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CUNNINGHAM v. GROZIK

April 30, 2004.

TIMOTHY J. CUNNINGHAM, SR., Plaintiff, V. SHERIFF DEPUTY GROZIK, CORRECTIONAL OFFICERS JONES, CHESTER, CERILLO, LANGFORD, MARTIN, PARKER, RUGUONE, AND BECK Defendants


The opinion of the court was delivered by: WILLIAM J. HIBBLER, District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Timothy Cunningham, Sr., a detainee who was awaiting trial at the Will County Adult Detention Facility, brings this civil rights action against Sheriff Deputy Grozik and Correctional Officer Ruguone, alleging that each of them used excessive force against him. Cunningham also sued Correctional Officer Ruguone and several other Correctional Officers because they failed to provide appropriate medical care after the alleged assaults. For the reasons stated herein the motion is GRANTED in part and DENIED in part.

I. Factual Background

  Cunningham was detained at the Will County Adult Detention Facility (WCADF) from April 1999 to July 2001. (Def. 56.1(a)(3) Statement of Facts (Def. Statement), ¶ 5). On August 21, 1999, the WCADF conducted "lockdown drill." (Def. Statement, ¶ 31). During a lockdown drill, inmates are to proceed immediately to their cells or lay on the floor in common areas if they cannot get to their cells. (Def. Statement, ¶ 33). When Cunningham was approximately four to six feet from his cell, Deputy Grozik approached him from behind. (Pl. 56.1(b)(3)(B) Statement (PL Statement), ¶ 4; Cunningham Dep. at 33).*fn1 This is where the parties' version of the facts diverge.

  According to Cunningham, Grozik slammed him into the wall. (Pl. Statement, ¶¶ 5-6; Cunningham Dep. at 32-34). Cunningham testified that as a result, he suffered a blow to the head that caused him briefly to lose consciousness. (Pl. Statement, ¶¶ 5-6; Cunningham Dep. at 32-34). Cunningham further claims when he awoke, Grozik was kicking him and yelling at him. (Pl. Statement, ¶ 9; Cunningham Dep. at 35). Cunningham claims that Grozik then walked away, laughing, and "high-fived" the other officers. (Pl. Statement, ¶ 10; Cunningham Dep. at 39). Another inmate, Christopher McDonald, corroborated Cunningham's version of events in his deposition. (Pl. Statement, ¶ 7; McDonald Dep. at 14-15). Grozik denies assaulting Cunningham and testified that he merely touched Cunningham on the shoulder and instructed him to get on the ground. (Grozik Dep. at 46). After the incident, Cunningham claims that his head, shoulders, back, hands, and toes ached and that he had a bruise on his left thigh, a cut on his left big toe, and a cut above the right eye. (Cunningham Dep. 40-42). Cunningham also claims that after the attack he was unable to walk because of pain radiating from his lower back to his neck and that he had to be assisted by other detainees back to his cell. (Cunningham Dep. at 42-44). Later that evening, he completed a medical request form in order to obtain medical care. (Pl. Statement, ¶ 17). The next day, Cunningham was transferred to the medical unit within the WCADF. (Def. Statement, ¶ 40).

  On August 23, 1999, Cunningham became dizzy, fell, and struck his head, leaving a small bruise on his forehead. (Def. Statement, ¶ 41), Cunningham was then taken to the emergency room at Provena/St. Joseph Hospital, where he was examined by Dr. Edwin Veguilla, (Def. Statement, ¶¶ 42-43). Dr. Veguilla noted that Cunningham had an abrasion and a contusion on his forehead. (Dr. Veguilla Dep. at 10-11). Dr. Veguilla, however, found no other bruises or cuts on Cunningham's body. (Dr. Veguilla Dep. at 11-12). Dr. Veguilla also observed that Cunningham had "some pain of his neck . . .[and] some diffuse tenderness of his lumbar spine," and he diagnosed Cunningham with a strained neck and back. (Dr. Veguilla Dep. at 33, 38). Dr. Veguilla took a CAT scan of Cunningham's brain, which revealed soft tissue swelling consistent with the contusion that Dr. Veguilla had observed. (Dr. Veguilla Dep. at 16-17). X-rays of Cunningham's thoracic spine revealed an "old injury but no new broken bones or dislocations." (Dr. Veguilla Dep. at 33).

