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Ruffin v. Winnebago County Jail

March 27, 2008

JOHNNY M. RUFFIN, JR., PLAINTIFF,
v.
WINNEBAGO COUNTY JAIL, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Herndon, Chief Judge

MEMORANDUM & ORDER

I. INTRODUCTION

Pursuant to FEDERAL RULE OF CIVIL PROCEDURE 56, two related and similar motions for summary judgment are before the Court, along with supporting briefs and exhibits. (Docs. 142, 143, 149 and 150). The following Defendants join in the subject motions: the Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC), Alan Frentzel, Mavis Gross, Pam Grubman, Gary Knop, Tyrone Murray, Elisa Rea, Roger Cowan, Guy Pierce, Christine Mitchell (now Brown), Donald Snyder and Scott Wyciskalla. Plaintiff Johnny Ruffin has filed a combined Response, competing statement of uncontested facts, memorandum and exhibits, and supplemental affidavit. (Docs. 173 (including subparts 2-4), and Doc. 181).

Plaintiff Johnny Ruffin is in the custody of the Illinois Department of Corrections. Plaintiff is a paraplegic, permanently confined to a wheelchair. Eight bullets remain in plaintiff's body and he has right-side paralysis, problems with his bowels, muscle spasms and persistent urinary tract problems. The events at issue occurred at Pinckneyville Correctional Center, during the period between April 6, 2000 through February 6, 2001, and at Menard Correctional Center during the period between February 2001 and December 2002.

The motions for summary judgment pertain to the following claims (with the movants' names emboldened):

COUNT 5: Against defendants Garcia, Murray, Pierce, McKinney, Mitchell, Snyder, Wcyiskalla*fn1, and John Doe for deliberate indifference to plaintiff's serious medical needs, in violation of his rights under the Eighth Amendment while he was at Pinckneyville Correctional Center (Doc. 1, ¶¶ 42-92).

COUNT 7: Against defendants Pierce, Garcia, Mitchell, McKinney, Wcyiskalla, Snyder, Murray, and Doe for reckless negligence under the laws of the State of Illinois (Doc. 1, ¶ 94).

COUNT 9: Against defendants McKinney, Garcia, Williams, and Wcyiskalla for retaliation and harassment (Doc. 1, ¶¶ 100-121). COUNT 11: Against defendants Feinerman, Gross, Cowan, Walls, Grubman, Snyder, Frentzel, and Doughty for deliberate indifference to plaintiff's serious medical needs, in violation of his rights under the Eighth Amendment (Doc. 9, ¶¶ 139-183).

COUNT 13: Against defendants Feinerman, Doughty, Walls, Cowan, Frentzel, Grubman, Gross, and Snyder for reckless negligence under the laws of the State of Illinois (Doc 9, ¶ 185).

COUNT 16: Against defendants Snyder, Cowen, Walls, Feinerman, Grubman, Frentzel, Knop, Rea and the IDOC for violations of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, 29 U.S.C. § 794 et seq. (Doc. 1, ¶¶ 207-215; Doc. 118, pp. 8-10).

COUNT 17: Against defendants Rea, West, Cowen, and Walls for retaliation and harassment (Doc. 1, ¶¶ 216-227). (Docs. 1, 9, 21 and 118).

II. BACKGROUND FACTS

Although the parties submitted competing statements of fact, there is very little disagreement. (See Doc. 173-2, p. 1, ¶ 1). The following basic factual framework is drawn not only from the documents submitted in support of the subject motions but, in order to present a broader overview of the claims, also from documents submitted in support of co-defendants Garcia, Feinerman and Doughty's motion for summary judgment (Doc. 136).

Pinckneyville Correctional Center April 6, 2000 - February 6, 2001

After being shot in 1999, Plaintiff was treated at the Swedish American Hospital. When Plaintiff was discharged to Dixon Correctional Center, his treating physician, Dr. Jamil Hussain, and the physician in charge of Plaintiff's physical therapy, Dr. Scott Craig, recommended four to six weeks of additional physical therapy. (Doc. 159-2, p. 11; Doc. 150-4, p. 11). Plaintiff was given physical therapy while housed at Dixon Correctional Center; he was also prescribed Baclofen, a muscle relaxer and antispastic agent. However, the transfer sheet sent to Pinckneyville Correctional Center did not list Baclofen. Weekly physical therapy was listed under "Follow-up Care" on the transfer sheet. (Doc. 199-4, p. 15). Upon Plaintiff's arrival at Pinckneyville, Dr. Garcia renewed the medications on the transfer sheet, which did not include Baclofen. Plaintiff went without Baclofen from April 7 through April 25, 2000, at which point Dr. Garcia prescribed Baclofen. After the initial prescription ran out, Plaintiff was not prescribed Baclofen between June 26 and August 3, 2000.

According to Plaintiff's affidavit, in June 2000, he made a verbal complaint to Pinckneyville Assistant Warden Karen McKinney about being denied previously prescribed medical treatment and physical therapy, as there was no therapist on staff. (Doc. 181, p. 1). McKinney purportedly characterized Plaintiff as being a litigious "troublemaker," commenting that she would ensure her officers made the life of any troublemaker a living hell.

