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Griffin v. Walker

March 7, 2007


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


The plaintiff claims the defendants were deliberately indifferent to his serious medical needs. Specifically, the plaintiff alleged in his Complaint that he severe, untreated allergies and hives. He alleges that Dr. Brown was deliberately indifferent to that condition by experimenting with potent medicines causing serious side effects. The plaintiff also contends that Dr. Brown delayed sending the plaintiff to an allergist and then failed to follow the allergist's recommendations.

Before the court are defendants' motions for summary judgment. (d/e's 36, 37). After careful consideration of the parties' submissions, the court concludes that the plaintiff has not established a reasonable inference that Dr. Brown was deliberately indifferent to any of the plaintiff's medical needs. That conclusion mandates summary judgment for Dr. Brown as well as all the other defendants, who were entitled to rely on Dr. Brown's professional decisions.

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). 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 cannot rest on its pleadings, but 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, 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.


The plaintiff has been incarcerated at the Western Illinois Correctional Center during all times relevant. On December 5, 2002, Plaintiff was diagnosed with a wool allergy that caused hives.

Dr. Brown is a licensed medical doctor, and worked as a family practitioner in Sangamon County, Illinois, for 19 years, from 1981 to 2000. Since 2002, Dr. Brown has worked at various correctional institutions. (Dr. Brown Aff. Para. 2).

Dr. Brown first saw the plaintiff on January 29, 2004, who presented for hives. (Dr. Brown Aff. Para. 3). Dr. Brown "reviewed the Plaintiff's current medication list and ordered varying medications, some of which the Plaintiff had taken on prior occasions." Id. para. 4.

Dr. Brown saw the plaintiff again on April 13, 2004, for the plaintiff's reports of allergic symptoms and ordered "different medication." (Dr. Brown Aff. para. 5). Dr. Brown prescribed steroids for the plaintiff "to address the Plaintiff's symptoms and ease his perceived discomfort." Id. at para. 5. Dr. Brown prescribed prednisone again on June 22, 2004 and July 3, 2004. On July 10, 2004 Dr. Brown ordered Vistaril, "a medication used for the treatment of allergic type symptoms and overall discomfort associated with these symptoms." (Dr. Brown Aff. para. 8). The following day, Dr. Brown prescribed steroids based on the plaintiff's complaints. Id. para. 9.

On or around August 17, 2004, Dr. Brown sent the plaintiff to an outside allergist. "This allergist ordered several blood tests, all of which were completely normal." (Dr. Brown Aff. Para. 10). According to the allergist's report, the plaintiff reported that he had been experiencing chronic urticaria (hives) and angioedema (welts) for the past 3-4 years. (8/17/04 allergist report attached to Plaintiff's Response (d/e 40)). The plaintiff also reported "that after using weights, the areas where patient has had significant pressure generally erupt approximately 4-6 hours later . . . . . Id. The reports lists the following current medications: Singulair, 10 mg daily, Zantac, 150 mg b.i.d., Atarax 50 mg t.i.d. and QR 40 mg 1 puff b.i.d. Id.

The allergist's physical examination of the plaintiff was unremarkable:

Reveals well-developed, well-nourished black male in no acute distress. Blood pressure 153/96. Pulse 63. Respiratory rate 22. HEENT exam revealed normal appearing turbinates, midline septum. No discharge. Otic canals were clear. Tympanic membranes within normal limited. Neck supple. . . Chest clear . . .Cardiac exam . . . regular. . .No active skin lesions . . . normal pulmonary flow with a flow volume loop suggestive of variable extrathoracic obstruction. The patient has a raspy, deep voice which he has had for a long time and apparently takes part in energetic singing. . . Negative at 20 minutes to all tested ...

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