United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, South Bend Division
BRANDON L. JONES, Plaintiff,
WEXFORD MEDICAL, et al., Defendants.
OPINION AND ORDER
L. Jones, 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) (quotation marks and citations omitted).
Nevertheless, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, the court
must review the merits of a prisoner complaint and dismiss it
if the action is frivolous or malicious, fails to state a
claim upon which relief may be granted, or seeks monetary
relief against a defendant who is immune from such relief.
complaint, Jones alleges that he began suffering pain in the
lower back and upper right leg in November 2017, and he
collapsed in his dormitory at the Westville Correctional
Facility. He was diagnosed with sciatica and received a
“three-in-one” shot, which included steroids and
acted to relieve pain and reduce inflammation. Less than a
month later, the pain caused him to collapse on a sidewalk.
Dr. Jackson administered another shot, observed Jones in the
infirmary for four days, but did not consider other
treatment. In February 2018, medical staff told him that they
would not refill his pain medication but instructed him to
order it from the commissary, even though commissary orders
for pain medication took two weeks to process. When Jones
submitted grievances about the inadequate treatment, John
Harvil told him that medical staff had informed him that he
had refused care. Jones also wrote departmental officials,
including D. Lewis, the health care administrator, about his
inadequate treatment. Jones seeks money damages and
injunctive relief for proper treatment.
asserts an Eighth Amendment claim of deliberate indifference
to serious medical needs. To establish such a claim, 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). A medical need is
“serious” if it is one that a physician has
diagnosed as mandating treatment, or one that is so obvious
that even a lay person would easily recognize the necessity
for a doctor's attention. Greeno v. Daley, 414
F.3d 645, 653 (7th Cir. 2005). Deliberate indifference means
that the defendant “acted in an intentional or
criminally reckless manner, i.e., the defendant must have
known that the plaintiff was at serious risk of being harmed
and decided not to do anything to prevent that harm from
occurring even though he could have easily done so.”
Board v. Farnham, 394 F.3d 469, 478 (7th Cir. 2005).
Jones asserts a plausible Eighth Amendment claim against Dr.
Jackson and D. Lewis.
also names the Indiana Department of Correction, Dr. Liaw,
and Harvil as defendants. The Eleventh Amendment bars
“a suit by a citizen against the citizen's own
State in Federal Court.” Johns v. Stewart, 57
F.3d 1544, 1552 (7th Cir. 1995). This jurisdictional bar
extends to state agencies such as the Indiana Department of
Correction. See Kashani v. Purdue University, 813
F.2d 843 (7th Cir. 1987). Further, though Jones lists the Dr.
Liaw as a defendant, he does not mention him in the narrative
portion of the complaint. “[L]iability depends on each
defendant's knowledge and actions, not on the knowledge
or actions of persons they supervise.” Burks v.
Raemisch, 555 F.3d 592, 594 (7th Cir. 2009). Because
Jones does not describe how Dr. Liaw was personally involved
with his claim, he cannot proceed against Dr. Liaw. Further,
Jones cannot proceed against Harvil because “the
alleged mishandling of [a prisoner's] grievances by
persons who otherwise did not cause or participate in the
underlying conduct states no claim.” Owens v.
Hinsley, 635 F.3d 950, 953 (7th Cir. 2011). Therefore,
these defendants will be dismissed.
also asserts an Eighth Amendment claim of deliberate
indifference to a serious medical need against Wexford
Medical. Corporate entities “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). While Jones describes
various policies or practices, he does not describe a policy
or practice that caused inadequate treatment for his sciatic
nerve condition. As a result, Jones cannot proceed against
Jones seeks injunctive relief for the proper treatment for
his sciatic nerve condition. Because the Prison Litigation
Reform Act limits the court's authority to grant
injunctive relief in this case, the injunctive relief, if
granted, will be limited to requiring correctional officials
to provide medical treatment for the sciatic nerve condition
as required by the Eighth Amendment. See Westefer v.
Neal, 682 F.3d 679 (7th Cir. 2012). Further, the Warden
of the Westville Correctional Facility, has both the
authority and the responsibility to ensure that Jones
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, the court will add
the Warden in his official capacity for purposes of the
injunctive relief claim.
these reasons, the court:
(1) GRANTS Brandon L. Jones leave to proceed on an Eighth
Amendment claim for money damages against Dr. Jackson and D.
Lewis for acting with deliberate indifference to serious
medical needs in relation to his sciatic nerve condition;
(2) DIRECTS the clerk to add the Warden of the Westville
Correctional Facility as a defendant;
(3) GRANTS Brandon L. Jones leave to proceed on an injunctive
relief claim against the Warden of the Westville Correctional
Facility in his official capacity to obtain treatment for his
sciatic nerve condition as required by the Eighth Amendment;
(4) DISMISSES Wexford Medical, the Indiana Department of
Correction, John R. Harvil, and Dr. Liaw;
(5) DISMISSES all other claims;
(6) DIRECTS the clerk and the United States Marshals Service
to issue and serve process on Dr. Jackson, D. Lewis, and the
Warden of the Westville Correctional Facility, at the Indiana
Department of Correction with a copy of this order and the