United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, South Bend Division
OPINION AND ORDER
P. Simon Judge
Hobbs, a pro se prisoner, filed a complaint alleging
he was wrongfully denied physical therapy for his hand in
violation of the Eighth Amendment. ECF 2. Pursuant to 28
U.S.C. § 1915A, I must review the complaint and dismiss
it if the action is frivolous or malicious, fails to state a
claim, or seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is
immune from such relief.
complaint must contain sufficient factual matter to
“state a claim that is plausible on its face.”
Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570
(2007). “A claim has facial plausibility when the
pleaded factual content 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) (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at
556). “A document filed pro se is to be
liberally construed, and a pro se complaint, however
inartfully pleaded, must be held to less stringent standards
than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers . . ..”
Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007).
“In order to state a claim under [42 U.S.C.] §
1983 a plaintiff must allege: (1) that defendants deprived
him of a federal constitutional right; and (2) that the
defendants acted under color of state law.” Savory
v. Lyons, 469 F.3d 667, 670 (7th Cir. 2006).
is currently an inmate at the Miami Correctional Facility.
His lawsuit relates to events that took place earlier this
year while he was housed at the LaPorte County Jail. While he
was at LaPorte County, he was prescribed physical therapy by
his surgeon. But Hobbs missed many of his scheduled therapy
appointments due to conflicts. On January 12, 2018, Hobbs had
to decide whether to go to a court hearing or to physical
therapy. Hobbs chose his court hearing. According to Hobbs,
“Nurse Keith” was so upset by Hobbs having made
the choice to go to court that Nurse Keith refused to
schedule Hobbs for any future physical therapy sessions.
Being deprived of physical therapy resulted in pain and
permanent damage to Hobbs' hand. Hobbs sues Nurse Keith,
as well as three supervisors at the LaPorte County Jail, for
money damages for denying him physical therapy.
medical cases, the Eighth Amendment is violated only when a
defendant was deliberately indifferent to an inmate's
serious medical needs. Gutierrez v. Peters, 111 F.3d
1364, 1369 (7th Cir. 1997). But prisoners are “not
entitled to demand specific care. [They are] not entitled to
the best care possible.” Forbes v. Edgar, 112
F.3d 262, 267 (7th Cir.1997).
For a medical professional to be liable for deliberate
indifference to an inmate's medical needs, he must make a
decision that represents such a substantial departure from
accepted professional judgment, practice, or standards, as to
demonstrate that the person responsible actually did not base
the decision on such a judgment.
Jackson v. Kotter, 541 F.3d 688, 697 (7th Cir. 2008)
(quotation marks and citations omitted). Medical malpractice
and incompetence do not state a claim of deliberate
indifference. Walker v. Peters, 233 F.3d 494 (7th
Cir. 2000). Neither does mere “disagreement with
medical professionals . . . state a cognizable Eighth
Amendment claim under the deliberate indifference standard of
Estelle v. Gamble [429 U.S. 97 (1976)].”
Ciarpaglini v. Saini, 352 F.3d 328, 331 (7th Cir.
Hobbs alleges that Nurse Keith was aware that his hand injury
required physical therapy, but nevertheless refused to
schedule it as punishment for Hobbs choosing to go to a court
hearing. Because the complaint alleges that this medical
provider knew that Hobbs needed medical attention, but denied
him the opportunity to receive it, the complaint states a
claim. See Gutierrez v. Peters, 111 F.3d 1364, 1369
(7th Cir. 1997).
Hobbs' claims against the other three defendants do not
fare as well. It appears as though Hobbs believes Sheriff
Boyd, Captain Ott and Commander Wilcher should be liable as
Nurse Keith's supervisors. However, “Section 1983
does not establish a system of vicarious
responsibility” and “public employees are
responsible for their own misdeeds but not for anyone
else's.” Burks v. Raemisch, 555 F.3d 592,
593 (7th Cir. 2009). “Only persons who cause or
participate in the [constitutional] violations are
responsible. Ruling against a prisoner on an administrative
complaint does not cause or contribute to the
violation.” George v. Smith, 507 F.3d. 605,
609 (7th Cir. 2007) (citations omitted). See also Owens
v. Hinsley, 635 F.3d 950, 953 (7th Cir. 2011).
also argues that these three defendants should have
intervened and arranged for him to attend physical therapy.
But these defendants cannot be held liable for deferring to
the judgment of the medical professional - Nurse Keith - who
was tasked to care for Hobbs. Burks v. Raemisch, 555
F.3d 592, 596 (7th Cir. 2009) (“[A] layperson's
failure to tell the medical staff how to do its job cannot be
called deliberate indifference . . . .”);
Greeno, 414 F.3d at 656 (“If a prisoner is
under the care of medical experts a non-medical prison
official will generally be justified in believing that the
prisoner is in capable hands.”); Burks, 555
F.3d at 595. Thus, Hobbs has not plausibly stated a claim
against these three defendants.
Hobbs is GRANTED leave to proceed against Nurse Keith for
denying him proper medical treatment for his hand from
January 12, 2018, until he was moved to Miami, in violation
of the Eighth Amendment.
all other claims contained in the complaint are DISMISSED.
John Boyd, Captain Ott and Jail Commander Wilcher are