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Jaske v. Gilmore

United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Terre Haute Division

December 12, 2017

ROGER JASKE, Plaintiff,
KEVIN GILMORE Asst. Superintendent, SAMUEL BYRD Doctor, NAVEEN RAJOLI Doctor, TERESA LITTLEJOHN Grievance Specialist, ESTHER HINTON Contract Monitor, LINDA VANNATTA Grievance Appeals, Defendants.


          Hon. William T. Lawrence, Judge United States

         Plaintiff Roger Jaske, an Indiana inmate incarcerated at the Wabash Valley Correctional Facility, commenced this action on November 9, 2017. In forma pauperis status was sought and granted, and an initial partial filing fee has been paid. Accordingly, the complaint is now subject to screening pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A.

         I. Legal Standard

         Because Mr. Jaske is a prisoner, his complaint must be screened under the requirements of 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. This statute directs the Court to dismiss a complaint or any claim within a complaint that “(1) is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted; or (2) seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief.” Id. To satisfy the notice-pleading standard of Rule 8 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, a complaint must provide a “short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief, ” which is sufficient to provide the defendant with “fair notice” of the claim and its basis. Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 93 (2007) (per curiam) (citing Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) and quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2)); see also Wade v. Hopper, 993 F.2d 1246, 1249 (7th Cir. 1993) (noting that the main purpose of Rule 8 is rooted in fair notice: a complaint “must be presented with intelligibility sufficient for a court or opposing party to understand whether a valid claim is alleged and if so what it is.”) (quotation omitted)). The complaint “must actually suggest that the plaintiff has a right to relief, by providing allegations that raise a right to relief above the speculative level.” Windy City Metal Fabricators & Supply, Inc. v. CIT Tech. Fin. Servs., 536 F.3d 663, 668 (7th Cir. 2008) (quoting Tamayo v. Blagojevich, 526 F.3d 1074, 1084 (7th Cir. 2008)). The Court construes pro se pleadings liberally, and holds pro se pleadings to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers. Obriecht v. Raemisch, 517 F.3d 489, 491 n.2 (7th Cir. 2008).

         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 pleading standards,

[the] complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to 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). Thus, a “plaintiff must do better than putting a few words on paper that, in the hands of an imaginative reader, might suggest that something has happened to her that might be redressed by the law.” Swanson v. Citibank, N.A., 614 F.3d 400, 403 (7th Cir. 2010) (emphasis in original).

         II. Plaintiff's Claims

         This lawsuit flows from a flu shot given to Mr. Jaske on November 17, 2015. Mr. Jaske contends that after he received the vaccine, his arm was red, painful, and swollen from his shoulder to his wrist. Later his heartbeat became fast and irregular, causing him to take his nitroglycerin pills and aspirin. Mr. Jaske became dizzy, nauseous, and weak for three days. On November 19, a nurse confirmed that Mr. Jaske was having an allergic reaction to the flu shot and reported this to defendant doctor Byrd. Mr. Jaske contends that Dr. Byrd told the nurse to have Mr. Jaske fill out a health care request form instead of seeing Mr. Jaske immediately as the doctor should have done.

         On November 24, 2015, when his situation had not improved, Mr. Jaske completed a health care request form. He saw a nurse on November 26, 2015, who confirmed Mr. Jaske was still suffering from an allergic reaction to the flu shot. She reportedly told Dr. Byrd about the allergic reaction but Dr. Byrd still did not see Mr. Jaske. Mr. Jaske also contends that a mental health professional asked Dr. Byrd to examine Mr. Jaske, but Dr. Byrd never did.

         On December 15, 2015, defendant Dr. Rajoli saw Mr. Jaske about his flu vaccine reaction. Dr. Rajoli told Mr. Jaske that his condition was not a reaction to the vaccine shot, but instead was only lipoma, a swelling of soft tissue. Dr. Rajoli declined to report Mr. Jaske's condition to a system for recording adverse reactions to vaccines (the “VAERS” system). Although Dr. Rajoli agreed to Mr. Jaske's request to have a biopsy done on his arm, Dr. Rajoli never followed through.

         Mr. Jaske submitted a grievance on January 12, 2016, about the denial of medical care for his arm. It was investigated by Kevin Gilmore, who reportedly found that Corizon Health Care's treatment was appropriate. Mr. Jaske contends Gilmore lied and has named him a defendant in his complaint, although his name does not appear in the caption. Dkt. No. 2 at p. 9. It is contended that Gilmore lied to protect Corizon Health, and that by doing so Mr. Jaske has been denied his right to fairly use the prison grievance system.

         Defendant Teresa Littlejohn, the Wabash Valley Correctional Facility grievance specialist, denied Mr. Jaske's formal grievance. Mr. Jaske has named her a defendant because he contends she unfairly denied his formal grievance, overlooked or ignored evidence, and protected Corizon.

         When Mr. Jaske lodged a final appeal of his grievance concerning the medical care for his arm, it was denied on February 24, 2016, by Linda Vannatta, the final reviewer for grievances. Mr. Jaske contends Vannatta's decision was based on a review by Esther Hinton, the Corizon Health contract monitor for the Department of Correction. He contends Hinton ...

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