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WILLIAMS v. CEARLOCK

February 10, 1998

WILLIE WILLIAMS, PLAINTIFF,
v.
JOHN CEARLOCK, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Richard Mills, District Judge.

OPINION

Willie Williams — a state prisoner — has brought this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983.

He claims that the defendants — correctional officials and health care providers at the Graham Correctional Center — violated the plaintiff's constitutional rights by acting with deliberate indifference to his medical needs.

More specifically, he alleges that "systematic deficiencies" in the prison's medical procedures frequently resulted in his going without his prescribed medication; that nurses sometimes dispensed medication at the wrong hour, thereby jeopardizing his health and comfort; and that one nurse refused to take the plaintiff his medicine when she learned that he had been transferred to another unit.

The defendants' motions for summary judgment are allowed.

STANDARD

Summary judgment "shall be rendered forthwith if the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c); Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 91 L.Ed.2d 265 (1986); Herman v. National Broadcasting Co., Inc., 744 F.2d 604, 607 (7th Cir. 1984), cert. denied, 470 U.S. 1028, 105 S.Ct. 1393, 84 L.Ed.2d 782 (1985). In determining whether factual issues exist, the court must view all the evidence in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. Beraha v. Baxter Health Corp., 956 F.2d 1436, 1440 (7th Cir. 1992).

However, Rule 56(c) "mandates the entry of summary judgment, after adequate time for discovery and upon motion, against a party who fails to make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an element essential to that party's case, and on which that party will bear the burden of proof at trial." Celotex, 477 U.S. at 322. "Where the record taken as a whole could not lead a rational trier of fact to find for the non-moving party there is no `genuine' issue for trial." Mechnig, v. Sears, Roebuck & Co., 864 F.2d 1359 (7th Cir. 1988). A "metaphysical doubt" will not suffice. Matsushita Elec. Industrial Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586, 106 S.Ct. 1348, 89 L.Ed.2d 538 (1986). Disputed facts are material only if they might affect the outcome of the suit. First Ind. Bank v. Baker, 957 F.2d 506, 507-08 (7th Cir. 1992).

FACTS

The plaintiff is a state prisoner, confined at the Graham Correctional Center at all times relevant to this action. [The plaintiff is currently incarcerated at the Sheridan Correctional Center.] The defendants Kenneth Dobucki and Bradley Sassatelli are, respectively, the prison's warden and assistant warden. The defendant John Cearlock is the health care unit administrator at Graham. The defendants Patti White and Susan Schroll (now Linden) are staff nurses, or were so at the time of the events giving rise to this lawsuit.

The following facts are undisputed for purposes of this motion: The plaintiff suffers from chronic hypertension (high blood pressure). The plaintiff must take medication such as Calan SR, Zestril, and Lotensin; furthermore, his blood pressure must be monitored regularly.

The plaintiff has also been diagnosed with psychosis NOS [presumably, "not otherwise specified" as a particular type of mental illness] and depression, for which he has taken (at various times) Sinequan, Vistaril and Atrex. In addition, the plaintiff received ongoing care from a psychiatrist and psychologist while confined at the Graham Correctional Center.

On occasion, the plaintiff refused both his psychiatric medication and his blood pressure medication.

In "rare instances" the plaintiff did not receive his prescribed medication. Reasons included oversight or miscommunication, a prescription not being renewed, or the pharmacy awaiting delivery of medication not in stock. A physician orders medication for a specific length of time. When a medication order expires, it must be re-ordered by a doctor, as only licensed physicians can prescribe medication.

On each occasion when the plaintiff called an omission to the health care staff, the reason for the lapse was explained to him. If the problem stemmed from a failure on the part of the prison health care staff, efforts were made to ensure that the problem not recur. See Affidavit of John Cearlock, Health Care Unit Administrator. On other ...


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