United States District Court, N.D. Illinois
February 19, 2004.
CARL STOKES, Plaintiff
DR. KUL SOOD, et al., Defendants
The opinion of the court was delivered by: SAMUEL DER-YEGHIAYAN, District Judge
This matter is before the court on Defendant Monica Becker's ("Becker")
and Defendant Sherry Crone's ("Crone") motion for summary judgment.
Defendant Dr. Kul Sood ("Sood") has also filed a motion for summary
judgment. For the reasons stated below we grant both of the motions for
summary judgment in their entirety,
Plaintiff Carl Stokes ("Stokes") is a former inmate of the Joliet
Correctional Center ("Joliet"). Stokes suffered a gunshot wound to the
abdomen before his incarceration. In August of 1992 Stokes arrived at
Joliet. At that time Sood was a staff physician for the inmate population
of Joliet. During Stokes' incarceration he was treated by Sood and other
staff physicians, Stokes was an avid weight lifter while at Joliet. In
1993 the surgical sutures in Stokes' abdomen began to fail and Stokes was
diagnosed with an incisional hernia. In October
of 1994 Stokes had surgery to repair the hernia. Stokes continued
to lift weights and in March of 1995 he was diagnosed with another hernia
in the same location. Stokes was informed that further surgery would be
elective surgery and Stokes indicated that he did not want surgery at
that time. Two weeks later Stokes changed his mind and he again had
surgery to repair the hernia. Stokes had several follow up visits after
the second surgery and did not report any pain, discharge, or problems.
On January of 1999 another of Stokes' sutures failed. No gastrointestinal
complaints were raised by Stokes until twenty-five months later in
February of 1998, when Stokes complained of vomiting and stomach cramps.
Stokes was prescribed medication and did not raise another complaint
until June of 1998 when Stokes complained about constipation. Stokes was
prescribed a laxative and did not bring any further complaints about his
abdominal area until October of 1999 when Stokes complained of vomiting,
cramping, and diarrhea. Stokes was transferred to the prison infirmary
and after examining Stokes and his x-rays the prison physician decided to
conduct exploratory surgery to investigate an apparent bowel obstruction.
The surgeons removed most of Stokes' small bowel, which at that time was
gangrenous and non-viable. After a period of hospitalization, Stokes was
returned to the prison infirmary for follow-up treatment care. Stokes has
brought the instant action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 ("Section
1983") claiming that Defendants improperly treated his abdominal ailments
while he was incarcerated.
Summary judgment is appropriate when the record, viewed in the light
most favorable to the nonmoving party, reveals that there is no genuine
issue as to any material fact and the moving
party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c). In
seeking a grant of summary judgment the moving party must identify "those
portions of `the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and
admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any,' which it
believes demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact."
Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986) (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P.
56(c)). This initial burden may be satisfied by presenting specific
evidence on a particular issue or by pointing out "an absence of evidence
to support the non-moving party's case." Id. at 325. Once the movant has
met this burden, the nonmoving party cannot simply rest on the
allegations in the pleadings, but, "by affidavits or as otherwise
provided for in [Rule 56], must set forth specific facts showing that
there is a genuine issue for trial." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e). A "genuine
issue" in the context of a motion for summary judgment is not simply a
"metaphysical doubt as to the material facts." Matsushita Elec. Indus.
Co., Ltd. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986). Rather, a
genuine issue of material fact exists when "the evidence is such that a
reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party." Anderson
v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986); Insolia v. Philip
Morris, Inc., 216 F.3d 596, 599 (7th Cir. 2000). The court must consider
the record as a whole, in a light most favorable to the non-moving
party, and draw all reasonable inferences that favor the non-moving
party. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 255; Bay v. Cassens Transp. Co., 212 F.3d 969,
972 (7th Cir. 2000).
Stokes is represented by counsel (he is currently represented by an
attorney that is the third attorney appointed by Judge Hart). Stokes has
not filed any response to the instant motions
or to Defendants' Local Rule 56.1 statements of facts. We also note that
his failure to respond to the instant motion comes after we allowed
Stokes to reinstate his case after the action was dismissed for want of
prosecution. On January 6, 2004 we granted Stokes motion to reinstate the
case and on that date in court we set a deadline of February 6, 2004 for
the filing of an answer to Defendants' motions for summary judgment. We
gave Stokes a second chance at pursuing this action, but he has failed to
take advantage of the opportunity and no answer brief to the instant
motions has been filed by Stokes and no response to Defendants' Local
Rule 56.1 statements have been filed. The briefs were due over a week
ago. Pursuant to Rule 56.1 any facts included in a party's statement of
facts that are not properly denied by the opposing party are deemed to be
admitted. Local Rule 56.1; Dent v. Bestfoods, 2003 WL 22025008, at *1 n.1
(N.D. Ill. 2003). Therefore, all the facts presented in Defendants'
statements of fact are deemed to be admitted.
