deliberate indifference to that condition. Under the first element, Gore has alleged that the defendants were deliberately indifferent to his serious medical condition of heatstroke.

The second requirement is a subjective one:

a prison official cannot be found liable under the Eighth Amendment for denying an inmate humane conditions of confinement unless the official knows of and disregards an excessive risk to inmate health or safety; the official must both be aware of facts from which the inference could be drawn that a substantial risk of serious harm exists, and he must also draw the inference.

Farmer, 114 S.Ct. at 1979. Prison officials may exhibit deliberate indifference to a known condition through inaction, Gayton v. McCoy, 593 F.3d 610, 623-24 (7th Cir. 2010); Rodriguez v. Plymouth Ambulance Serv., 577 F.3d 816, 832 (7th Cir. 2009), or by persisting with inappropriate treatment, Gonzalez v. Feinerman, 663 F.3d 311, 314 (7th Cir.2011); Greeno v. Daley, 414 F.3d 645, 653-54 (7th Cir. 2005). Prison officials might also show their deliberate indifference by delaying necessary treatment and thus aggravating the injury or needlessly prolonging an inmate's pain. Gomez v. Randle, 680 F.3d 859, 865 (7th Cir. 2012).

Gore brings this amended civil rights complaint against the following defendants: 1) Correctional Medical Services, Inc. (Corizon); 2); Dr. William Wolfe; 3) Nurse Christina Meyers; and 4) Officer Steven Turner. He also asserts various state law claims. He seeks declaratory relief, injunctive relief, and monetary damages.

II.

Insufficient ...


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