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Stewart v. Walker

August 26, 2008

BRIAN STEWART, PLAINTIFF,
v.
ROGER WALKER, ET.AL., DEFENDANTS,



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

SUMMARY JUDGMENT ORDER

This cause is before the court for consideration of the summary judgment motions filed by the defendants [d/e 217, 235, 242, 259] and the various responses filed by the plaintiff.

I. BACKGROUND

The plaintiff has the following surviving claims against 15 defendants from the Illinois Department of Corrections and Pontiac Correctional Center:

1) Defendants Kowalowski, Mote, Melvin, Garlick, Larson, Angus, Smith, Walker, Orr, Young, Zehar, Selvidge, Fletcher and Jesse Montgomery violated the plaintiff's Eighth Amendment rights when they were deliberately indifferent to his serious medical condition. Specifically, the plaintiff claims the defendants knew he needed mental health treatment, but refused to transfer him or provide him with appropriate care. As a result, the plaintiff says he repeatedly injured himself. The claim is against the defendants in their official and individual capacities. The plaintiff claims there is a custom of failing to properly train and supervise officers who were responsible for monitoring inmates with similar problems.

2) Defendant Richard Montgomery violated the plaintiff's Eighth Amendment rights when he was deliberately indifferent to the plaintiff's serious medical condition. The claim is against the defendant in his individual capacity.

3) Defendant Richard Montgomery violated the plaintiff's Eighth Amendment rights when he used cruel and unusual punishment against the plaintiff by repeatedly throwing feces on the plaintiff. The claim is against the defendant in his individual capacity.

The court notes that these are the only claims before the court. The plaintiff continues to argue claims that he has never successfully articulated such as claims of conspiracy. The plaintiff's original complaint was filed on July 25, 2005 pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §1983 against twenty-two defendants from four different correctional facilities. The lengthy handwritten complaint with hundreds of pages of attached documents did not clearly delineate specific claims against any of the named defendants. The court dismissed the complaint as a violation of Rule 8 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. The court then spent the next two years trying to help the plaintiff clearly identify his claims. See October 11, 2005 Order; October 19, 2005 Order; May 2, 2006 Order; June 21, 2006; August 14, 2006 Order; June 20, 2007. However, the plaintiff responded to each order with a additional motions to amend his complaint and a variety of other motions. On July 11, 2007, the court closed the pleadings in this case and clearly stated that the case would proceed only on three claims identified above.

II. FACTS

The following facts are taken mainly from medical records, affidavits and the plaintiff's deposition. The court notes that the plaintiff responded to the majority of the defendants' list of undisputed facts by claiming they were "unintelligible" to the plaintiff's claims. See Plan. Resp. # 246, p. 17-60; Plain Resp. #256, p. 11- 61.

Defendant Dr. Alton Angus was a psychologist at Pontiac Correctional Center during the relevant time periods. Defendant Dr. Edward Smith was a clinical psychologist and Defendant Dr. John Garlick was the Psychologist Services Administrator. Defendant Dr. Dennis Larson was a doctor at Pontiac Correctional Center from 2001 through 2006, and during his final year was the Medical Director. Dr. Kowalkowski and Dr. Fletcher and Dr. Mark Fisher are psychiatrists.

Defendant Richard Montgomery has been employed as a correctional officer at Pontiac Correctional Center since March 19, 1990. Defendant Montgomery has never been terminated from his job with the Department of Corrections. In addition, Montgomery says he was never assigned to the North Segregation Unit or the Mental Health Unit and does not know the plaintiff. (Def. Memo, Ex. C, Mont. Aff, p. 1)

Defendant Walker was the Director of the Illinois Department of Corrections during the relevant time period of the plaintiff's complaint. The defendants state that Walker did not receive, review, or respond to any grievances from the plaintiff. The initials on the grievances indicate they were signed by Administrative Designee Terri Anderson. (Def. Memo, Fairchild Aff.) In addition, the plaintiff did not appeal any grievances concerning the actions of Defendant Selvidge that he alleges occurred in February 2005, March 2007 or December 29, 2005. The plaintiff also did not appeal any grievances concerning the conduct of Defendant Young in February of 2005. (Def. Memo, Fairchild Aff.)