Dr. Garcia prescribed Baclofen again on August 3, 2000 for a one month period, and on September 3. 2000, he renewed the prescription through December 31, 2000.(Doc. 138-8, p. 8; Doc. 138-7, p. 5). However, Dr. Garcia states that on October 16, 2000, Plaintiff refused to take Baclofen and demanded the prescription be discharged, so Garcia discontinued the prescription on October 20th and did not reinstate it until November 10, 2000, when Plaintiff again requested Baclofen.(Doc. 138-7, pp. 5-6). According to Plaintiff, Dr. Garcia deliberately discontinued the medication between October 16 and November 10, 2000, knowing Plaintiff was experiencing muscle spasms. (Doc. 171, p. 8). Medical notes dated October 16, 2000 reflect that Plaintiff refused Baclofen. (Doc. 159-4, p. 19). Plaintiff explains that he missed the October 16th med-line, due to a knee injury -- implying he would have requested renewal of the prescription, and evincing that he did not affirmatively demand the prescription be discontinued. (Doc. 159, pp. 15-16). According to Plaintiff's affidavit, he asked defendant Correctional Officer Scott Wyciskalla for an ADA attendant to assist him out of bed and to get his medication, but he received no assistance; instead, Wyciskalla issued Plaintiff a false disciplinary ticket. (Doc. 181, p. 2). Inmate Upchurch's affidavit also indicates that Plaintiff missed the medical call line on October 16, 2000 because a correctional officer would not assist Plaintiff into his wheelchair. (Doc. 159-3, p. 34).

Plaintiff acknowledges that on April 18, 2000, Dr. Garcia referred Plaintiff to a prosthesis specialist for a new hand brace, but Plaintiff alleges that in retaliation for filing grievances, Dr. Garcia failed to ensure Plaintiff received the prosthesis, which he finally received on September 28, 2000.

Plaintiff also takes issue with receiving physical therapy during the first four months he was at Pinckneyville, between April and August, 2000, due to there being a physical therapist vacancy at the facility. Plaintiff was not sent off-site for therapy, but once a therapist was hired, Plaintiff received therapy until January 29, 2001, when he was placed in segregation after a disciplinary conviction for fashioning a shank out of part of his prosthesis. Just prior to that time, on January 18, 2001, Plaintiff's physical therapy had been decreased to three times per week. (Doc. 159-5, p. 14). Plaintiff did not receive therapy from January 29 through February 6, 2001, when he was transferred to Menard Correctional Center. The transfer sheet reflects that Plaintiff's treatment plan included physical therapy and a right hand brace. (Doc. 159-5, p. 16).

In October 2000, attorney Barry G. Lowy wrote to Warden Guy Pierce about Plaintiff's ADA rights and related grievances tied to Plaintiff's medical care or lack thereof. (Doc. 173-4, pp. 14-15). According to Plaintiff's affidavit, Lowy told Plaintiff he had spoken to Warden Pierce, Assistant Warden McKinney and an unspecified IDOC deputy. (Doc. 181, p. 1).

Menard Correctional Center, February 6, 2000--December 6, 2002

Menard Correctional Center never employed a physical therapist on its staff during the time while Plaintiff was housed there, but if therapy had been deemed medically necessary, arrangements could have been made. (Doc. 159-2, p. 15). According to the affidavit of Health Care Unit Administrator Pam Grubman, however, a physical therapist aide was on staff, so had there been a medical order for physical therapy, it would have been provided. (Doc. 143-4, p. 2). Plaintiff contends that his documented history of physical therapy illustrates that therapy was medically necessary. Upon arrival at Menard, Dr. McEntyre examined Plaintiff and continued Plaintiff's treatment plan, which included the use a right arm brace, egg crate mattress and wheelchair. (Doc. 159-2, p. 14). However, relative to physical therapy, Dr. McEntyre noted that Plaintiff's physical therapist had indicated Plaintiff should just continue performing exercises he had already been taught. (Doc. 159-5, p. 18).

During Plaintiff's first night at Menard, while in the Health Care Unit, Plaintiff was apparently permitted to use an egg crate mattress, but not thereafter. (Doc. 159-5, pp. 20 and 22). On February 21, 2001, two weeks after arriving at Menard, Plaintiff complained of bed sores and asked for an egg crate mattress. (Doc. 159-5, p. 23). Records reflect that, because no bed sores were found, an egg crate mattress would have no therapeutic value and was not authorized; in addition, egg crate mattresses are considered a fire hazard at Menard. (Doc. 159-6, p. 28). Medical records show that Plaintiff specifically asked Dr. Feinerman for an egg crate mattress, but not Dr. Doughty. (Doc. 138-9 and Doc. 138-11). According to Plaintiff and inmate Dennis Thomas, inmate Craig Childress was permitted to possess two egg crate mattresses. (Doc. 159-3, p. 17). According to Plaintiff, Drs. Feinerman and Doughty approved Childress's possession of the mattress. Both doctors indicate they did not observe any signs or symptoms of bedsores on Plaintiff; therefore, there was no medical need for an egg crate mattress. (Doc. 138-9 and Doc. 138-11).

