United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, South Bend Division
BARRY W. MATLOCK, Plaintiff,
DEANGELA LEWIS, et al., Defendants.
OPINION AND ORDER
W. Matlock, a prisoner without a lawyer, filed a complaint.
“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).
Nevertheless, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, this court
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. “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).
complaint, Matlock alleges that he suffers from
gastroesophageal reflux disorder and has taken famotidine for
the condition since 2009. He also suffers from arthritis in
his knees, and his new knee braces are inadequate. Around
December 1, 2018, Jody Kupferberg and DeAngela Lewis
discontinued his order for famotidine. Matlock was instructed
to buy it from the commissary, but he cannot afford to do so.
On March 5, 2019, Matlock saw Kupferberg at the chronic care
clinic. When he asked her about famotidine, she became angry
and told him to buy it from the commissary. He then asked her
about his knees, and she told him to leave her office. On his
way back to the waiting room, Matlock stopped and knocked on
Dr. Jackson's door. Matlock attempted to explain his
medical concerns, but Dr. Jackson told him that this attempt
was inappropriate and directed him to the waiting room. About
forty-five minutes later, Dr. Jackson met with Kupferberg,
who mentioned Matlock's medical grievances, and asked
Officer McKinney to write Matlock up for insubordination.
March 18, 2019, Matlock had severe pain in his right knee and
could barely walk as a result. A nurse examined him,
contacted Kupferberg by email, and then told Matlock that
Kupferberg told her to refuse to treat Matlock and to direct
Matlock to buy Tylenol from the commissary. He further states
that he has written Warden Sevier regarding these issues to
no avail. For his claims, Matlock seeks money damages and
asserts an Eighth Amendment claim of deliberate indifference
to serious medical needs against Kupferberg, Lewis, Jackson,
and Sevier for forcing him to buy famotidine from the
commissary and for refusing to address his knee braces. Under
the Eighth Amendment, inmates are entitled to adequate
medical care. Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 104
(1976). To establish liability, a prisoner must satisfy both
an objective and subjective component by showing: (1) his
medical need was objectively serious; and (2) the defendant
acted with deliberate indifference to that medical need.
Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 834 (1994). Matlock
states a plausible Eighth Amendment claim of deliberate
indifference against these defendants.
further asserts a First Amendment claim against Kupferberg,
Dr. Jackson, and Officer McKinney for refusing to treat his
knee and for writing him up for insubordination in
retaliation for filing grievances about his medical issues.
“To prevail on his First Amendment retaliation claim,
[a plaintiff] must show that (1) he engaged in activity
protected by the First Amendment; (2) he suffered a
deprivation that would likely deter First Amendment activity
in the future; and (3) the First Amendment activity was at
least a motivating factor in the Defendants' decision to
take the retaliatory action.” Gomez v. Randle,
680 F.3d 859, 866 (7th Cir. 2012). Because the grievances
related to medical issues and Kupferberg and Dr. Jackson
mentioned these grievances during the chronic care visit,
Matlock states a plausible First Amendment claim of
retaliation against Kupferberg and Dr. Jackson. However, with
respect to Officer McKinney, Matlock merely alleges that she
is friends with Sergeant Porter and Sergeant Collier without
any explanation as to how these individuals relate to his
claims. As a result, Matlock cannot proceed against Officer
also seeks injunctive relief in connection with his medical
treatment. For prisoner cases, the court has limited
authority to order injunctive relief. Westefer v.
Neal, 682 F.3d 679 (7th Cir. 2012). Specifically,
“the remedial injunctive relief must be narrowly drawn,
extend no further than necessary to correct the violation of
the Federal right, and use the least intrusive means
necessary to correct the violation of the Federal
right.” Id. Therefore, injunctive relief, if
granted will be limited to requiring the defendants to
provide medical treatment as required by the Eighth
Amendment. Sevier as the warden of the Westville Correctional
Facility has both the authority and the responsibility to
ensure that Matlock receives the medical treatment to which
he is entitled under the Eighth Amendment. See Gonzalez
v. Feinerman, 663 F.3d 311, 315 (7th Cir. 2011).
Therefore, Matlock may proceed on an injunctive relief claim
against Warden Sevier in his official capacity.
Matlock asserts a claim against Wexford of Indiana. A
corporation “cannot be held liable under § 1983 on
a respondeat superior theory.” Calhoun v.
Ramsey, 408 F.3d 375, 379 (7th Cir. 2005). Rather
corporate liability exists only “when execution of a
[corporation's] policy or custom . . . inflicts the
injury.” Id. A corporation can be held liable
for “an express policy that, when enforced, causes a
constitutional deprivation.” Id. Absent an
unconstitutional policy, corporate liability may be
established with a showing of “a widespread practice
that, although not authorized by written law or express
[corporate] policy, is so permanent and well settled as to
constitute a custom or usage with the force of law.”
McTigue v. City of Chicago, 60 F.3d 381, 382 (7th
Cir. 1995). The policy or custom must be the “moving
force behind the deprivation of his constitutional
rights.” Johnson v. Cook Cty., 526 Fed.Appx.
692, 695 (7th Cir. 2013). Because Matlock does not allege
that a policy or custom was the moving force behind his
inadequate medical treatment, he does not state a claim
against Wexford of Indiana.
these reasons, the court:
GRANTS Barry W. Matlock leave to proceed on an Eighth
Amendment claim of deliberate indifference to serious medical
needs against Mark Sevier, Jody Kupferberg, DeAngela Lewis,
and Dr. Jackson for forcing him to buy famotidine from the
commissary and for refusing to address his knee braces;
GRANTS Barry W. Matlock leave to proceed on a First Amendment
claim against Jody Kupferberg and Dr. Jackson for refusing to
treat his knee and for writing him up for insubordination in
retaliation for filing medical grievances;
GRANTS Barry W. Matlock leave to proceed on an injunctive
relief claim against Mark Sevier in his official capacity to
obtain treatment for his gastroesophageal reflux disease and
arthritic knees as required by the Eighth Amendment;
DISMISSES Officer McKinney ...