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Whittington v. Wright

February 17, 2009

DON WHITTINGTON, PLAINTIFF,
v.
STEPHEN WRIGHT, 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 defendants' motions for summary judgment. [d/e 29, 35]

I. BACKGROUND

The plaintiff filed his complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C.§1983 against three defendants at Hill Correctional Center including Warden Stephen Wright, Psychologist James Tiller and Psychiatrist Dr. Sreehari Patibandla.

On April 18, 2007, the court conducted a merit review of the plaintiff's complaint and found that the plaintiff had alleged that the defendants violated his Eighth Amendment rights when they were deliberately indifferent to his serious medical condition. Specifically, the plaintiff alleged that the defendants did not provide him proper medication. The claim was against the defendants in their individual capacities only.

The defendants have now filed motions for summary judgment, and the plaintiff has filed responses to each.

II. FACTS

The plaintiff did not respond to the defendants' statements of undisputed facts. The following facts are taken from the dispositive motions and attached exhibits.

Dr. Patibandla provides psychiatric treatment to inmates within the Illinois Department of Corrections. The plaintiff was one of his patients during his incarceration at Hill Correctional Center.

The plaintiff arrived at facility on November 29, 2006. The plaintiff had a prescription for Klonopin when he entered Hill Correctional Center. Dr. Patibandla says this drug is generally used to treat panic disorders, but if taken for longer periods, it can become habit forming. (Def. Mot, Dr. P. Aff, p. 2) The doctor says there are many possible side effects with Klonopin and there is also a potential risk of overdose.

Dr. Patibandla says the last doctor who saw the plaintiff before his transfer to Hill Correctional Center agreed to continue the prescription for Klonopin, but noted his concerns about long term use and the plaintiff's substance abuse history.

The plaintiff continued on Klonopin when he first arrived at Hill Correctional Center. On December 3, 2006, Dr. Patibandla evaluated the plaintiff and determined that he had an anxiety disorder. The doctor noted that the plaintiff had been taking Klonopin for two years and was very resistant to changing medications. However, the doctor explained that due to the plaintiff's history of methamphetamine abuse, it was important for him to use a non-habit-forming medication. The treatment plan called for tapering off the Klonopin prescription over the next two months while adding in other non-habit-forming medications. (Def. Mot, Dr. P Aff, p. 2-4)

The plaintiff then complained about his reaction to the new drug. The doctor reevaluated the plaintiff, agreed to continue the Klonopin for a bit longer and tried a new prescription. The plaintiff continued to receive Klonopin until mid February of 2007 when other drugs were substituted. In March of 2007, the plaintiff began to refuse his new medication and refused to see Dr. Patibandla again. Although not directly addressed, it does not appear the plaintiff was treated again by Dr. Patibandla.

Dr. Patibandla says he "could not, consistent with my professional obligations, prescribe a habit-forming medication to a patient with a history of substance abuse, and for whom I believed the medication was contraindicated." (Def. Mot, Dr. P, Aff., p. 5) The doctor says in his opinion, the "risks of his continued use of this medication outweighed any potential health benefits to him from the medication." (Def. Mot, Dr. P Aff. p. 6) Finally, Dr. Patibandla says in his medical opinion, the plaintiff "had no serious medical or ...


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