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Shelby v. Missouri Department of Corrections

United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division

December 15, 2017




         This matter is before the Court on review of the file following plaintiffs filing of his second amended complaint. The Court has granted plaintiff leave to proceed in forma pauperis, and has twice ordered him to file amended complaints to comply with Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a). After reviewing plaintiffs second amended complaint, the Court will partially dismiss the complaint and will order the Clerk to issue process or cause process to be issued on the non-frivolous portions of the complaint.

         Legal Standard

         Under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e), the Court is required to dismiss a complaint filed in forma pauperis if it is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. To state a claim for relief, a complaint must plead more than "legal conclusions" and "[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action [that are] supported by mere conclusory statements." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). A plaintiff must demonstrate a plausible claim for relief, which is more than a "mere possibility of misconduct." Id. at 679. "A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Id. at 678. Determining whether a complaint states a plausible claim for relief is a context-specific task that requires the reviewing court to draw on its judicial experience and common sense. Id. at 679.

         When reviewing a complaint under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e), the Court accepts the well-pled facts as true. Furthermore, the Court liberally construes the allegations.

         The Complaint

         Plaintiff, an inmate at Eastern Reception Diagnostic and Correctional Center ("ERDCC"), brings this 42 U.S.C. § 1983 action alleging defendants were deliberately indifferent to his serious medical needs in violation of the Eighth Amendment. Named as defendants are Troy Steele, Warden, ERDCC; Corizon Health Care, Inc.; Shannon Oaks, Nurse Practitioner; and Shannon Ownes, Nurse Practitioner.

         Plaintiff suffers from severe chronic back pain. MRI results show spinal stenosis in three places of plaintiffs cervical spine. Plaintiff alleges experiencing daily pain in his neck, shoulder, and back; tingling and stinging pain in his hips, pelvis, buttocks, and limbs; numbness in his arms, fingers, feet, and toes; and burning in his lower back and thighs. He was placed in the chronic care program at ERDCC because of his chronic pain.

         Plaintiff states that the Victoria Reinholdt, the nurse practitioner at ERDCC prior to defendant Shannon Oaks, had approved plaintiff for surgery to correct his cervical spine stenosis. He states he has visited two separate neurosurgeons, an unnamed neurosurgeon at St. Louis University and Dr. Lucio, and both wanted to perform surgery on his cervical spine. Plaintiff alleges that the SLU neurosurgeon wanted to perform the surgery in February 2016. On March 11, 2016, however, defendant Oaks stated that "after multiple attempts, SLU has not communicated any plans for you." Plaintiff states he was then sent to Dr. Lucio, who also wanted to perform the surgery, but required plaintiff to visit an ENT prior to surgery.

         Plaintiff alleges that on April 1, 2016, however, he met with defendant Oaks as a follow-up, and Oaks stated, "the appointment [with Dr. Lucio] was for the consultation with the neurosurgeon. Jefferson City is cutting back on having any surgeries performed." On April 12, 2016, plaintiff met with Todd Renshaw (presumably another nurse practitioner), and Mr. Renshaw stated that "they do not want to have the surgery; you have been approved to having an injection in your cervical spine. I'll keep working on getting the approval because we know you need the surgery." Plaintiff alleges that defendant Oaks knew of the recommendations of the SLU neurosurgeon and Dr. Lucio for surgical correction, but approved him only for an injection.

         On November 21, 2016, plaintiff received an injection from Dr. Lucio. He followed up with defendant Oaks two weeks later and reported pain in his neck and continuing numbness in three fingers of his left hand. At some point after February 2, 2017, plaintiff sought another MRI, and defendant Oaks refused to order one. Plaintiff also complained of swollen knees. He sought an extra mattress and wheelchair for his condition, and was refused.

         Plaintiff seeks an injunction ordering defendant Corizon Health, Inc. to perform the cervical spine procedure, an MRI, and a surgical procedure on plaintiffs thoracic and lumbar spine. He also seeks compensatory and punitive damages against all defendants.


         "[Deliberate indifference to serious medical needs of prisoners constitutes the unnecessary and wanton infliction of pain proscribed by the Eighth Amendment." Estelle v. Gamble,429 U.S. 97, 104 (1976) (quotation and citations omitted). "This is true whether the indifference is manifested by prison doctors in their response to the prisoner's needs or by prison guards in intentionally denying or delaying access to medical care or intentionally interfering with the treatment once prescribed." Id. at 104-05. For purposes of initial ...

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