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Townley v. Adesanya

March 31, 2008

BRENT TOWNLEY, PLAINTIFF,
v.
TIMOTHY ADESANYA, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Reagan, District Judge

ORDER FOLLOWING BENCH TRIAL

A. Introduction

In 2001, Brent Townely was an inmate at the Federal Correctional Institution at Greenville, Illinois. While playing softball on September 29, 2001, Townley injured his right knee. On September 23, 2003, Townley filed suit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against three defendants-Warden Darlene Veltri, Frank Labore, and Timothy Adesanya-alleging that they were deliberately indifferent to his serious medical needs in violation of the Eighth Amendment.

On December 9, 2004, the Court dismissed Veltri from the case because the complaint stated no claim against her, and supervisory liability does not apply to civil rights actions (Doc. 10). On March 14, 2006, the Court adopted Magistrate Judge Donald G. Wilkerson's Report, dismissed Labore, and limited Townley's possible recovery against Adesanya to damages incurred from September 29, 2001 through October 9, 2001 (Doc. 32).

The case proceeded to bench trial before the undersigned District Judge on September 25, 2007. At that time, Townley raised seven separate claims. These seven claims were that Adesanya, a Physician's Assistant employed by the United States Bureau of Prisons, violated Townley's Eighth Amendment rights because he was deliberately indifferent to Townley's serious medical needs in that: (1) Adesanya accused Townley of faking his injuries, (2) Adesanya declined to prescribe or provide pain medication, (3) Adesanya maintained an attitude of indifference toward Townley's injuries, (4) Townley had to argue with Adesanya to obtain pain medication and a crutch, (5) Adesanya failed to order and take an x-ray, (6) Adesanya failed to perform a physical examination, and (7) Adesanya failed to perform a Drawer's Test.

At the close of Townley's case, Adesanya moved for judgment as a matter of law under FEDERAL RULE OF CIVIL PROCEDURE 52(c). Trans. pp. 116-19. As a result of the findings of fact and conclusions of law thoroughly explained on the record, the Court partially granted Adesanya's Rule 52 motion and entered judgment as a matter of law in favor of Adesanya as to the first four claims. Trans. pp. 119-21. The Court took the motion for judgment as a matter of law under advisement as to the three remaining claims.

At the close of all the evidence, the Court granted judgment as a matter of law in favor of Adesanya and against Townley on the fifth claim-that Adesanya failed to order and take an x-ray-as a result of the findings of fact and conclusions of law thoroughly stated on the record. Trans. pp. 141-42.

Consequently, two claims remain at this point: that Adesanya violated Townley's Eighth Amendment rights by failing to perform a physical examination, and that Adesanya violated Townley's Eighth Amendment rights by failing to perform a Drawer's Test. As to these claims, the Court ordered the parties to file their closing arguments according to the prescribed deadlines. Townley filed his closing argument on October 11, 2007, and Adesanya filed his closing argument on October 21, 2007 (Docs. 81 & 82).

Pursuant to FEDERAL RULE OF CIVIL PROCEDURE 52, the Court now finds and concludes as follows.

B. Findings of Fact

1. On Saturday, September 29, 2001, Brent Townley was serving a sentence of 168 months for conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine and was housed at the Federal Correctional Institution in Greenville, Illinois (FCI Greenville). Trans. pp. 9-10.

2. At 6:30 p.m. on that date, while playing softball, Townley slid into third base and injured his right knee. Trans. p. 10. Townley heard a loud pop upon injury and experienced pain from his hip to his ankle. Trans. pp. 10-11. The pain was excrutiating, and Townley described it as the worst pain he has ever experienced. Trans. p. 11.

3. Timothy Adesanya, a physician's assistant (P.A.) employed by the prison, responded to a call regarding Townley's injury and brought a medical cart to the softball field. Trans. p. 11.

4. Adesanya used the medical cart to transport Townley to the prison's medical facility. Trans. p. 12.

5. Adesanya obtained a medical degree from Universidad Autonoma de Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico in 1985 and was certified as a P.A. by the United States Air Force in 1997. Trans. pp. 60-61; Def. Exh. 6. Adesanya has worked as a P.A. with the Bureau of Prisons for approximately 16 years and has been employed at FCI Greenville from 1994 to 1995 and from 1998 to the present. Trans. p. 60; Def. Exh. 6.

6. Townley and Adesanya entered the medical facility at the side door, which is located next to the emergency room. Trans. p. 95. They entered an examination room where Adesanya assessed Townley's injury while Townley sat on an examining table. Trans. p. 96.

7. Adesanya filled out an injury assessment form detailing Townley's symptoms and injury, and Townley signed the form at the conclusion of the examination. Pl. Exh. 1A; Trans. pp. 76, 96-99.

8. Townley did not tell Adesanya that he heard his knee pop. Trans. pp. 70, 103. Additionally, the injury assessment form that Adesanya filled out upon examining Townley does not indicate that Townley told Adesanya his knee had popped. Pl. Exh. 1A; Trans. p. 70.

9. After a knee injury, a Drawer's Test is generally used to determine whether the knee sustained ligament damage or a broken bone, or whether the knee is stable and simply sustained a soft tissue injury (i.e., a sprain). Trans. pp. 99-103.

10. A Drawer's Test is performed by placing the patient on the examination table in either a sitting position with his legs dangling from the examination table or else laying down with his legs bent at a 45-degree angle. Trans. pp. 16, 100. The examiner then holds the knee and moves it back and forth, as if pulling a drawer open, in order to determine if there how much give is in the knee. Trans. pp. 16, 101.

11. A Drawer's Test cannot be performed without physically touching the patient. Trans. pp. 35, 100-01.

12. During the September 29, 2001 examination, Adesanya performed a Drawer's Test on Townley's knee. Pl. Exh. 1A; Trans. pp. 96, 99-102. The test was negative, indicating a soft tissue injury only. Pl. Exh. 1A; Trans. pp. 96, 99-102.

13. Adesanya also performed a range of motion test, which indicated that Townley had full range of motion. Pl. Exh. 1A; Trans. p. 99.

14. Townley told Adesanya that he had pain in his knee, but Adesanya observed no swelling or bruising, and there was no sign of blood under the kneecap. Pl. Exh. 1A; Trans. p. 99.

15. Adesanya also compared Townley's left and right knees, which appeared to be the same size. Trans. pp. 99-100.

16. Adesanya also felt Townley's knee within his hands in order to determine whether the knee was warm. Trans. p. 100. Warmth at the situs of injury might indicate a fracture or ligament tear. Trans. ...


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