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Adams v. Health Professionals

February 1, 2010


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


A. Introduction & Procedural Overview

John K. Adams, an inmate in the custody of the Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC), presents deliberate indifference claims herein. His complaint survived threshold review in December 2008. Prior Orders of this Court dismissed various claims, leaving four remaining Defendants scheduled to proceed to final pretrial conference February 5, 2010 and jury trial March 1, 2010: (1) Health Professionals, Ltd., (2) Wexford Health Sources, Inc., (3) Adrian Feinerman, and (4) Seth Osafo.

Those four Defendants moved for summary judgment on October 5, 2009 and supplemented their supporting memorandum three days later with leave of Court. Represented by counsel, Plaintiff Adams obtained an extension of time to respond thereto and filed a memorandum opposing summary judgment on November 30, 2009. The issues have been thoroughly briefed.

For the reasons stated below, the undersigned District Judge grants in part and denies in part Defendants' motion for summary judgment (Doc. 30).

B. Applicable Legal Standards

John Adams proceeds herein under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. His claims relate to the conditions of his prison confinement at Pinckneyville Correctional Center and Illinois River Correctional Center. Adams alleges that he suffers from serious medical ailments and that Defendants responded to those serious medical needs with deliberate indifference. Noting that summary judgment is the "put up or shut up moment in a lawsuit" (Doc. 30, p. 12), Defendants maintain that the evidence utterly fails to support any of Adams' allegations, entitling all four of them to judgment on all claims.

Summary judgment is proper where the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, 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). Accord Durable Mfg. Co. v. U.S. Department of Labor, 578 F.3d 497, 501 (7th Cir. 2009); Twenhafel v. State Auto Prop. and Cas. Ins. Co., 581 F.3d 625, 628 (7th Cir. 2009); Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322-23 (1986).

In ruling on a summary judgment motion, this Court must construe the facts and draw all reasonable inferences in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. Tas Distributing Co., Inc. v. Cummins Engine Co., Inc., 491 F.3d 625, 630 (7th Cir. 2007); Reynolds v. Jamison, 488 F.3d 756, 764 (7th Cir. 2007); Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 255 (1986).

To survive a summary judgment motion, the non-movant (here, Plaintiff Adams) must set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial. Vanasco v. Nat'l-Louis Univ., 137 F.3d 962, 965 (7th Cir. 1998). Stated another way, the party opposing summary judgment must provide evidence on which the jury could find in his favor. See Maclin v. SBC Ameritech, 520 F.3d 781, 786 (7th Cir. 2008). As the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit declared six months ago in Trade Finance Partners, LLC v. AAR Corp., 573 F.3d 401, 406-07 (7th Cir. 2009):

To survive summary judgment, "there must be evidence on which the jury could reasonably find for the nonmoving party, ... and the nonmoving party must point to specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial; inferences relying on mere speculation or conjecture will not suffice." Argyropoulos v. City of Alton, 539 F.3d 724, 732 (7th Cir. 2008).

Adams claims deliberate indifference by Defendants. In Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97 (1976), the Supreme Court held that the Eighth Amendment's prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment imposes a duty upon states to provide adequate medical care to inmates. Failure to provide medical care violates the Eighth Amendment when there is "deliberate indifference" to a substantial risk of harm.Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 834 (1994); Sherrod v. Lingle, 223 F.3d 605, 610 (7th Cir. 2000).

Deliberate indifference is "more than ordinary lack of due care for the prisoner's interests or safety." Whitley v. Albers, 475 U.S. 312, 319 (1986). Instead, the plaintiff must establish: (1) his medical condition was objectively serious, and (2) the defendants were subjectively aware of the medical need and disregarded an excessive risk to the inmate's health. Wynn v. Southward, 251 F.3d 588, 593 (7th Cir. 2001).

The Seventh Circuit has explained it this way. States have an affirmative duty to provide medical care to their inmates. The upshot of this duty is that deliberate indifference to a prisoner's serious medical needs constitutes the unnecessary and wanton infliction of pain, which violates the Eighth Amendment.

To demonstrate deliberate indifference, a plaintiff must demonstrate an objectively serious medical condition to which a state official was deliberately, i.e., subjectively, indifferent. Duckworth v. Ahmad, 532 F.3d 675, 678-79 (7th Cir. 2008). See also Greeno v. Daley, 414 F.3d 645, 652-53 (7th Cir. 2005).In certain circumstances, delays in treating painful non-life-threatening conditions also can support Eighth Amendment claims. Johnson v. Doughty, 433 F.3d 1001, 1017 (7th Cir. 2006), quoting Gutierrez v. Peters, 111 F.3d 1364, 1371 (7th Cir. 1997).

When considering whether an inmate's medical care demonstrates deliberate indifference to his serious medical needs, the Court looks at the inmate's medical care as a whole. Gutierrez, 111 F.3d at 1374. With respect to medical personnel, the Court will infer deliberate indifference if poor treatment decisions represent a substantial departure from accepted professional judgment. Sanville v. McCaughtry, 266 F.3d 724, 734 (7th Cir. 2001).

C. Analysis


Adams has been in and out of the IDOC numerous times. He has served his sentences at a variety of facilities, including Stateville Correctional Center, Pontiac Correctional Center, Menard Correctional Center, Big Muddy Correctional Center, Danville Correctional Center, Western Correctional Center, Logan Correctional Center, Illinois River Correctional Center, and Pinckneyville Correctional Center. The issues in this case pertain to Adams' confinement at different periods of time at different locations.

Specifically, Adams alleges that he suffered from several "pre-existing debilitating medical conditions and disabilities, that kept him in severe and chronic pain, and that ... required special orthopedic treatment and intensive, ongoing pain management," including a knee replacement, a degenerative bone condition, nerve damage to his left leg, and the fact his left leg was approximately two inches shorter than his right leg (Complaint, Doc. 2, p. 5). Adams contends that during his incarceration with IDOC, he was subjected to "ongoing and continuous acts of deliberate indifference" that were "generally attributable to" a custom or policy ...

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