United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, South Bend Division
OPINION AND ORDER
R. Leichty Judge
Jones, a prisoner without a lawyer, filed a motion for
preliminary injunction. Although Mr. Jones did not file a
complaint, the court will construe the allegations contained
within the motion as constituting one, and the clerk will be
directed to separately docket a copy of the motion (ECF 2) as
a complaint. A filing by an unrepresented party “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.
Jones, currently housed at the Westville Correctional
Facility, alleges that he suffers from Avascular Necrosisdx-a
condition that he says causes the bones and muscles around
his hips to slowly wear down. On July 22, 2019, Mr. Jones
fell and suffered an injury. As a result of his injury,
activities such as standing, walking, and sitting are
painful. He has repeatedly requested both a wheelchair and
pain medication. His request for a wheelchair was denied,
although he was provided with a walker. And, although he was
provided with a prescription for pain medication, Mr. Jones
alleges that the defendants will not fill the
prescription. Mr. Jones has sued Wexford Medical
Services, the Indiana Department of Correction, Dr. Liaw, and
P. Sonnenberg. He seeks to enjoin the defendants from
continuing to deny him care for his serious medical
condition, and he asks for an evaluation by an independent
doctor as soon as possible.
initial matter, the IDOC is a state agency and is immune from
suit under the Eleventh Amendment. Wynn v.
Southward, 251 F.3d 588, 592 (7th Cir. 2001). There are
three exceptions to Eleventh Amendment immunity: (1) suits
directly against the State based on a cause of action where
Congress has abrogated the State's immunity from suit;
(2) suits directly against the State if the State waived its
sovereign immunity; and (3) suits against a state official
seeking prospective equitable relief for ongoing violations
of federal law. MCI Telecommunications Corp. v. Ill.
Commerce Comm'n, 183 F.3d 558, 563 (7th Cir. 1999).
None of these exceptions applies here, so Mr. Jones cannot
state a claim against the IDOC.
Jones has also named Wexford as a defendant. Wexford is the
private company that provided medical care at the prison. Mr.
Jones attempts to hold the company liable because it employs
the medical staff. However, there is no general
respondeat superior liability under 42 U.S.C. §
1983. Chavez v. Illinois State Police, 251 F.3d 612,
651 (7th Cir. 2001); see also Johnson v. Dossey, 515
F.3d 778, 782 (7th Cir. 2008) (“a private corporation
is not vicariously liable under § 1983 for its
employees' deprivations of others' civil
rights”). Because Mr. Jones's complaint against
Wexford appears to be based only on Wexford's medical
staff's poor decisions in connection with his care, he
has not stated a claim against Wexford.
the Eighth Amendment, inmates are entitled to
constitutionally adequate medical care. Estelle v.
Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 104 (1976). In medical cases, the
Eighth Amendment test is expressed in terms of whether the
defendant was deliberately indifferent to the plaintiff's
serious medical need. Id. A medical need is
“serious” if it is “one that has been
diagnosed by a physician 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).
“[C]onduct is deliberately indifferent when the
official has 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) (quotation
marks, brackets, and citation omitted).
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). Inmates are “not entitled
to demand specific care [nor] entitled to the best care
possible.” Forbes v. Edgar, 112 F.3d 262, 267
(7th Cir. 1997). A mere disagreement with medical
professionals about the appropriate course of treatment does
not establish deliberate indifference, nor does negligence or
even medical malpractice. Arnett v. Webster, 658
F.3d 742, 751 (7th Cir. 2011). Even incompetence does not
state a claim for deliberate indifference. Minix v.
Canarecci, 597 F.3d 824, 831-32 (7th Cir. 2010). Still,
a delay in providing treatment can constitute deliberate
indifference when it causes unnecessary pain or suffering.
Arnett, 658 F.3d at 752-53; Grieveson v.
Anderson, 538 F.3d 763, 779 (7th Cir. 2008).
Jones has named Dr. Liaw and P. Sonnenberg as defendants.
However, because he has exclusively requested injunctive
relief, the warden of the facility where he currently resides
is the proper defendant. See Gonzalez v. Feinerman,
663 F.3d 311, 315 (7th Cir. 2011) (“the warden . . . is
a proper defendant [for] injunctive relief [and is]
responsible for ensuring that any injunctive relief is
carried out”). That said, the court will construe Mr.
Jones's allegations as a claim against the Warden of the
Westville Correctional Facility rather than Dr. Liaw and P.
Sonnenberg, and the clerk will be directed to edit the docket
Jones has alleged that, although he has received some medical
care for injuries, the care he has received has been
insufficient to control his pain, and his attempts to obtain
additional care have been largely ignored. Accordingly, the
court finds that Mr. Jones has stated a claim against the
Warden of the Westville Correctional Facility in his official
capacity for injunctive relief to receive constitutionally
adequate medical treatment for pain related to his July 22,
2019 fall. The Warden is also the proper party to respond to
the motion for preliminary injunction.
these reasons, the court:
DIRECTS the clerk to separately docket a copy of the motion
for preliminary injunction (ECF 2) as a complaint;
DIRECTS the clerk to add the Warden of the Westville
Correctional Facility in his official capacity as a
GRANTS Jason Jones leave to proceed against the Warden of the
Westville Correctional Facility in his official capacity for
injunctive relief to provide him with constitutionally
adequate medical care for pain related to his July 22, 2019,
fall, as required by the Eighth Amendment;
DISMISSES the Indiana Department of Correction, Wexford