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Christopher Knox v. Dr. Kelly Rhodes

January 25, 2011


The opinion of the court was delivered by: J. Phil Gilbert District Judge


This matter comes before the Court on, inter alia, Magistrate Judge Philip M. Frazier's Report and Recommendation ("R & R") (Doc. 201), wherein it is recommended that Defendant Dr. Gnu's Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. 168) be granted and that Plaintiff Christopher Knox's claims against Dr. Gnu be dismissed with prejudice. Knox filed a timely Objection (Doc. 228) thereto.

For the following reasons, the Court, inter alia, ADOPTS in part and REJECTS in part Magistrate Judge Frazier's R & R.


After reviewing a report and recommendation, the Court may accept, reject or modify, in whole or in part, the findings or recommendations of the magistrate judge in the report. Fed. R. Civ. P. 72(b). The Court must review de novo the portions of the report to which objections are made. The Court has discretion to conduct a new hearing and may consider the record before the magistrate judge anew or receive any further evidence deemed necessary. Id. "If no objection or only partial objection is made, the district court judge reviews those unobjected portions for clear error." Johnson v. Zema Sys. Corp., 170 F.3d 734, 739 (7th Cir. 1999). Because Knox has objected to the entire R & R, the Court will review its contents de novo.


As a preliminary matter, the Court notes that Knox has filed an Appeal (Doc. 189) of Magistrate Judge Frazier's Order (Doc. 174) that denied Knox's Motion to Substitute Party (Doc. 171). In his motion, Knox simply asks that the name of "Dr. Lawrence Gnu" be changed to "Dr. Lawrence Ngu" to reflect the true name of said Defendant. While Magistrate Judge Frazier's decision to deny this request hardly represents clear error, the Court believes it best to have Dr. Ngu's correct name acknowledged in the record and used by the Court and parties throughout the remainder of this litigation. Accordingly, the Court GRANTS Knox's appeal and DIRECTS the Clerk of Court to TERMINATE Defendant Dr. Gnu from the docket sheet and ADD Defendant "Dr. Lawrence Ngu" to the docket sheet.

In terms of relevant factual background, it should be noted that Dr. Lawrence Ngu (hereinafter "Dr. Ngu") is a medical doctor that provides medical services to inmates at certain correctional centers in Illinois. Dr. Ngu serves Dixon Correctional Center ("Dixon"), but he has never served Tamms Correctional Center ("Tamms") in a medical capacity. Furthermore, because he is not a psychiatrist, Dr. Ngu has never served any correctional facility in a mental health capacity.


Knox's primary objection to Magistrate Judge Frazier's R & R is that it misinterprets his claims against Dr. Ngu. Knox assures the Court that he is not claiming that Dr. Ngu denied him mental health treatment. Rather, Knox claims as follows: 1) Dr. Ngu was personally involved in transferring Knox from Dixon to Tamms and breeding the harsh environment there; 2) Dr. Ngu was personally involved in allowing and approving the falsification of Knox's mental health records by the mental health staff at Tamms; and, 3) Dr. Ngu acted with deliberate indifference to Knox's serious medical needs on several occasions, including instances of self-mutilation at Dixon and the use of excessive force by the staff at Dixon. Doc. 228, p. 4-6. Knox's decision to raise several of these claims against Dr. Ngu in his objection is somewhat disingenuous, as neither party seriously discussed certain issues in their summary judgment briefing and some are not readily apparent from the Complaint (Doc. 1). Given the number of claims and parties involved in this litigation, the Court admonishes Knox that he should make Defendants and the Court aware of any "at-risk" claims before Magistrate Judge Frazier submits an R & R.

With that said, the Court shall discuss each of Knox's claims in kind following a brief review of the relevant law.

I. Summary Judgment Standard

Summary judgment is proper where "the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(a); see Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986); Spath v. Hayes Wheels Int'l-Ind., Inc., 211 F.3d 392, 396 (7th Cir. 2000). In responding to a summary judgment motion, the nonmoving party may not simply rest upon the allegations contained in the pleadings but must present specific facts to show that a genuine issue of material fact exists. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c)(1); Celotex, 477 U.S. at 322-26; Johnson v. City of Fort Wayne, 91 F.3d 922, 931 (7th Cir. 1996). A genuine issue of material fact is not demonstrated by the mere existence of "some alleged factual dispute between the parties," Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 255 (1986), or by "some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts." Matsushita Elec. ...

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