Stull v. Siddiqui et al
ORDER REFERRING CASE to Magistrate Judge Reona J. Daly. Signed by Judge David R. Herndon on 11/30/2017. (tjk)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF ILLINOIS
AARON P. STULL,
and HOLLY HAWKINS,
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
Plaintiff Aaron Stull, an inmate who is currently incarcerated at Menard
Correctional Center (“Menard”), brings the instant civil rights action pursuant to
42 U.S.C. § 1983 against four of his medical providers at Menard. (Doc. 1). In
the Complaint, Plaintiff alleges that he was denied timely and adequate medical
care for his type 2 diabetes. (Doc. 1, pp. 1-17). He brings an Eighth Amendment
deliberate indifference to medical needs claim against Doctor Siddiqui, Doctor
Coe, Nurse Practitioner Moldenhauer, and Nurse Hawkins. (Doc. 1, pp. 15-17).
Plaintiff seeks monetary damages against the defendants. (Doc. 1, p. 18).
The Complaint is subject to preliminary review under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A,
– The court shall review, before docketing, if
feasible or, in any event, as soon as practicable after docketing, a
complaint in a civil action in which a prisoner seeks redress from a
governmental entity or officer or employee of a governmental entity.
– On review, the court shall identify
cognizable claims or dismiss the complaint, or any portion of the
complaint, if the complaint–
(1) is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim on
which relief may be granted; or
(2) seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is
immune from such relief.
An action or claim is frivolous if “it lacks an arguable basis either in law or in
Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325 (1989).
Frivolousness is an
objective standard that refers to a claim that any reasonable person would find
meritless. Lee v. Clinton, 209 F.3d 1025, 1026-27 (7th Cir. 2000). An action
fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted if it does not plead “enough
facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Bell Atlantic Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). The claim of entitlement to relief must cross
“the line between possibility and plausibility.” Id. at 557. At this juncture, the
factual allegations of the pro se complaint are to be liberally construed.
Rodriguez v. Plymouth Ambulance Serv., 577 F.3d 816, 821 (7th Cir. 2009). The
Complaint survives screening under this standard.
During his incarceration at Menard in 2013, Plaintiff was diagnosed with
type 2 diabetes after blood tests revealed elevated blood glucose levels. (Doc. 1, p.
4). In an effort to bring his blood sugar levels within normal range, i.e., between
80 and 130, Plaintiff was prescribed Metformin twice daily. Id. His prescription
was increased from 500 milligrams to 1000 milligrams after weekly “blood accu
checks” showed persistent elevated blood sugar levels.
received 30-day supplies of this medication between 2013 and 2017.
working closely with a member of Menard’s nursing staff, Plaintiff was able to
effectively manage his condition. (Doc. 1, p. 7).
In early 2017, however, his prescription for Metformin expired. (Doc. 1, p.
4). Plaintiff submitted a refill request to the prison’s health care unit. Id. When
he received no response, Plaintiff submitted additional requests to no avail. Id.
By March 16, 2017, his blood sugar levels approached 400. (Doc. 1, p. 5). Nurse
Practitioner Moldenhauer reviewed Plaintiff’s lab work, but took no action to treat
him. (Doc. 1, p. 15).
The nurse’s notes dated April 24, 2017, indicated that Plaintiff’s blood
glucose levels were still elevated. (Doc. 1, p. 5). Beneath a similar notation dated
May 10, 2017, Doctor Coe indicated that he would issue Plaintiff a prescription
(Doc. 1, pp. 5, 15).
Although the doctor issued Plaintiff a refill for
Metformin, he failed to refill his prescriptions for ibuprofen (800 mg) and
Capzasin HP, which Plaintiff used for pain relief. (Doc. 1, pp. 5, 7).
A note in his medical records dated May 11, 2017, indicated that Plaintiff’s
blood glucose levels had risen to 458.
(Doc. 1, pp. 5, 7).
reviewed these lab results and added a note to “See Patient” on May 15, 2017.
(Doc. 1, p. 5).
Plaintiff continued requesting prescription refills and medical
attention through June 2017 without receiving any response to his requests. Id.
By June 6, 2017, Plaintiff began suffering from vision loss. (Doc. 1, p. 5).
An optometrist examined his eyes and recommended new prescription eyeglasses.
Id. The optometrist noted that Plaintiff’s “blood sugar has been up.” Id.