The plaintiff in his deposition says his claims against Dr. Larson stem from four events. First, the plaintiff says he would injure himself, but he would not receive care. The plaintiff says he wrote six letters to Dr. Larson asking for treatment, but received no response. Second, the plaintiff says Dr. Larson observed two officers throwing ice water on him while he was on suicide watch, but did nothing to intervene. Third, the plaintiff says some of his cuts became infected and he sent a request for care to Dr. Larson, but got no response. Finally, the plaintiff says he requested tests to see how the drug Haldol had impacted his liver and other organs, but Dr. Larson did not approve his request. (Plain. Depo, p. 34 -36) In his response to the summary judgment motion, the plaintiff adds that Dr. Larson failed to properly train and supervise staff to deal with inmates struggling with mental health issues.

The plaintiff first arrived at Pontiac Correctional Center on April 23, 2004. The plaintiff was transferred from Dixon Correctional Center. His outpatient medical records from Dixon describe the plaintiff as "[p]layer- manipulator, drug abuser while in the DD program." (Med. Rec, p. 751).

Three days after he arrived at Pontiac, the plaintiff was evaluated by Psychiatrist Dr. Kowalkowski. The doctor noted that the plaintiff had no active or passive suicidal or homicidal thoughts. (Def. Memo, Larson Aff., p. 1, Med Rec. P. 761). The next day the plaintiff was seen by a clinical psychologist who reported that the plaintiff had an interest in group therapy and had no suicidal or homicidal plans. (Def. Memo, Larson Aff., p. 1-2, Med Rec. P. 763). The plaintiff claims both of these evaluations were done through a steel door without any chance for the doctors to observe the plaintiff or his self-injuring behavior.

Dr. Kowalkowski met with the plaintiff face-to-face on May 3, 2004. The plaintiff says Dr. Kowalkowski would see him about once a month. During these visits, the they would discuss how the plaintiff was doing in general and if his medications were beneficial. (Plain. Depo, p. 60).

Dr. Kowalkowski recommended that the plaintiff be placed in a Mental Health Unit afer his first office visit with the plaintiff on May 3, 2004 because group therapy sessions were available there. The doctor's report indicates he "discussed in detail with the patient a mental health treatment plan." (Def. Memo, Ex. B., May 3, 2004 report, p. 2-3) The doctor changed the plaintiff's medication from Haldol to Risperdal and explained in detail the possible side effects. The doctor stated that he believed the plaintiff should be transferred to the Mental Health Unit on voluntary, non-emergency basis. The doctor noted that he believed the patient understood the treatment plan that was outlined. However, the plaintiff refused to sign the waiver to be transferred. The doctor explained to the plaintiff that he would not be transferred unless he signed the waiver, but the plaintiff still refused. (Def. Memo, Ex. B., May 3, 2004 report, p. 3) The medical records note the plaintiff stated that his attorney "said not to sign anything that would go against my lawsuit." (Def. Memo, Ex. B., May 3, 2004 report, p. 3).

Dr. Kowalkowski states that while he can recommend that patient be housed in the mental health unit, he cannot order the placement because "the recommendation must await approval based on other factors, such as bed space." (Def. Memo, Ex. C., Kowalkowski Int. Resp. #9). The defendants further state that all recommendations concerning inmate placement in a mental health setting are reviewed in accordance with Illinois Administrative Code. See Ill.Admin. Code, Title 20, Sections 415 and 503. Psychiatric transfers are reviewed by the following individuals or their designees: the Clinical Supervisor, the Assistant Warden of Programs, Assistant Warden of Operations, the Warden, the Deputy Director and the Transfer Coordination office. (Def. Memo, Ex. A Garlick Aff. p. 8) The defendants maintain these procedures were followed with the plaintiff's transfer.

