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McNeil v. Lowney

decided: October 20, 1987.

WILLIAM MCNEIL, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,
v.
MARY A. LOWNEY, ET AL., DEFENDANTS-APPELLEES



Appeal from the United States District Court for the Central District of Illinois, Danville Division. No. 83 C 2352, Charles H. Evans, Magistrate.

Wood, Jr., Cudahy and Ripple, Circuit Judges.

Author: Ripple

RIPPLE, Circuit Judge

Appellant William McNeil, an inmate at the Pontiac Correctional Center (Pontiac), appeals from the judgment of the district court in favor of employees*fn1 of the Illinois Department of Corrections. In an action brought under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, Mr. McNeil alleged violations of his eighth and fourteenth amendment rights because of the denial of adequate medical care while confined at Pontiac. Mr. McNeil argues on appeal that the district court abused its discretion: 1) by denying his repeated motions for the appointment of counsel to represent him in his civil rights action, and 2) by denying his requests to depose the physicians who had treated him while he was confined and to subpoena such physicians to testify at trial. We hold that the district court did not abuse its discretion in either matter. Therefore, we affirm the judgment of the district court.

I

Background

While an inmate at Pontiac, Mr. McNeil developed medical problems associated with a prescription medication that he took for jaw pain following a tooth extraction. He was examined by a consulting physician, Dr. Batambuze, on May 4, 1983. In a memorandum to the Pontiac medical department, Dr. Batambuze ordered that arrangements be made for Mr. McNeil's "Admission as a Medical Case." R.4, Ex. B. A physician at Pontiac, Dr. Otten, spoke with Dr. Batambuze on the day of the examination and ordered Mr. McNeil admitted to the hospital at Pontiac. Mr. McNeil, however, was not hospitalized; he was returned to his cell.

In early June, Mr. McNeil asked one of the appellees, Ms. Ranseyer, why he had not been admitted to the hospital in accordance with Dr. Batambuze's order. Mr. McNeil was told that his file did not contain Dr. Batambuze's memorandum ordering hospitalization. In July, Mr. McNeil requested and received from Dr. Batambuze the missing memorandum and gave copies to each of the defendants. Dr. Batambuze's order was not followed.

Mr. McNeil was seen by several physicians and para-medical staff during May, June and July 1983. On August 7, 1983, at Pontiac, he saw Dr. Horton who verbally ordered that the appellant be admitted to the hospital "as soon as it can be arranged." R.4, Ex. D. Prison rules establish that a prisoner may be transferred to a hospital only by order of a treating physician, and with the approval of Ms. Lowney, the hospital administrator. However, when Dr. Batambuze, the consulting physician, was contacted, he wanted to evaluate Mr. McNeil in his office before admitting him to the hospital. An appointment was scheduled and the appropriate medical furlough papers were completed and approved, but the appellant refused to be transported for medical tests necessary for such an evaluation. The appointment with Dr. Batambuze was cancelled and no hospitalization order from the doctor issued.

Mr. McNeil continued to seek attention from the medical staff at Pontiac throughout the fall of 1983. He received some sort of medical treatment at every visit to the prison clinic. In late November 1983, Dr. Manabat, a staff physician, recommended again that Mr. McNeil be admitted on an elective basis to a community hospital. Mr. McNeil was admitted to the hospital in December 1983; his condition was determined to be the result of the pain medication.

II

Proceedings Under Review

Mr. McNeil filed a pro se complaint on August 16, 1983, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging that various employees of the Illinois Department of Corrections denied him adequate medical care in violation of the eighth and fourteenth amendments. He sought damages for the alleged violation of his constitutional rights.

Appellant was granted leave to proceed in forma pauperis. Before trial, he filed a motion with the district court for appointment of counsel pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(d). ...


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