Lucas v. Wexford Medical Corp et al
OPINION AND ORDER GRANTING Chansler Lucas leave to proceed against Ms. Livers and Ms. Reboc in their individual capacities for compensatory and punitive damages for denying him constitutionally adequate medical treatment for his painful rash and lump s, in violation of the Eighth Amendment. All other claims are DISMISSED. Dr Jackson and Dr. Liaw are DISMISSED. The Clerk is DIRECTED to request Waiver of Service from (and if necessary, the United States Marshals Service to serve process on) on Ms . Livers and Ms. Reboc at Wexford of Indiana, LLC, with a copy of this order and the amended complaint (ECF 7), pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(d). Wexford of Indiana LLC is ORDERED to provide the United States Marshal Service with the full name, date of birth, social security number, last employment date, work location, and last known home address of any defendant that does not waive service, if they have such information. Pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(g)(2), Ms. Livers and Ms. Reboc are ORDERED to respond, as provided for in the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and N.D. Ind. L.R. 10-1(b), only to the claims for which the plaintiff has been granted leave to proceed in this screening order. Signed by Chief Judge Jon E DeGuilio on 10/13/20. (Copy mailed to pro se party)(mlc)
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UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
NORTHERN DISTRICT OF INDIANA
SOUTH BEND DIVISION
CAUSE NO. 3:20-CV-358-JD-MGG
WEXFORD MEDICAL CORP, et al.,
OPINION AND ORDER
Chansler Lucas, a prisoner without a lawyer, filed an amended complaint
seeking monetary damages only against Ms. Livers, Dr. Jackson, Dr. Liaw, and Ms.
Reboc because he is unhappy with how a skin rash has been managed while
incarcerated at Westville Correctional Facility. “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). Nevertheless, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, the court must review 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.
Here, Lucas alleges that, when he arrived at the Reception Diagnostic Center in
May of 2019, he developed tiny red bumps that itched on his thighs and legs. Medical
staff at the RDC diagnosed him with scabies, providing medication, and placed him in
quarantine. He was then transferred to Westville Correctional Facility.
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At Westville, his condition worsened. A nurse diagnosed him with scabies again,
provided medication, and directed that his clothes be washed. His condition got worse.
He developed large knots on his genitals, buttocks, and thighs, in addition to the small
red bumps. He was uncomfortable when sitting, standing, sleeping, and urinating. He
requested medical attention and saw Dr. Jackson in July 2019. He was again diagnosed
with scabies and referred to nurses Ms. Livers and Ms. Reboc to receive medication and
to arrange to have his laundry washed. The nurses allegedly disagreed with Dr.
Jackson’s assessment. They believed the rash was caused by a bacterial infection.
Without referring Lucas back to Dr. Jackson, they decided not to provide medication for
scabies. Lucas left with nothing to ease his discomfort or address his condition.
His condition continued to worsen. He submitted another medical request and
saw Dr. Jackson in September 2019. After an examination, Dr. Jackson told him the
knots were boils. He prescribed two antibiotics, a steroid, and itch cream. None of these
In November 2019, Lucas asked to be seen by urgent care. He was seen by Nurse.
Livers. She thought his condition was fungal. She opined that the fungus was
transferring from his feet to his legs and groin when he slid his feet through his
underwear and advised him to throw his shoes away. Lucas explained that he did not
have athletes’ foot. She referred Lucas to Dr. Jackson. He prescribed another antibiotic,
a steroid cream, and a fungal cream. The problem continued to get worse.
Lucas submitted another request for medical attention and was seen by Dr. Liaw.
He prescribed more of the antibiotic that Lucas had just had.
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Lucas filed a grievance requesting a consultation with a specialist. Nurse Livers
responded by indicating that Lucas cannot dictate or demand special privileges. He
wrote the Commissioner, and in January or February 2020, he was seen by Dr. Liaw
again. Blood was drawn and steroids were ordered. However, after three days, the
steroids were discontinued, because they were not helping.
