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Hall-Moten v. Smith

April 17, 2009

ELIZABETH HALL-MOTEN, AS INDEPENDENT ADMINISTRATOR OF THE ESTATE OF JOSEPH HALL, PLAINTIFF,
v.
KEVIN SMITH, M.D., ARTHUR D. FUNK, M.D., VICKI HETMAN, ADDUS HEALTHCARE, INC., AND WEXFORD HEALTH SOURCES, INC. DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: James F. Holderman Chief Judge, United States District Court

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

JAMES F. HOLDERMAN, Chief Judge

In August 2001, Joseph Hall ("Hall")-an inmate housed by the Illinois Department of Corrections-began to complain about back pain and a small lump that had appeared on his back. However, it was not until October 2002 that Hall was diagnosed with cancer. Hall lost his battle with cancer and died on April 9, 2005. Hall's mother, Elizabeth Hall-Moten ("Hall-Moten"), filed this lawsuit on behalf of Hall's estate on September 23, 2005. As stated in her Fourth Amended Complaint, (Dkt. No. 195), Hall-Moten brings claims against Dr. Kevin Smith, Dr. Arthur D. Funk, Vicki Hetman, Addus HealthCare Inc., and Wexford Health Sources, Inc. for deliberate indifference to Hall's serious medical condition under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (Count I), wrongful death (Count II), and survival (Count III); she also brings breach of contract claims against Wexford Health Sources, Inc. (Count IV) and Addus HealthCare, Inc. (Count V), alleging that Hall was a third-party beneficiary of their health services contracts with the Illinois Department of Corrections.

Now pending before the court are three motions for summary judgment, filed by Dr. Kevin Smith, Dr. Arthur D. Funk, and Wexford Health Sources, Inc. ("the Wexford Defendants") (Dkt. No. 205); Vicki Hetman ("Hetman") (Dkt. No. 209); and Dr. Kevin Smith*fn1 and Addus HealthCare, Inc. ("the Addus Defendants") (Dkt. No. 213). For the reasons set forth below, the motions are granted and denied as follows: (1) the Wexford Defendants' motion is granted in part and denied in part: judgment is entered in favor of the Wexford Defendants on Counts I, II, III, and IV and the Wexford Defendants' request for attorneys' fees is denied; (2) Hetman's motion is granted and judgment is entered in her favor on Counts I, II and III; (3) the Addus Defendants' motion is granted in part and denied in part: judgment is entered in favor of the Addus Defendants on Counts I, II, and III and summary judgment is denied as to Count V.

BACKGROUND

On October 1, 1999, Hall was arrested and sentenced to the custody of the Illinois Department of Corrections. In August 2001, while incarcerated at the Logan Correctional Center ("Logan"), Hall began to complain about back pain and a small lump that had appeared on his back.

On September 1, 2001, Hall was transferred from Logan to the Pontiac Correctional Center ("Pontiac"). Pursuant to a contract with the State of Illinois, defendant Wexford Health Sources, Inc. ("Wexford") was responsible for providing medical care to Pontiac inmates during the time of Hall's incarceration. Wexford employed defendant Dr. Kevin Smith ("Dr. Smith") as a staff physician at Pontiac and defendant Dr. Arthur D. Funk ("Dr. Funk") as the Medical Director of Pontiac during the relevant time period. While at Pontiac, Hall sought medical treatment for his back. He was seen by nurses and medical technicians, and received Bengay and ibuprofen on fourteen occasions from December 2, 2001 through April 18, 2002, and again on August 18, 2002.

While Dr. Funk was the Medical Director at Pontiac, he did not meet Hall or provide any treatment to Hall, and, to Dr. Funk's knowledge, Hall was never referred to him for any medical needs. Hall wrote Dr. Funk letters on three separate occasions regarding his healthcare needs, and Dr. Funk replied to these letters on January 10, 2002, February 19, 2002 and February 25, 2002, advising Hall to contact a correctional medical technician for assistance. Dr. Smith saw Hall on March 12, 2002, but Hall was uncooperative and the examination had to be terminated before its completion. Dr. Smith recommended that Hall return to the clinic in one week, at which point Dr. Smith hoped Hall would be more cooperative. On March 20, 2002, Hall returned to the clinic and was seen by another doctor. Dr. Smith did not treat Hall at Pontiac on any occasion other than on March 12, 2002.

Defendant Vicki Hetman ("Hetman") was the Health Care Administrator at Pontiac during the time of Hall's incarceration at Pontiac. As the Health Care Administrator, Hetman's duties included ensuring that Wexford delivered health services pursuant to its contract and that both State employees and Wexford employees provided services in accordance with the rules and regulations of the State of Illinois. Hetman was not in a position to provide medical treatment to inmates, did not attend sick call, could not make appointments for medical treatment, and could not change a course of treatment, or tell doctors, nurses, or correctional medical technicians how to treat patients. Hetman does not have any medical training, and her bachelor's degree is in Criminal Justice.

On three occasions, Hetman responded in writing to letters from Hall requesting health services for his back pain. On February 20, 2002, Hetman told Hall that a correctional medical technician had been advised to see him and, because she could not verify that this had occurred, the Director of Nursing was advised to see Hall in Urgent Care. On March 7, 2002, Hetman directed Hall to contact a correctional medical technician if he wished to receive "Icy Hot" or Bengay for his back pain. On March 18, 2002, Hetman responded to a letter by Hall by outlining the steps Hall had previously taken to obtain medical treatment, including his visit to the clinic on March 12, 2002. Hetman did not have any other correspondence with Hall while he was incarcerated at Pontiac.

In early to mid-May of 2002, Hall was transferred to the Stateville Correctional Center ("Stateville"). Pursuant to a contract with the State of Illinois, defendant Addus HealthCare, Inc. ("Addus") was responsible for providing medical care to Stateville inmates during the time Hall was incarcerated there. Dr. Smith became the Medical Director at Stateville in late 2001 or early 2002,*fn2 where he was employed by Addus. While at Stateville, Hall was disciplined for insolence and disobeying a direct order in relation to Hall's refusal on August 5, 2002, to leave the healthcare unit until he was seen by a doctor. On August 18, 2002, Hall filed a grievance regarding his medical treatment at Stateville. Later, in September 2002, Hall suffered from a seizure and was admitted to the University of Illinois-Chicago Medical Center.

On September 30, 2002, Hall-Moten filed a Complaint and Emergency Motion in the Chancery Division of the Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois, alleging that the physicians associated with the Illinois Department of Corrections were not providing Hall proper medical treatment and seeking to have Hall remain in the University of Illinois-Chicago Medical Center for the purpose of awaiting biopsy results and obtaining further medical treatment. Hall-Moten told Hall that she had filed the emergency motion on his behalf.

On October 18, 2002, Hall was diagnosed with Extraskeletal Ewings Sarcoma/Primitive Neuroecteodermal Tumor. At that time, a Dr. Snow informed Hall-Moten of Hall's diagnosis over the phone. Dr. Snow also told Hall-Moten during the same October 2002 phone call that Hall's prognosis would have been better if he had been brought in earlier, as the doctors could have eradicated the mass before it got so big. Hall was released from the Illinois Department of Corrections ...


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