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Champion v. Godinez

July 6, 2009

GREGORY CHAMPION, PLAINTIFF,
v.
EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR GODINEZ, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Rebecca R. Pallmeyer United States District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Plaintiff, an inmate in the custody of the Cook County Department of Corrections, has brought this pro se civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff claims that Defendants, correctional officials and health care providers at the jail, violated Plaintiff's constitutional rights by acting with deliberate indifference to his serious medical needs. Specifically, Plaintiff contends that he was denied prompt and proper medical care for a staph infection and for excruciating headaches. Three of the Defendants--Dr. Andrew Ting, Paramedic Victoria Furlow, and Quality Improvement Coordinator C. Smith--have moved for summary judgment. For the reasons stated in this order, the motion is granted in part and denied in part.

Summary judgment "should be rendered if the pleadings, the discovery and disclosure materials on file, and any affidavits show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law." FED. R. CIV. P. 56(c); Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986); Jackson v. Kotter, 541 F.3d 688, 697 (7th Cir. 2008). In determining whether factual issues exist, the court must view all the evidence and draw all reasonable inferences in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. Lee v. Young, 533 F.3d 505, 509 (7th Cir. 2008). Rule 56(c) requires that the court grant a motion for summary judgment if, after adequate time for discovery, "a party... fails to make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an element essential to that party's case, and on which that party will bear the burden of proof at trial." Celotex, 477 U.S. at 322. Where the record taken as a whole could not lead a rational trier of fact to find for the non-moving party, there is no genuine issue for trial. Johnson v. Doughty, 433 F.3d 1001, 1009-10 (7th Cir. 2006), citing Rogers v. City of Chicago, 320 F.3d 748, 752 (7th Cir. 2003).

FACTS

Defendants filed a statement of uncontested material facts pursuant to Local Rule 56.1 (N.D. Ill.). Together with their summary judgment motion, Defendants served on Plaintiff the required notice under Local Rule 56.2, explaining the requirements of the Local Rules and warning Plaintiff that his failure to respond with appropriate evidentiary support could result in entry of judgment against him. (Document No. 49, Notice to Pro Se Litigant.) Despite the warning, Plaintiff has not submitted a statement of contested facts supported by citations to the record; instead, he simply states his opposition to certain facts. Unsupported statements in a brief are not evidence and cannot be given any weight. See Smith v. Lamz, 321 F.3d 680, 683 (7th Cir. 2003) (failure to controvert the facts as set forth in the moving party's statement results in those facts being deemed admitted; mere disagreement is inadequate if made without reference to specific supporting material). Because Plaintiff is proceeding pro se, the court will consider the factual assertions he makes in his brief, but only to the extent that Plaintiff could properly testify about the matters asserted at trial--that is, only with respect to those facts within Plaintiff's personal knowledge. See FED. R. EVID. 602. The following facts, gathered from Defendants' statement of facts, Plaintiff's deposition testimony, and his opposing brief, are therefore deemed undisputed for purposes of this motion:

Plaintiff Gregory Champion is a pretrial detainee, incarcerated at the Cook County Jail at all times relevant to this lawsuit. (Fourth Amended Complaint, p. 4.) Defendant Victoria Furlow is a jail paramedic, trained in first aid and basic lifesaving aid. (Id., p. 2; Defendants' Exhibit 3 to Reply Brief, Affidavit of Victoria Furlow, ¶ 3.) Defendant Andrew Ting is a staff physician at the jail. (Fourth Amended Complaint, p. 2.) Defendant C. Smith is the quality control coordinator for Cermak Health Services. (Defendants' Exhibit 2, Affidavit of C. Smith, ¶ 1.) Defendant Deputy Bradshaw is a Cook County correctional officer. (Fourth Amended Complaint, p. 2.)*fn1

On February 8, 2007, three boils erupted on Plaintiff's head. (Defendants' Exhibit 1, Plaintiff's Deposition, p. 13.) The boils were "extremely painful" and, when they burst open, they oozed a mixture of pus and blood. (Ibid.) Plaintiff showed the boils to an officer (originally identified as Bradshaw but now recognized as having the last name Singletary), who promised to make arrangements for Plaintiff to go to the jail dispensary but who apparently never followed through. (Id., p 16.) When Plaintiff repeated his request to Singletary twice more over the next two weeks, the officer informed Plaintiff that he had "already made that call," and that he was waiting for someone to come and escort Plaintiff to the dispensary. (Id., pp. 16-17.)

Although Defendant Furlow made the rounds of Plaintiff's housing division several times a week, Plaintiff did not show her his boils until near the end of March 2007. (Plaintiff's Dep., p. 18.) When Plaintiff showed her the boils, she advised him, as he recalls, "Okay, we'll get to it; just wash it, don't be scratching it." (Id., p. 19.)

On April 2, 2007, Plaintiff filed a grievance complaining that he had been requesting Bacitracin antibiotic ointment for his boils for two months, to no avail. (Smith Affidavit, ¶ 12; Exhibit 2-A to Affidavit.) Defendant Smith, whose title is "Continuous Quality Improvement Coordinator," reviews jail detainee grievances regarding their medical care. (Id., ¶ 2.) Because Plaintiff was seeking medication, Smith forwarded the grievance to the patient care services unit for follow-up. (Smith Affidavit, ¶ 12; Exhibit 2-B.) Smith him/herself had no authority to schedule medical appointments or provide medication, and never refused to provide help or assistance to Plaintiff. (Id., ¶ 13.)

A day or two later (around April 3, 4, or 5, 2007), Defendant Furlow escorted Plaintiff to the health care unit. (Id., p. 19.) Furlow checked Plaintiff's blood pressure, listened to his heartbeat with a stethoscope, and cleaned the boils with a sterilized gauze pad and Betadine antiseptic. (Ibid.) To Furlow's eye, Plaintiff had simply a "common boil" that needed only to be cleaned and dressed. (Defendants' Exhibit 3 to their Reply Brief, Affidavit of Victoria Furlow, ¶ 7.) Soon thereafter, the boils did begin to close up and heal, but, because, as it turned out, Plaintiff had a staph infection, whenever one boil healed, another would appear somewhere else. (Plaintiff's Deposition, p. 19-20.) Plaintiff nevertheless concedes that Furlow never specifically refused to provide medical treatment. (Id., p. 24.)

On June 4, 2007, Defendant Ting diagnosed Plaintiff with a staph infection. (Id., pp. 31-32.) Ting prescribed antibiotics (namely, Rifampin and Bactrim) to treat the infection, and the condition cleared up "completely" within fourteen days after Plaintiff began receiving the antibiotics. (Id., pp. 32-34.) Plaintiff described Ting's treatment of his staph infection as "wonderful." (Id., pp. 41-42.) At the same visit with Ting, however, Plaintiff requested headache medication, but did not receive it, apparently as the result of an accidental oversight on Ting's part. (Id., pp. 37-38, 41-42.)

Despite submitting repeated request slips, Plaintiff did not begin receiving blood pressure medication or the pain medication Naproxen for his headaches until October 5, 2007, about four months later. (Ibid.; Plaintiff's Response to Document no. 12 (#56), p. 1.) During the four-month time period that Plaintiff lacked any prescribed headache medication, he was forced to barter with other detainees, trading his dinner trays for pain medication. (Plaintiff's Response to Defendants' Statement of Uncontested Facts, ¶ 19.)

DISCUSSION

I. Defendants' Motion for ...


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