On June 20, 2017, Plaintiff submitted an emergency grievance seeking
medical treatment. (Doc. 1, p. 7; Doc. 1-1, pp. 12-14). He requested treatment
for “serious medical problems” related to his “diagnosed diabetes.” Id. Plaintiff
explained that he had not been seen by a doctor, despite asking for an
appointment to address his elevated blood sugar since March 2017. Id. He also
indicated that he was denied prescription refills of his Metformin for eight weeks,
during which time his blood sugar levels remained elevated above 200 at all times
and exceeded 400 on occasion. (Doc. 1, pp. 7-8). In addition, he was denied
refills of ibuprofen and Capzasin HP. Id. Plaintiff explained that he no longer had
control over his blood sugar levels and consequently suffered from vision loss and
“major pain” in his feet. Id. He also complained of weakness on his left side and
indicated that his left knee had begun giving out. Id. The warden deemed the
grievance to be an emergency on June 23, 2017. (Doc. 1, pp. 8, 11; Doc. 1-1, pp.
12-14). Even so, Plaintiff was not seen by a medical provider. Id.
On June 28, 2017, Plaintiff submitted a second emergency grievance. (Doc.
1, p. 8). Plaintiff reiterated his concerns and requested medical treatment. (Doc.
1, pp. 8-9). He also pointed out that he had not been seen by a medical provider
about his diabetes in six months. (Doc. 1, pp. 9-10).
On July 3, 2017, Plaintiff met with Doctor Siddiqui for his biennial
physical. (Doc. 1, pp. 10-11). The physician reviewed Plaintiff’s labs from May
and noted that they were abnormal. Id. He informed Plaintiff that his symptoms
resulted from high blood glucose levels. (Doc. 1, p. 11). The doctor explained
that Metformin would “manage but not reduce high blood sugar.” Id. To help the
pancreas produce more insulin and thereby reduce his blood sugar levels, the
doctor recommended taking Glipizide (5 mg) twice daily. Id. Doctor Siddiqui
prescribed the new medication. Id. He also informed Plaintiff that he suffered
from Hepatitis C. Id.
The second emergency grievance was denied as moot on or around July 13,
2017. (Doc. 1, p. 12). Nurse Hawkins and Doctor Siddiqui responded to both
emergency grievances by instructing Plaintiff to submit nurse sick call requests
instead of emergency grievances if he wanted to be seen. (Doc. 1, pp. 15-16).
Plaintiff also filed a third grievance on July 19, 2017. (Doc. 1, pp. 12-13).
In it, he complained of continued vision loss, numbness, and pain in his
extremities. (Doc. 1, p. 12). He requested additional medical treatment for his
diabetes, including Capzasin cream for pain. (Doc. 1, pp. 12-13). Plaintiff added
that the prison eye doctor, mental health doctor, and nurses at “blood accu
check” previously assured him that they would place him on the sick call list, but
failed to do so. (Doc. 1, p. 13). He also requested further testing and treatment
for Hepatitis C. (Doc. 1, pp. 12-13).
Plaintiff was seen again by Doctor Siddiqui on August 10, 2017. (Doc. 1, p.
13). This was one week after he completed additional bloodwork that showed
improvement in his blood sugar levels. Id. The doctor informed Plaintiff that
nothing could be done about his nerve damage, but his condition should not get
any worse if he maintained normal blood glucose levels. (Doc. 1, pp. 13-14). The
doctor also agreed to order more tests to confirm his diagnosis with Hepatitis C.
Id. In early October 2017, Plaintiff was informed that he did not have Hepatitis C.
(Doc. 1, p. 14).
To facilitate the orderly management of future proceedings in this case, and
in accordance with the objectives of Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 8(e) and
10(b), the Court deems it appropriate to organize the claims in Plaintiff’s pro se
Complaint (Doc. 1) into the following two counts:
Eighth Amendment deliberate indifference to medical needs
claim against Doctor Coe, Doctor Siddiqui, Nurse Practitioner
Moldenhauer, and Nurse Hawkins for denying Plaintiff
adequate medical treatment for his diabetes at Menard in
2017, resulting in elevated blood glucose levels, vision loss,
nerve damage, and pain.
Eighth Amendment deliberate indifference to medical needs
claim against Doctor Siddiqui for erroneously diagnosing
Plaintiff with Hepatitis C in 2017.
The parties and the Court will use these designations in all future pleadings and
orders, unless otherwise directed by a judicial officer of this Court.
designations do not constitute an opinion regarding the merits of these claims.
Plaintiff’s claims arise under the Eighth Amendment. U.S. CONST., amend.
VIII. Prison officials violate the Eighth Amendment when they act with deliberate
indifference to the serious medical needs of prisoners. Cesal v. Moats, 851 F.3d
714 (7th Cir. 2017) (citing Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 104 (1976); Erickson
v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2006) (per curiam)). See also Perez v. Fenoglio, 792
F.3d 768, 776 (7th Cir. 2015); Berry v. Peterman, 604 F.3d 435 (7th Cir. 2010).