Plaintiff was never authorized for any specific on-site physical therapy program or off-site program during his time at Menard, despite Plaintiff's requests and grievances. Dr. Feinerman found physical therapy was not medically necessary. (Doc. 159-6, p. 23). On December 3, 2001, Plaintiff asked Dr. Doughty for physical therapy; Dr. Doughty noted that physical therapy was not indicated, per Dr. Feinerman and also stated in his affidavit that he did not find Plaintiff's need to be acute. (Doc. 138-12, p. 14). In December 2001, when Dr. Anyanwu took over as Medical Director, he concluded: "Physical therapy now may not be very helpful however [patient] can do self exercises." (Doc. 159-6, p. 14). However, Plaintiff and inmate Glenn Smith state that Dr. Feinerman explained to Plaintiff that, had Plaintiff not gotten a disciplinary report and consequently transferred to Menard, Plaintiff would still be receiving physical therapy. (Doc. 159-3, p. 30). Furthermore, Smith recounts that when Plaintiff told Dr. Feinerman he needed physical therapy and an egg crate mattress, Dr. Feinerman told Plaintiff, "You need a new spinal cord too." (Doc. 159-3, p. 30). Both doctors state that they have no power over the hiring of a physical therapist and, in light of Menard's maximum security status, absent an acute need for physical therapy, an inmate would not be taken off-site for physical therapy. (Doc. 138-9 and Doc. 138-11).

In April 2001, Plaintiff approached Paralegal Assistant Elisa Rea in connection with litigation he was pursuing against officials at Pinckneyville Correctional Center. (Doc. 181, p. 2). According to Plaintiff, approximately a week later Rea told Plaintiff she had heard from someone named Colleen that he was a troublemaker, and she remarked that troublemakers get what they have coming to them. (Doc. 181, p. 2). In the weeks and months to come, Rea denied Plaintiff's requests for supplies and assistance needed to pursue Plaintiff's grievances and litigation. (Doc. 181, pp. 2-4). According to Plaintiff, Rea made an assortment of comments reflecting that she was "not in the business of giving legal supplies" and she was sick and tired of Plaintiff filing grievances against her, and also threatening to make a disciplinary charge that could cost Plaintiff his television privileges. (Doc. 181, pp. 2-4).

Plaintiff attests that on August 8, 2001, he personally spoke to IDOC Director Donald Snyder, Deputy Director DeTella, Warden Jonathan Walls, Assistant Warden Frentzel and Superintendent Martin, complaining that he was being denied prescribed medical treatment and physical therapy, and being retaliated against by Paralegal Assistant Rea. (Doc. 181, p. 3). According to Plaintiff, he also gave Director Snyder copies of his grievances. (Doc. 181, p. 3).

Plaintiff further attests that his handicapped status was not fully accommodated at Menard Correctional Center. Plaintiff contends: he was not provided a wheelchair-accessible van for transport to and from court and for transfers, suffering injuries as a result; the segregation yard did not have a wheelchair-accessible restroom; the non-contact visiting room was not wheelchair-accessible; and the fire evacuation plan for wheelchair-bound inmates places them in greater danger than other inmates. (Doc. 181, pp. 4-5).

III. LEGAL STANDARD

Summary judgment is appropriate where "the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c); see Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986); Spath v. Hayes Wheels Int'l-Ind., Inc., 211 F.3d 392, 396 (7th Cir. 2000). In determining the existence of a genuine dispute of material fact, the Court construes all facts in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party and draws all reasonable inferences in favor of that party. See Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 255 (1986); Spath, 211 F.3d at 396. If the moving party meets its burden, the nonmoving party has the burden "to go beyond the pleadings and affirmatively demonstrate, by specific factual allegations, that there is a genuine issue of material fact which requires trial." Borello v. Allison, 446 F.3d 742, 748 (7th Cir. 2006) (internal quotation marks and citations omitted); Celotex, 477 U.S. at 322-26; Johnson v. City of Fort Wayne, 91 F.3d 922, 931 (7th Cir. 1996). A genuine issue of material fact is not demonstrated by the mere existence of "some alleged factual dispute between the parties," Anderson, 477 U.S. at 247, or by "some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts," Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986). Rather, a genuine issue of material fact exists only if "a fair-minded jury could return a verdict for the [nonmoving party] on the evidence presented." Anderson, 477 U.S. at 252; Insolia v. Phillip Morris Inc., 216 F.3d 596 (7th Cir. 2000).

IV. ANALYSIS

In sum, Defendants argue:

1. Plaintiff failed to prove an Eighth Amendment violation for deliberate indifference towards Plaintiff's medical care.

2. Plaintiff's claims under Illinois state law are barred by sovereign immunity.

3. Plaintiff failed to prove the Defendants violated Section 504 of the ...


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