On May 6, 2004, mental health staff including Defendant Angus conducted a crisis evaluation, after staff reported that the plaintiff had written a letter stating he was going to cut himself if he was not put into mental-health group therapy. (Def. Memo, Larson Aff., p. 2, Med Rec. P. 764) . The staff noted that the plaintiff was calm and cooperate with no psychotic symptoms. The plaintiff denied suicidal thoughts and was determined to be a moderate suicide risk. Nonetheless, the plaintiff was determined to have psychotic disorder based on his history and possibly a personality disorder as well. The plaintiff was placed in a crisis cell for observation every ten minutes. In addition, for safety concerns, the plaintiff kept the plaintiff's clothes and he was placed in a strip cell. The defendants say this was the protocol for suicidal watch cells. A psychiatrist was also informed of the plaintiff's watch status. He told the staff to again request that the plaintiff sign a mental health transfer form. The plaintiff refused. The psychiatrist was informed and the plaintiff's watch status continued. (Def. Memo, Larson Aff., p. 2-3, Med Rec. p. 764, 765).

On May 7, 2004, the plaintiff was again evaluated by Defendant Angus. The plaintiff had no other incidents of self-injurious behavior, but had broken off a sprinkler head in his cell. The plaintiff appeared to be calm and cooperative and showed no signs of psychosis. The plaintiff was determined to be a minimal suicide risk. Therefore, he was given back some of his property and watch intervals were lengthened to every 15 minutes. (Def. Memo, Larson Aff., p. 3, Med Rec. p 766).

The plaintiff was seen by either Dr. Larson or medical-health staff the next three days. Each time he denied any suicidal thoughts. Watch times were increased to every 30 minutes. The plaintiff assured staff that he would not harm himself and his mental health status was determined to be within normal limits. The plaintiff was given a copy of the mental-health transfer form that he had refused to sign and he was advised to see mental-health staff as needed. The plaintiff was discharged from watch. (Def. Memo, Larson Aff., p. 3-4, Med Rec. p. 767, 768).

Clinical Psychologist Edward Smith saw the plaintiff on May 26, 2004. The doctor observed that the plaintiff appeared to be doing well and he denied any suicidal ideation. (Def. Memo, Larson Aff., p. 4, Med Rec p. 873)

On June 4, 2004, the plaintiff saw Dr. Kowalkowski again. The plaintiff stated that he was not having a good response to Risperdol and believed he did better with Haldol. (Def. Memo, Ex. B, June 4, 2004 report, p. 1). The doctor agreed to discontinue Risperdol and put the plaintiff back on Haldol.

On June 10, 2008, Defendant Angus performed another crisis evaluation of the plaintiff. The plaintiff was asked about a letter that was received in the mental health office that appeared to be signed by the plaintiff. The letter had statements concerning a lack of will to live and feeling hopeless. The plaintiff denied writing the letter. However, staff compared the handwriting to other samples from the plaintiff and determined that he had written the letter. The plaintiff was placed in a crisis cell with limited property and a 15 minute watch. (Def. Memo, Larson Aff., p. 4-5, Med Rec. p. 770).

The plaintiff was re-evaluated the next day. The plaintiff appeared to be doing well and denied any suicidal thoughts. The plaintiff assured Defendant Angus that he would not harm himself. The plaintiff stated that he was doing better and asked to be taken off watch status. The plaintiff was discharged with instructions to continue taking his mediation and see the psychiatrist as scheduled.

Dr. Kowalkowski met with the plaintiff on July 12, 2004 and wrote a mental health evaluation. The doctor noted the plaintiff seemed somewhat paranoid and suspicious, but he appeared to be doing well with his medications and denied any plans to harm himself. (Def. Memo, Ex. B, July 12, 2004 Rep.)

On July 21, 2004 the plaintiff requested to speak with mental health staff. The plaintiff stated that he had talked to his attorney and would sign the recommendation for his transfer to the mental health unit. (Def. Memo, Larson Aff., p. 6, Med Rec. p. 773).

