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Smith v. Polk

January 17, 2007


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Harold A. Baker United States District Judge

Order Granting Summary Judgment

Before the Court is the motion for summary judgment by defendant Drs. Brown and Sims (d/e 32), to which the plaintiff has not responded. The motion for summary judgment negates any reasonable inference of deliberate indifference to the plaintiff's serious medical needs, the only claim before the court. Accordingly, the motion is granted and this case is terminated.

Summary Judgment Standard

A party moving for summary judgment must show, from the "pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, . . ." that there is no genuine issue of material fact and that the "moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Outlaw v. Newkirk, 259 F.3d 833, 837 (7th Cir. 2001), citing Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986);Fed. R. Civ. P.56(c); Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986); Herman v. National Broadcasting Co., Inc., 744 F.2d 604, 607 (7th Cir. 1984), cert. denied, 470 U.S. 1028 (1985). This burden can be satisfied by "'showing'--that is, pointing out to the district court--that there is an absence of evidence to support the nonmoving party's case." Celotex, 477 U.S. at 325. If such a showing is made, the burden shifts to the non-movant to "set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(e); Outlaw, 259 F.3d at 837. A nonmoving party must demonstrate that there is admissible evidence that will support its position. Tolle v. Carroll Touch, Inc., 23 F.3d 174, 178 (7th Cir. 1994).

In determining whether factual issues exist, the court must view all the evidence in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. Beraha v. Baxter Health Corp., 956 F.2d 1436, 1440 (7th Cir. 1992). However, "[s]ummary judgment is not a discretionary remedy. If the plaintiff lacks enough evidence, summary judgment must be granted." Jones v. Johnson, 26 F.3d 727, 728 (7th Cir. 1994).

Allegations in Complaint

The plaintiff filed his Complaint in August, 2005, while he was incarcerated in Western Illinois Correctional Center. He was transferred to Big Muddy Correctional Center in December 2005, but did not seek to add any claims relating to his medical treatment at Big Muddy. Thus, this case involves only the medical treatment the plaintiff received (or did not receive) at Western Correctional Center from March 2002 through December 2005.

The plaintiff alleges in his Complaint that he has pain, swelling and what he believes is an infection in his face around or behind his eye. He alleges that the swelling was increasing and that he could no longer see out of his eye--the pain so bad he almost blacks out at times and has seizures. He attaches a report from 2003, which states in part "appearance certainly strongly suggestive of a mass in the right frontal sinus." The report recommends an MRI.

Undisputed Facts*fn1

1. Plaintiff, John Smith, was an inmate at the Western Illinois Correctional Center from March 8, 2002 through December 28, 2005. (Plaintiff's deposition, attached hereto as Exhibit 5, pp. 4-5; see also Exhibit 3A.)

2. Plaintiff's lawsuit against Drs. Sims and Brown concerns Plaintiff's belief that he has an infection in his eye. (Exhibit 5, p. 6.)

3. Plaintiff suffered trauma to the back of his head from a car accident in 1984. (Exhibit 5, p. 6.)

4. This motor vehicle accident led to the development of seizures. (Exhibit 5, p. 7.)

5. This patient had surgery on his eye in 1997 while an inmate at the Menard Correctional Center. (Exhibit 5, pp. 7-8.)

6. Mr. Smith believes that his right eye could be improved with surgery based upon his own interpretation of a CT scan taken by Raymond K. Lee in March of 2003. (Exhibit 5, p. 11.)

7. Mr. Smith believes the term "post-surgical" suggests repairable with surgery. (Exhibit 5, p. 10.)

8. Mr. Smith is not suffering from an infection in his eye. (See Affidavit of Lowell Brown, M.D., attached hereto as Exhibit 2.)

9. Blood work drawn to check the level of medication taken to control his seizures also suggests that Plaintiff's white blood cell count is within normal limits. (Exhibit 4T.)

10. In general, lab reports would show elevated white blood cell counts if an ongoing infection were present. All of the labs noted in Exhibit 4T reference normal levels and no evidence of infection. (Exhibit 2; Exhibit 4T.)

11. Dr. Sims was the Medical Director at the Western Illinois Correctional Center when Mr. Smith was transferred there in March of 2002 through August of 2003. (See Affidavit of Dr. Sims, attached hereto as Exhibit 1.)

12. In the course of Dr. Sims' employment as the Medical Director at the Western Illinois Correctional Center, he provided care and treatment to Mr. John Smith. (Exhibit 1.)

13. Attached to Dr. Sims' Affidavit are the relevant medical records relied upon and generated during the time at issue while the Medical Director. He also relied upon these records when making his Affidavit. These records were generated and kept in the ordinary course of business. (Exhibit 3.)

14. Plaintiff was transferred to the Western Illinois Correctional Center on March 8, 2002. (Exhibit 3A.)

15. This inmate's main medical concern throughout the time of his incarceration related to his history of having seizures. (Exhibit 3.)

16. From March 8, 2002 through the date that Dr. Sims left Western Illinois Correctional Center, Mr. Smith was seen on numerous occasions relating to complaints regarding his seizures and his medication for his seizures. Mr. Smith was provided extensive treatment in the form of not only medication, but placed in the infirmary on 23-hour observation on several occasions. Mr. Smith was seen not only by Dr. Sims personally for this issue, but also by various nurses and other staff members. (Exhibit 3.)

17. In fact, Mr. Smith was seen on the following dates for seizure-related complaints and treatment:

March 24, 2002 on six (6) separate occasions;

March 25, 2002 by nurses and by Dr. Sims personally;

April 1, 2002 for follow-up post-seizure by me;

April 11, 2002 for seizure clinic;

April 15, 2002 for check of Dilantin levels (seizure medication); April 16, 2002 Dilantin Tegretol tests;

May 8, 2002;

May 15, 2002 (Exhibit 3).

18. Mr. Smith's records include charting from Dr. Sims and nurses relating to Dilantin levels on the following dates:

April 17, 2002;

April 24, 2002;

April 25, ...

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