Lucas was miserable and asked for a lay-in from programing. The request was
initially denied, but his primary counselor did grant the request later. While awaiting
the results of the blood test, Lucas stopped using soap, stopped sending his clothes to
laundry, and stopped using his sheets and blankets. These things helped some. He
waited for three weeks for the results of the blood test, asking for medical care each day,
only to be told no because the test results were not back. When correctional officers
called medical staff at Lucas’s request, they were told that Lucas was faking and to stop
Finally, on February 20, 2020, a correctional officer sent Lucas to Sgt. Flakes to
discuss getting medical care. She took Lucas to medical and had him show the nurse the
bumps. She remained present at Lucas’s request, so that she too could see. Lucas
reports that, at this point, it was very painful and difficult to urinate. After seeing
Lucas’s condition, Sgt. Flakes stated, “Faking Please.” She then told Lucas to get
dressed and that they were going to urgent care. Sgt. Flakes demanded that Lucas be
seen. He was given three injections: an antibiotic, antihistamine, and pain medication.
He was told that the results of the blood work were back and were negative. More
blood was drawn. He was given a catheter and sent back to the dorm to wait again. His
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condition improved some as a result of something he was given this time. He believed it
was the antihistamine and asked for more. It is unclear if he received it.
At the end of February, he woke with tiny bumps covering his arms and hands.
He sought medical care and then waited again. Around this same time, there was a
meeting that included medical staff, counselors, and prison officials. He was discussed
at this meeting. The counselors asked why he was not being helped. The response was
that he was drug seeking. 1 Lucas believes this is because he asked Nurse Livers for
medication to relief the itching and burning. She responded by saying he had
medication - an antibiotic.
In March 2020, Lucas was seen by Dr. Liaw again. A biopsy was performed. He
was told that the results of the additional bloodwork were back, and everything was
negative. He asked for the same injections that provided relief the previous month. Dr.
Liaw said no but prescribed Zyrtec. Although prescribed, he was never given the
On March 20, 2020, after medical staff had denied him care repeatedly, a night
shift correctional officer called a sergeant and Lucas was taken to urgent care. The nurse
that saw him believed that Lucas was having an allergic reaction. He gave him two
shots of Benadryl and steroid tablets. His condition improved.
He saw Dr. Liaw and Nurse Livers on March 27, 2020. Dr. Liaw thought his
condition looked better, but Lucas disagreed. Lucas had observed that, when he washed
Lucas reports that a search of his property box did not reveal any medication.
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his clothes, he broke out in new bumps wherever the clothes touched his skin. He asked
for something to wash his clothes and his body with that would not hurt him. And, he
asked for an allergy medication. He was told that medical could not provide him with
different soaps. He was told he could have Zyrtec or steroids but not both. He asked
which would make the knots go away. He was given steroids. The biopsy results
showed that Lucas had contact dermatitis on his arm. He was told that it would go
away in two months, and to take the steroids.
Lucas has written so many healthcare requests that he has been told to stop
writing them. On May 19, 2020, the sergeant took Lucas to urgent care and he was given
a shot of Benadryl. Lucas reports that he continues to suffer, that medical staff have
stopped trying to find a solution, and that he is tired - mentally and physically - from
months of suffering.
As noted in this court’s earlier order (ECF 5), in medical cases, the Constitution is
violated only when a defendant was deliberately indifferent to an inmate’s serious
medical needs. Gutierrez v. Peters, 111 F.3d 1364, 1369 (7th Cir. 1997). 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). “[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)
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(quotation marks, brackets, and citation omitted). For a medical professional to be held
liable for deliberate indifference to an inmate’s medical needs, he or she 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). However, “the Constitution is not a medical code that mandates specific
medical treatment.” Snipes v. DeTella, 95 F.3d 586, 592 (7th Cir. 1996). “Whether and
how pain associated with medical treatment should be mitigated is for doctors to decide
free from judicial interference, except in the most extreme situations.” Id. 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). Moreover, constitutionally adequate care does
not require the total alleviation of pain. Snipes v. DeTella, 95 F.3d 586, 592 (7th Cir. 1996)
(“To say the Eighth Amendment requires prison doctors to keep an inmate pain-free in
the aftermath of proper medical treatment would be absurd.”). Furthermore, a delay in
providing treatment can constitute deliberate indifference when it causes unnecessary
pain or suffering. Arnett v. Webster, 658 F.3d 742, 752-53 (7th Cir. 2011); Grieveson v.