We grant both of the summary judgment motions. Both of the statements
of material facts provide a detailed explanation for the various steps of
treatment that Stokes received. Defendants have provided a reasonable
basis for each decision and have shown that they sufficiently monitored
Stokes' health and made reasonable efforts to treat his abdominal injury.
Stokes' medical records total approximately 650 pages. From 1992 to 1999
Sood evaluated Stokes twenty-seven times and other staff physicians
evaluated Stokes twenty-two times. During his incarceration, Stokes was
prescribed various medications for his hernia, including pain control
medications, laxatives, antibiotics, and anti-inflammatory medications.
Stokes' medical records reflect that he had contact with the Joliet
medical staff on 210 occasions. Stokes contends that he should have been
referred to a gastroenterologist specialist. However, Stokes has not
provided evidence to show that the Defendants' decision not to refer
erroneous and Stokes does not have a right to be referred to a
specialist. An inmate is not entitled under the Constitution to demand a
specific treatment. See Forbes v. Edgar, 112 F.3d 262, 267 (7th Cir.
1997)(stating that an inmate is only entitled to "reasonable measures" to
protect against "a substantial risk of serious harm to h[im]," and that
the inmate "is not entitled to the best care possible."). Based upon the
evidence before the court, no reasonable jury could find that the
treatment received by Stokes or the lack thereof could support a Section
Stokes' claims against Becker and Crone are deficient for a variety of
other reasons as well. Section 1983 states:
Every person who, under color of any statute,
ordinance, regulation, custom, or usage, of any State
or Territory or the District of Columbia, subjects, or
causes to be subjected, any citizen of the United
States or other person within the jurisdiction thereof
to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or
immunities secured by the Constitution and laws, shall
be liable to the party injured in an action at law,
suit in equity, or other proper proceeding for
redress, except that in any action brought against a
judicial officer for an act or omission taken in such
officer's judicial capacity, injunctive relief shall
not be granted unless a declaratory decree was
violated or declaratory relief was unavailable. For
the purposes of this section, any Act of Congress
applicable exclusively to the District of Columbia
shall be considered to be a statute of the District of
42 U.S.C. § 1983.
Defendants Crone and Becker argue that they cannot be held liable under
Section 1983 because they were not personally involved in the alleged
misconduct. The doctrine of respondeat superior is not applicable in a
Section 1983 action. Sanville v. McCaughtry, 266 F.3d 724, 740 (7th Cir.
2001). Therefore, in order to hold a defendant liable in his individual
capacity the individual defendant must be "personally responsible for the
deprivation of a constitutional right," which can be illustrated by the
fact that the defendant "directed the conduct causing the constitutional
violation," the violation "occurred with his knowledge or consent," or
defendant acted with "deliberate, reckless indifference to the conduct of
Pursuant to Local Rule 56.1 Stokes admits that during the relevant
period of Stokes' incarceration Becker served as the Healthcare Unit
Administrator ("HUA") at Joliet. (Crone SF 6). Stokes admits that the HUA
did not provide direct care to inmates within the Illinois Department of
Corrections ("IDOC"), and that the HUA's responsibilities were to ensure
that the health care unit was orderly and the staffing was sufficient.
(Crone SF 7, 9). Stokes admits that Becker is not a physician. (Crone SF
10). Stokes has not shown that Becker had any involvement in the alleged
inadequate treatment of Stokes and therefore, the Section 1983 claim
against Becker cannot withstand the summary judgment motion. Stokes
admits that during the relevant period of Stokes' incarceration Crone
served as the Health Services Coordinator for the IDOC. (Crone SF 11).
Stokes admits that Crone's responsibilities included monitoring the IDOC
health care system for quality control and that the only direct care of
inmates that Crone participated in was when she gave mandatory
tuberculosis tests. (Crone SF 13, 14). Stokes admits that Crone has no
authority to change treatment plans or health care treatment options made
by doctors with respect to inmate patients. (Crone SF 15). Stokes admits
that all health care diagnosis and treatment decisions are made by
physicians within the IDOC system such as Defendant Sood. (Crone SF 19).
Therefore, the claim against Crone cannot survive the summary judgment
motion. Crone and Becker also make a meritorious argument that the
Section 1983 claims against them are barred because they have qualified
immunity. Based upon the facts admitted by Stokes, Crone and Becker are
protected by qualified immunity. See McDonnell v. Cournia, 990 F.2d 963,
968 (7th Cir. 1993)(stating that government officials are protected by
qualified immunity when they perform discretionary functions as long as
they do not
violate "clearly established statutory or constitutional rights of which
a reasonable person would have known.")(quoting Harlow v. Fitzgerald,
457 U.S. 800, 818 (1982)).
Based on the foregoing analysis we grant both of Defendants' motions
for summary judgment.
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