To state an Eighth Amendment claim based on the denial of medical care, a
prisoner must show that he suffered from a sufficiently serious medical condition
(i.e., an objective standard) and state officials acted with deliberate indifference to
his health or safety (i.e., a subjective standard). Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S.
825, 834 (1994); Chapman v. Keltner, 241 F.3d 842, 845 (7th Cir. 2001).
A medical condition is considered objectively serious if it has been
diagnosed by a physician as requiring treatment or is “so obvious that even a lay
person would easily recognize the necessity for a doctor’s attention.”
Kramer, 680 F.3d 1013, 1018 (7th Cir. 2012). See also Pyles v. Fahim, 771 F.3d
403, 409 (7th Cir. 2014); Knight v. Wiseman, 590 F.3d 458, 463 (7th Cir. 2009).
Plaintiff’s diabetes and related symptoms of vision loss, pain, and numbness
satisfy the objective standard for screening purposes. Cesal, 851 F.3d at 721
(undisputed that kidney pain, vision blurriness, and numbness associated with
diabetes was objectively serious); Williams v. Liefer, 491 F.3d 710, 716 (7th Cir.
2007) (pain is an objectively serious medical condition). However, the Court’s
analysis does not end here.
The Complaint must also satisfy the subjective component of this claim. To
do so, the allegations must suggest that each defendant responded to Plaintiff’s
serious medical needs with deliberate indifference.
Greeno v. Daley, 414 F.3d
645, 653 (7th Cir. 2005) (quoting Wilson v. Seiter, 501 U.S. 294, 297 (1991)).
This standard is met when prison officials “know of and disregard an excessive
risk to inmate health” by being “‘aware of facts from which the inference could be
drawn that a substantial risk of serious harm exists’” and “‘draw[ing] the
inference.’” Greeno, 414 F.3d at 653 (quoting Farmer, 511 U.S. at 834).
The allegations support a claim of deliberate indifference in Count 1 against
Doctor Coe and Doctor Siddiqui, who allegedly ignored Plaintiff’s complaints of
uncontrolled blood sugar, vision loss, numbness, and pain in 2017. Failing to
refill a prescription to treat an inmate’s diabetes constitutes deliberate
Askew v. Davis, 613 F. App’x 544 (7th Cir. 2015). Ignoring an
inmate’s complaints of pain and thereby prolonging it also satisfies the deliberate
indifference standard. Smith v. Knox Cnty. Jail, 666 F.3d 1037, 1040 (7th Cir.
2012). The allegations suggest that both doctors were aware of Plaintiff’s need for
additional medical attention for his diabetes and related pain but failed to meet
with him or timely provide him with prescription refills, causing medical
complications that also prolonged his pain.
Moldenhauer and Nurse Hawkins. Both nurses took no action upon learning of
Plaintiff’s condition in 2017. Nurse Practitioner Moldenhauer reviewed Plaintiff’s
labs, which reported high blood glucose levels on March 17, 2017.
Hawkins reviewed Plaintiff’s emergency grievance and deferred to the doctor’s
recommendation to request medical care through nurse sick call rather than
through emergency grievances—all while denying Plaintiff meaningful or timely
care. Although nurses may generally defer to a treating physician’s judgment, they
cannot stand by and do nothing when the treating physician fails to exercise any
judgment at all. Berry, 604 F.3d at 440. In other words, the deference may not
be “blind or unthinking.” Id. at 443. At this early stage, the allegations support a
claim of deliberate indifference in Count 1 against both nurses.
In summary, Count 1 survives screening and shall receive further review
against all of the defendants.
The Complaint states no claim against Doctor Siddiqui for erroneously
diagnosing Plaintiff with Hepatitis C. Plaintiff asserts no claim to this effect. The
Court has nevertheless considered whether the allegations support a claim under
federal or state law.
An incorrect diagnosis, such as the one described in the Complaint,
generally states no Eighth Amendment claim. Steele v. Choi, 82 F.3d 175, 178
(7th Cir. 1996); Walker v. Benjamin, 293 F.3d 1030, 1037 (7th Cir. 2002).
“Estelle requires us to distinguish between ‘deliberate indifference to serious
medical needs’ of prisoners, on the one hand, and ‘negligen[ce] in diagnosing or
treating a medical condition,’ on the other.”
Gutierrez v. Peters, 111 F.3d 1364,
1374 (7th Cir. 1997) (quoting Steele, 82 F.3d at 178 (citing Estelle, 429 U.S. at
106)). The Eighth Amendment “is not a vehicle for bringing claims for medical
Snipes v. DeTella, 95 F.3d 586, 590 (7th Cir. 1996), certiorari
denied, 519 U.S. 1126.