Anderson, 538 F.3d 763, 779 (7th Cir. 2008). With this standard in mind, Lucas’s
allegations against each of the four named defendants will be considered.
Lucas saw Dr. Jackson on three occasions. In July he diagnosed Lucas with
scabies and ordered medication for that condition. In September he thought the knots
were boils and prescribed medication for that condition. In November he thought the
rash may be fungal and provided medications for that condition. None of it worked, but
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that does not demonstrate deliberate indifference. No reasonable fact finder could
conclude from the allegations in Lucas’s complaint that Dr. Jackson’s care of Lucas was
not based on the exercise of his medical judgment. Thus, he cannot proceed against Dr.
By the time Lucas saw Dr. Liaw, medication for scabies, boils, and a fungal
infection had all failed. He initially prescribed a medication that had already been tried.
When he saw him next, in January or February, he tried steroid injections and ordered
bloodwork. The steroids were discontinued after three days because Lucas did not
improve, and no further treatment was provided pending the results of the blood work.
When Lucas saw Dr. Liaw again in March, more bloodwork was ordered, and he was
prescribed Zyrtec. While Lucas did not receive the Zyrtec, Lucas does not allege that Dr.
Liaw is to blame for that. Dr. Liaw’s treatment did not work, but – as with Dr. Jackson –
no reasonable fact finder could conclude that Dr. Liaw’s care of Lucas was not based on
the exercise of his medical judgment. Thus, Lucas may not proceed against Dr. Liaw.
Regarding Nurse Livers and Nurse Reboc, in July 2019, after seeing Dr. Jackson,
Lucas was referred to both Nurse Livers and Nurse Reboc. The complaint alleges that the
nurses disagreed with Dr. Jackson’s diagnosis of scabies, did not give him medication for
that condition, and did not refer him back to Dr. Jackson. Lucas filed a grievance and
asked to see a specialist. Nurse Livers characterized his request not as a plea for help from
a suffering inmate that had already tried multiple treatments to no avail, but as a request
for “special privileges.” She denied the request. Lucas also believes that Nurse Livers
played a role in characterizing him as someone who was faking his condition and merely
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drug-seeking; an explanation that at least Sgt. Flakes appears to have found not
particularly credible after viewing Lucas’s rash. Giving Lucas the benefit of the inferences
to which he is entitled at this early stage of the case, the court concludes that Lucas has
alleged facts from which a reasonable fact finder could conclude that both Nurse Livers
and Nurse Reboc were deliberately indifferent to Lucas’s suffering. Thus, he will be
permitted to proceed against Nurse Livers and Nurse Reboc.
For these reasons, the court:
(1) GRANTS Chansler Lucas leave to proceed against Ms. Livers and Ms. Reboc
in their individual capacities for compensatory and punitive damages for denying him
constitutionally adequate medical treatment for his painful rash and lumps, in violation
of the Eighth Amendment;
(2) DISMISSES all other claims;
(3) DISMISSES Dr. Jackson and Dr. Liaw;
(4) DIRECTS the clerk to request Waiver of Service from (and if necessary, the
United States Marshals Service to serve process on) on Ms. Livers and Ms. Reboc at
Wexford of Indiana, LLC, with a copy of this order and the amended complaint (ECF 7),
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(d);
(5) ORDERS Wexford of Indiana, LLC, to provide the United States Marshal
Service with the full name, date of birth, social security number, last employment date,
work location, and last known home address of any defendant that does not waive
service, if they have such information; and
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(6) ORDERS, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(g)(2), Ms. Livers and Ms. Reboc to
respond, as provided for in the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and N.D. Ind. L.R. 101(b), only to the claims for which the plaintiff has been granted leave to proceed in this
SO ORDERED on October 13, 2020
/s/JON E. DEGUILIO
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
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