United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, South Bend Division
OPINION AND ORDER
L. MILLER, JR. JUDGE
Cleveland, a prisoner without a lawyer, filed an amended
complaint alleging that he is being denied timely breathing
treatments for his asthma. (quotation marks and citations
omitted). 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. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. “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).
Cleveland alleges that he suffered from an asthma attack and
that Officer Abdulla saw him struggling to breathe but took
no action to assist him. When Officer Abdulla wouldn’t
help, inmates took Mr. Cleveland to the medical department.
Mr. Cleveland alleges that he has lost consciousness because
of delayed treatment and required emergency medical care. Mr.
Cleveland further alleges that he must wait days or even
weeks for breathing treatments for his asthma.
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). The constitution does
not specify how medical care must be delivered. Cf.
Westefer v. Neal, 682 F.3d 679 (7th Cir. 2012). A
prisoner “is not entitled to demand specific care [nor]
entitled to the best care possible.” Forbes v.
Edgar, 112 F.3d 262, 267 (7th Cir. 1997). Based on the
allegations in the complaint, Mr. Cleveland may proceed
against Officer Abdulla in his individual capacity for being
deliberately indifferent to his need for emergency medical
treatment for his asthma, in violation of the Eighth
Amendment. Mr. Cleveland may also proceed against the Warden
of Indiana State Prison in his official capacity for
injunctive relief to receive treatment for his asthma that
complies with the Eighth Amendment. Gonzalez v.
Feinerman, 663 F.3d 311, 315 (7th Cir. 2011)
(“[T]he warden . . . is a proper defendant [for]
injunctive relief [and is] responsible for ensuring that any
injunctive relief is carried out.”).
Cleveland has also sued Wexford Medical, the private company
which provides medical care at the prison. Mr. Cleveland
attempts to hold the company liable because he is unhappy
with the care provided by the medical staff it employs. In
some cases, an employer can be liable for the actions of
employees, but there is no such 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. Cleveland’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.
these reasons, the court:
LIFTS the stay (ECF 10);
GRANTS Keith Cleveland leave to proceed against Officer
Abdulla in his individual capacity for monetary damages for
being deliberately indifferent to his need for emergency
medical treatment for his asthma, in violation of the Eighth
GRANTS Keith Cleveland leave to proceed against the Indiana
State Prison Warden in his official capacity to obtain
permanent injunctive relief to receive treatment for his
asthma as required by the Eighth Amendment;
DISMISSES all other claims;
DISMISSES Wexford Medical;
DIRECTS the clerk and the United States Marshals Service to
issue and serve process on Officer Abdulla at the Indiana
Department of Correction with a copy of this order and the
amended complaint (ECF 18) as required by 28 U.S.C. §
ORDERS pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(g)(2), the Indiana
State Prison Warden and Officer Abdulla to respond, as
provided for in the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and N.D.
Ind. L.R. 10-1(b), only to the claim for which the ...