  On December 28, 1999, Cunningham claims another correctional officer, Ronald Ruguone, assaulted him. (Pl. Statement ¶ 29). On December 28, Cunningham was to be transferred to the disciplinary unit of the WCADF for a rule violation. (Def. Statement ¶ 47). Pursuant to WCADF rules, Cunningham was handcuffed while kneeling on the floor, prior to the transfer. (Def. Statement ¶¶ 48-49). Cunningham claims that Ruguone pulled him up by his wrists causing him to pass out. (Cunningham Dep. at 96-97). Cunningham claims that later, he regained consciousness partially clothed, with a "large lump" on his left thigh, a shoeprint on his t-shirt, and some light bruising. (Cunningham Dep. at 99-100). Cunningham claims that he drifted in and out of consciousness in pain over the next few days, while correctional officers shined bright overhead lights on him. (Cunningham Dep. at 99-100). On December 30, 1999, Cunningham was taken to the emergency room at Silver Cross Hospital. (Def. Statement ¶ 60). Dr. David Mikolajczak examined Cunningham and observed that he suffered mild tenderness in the paravertabral muscles of the thoracic spine and bilateral swelling in his shoulder. (Def. Statement ¶¶ 62 & 63). Dr. Mikolajczak noticed no bruising or abrasions. (Def. Statement ¶ 64). Dr. Mikolajczak then recommended that Cunningham be x-rayed, but Cunningham refused. (Def. Statement ¶¶ 65-66).

  Cunningham claims that after the alleged assaults he continued to be in extreme pain, making it difficult for him to stand, crawl or walk, occasionally needing a wheelchair.*fn2 (Pl. Statement ¶ 44-45). Cunningham was, however, at times, able to walk, as evidenced in a letter he wrote to his parents where he described walking from a dominos game to an area in the WCADF to watch a football game. (Def. Statement ¶ 81). Cunningham claims that the WCADF staff was aware that he was in pain and despite this awareness refused to provide him with proper medical care. Cunningham claims that WCADF refused to pass along his complaints to the medical staff and threw away grievances that he filed in order to prevent him from obtaining medical care. (Cunningham Dep. 134-138; 196-198).

  Despite Cunningham's claims, the record reveals that he did receive medical care. The record reveals that he was seen by WCADF doctors on a regular basis. (Def. Statement ¶ 22). He was also seen by specialists, who attempted to determine the cause of Cunningham's alleged back pain. On January 5, 2000, Cunningham was to be examined by an orthopedist, but he refused to attend the examination. (Def, Statement ¶¶ 67-68). A second examination was scheduled for January 28, but the orthopedist noted in the records that Cunningham was uncooperative. (Dep. Dr. Mirkin at 21). Over a year later, Dr. Nitin Nadkarni conducted a neurological evaluation of Cunningham on March 12, 2001. (Def. Statement ¶ 71). Dr. Nadkarni observed no evidence of spinal cord or nerve dysfunction. (Def. Statement ¶ 72). Dr. Nadkarni recommended several MRIs in order to ascertain the cause of Cunningham's alleged discomfort, but Cunningham never had a second appointment with Dr. Nadkarni. (Dr. Nadkarni Dep. at 16-17).

  Two-and-a-half years later, in September 1993, Cunningham received an MRI. The MRJ revealed that he had some "small bone spurs and some disc bulges" and "prior compression deformity in the upper thoracic spine." (Dr. Mirkin Dep. at 24). None of these injuries, however, could be attributed to either the August 1999 or December 1999 alleged incidents, but instead were described as degenerative conditions. (Dr. Mirkin Dep. at 25-26).

  II. Standard of Review

  Summary judgment is proper when there is no genuine issue of material fact and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322-323, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 91 L.Ed.2d 265 (1986); Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c). A genuine issue of material fact exists only if there is sufficient evidence for a jury to return a verdict for the non-moving party. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 249, 106 S.Ct 2505, 91 L.Ed.2d 202 (1986); Alexander v. Wisconsin Dep't of Health and Family Servs., 263 F.3d 673, 680 (7th Cir. 2001). In ruling on a motion for summary judgment, however, the court's role is "not to evaluate the weight of the evidence or to determine the truth of the matter," but only to determine whether there is a genuine issue of triable fact. Outlaw v. Newkirk, 259 F.3d 833, 836 (7th Cir. 2001). Therefore, doubts are resolved in favor of the non-moving party and the court "considers the evidentiary record in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party, and draws all reasonable inferences in his favor." Lesch v. Crown Cork & Seal Co., 282 F.3d 467, 471 (7th Cir. 20002).

  ...


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