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Gilbert-Mitchell v. Patterson

February 9, 2010


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


Plaintiff Wallace Gilbert-Mitchell brings this action raising two Bivens-type claims against Defendants who remain in this action -- Marla Patterson, Randy J. Davis and Brian A. Bledsoe (collectively, "Defendants") - for alleged violations of his constitutional rights by persons acting under the color of federal authority. See Bivens v. Six Unknown Named Agents, 403 U.S. 388 (1971). In Count 3 of Gilbert-Mitchell's amended complaint, he alleges that Patterson and Davis failed to provide access to adequate mental health treatment for his serious mental health symptoms. In Count 4, he alleges that Davis and Bledsoe exposed him to, or failed to protect him from, physical harm by hostile inmates. Defendants filed a motion for summary judgment on December 15, 2009 (Doc. 194). Gilbert-Mitchell responded to Defendants' motion on January 8, 2010 (Docs. 208, 209).


Summary judgment is proper if 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). The mere existence of a scintilla of evidence in support of a party's position is insufficient; there must be evidence on which the jury could reasonably find for the party. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 252 (1986).

In the context of Defendants' motion, the undersigned Judge views the record in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party, and draws in that party's favor all reasonable inferences. Hollins v. City of Milwaukee, 574 F.3d 822, 826 (7th Cir. 2009), citing Darst v. Interstate Brands Corp., 512 F.3d 903, 907 (7th Cir. 2008). However, to defeat summary judgment, the nonmoving party must do more than raise a metaphysical doubt as to the material facts. Instead, he "must come forward with specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial." Keri v. Board of Trustees of Purdue Univ., 458 F.3d 620, 628 (7th Cir. 2006), cert. denied, 549 U.S. 1210 (2007), citing Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986).

Stated another way, this Court can find a genuine issue of material fact precluding summary judgment "only if sufficient evidence favoring the nonmoving party exists to permit a jury to return a verdict for that party." Argyropoulos v. City of Alton, 539 F.3d 724, 731 (7th Cir. 2008), quoting Sides v. City of Champaign, 496 F.3d 820, 826 (7th Cir. 2007), cert. denied, 128 S.Ct. 1450 (2008). Bearing these standards in mind, the Court assesses the record before it, having carefully reviewed the materials submitted by the parties.


A. Gilbert-Mitchell's Mental Health Claims

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. Mental illnesses that require treatment may be serious medical needs within the meaning of the Eighth Amendment. Glick v. Walker, 272 Fed. Appx. 514, 517-18 (7th Cir. 2008). A "serious mental illness" requires treatment appropriate to the situation. Matz v. Frank, 340 Fed.Appx. 323, 327 (7th Cir. 2009). The precise contours of the required care depend on the circumstances of each case. Id. An objectively serious medical condition is one that "has been diagnosed by a physician as mandating treatment or one that is so obvious that even a lay person would perceive the need for a doctor's attention." Thomas v. Cook County Sheriff's Department, 588 F.3d 445, 452 (7th Cir. 2009). 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).

Supervisory officials may not be held liable for deliberate indifference unless they caused or participated in the alleged constitutional deprivation. Chavez v. Cody, 207 F.3d 901, 906 (7th Cir. 2000). In Chavez, the Court of Appeals affirmed the district court's dismissal of one defendant (Sheriff Cady), because the plaintiff had "not shown that he [Cady] had anything to do with these events personally.... In order to be held liable, a supervisor must know about the situation and approve of it. He cannot be liable if he is merely negligent in failing to detect and prevent his subordinates' misconduct." Id. Although Chavezwas a § 1983 lawsuit, the same principle applies in Bivensactions. "The decisional law is clear that there must be individual participation and involvement by a defendant.... In general, § 1983 and Bivens cases are parallel in this regard." Del Raine v. Williford, 32 F.3d 1024, 1047 (7th Cir. 1994). See also Gossmeyer v. McDonald, 128 F.3d 481, 494 (7th Cir. 1997) ("to state a cause of action under Bivens, the plaintiff must allege facts which show that the individual defendant was personally involved in the deprivation of the plaintiff's constitutional rights.").

In Gilbert-Mitchell's response to Defendants' motion for summary judgment, he claims that there is a genuine factual dispute as to "whether the plaintiff had his serious mental health condition diagnosed by a psychiatrist/physician." However, Gilbert-Mitchell has not submitted any evidence of a mental illness, and Defendants do not concede that he has a mental illness. Gilbert-Mitchell's failure to show he needed any treatment "dooms" his suit. Simpson v. Suliene, 340 Fed.Appx. 331, 334 (7th Cir. 2009).

Gilbert-Mitchell alleges that Patterson was indifferent to his mental health needs and refused to give him psychotropic medications. Patterson is a psychologist and does not prescribe medication for patients. Gilbert-Mitchell has not come forward with evidence that Patterson had the authority to prescribe or withhold medicine. Patterson saw Gilbert-Mitchell soon after he arrived at USP-Marion and many times thereafter. Gilbert-Mitchell did not arrive at USP-Marion on prescription psychotropic medication, and although staff did not observe any evidence of psychosis, he was given a psychiatric consult because he said he was having hallucinations. When arrangements were made for Gilbert-Mitchell to consult with the psychiatrist on August 22, 2005, he refused to be seen. Despite this incident, another consultation was arranged for October 3, 2005. The psychiatrist recommended that Gilbert-Mitchell complete some additional testing because the tests Gilbert-Mitchell completed indicated overwhelming evidence that he was exaggerating symptoms. In response to an administrative grievance by Gilbert-Mitchell regarding his mental health treatment, Bledsoe stated that according to BOP policy, "psychotropic medications will be administered only when there is a diagnostic psychiatric order or symptomatic behavior for which such medication is accepted treatment."

Given Gilbert-Mitchell's evaluations by mental health professionals at USP-Marion and the results thereof, as well as his refusal to participate in a diagnostic psychiatric consultation, Gilbert-Mitchell has failed to establish that he suffered from a mental illnesses that required treatment. Further, he has failed to establish that Patterson had the authority to provide him with the treatment he sought. In sum, Gilbert-Mitchell cannot establish that Patterson was deliberately indifferent to his mental health needs; accordingly, Patterson is entitled to summary judgment on Count 3 of Gilbert-Mitchell's Amended Complaint.

Davis, former warden at USP-Marion, is not a mental health professional. He did not attempt to direct Gilbert-Mitchell's medical care, nor did he and Gilbert-Mitchell speak to each other about Gilbert-Mitchell's mental health treatment and medications. Any complaints about health care received by the wardens were referred to the psychology department. Gilbert-Mitchell has failed to establish that Davis was directly responsible for directing individual inmates' mental health treatment and that he was personally involved in the deprivation of ...

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