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Denial of Illinois Medical Grievance is Personal Involvement

An Illinois federal court dismissed medical care claims against a prison warden, but refused to dismiss claims against non-medical staff who denied a prisoner’s grievance. Illinois prisoner Tony Foster was diagnosed with a cataract in his left eye. Dr. Norman Patterson prescribed eyeglasses because Foster said he was losing vision in the eye. Patterson refused, however, to refer Foster to an ophthalmologist. Foster later developed a cataract in his right eye, and glasses did not improve his condition.
Foster wrote to the medical director, Dr. Parthasarathi Ghosh, requesting to be seen by an ophthalmologist. He also submitted an emergency grievance which was not answered. Foster then sent a second grievance, which was denied by Sarah Johnson, a member of the Administrative Review Board. Foster subsequently sent seven requests to Patterson and three to Ghosh, seeking treatment for his cataracts.

Foster brought federal suit, alleging that defendants were deliberately indifferent to his serious medical condition by denying him access to an ophthalmologist to correct his cataracts. He later filed an amended complaint, naming warden Michael Lemke and Sarah Johnson as defendants.
Lemke and Johnson moved to dismiss, arguing that the claims against them were time-barred and they lacked personal involvement in the violations.
The court first rejected defendants’ argument that the action was time-barred, because Foster “has adequately pleaded a serious medical condition that falls under the continuing violation doctrine.”

The court dismissed the claims against Warden Lemke, finding that Foster failed to allege that Lemke was personally involved in the denial of medical care. The court refused to dismiss the claims against Johnson, however, finding that she was personally involved because she “presumably personally reviewed and investigated the complaint prior to denying Plaintiffs request.”

See: Foster v. Ghosh, USDCNo. 11C5623 (ND 111 2013)

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Related legal case

Foster v. Ghosh