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Steele v. Uchtman

July 17, 2009


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


I. Procedural History

Plaintiff, an inmate in the Menard Correctional Center, filed his complaint on April 21, 2006, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging violations of his constitutional rights (Doc. 1). At threshold review, the Court found that Plaintiff stated one claim for relief: that Defendants acted with deliberate indifference to Plaintiff's serious medical needs in not providing him with glasses to correct his vision which caused headaches due to eye strain (Doc. 11).*fn1

On September 29, 2008, Defendant Williams filed a motion for summary judgment (Doc. 44), and on October 7, 2008, Defendants Uchtman, Moore, and Grubman filed a motion for summary judgment (Doc. 49). On October 7, 2008, Defendants also filed notices pursuant to Lewis v. Faulkner, 689 F.2d 100 (7th Cir. 1982), instructing Plaintiff on how to properly respond to a motion for summary judgment, and warning him of the consequences of failing to respond. Those notices correctly informed Plaintiff, "Unless you respond to this motion with sworn statements which contradict important facts claimed by the defendants in their sworn materials, the Court will accept the defendants' uncontested facts as true" (Docs. 50 and 51). Despite this notice and warning, Plaintiff did not respond to either motion for summary judgment.*fn2 Pursuant to SDIL-LR 7.1(c), the Court considers Plaintiff's failure to respond an admission of the merits of the motion.

II. Factual Background

In his complaint, Plaintiff alleges that his glasses were confiscated when he was transferred from the Cook County Jail to the Stateville Correctional Center; he was told to see an eye doctor when he got to Menard. Despite Plaintiff's requests for eye examinations and glasses, between August 1, 2005, and April 1, 2006, Defendants failed to treat him or provide him with glasses in violation of the Eighth Amendment. Plaintiff alleges that, without glasses, he suffered from headaches due to eye strain and from eye pain, as well as being precluded from certain activities.

The undisputed facts, as stated in Defendants' motions for summary judgment, indicate that, when Plaintiff arrived at Menard Correctional Center on September 13, 2005, he did not have eyeglasses because officials at Stateville Correctional Center had confiscated them (Doc. 45, Exh. B). In deposition, Plaintiff testified that, without glasses, he suffered from poor vision and headaches, and that over time these symptoms became worse (Doc. 45, Exh. B). Plaintiff was seen by Defendant Williams, an optometrist, on October 12, 2005. Plaintiff told Dr. Williams that he was scheduled to see the parole board the next day. Because of Plaintiff's potential release, Dr. Williams did not prescribe glasses that day, but told Plaintiff that if he was denied parole, he could reschedule the appointment. After eyeglasses are prescribed, it takes at least one month for the prisoner to receive them. Prison policy does not allow for eyeglasses to be sent to inmates who are no longer incarcerated (Doc. 45, Exh. D).

Plaintiff had appointments scheduled with Defendant Williams for November 16, December 2, and December 14, 2005, but Plaintiff did not attend those appointment because he was in disciplinary segregation and was unable to obtain a prison escort (Doc. 45, Exh. D). Plaintiff was scheduled to see Defendant Williams on December 28, 2005, but the appointment had to be rescheduled because Defendant Williams was ill (Doc. 45, Exh. D). Plaintiff was again scheduled for appointments with Dr. Williams on January 20 and February 15, 2006, but he could not attend these appointments because Menard was on lock down status. Defendant Williams cannot treat inmates while the facility is on lock-down unless the inmate receives a prison escort (Doc. 45, Exh. D).

An appointment was scheduled for February 17, 2005, but Dr. Williams canceled the appointment because he was ill. An April 19, 2006, appointment was scheduled, but Plaintiff could not attend because Menard was again on lock down (Doc. 45, Exh. D). Plaintiff finally saw Defendant Williams on May 29, 2006. Dr. Williams did not prescribe glasses, however, because Plaintiff was scheduled for mandatory release the next week. Plaintiff was released from the Illinois Department of Corrections on June 6, 2006. Plaintiff returned to Menard on December 19, 2006, for parole violations. He was examined by Defendant Williams on February 5, 2007, and received glasses on April 17, 2007 (Doc. 45, Exh. D).

Defendant Williams avers that Plaintiff is only "mildly nearsighted" and "has better vision than the average person who is nearsighted" (Doc. 45, Exh. D). In Dr. Williams's opinion, Plaintiff's lack of eyeglasses would not have caused headaches or other "adverse symptoms" because Plaintiff was in segregation and "there would have been nothing for the Plaintiff to see that was far away enough to cause eye strain" (Doc. 45, Exh. D).

Defendant Grubman was the Healthcare Unit Administrator at Menard from August 1, 1993, to March 31, 2006 (Doc. 49, Exh. A). In that position, she oversaw the daily operations of the Healthcare Unit. Defendant Grubman did not diagnose medical conditions or determine a particular course of inmate treatment. She could not overrule the medical decisions of the medical doctors in the unit. She did not prevent Plaintiff from obtaining optometry care. She avers that her role in Plaintiff's case was limited to "seeing that optometry care was available to offender Steele and that he was scheduled for optometry services, which he repeatedly was" (Doc. 49, Exh. A).

Defendant Uchtman was the Warden at Menard from February 16, 2005, to June 1, 2006 (Doc. 49, Exh. B). He avers that he has no personal knowledge of Plaintiff's medical treatment, did not participate in his medical treatment and, as warden, did not have the authority to override the medical treatment of an inmate by a physician. Defendant Uchtman avers that, as warden, he was responsible for reviewing the responses made to prisoner grievances. He delegated this authority to members of his executive staff, and did not personally review or sign grievance reports filed by Plaintiff regarding his medical treatment (Doc. 49, Exh. B).

Defendant Moore was a major in the North II segregation unit at Menard in 2005 and 2006. Plaintiff testified in deposition that he sued Defendant Moore because he was the supervisor of officers that Plaintiff claims failed to escort him to his optometry appointments. Plaintiff did not testify that ...

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