The allegations also support no medical malpractice claim against Doctor
Siddiqui for the incorrect diagnosis. Claims of negligence or medical malpractice
are governed by Illinois state law. Under Illinois law, a Plaintiff “[i]n any action,
whether in tort, contract or otherwise, in which the plaintiff seeks damages for
injuries or death by reason of medical, hospital, or other healing art malpractice,”
must file an affidavit along with the complaint, declaring one of the following: 1)
that the affiant has consulted and reviewed the facts of the case with a qualified
health professional who has reviewed the claim and made a written report that
the claim is reasonable and meritorious (and the written report must be attached
to the affidavit); 2) that the affiant was unable to obtain such a consultation before
the expiration of the statute of limitations, and affiant has not previously
voluntarily dismissed an action based on the same claim (and in this case, the
required written report shall be filed within 90 days after the filing of the
complaint); or 3) that the plaintiff has made a request for records but the
respondent has not complied within 60 days of receipt of the request (and in this
case the written report shall be filed within 90 days of receipt of the records). See
735 ILL. COMP. STAT. § 5/2-622(a) (West 2017). A separate affidavit and report
shall be filed as to each defendant. See 735 ILL. COMP. STAT. § 5/2-622(b). Failure
to file the required certificate is grounds for dismissal of the claim. See 735 ILL.
COMP. STAT. § 5/2-622(g). Plaintiff did not file the affidavit or certificate along with
his Complaint. Whether brought pursuant to the Eighth Amendment or Illinois
state law, Count 2 shall be dismissed without prejudice against Doctor Siddiqui.
The Motion for Recruitment of Counsel (Doc. 3) shall be REFERRED to a
United States Magistrate Judge for a decision.
IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that COUNT 1 is subject to further review
against Defendants SIDDIQUI, COE, MOLDENHAUER, and HAWKINS.
IT IS ORDERED that COUNT 2 is DISMISSED without prejudice against
Defendant SIDDIQUI for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be
As to COUNT 1, the Clerk of Court shall prepare for the Defendants: (1)
Form 5 (Notice of a Lawsuit and Request to Waive Service of a Summons), and (2)
Form 6 (Waiver of Service of Summons). The Clerk is DIRECTED to mail these
forms, a copy of the Complaint (Doc. 1), and this Memorandum and Order to
each Defendant’s place of employment as identified by Plaintiff. If a Defendant
fails to sign and return the Waiver of Service of Summons (Form 6) to the Clerk
within 30 days from the date the forms were sent, the Clerk shall take
appropriate steps to effect formal service on that Defendant, and the Court will
require that Defendant to pay the full costs of formal service, to the extent
authorized by the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.
With respect to a Defendant who no longer can be found at the work
address provided by Plaintiff, the employer shall furnish the Clerk with the
Defendant’s current work address, or, if not known, the Defendant’s last-known
address. This information shall be used only for sending the forms as directed
above or for formally effecting service. Any documentation of the address shall be
retained only by the Clerk. Address information shall not be maintained in the
court file or disclosed by the Clerk.
Defendants are ORDERED to timely file an appropriate responsive pleading
to the Complaint and shall not waive filing a reply pursuant to 42 U.S.C.
Pursuant to Local Rule 72.1(a)(2), this action is REFERRED to a United
for further pre-trial proceedings, including a decision on
the Motion for Recruitment of Counsel (Doc. 3).
Further, this entire matter shall be REFERRED to a United States
for disposition, pursuant to Local Rule 72.2(b)(2) and
28 U.S.C. § 636(c), if all parties consent to such a referral.
If judgment is rendered against Plaintiff, and the judgment includes the
payment of costs under § 1915, Plaintiff will be required to pay the full amount of
the costs, regardless of whether an application to proceed in forma pauperis is
granted. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(f)(2)(A).
Plaintiff is ADVISED that at the time application was made under 28 U.S.C.
§ 1915 for leave to commence this civil action without being required to prepay
fees and costs or give security for the same, the applicant and his or her attorney
were deemed to have entered into a stipulation that the recovery, if any, secured
in the action shall be paid to the Clerk of the Court, who shall pay therefrom all
unpaid costs taxed against plaintiff and remit the balance to plaintiff. Local Rule
Finally, Plaintiff is ADVISED that he is under a continuing obligation to
keep the Clerk of Court and each opposing party informed of any change in his
address; the Court will not independently investigate his whereabouts. This shall
be done in writing and not later than 7 days after a transfer or other change in
Failure to comply with this order will cause a delay in the
transmission of court documents and may result in dismissal of this action for
want of prosecution. See FED. R. CIV. P. 41(b).
IT IS SO ORDERED.
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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