Warren v. Wexford Health Source Inc. et al
ORDER GRANTING 57 MOTION for Leave to File First Amended Complaint filed by Frederick Warren. Plaintiff shall file the proposed first amended complaint as the First Amended Complaint by September 20, 2022. Following the filing of the complaint, Plaintiff will be responsible for issuing a summons or otherwise effecting service on Dr. Robert Lynch. Signed by Magistrate Judge Reona J. Daly on 9/15/2022. (nmf)
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IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF ILLINOIS
DR. LYNNE PITTMAN,
Case No. 3:20-cv-784-RJD
DALY, Magistrate Judge:
This matter is before the Court on Plaintiff Frederick Warren’s Motion for Leave to File
First Amended Complaint (Doc. 57). Defendant did not respond to the motion. For the reasons
set forth below, the Motion is GRANTED.
PROCEDURAL AND FACTUAL BACKGROUND
Plaintiff, an inmate in the custody of the Illinois Department of Corrections, filed this
lawsuit pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §1983 alleging his constitutional rights were violated while he was
incarcerated at Lawrence Correctional Center. Plaintiff alleges he received inadequate medical
treatment for a shoulder injury.
More specifically, Plaintiff asserts he suffered an injured
shoulder and bicep and, when he was referred to Dr. Pittman for treatment, he was only prescribed
medication, but nothing has been done for his injury. Plaintiff’s complaint was screened pursuant
to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, and he proceeds on a claim of deliberate indifference against Dr. Lynne
Plaintiff, through counsel, seeks leave to amend his complaint to include an additional
claim of deliberate indifference against Dr. Robert P. Lynch. Plaintiff asserts he discovered his
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additional claims upon review of his recently produced complete medical history.
In his proposed amended complaint, Plaintiff alleges a metallic surgical clip was never
removed from his shoulder after undergoing a surgery in May 2017.
Consistent with the
allegations in his original complaint, Plaintiff alleges he saw Dr. Pittman, a physician contracted
by Wexford Health Sources, Inc. to provide medical care for inmates at Lawrence CC, on
numerous occasions to address pain associated with the clip. Plaintiff alleges Dr. Pittman failed
to adequately address his complaints regarding shoulder pain, providing only medication rather
than surgery. Dr. Lynch is a general surgeon who, upon information and belief, practices at
Lawrence County Memorial Hospital. Plaintiff alleges Dr. Lynch contracts with Lawrence CC to
provide medical care for inmates. Plaintiff further alleges he saw Dr. Lynch to explore surgical
options, but Dr. Lynch failed to provide any medical treatment.
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15(a) provides that a party may amend a pleading and that
leave to amend should be freely given "when justice so requires." The Seventh Circuit maintains
a liberal attitude toward the amendment of pleadings "so that cases may be decided on the merits
and not on the basis of technicalities." Stern v. U.S. Gypsum, Inc., 547 F.2d 1329, 1334 (7th Cir.
1977). The Circuit recognizes that "the complaint merely serves to put the defendant on notice
and is to be freely amended or constructively amended as the case develops, as long as
amendments do not unfairly surprise or prejudice the defendant." Toth v. USX Corp., 883 F.2d
1297, 1298 (7th Cir. 1989); see also Winger v. Winger, 82 F.3d 140, 144 (7th Cir. 1996) ("The
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure create [a system] in which the complaint does not fix the
plaintiff's rights but may be amended at any time to conform to the evidence.") (quotation
omitted). A court may also deny a party leave to amend if there is undue delay, dilatory motive or
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futility. Guise v. BMW Mortgage, LLC, 377 F.3d 795, 801 (7th Cir. 2004).
The Court finds Plaintiff’s proposed amendment is not unduly delayed or brought with
dilatory motive. However, the Court must consider whether any proposed amendments are futile.
The Court conducts this inquiry specifically with regard to the claim of deliberate indifference
against Dr. Lynch. It is well settled that 42 U.S.C. § 1983 applies only to persons who act “under
color of any statute, ordinance, regulation, custom, or usage.”
Section 1983 encompasses
government employees and, under certain circumstances, non-governmental employees who are
employed by a private entity that provides services to the government. Rodriguez v. Plymouth
Ambulance Services, 577 F.3d 816, 823-27 (7th Cir. 2009). With regard to privately-employed
physicians, determining whether they are state actors under Section 1983 requires “a functional
inquiry that focuses on the relationship between the state, the medical provider, and the inmate.”
Id. at 826-27.
In Rodriguez, the Seventh Circuit determined it could not tell “on the face of the complaint
alone” whether the defendant ambulance servicer’s emergency medical technicians were state
actors under Section 1983. Id. at 830. The Seventh Circuit reversed the district court, which had
dismissed the complaint on initial screening, finding that the relationship between these
defendants and the state required “limited discovery.” Id.
Here, there is no allegation that Dr. Lynch is a state employee or an employee of Wexford
Health Sources, Inc., whose employees “undoubtedly” act under color of state law. See Shields v.
Ill. Dep’t of Corr., 746 F.3d 782, 797 (7th Cir. 2014). Plaintiff alleges only that Dr. Lynch
practices at Lawrence County Memorial Hospital and contracts with Lawrence Correctional
Center to provide medical care for inmates. It is not clear how many times Dr. Lynch examined
Plaintiff or provided care to Lawrence Correctional Center inmates. As such, the Court must
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conduct a “functional inquiry that focuses on the relationship between the state, the medical
provider, and the inmate.” Manzanales v. Krishna, 113 F.Supp.3d 972, 980 (N.D. Ill. 2015)
(citing Rodriguez, 577 F.3d at 827-27).
This functional inquiry cannot be completed at this stage in the proceedings.
Accordingly, Plaintiff’s Motion for Leave to File First Amended Complaint (Doc. 57) is
GRANTED. Plaintiff shall file the proposed first amended complaint as the First Amended
Complaint by September 20, 2022.
Following the filing of the complaint, Plaintiff will be responsible for issuing a summons
or otherwise effecting service on Dr. Robert Lynch.
IT IS SO ORDERED.
DATED: September 15, 2022
s/ Reona J. Daly
Hon. Reona J. Daly
United States Magistrate Judge
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