On July 23, 2004, the plaintiff was seen by medical staff after he injured himself. The plaintiff reported that he had cut himself on the left forearm with a staple. The injury required stitches. Dr. Larson saw the plaintiff in his cell the next day. Although the plaintiff denied suicidal thoughts, the doctor believed the plaintiff was engaging in self-injurious behavior and should be checked every 15 minutes. (Def. Memo, Larson Aff., p. 6-7, Med Rec. p. 774, 775).

On July 25, 2004, Dr. Larson again saw the plaintiff in his cell. The plaintiff said he did not want to talk to the doctor. The doctor says his "plan was to continue 15 minute close supervision checks." (Def. Memo, Larson Aff. p. 7).

The next day, mental-health staff again attempted to see the plaintiff.

Mr. Stewart sated "this is bullshit." He was hostile and irritable and refused the interview. Thus, mental-health staff were unable to access him further.

The plan, therefore, was to continue the 15 minute checks. (Def. Memo, Larson Aff., p. 7, Med Rec. p. 776).

Nursing staff treated the plaintiff on July 26, 2004, after the plaintiff had removed the sutures from his laceration and said he was going to continue to cut himself. A doctor was called and the plaintiff told him that he wanted to kill himself. The plaintiff said he did not like the North Cell House and that the psychologists were playing games with him. The doctor treated the plaintiff's wound and ordered his medications to be continued. Shortly after five in the late afternoon, the doctor also ordered that the plaintiff be placed in four-point leather restraints to protect him from harming himself. Even after he was in the restraints, nurses observed the plaintiff trying to bite his own arm. The plaintiff was kept in the infirmary in restraints and monitored for the remainder of the day and the following morning. The defendants say the plaintiff was periodically allowed to have one arm released and was offered the use of a urinal. (Def. Memo, Larson Aff., p. 7-8, Med Rec. p. 776- 782).

On the morning of July 27, 2004, the plaintiff was again evaluated by a doctor and a psychologist who determined that the plaintiff was doing better. He was removed from restraints and placed in a strip cell with 10 minute watch intervals.

Dr. Kowalkowski met with the plaintiff later in the day. The plaintiff said he was having a difficult time adjusting to his new placement in the north segregation unit. The plaintiff also informed the doctor that he had now signed the recommendation for transfer to the Mental Health Unit. Dr. Kowalkowski said he would continue his recommendation. The doctor noted the plaintiff had been fairly stable on his medications and would continue the prescription.

Over the next two days, the plaintiff was seen by a doctor, a clinical psychologist and mental health staff. The plaintiff continued to complain that he could no stand the noise in the North Cell House and asked to be transferred. The plaintiff was "irritable, demanding" and believed mental health staff could order his transfer. The staff believed the plaintiff "continued to present a risk of harm if he did not get what he wanted." (Def. Memo, Larson Aff. p. 9, Med Rec. p. 792-793. The plaintiff was kept in a watch cell, but checks were extended to every 30 minutes.

The plaintiff was seen by a clinical psychologist on July 30, 2004:

Mr. Stewart complained about not being transferred to the mental-health unit and stated, "I'll keep cutting, I'll show you." Mr. Stewart was observed to be alert and oriented, but was demanding to be moved to a different gallery and threatened to cut himself further. His diagnosis was unchanged and he remained on 30 minute watch checks. (Def. Memo, Larson Aff., p. 10, Med Rec. p. 797).

A doctor met with the plaintiff later in the day and he was discharged from the infirmary to a regular watch cell with 30 minute checks.

The plaintiff returned to the infirmary on the evening of July 31, 2004, after injuring himself with a chicken bone. The plaintiff said he was depressed and suicidal. The plaintiff was put on ten minute check schedule and placed in restraints. The plaintiff was gain kept in the infirmary in four point restraints for the remainder of the evening into the next day. (Def. Memo, Larson Aff., p. 10, Med Rec. p. 799-805).

The plaintiff was evaluated by two separate doctors and mental-health staff the next morning. The first doctor ordered the restraints be removed, but the ten minute checks were to be continued and the plaintiff was to be evaluated by mental-health ...


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