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Francisco Chavez v. Sylvia Mahone

February 28, 2011


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Michael M. Mihm United States District Judge


Tuesday, 01 March, 2011 11:32:34 AM

Clerk, U.S. District Court, ILCD


This cause is before the court for consideration of Defendant Dr. Sylvia Mahone's motion for summary judgment [d/e 80].


The Plaintiff originally filed his complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §1983 claiming that his constitutional rights were violated at the Pontiac Correctional Center. See November 21, 2008 Merit Review Order; September 25, 2009 Merit Review Order. On September 30, 2010, the court granted Defendant Illinois Department of Corrections Director Roger Walker's motion for summary judgment. The court also granted the Plaintiff's motion to dismiss Defendant Dr. Funk. See September 30, 2010 Summary Judgment Order. Therefore, the Plaintiff has the following surviving claim: Defendants Medical Director Sylvia Mahone and John Birkel violated his Eighth Amendment rights when they were deliberately indifferent to his serious medical condition.

Specifically, the Plaintiff says he suffered from an "infected keloid scar" on his ear from March 3, 2004 to May 7, 2007(Amd. Comp, p. 5) The Plaintiff says he was denied medical care until it became obvious that he had gangrene. The Plaintiff says the unnecessary delay in care caused permanent disfigurement and pain. The Plaintiff further states that his ear was injured during yard time in April of 2007, but Defendant Birkel refused to allow him medical care which further aggravated his condition.


Dr. Sylvia Mahone says from July 24, 2006 to January 22, 2010 she was employed by Wexford Health Sources, Inc. as the Medical Director at Pontiac Correctional Center. (Def. Memo, Mahone Aff, p. 1). The Doctor says she took a leave of absence from this position in the late summer and fall of 2009. Dr. Mahone is currently the Medical Director at the Reception Center for the Illinois Department of Corrections in Joliet, Illinois. (Def. Memo, Mahone Aff, p. 1). As Medical Director, Dr. Mahone says she provides medical care and treatment to patients as well as supervises over physicians at her assigned prison.


On October 3, 2001, the Plaintiff was examined by a physician at Stateville Correctional Center for evaluation of a keloid on his left ear. (Def. Memo, Mahone Aff, p. 2). The Plaintiff said the keloid had increased in size, but no other complaints are noted in the record. (Def. Memo, Mahone Aff, p. 2)

On December 19, 2001, the Plaintiff was seen by a Correctional Medical Technician when he stated that the keloid on his ear was bleeding. (Def. Memo, Mahone Aff, p. 2). The Plaintiff stated he had the keloid for two years. He was referred to a doctor for further examination and was seen by Dr. Ngu on the same day. The medical notes indicate the Plaintiff asked to have the keloid removed and stated that he had the keloid for three and a half years. The Plaintiff stated that he had tried to remove the keloid himself by tying a string around it. (Def. Memo, Mahone Aff, p. 13) Dr. Ngu applied an antibiotic to the area and instructed the Plaintiff not to try and remove the Keloid himself.

Dr. Ngu prepared a general surgery referral form. (Def. Memo, Mahone Aff, p. 3) However, on January 4, 2002, the medical record indicates that the Plaintiff did not show up for his appointment with the general surgery consultant and the Plaintiff signed his pass as "refused." (Def. Memo, Mahone Aff, p. 3, Ex. 4 Cons. Req.) The Plaintiff transferred to Pontiac Correctional Center in January of 2002.


The Plaintiff was seen in the health care unit at Pontiac Correctional Center on numerous occasions, but the following medical records pertain only to the Plaintiff's visits and treatment concerning the keloid on his ear:

MARCH 4, 2004: The Plaintiff was seen by Dr. Larson for complaints about the lump on his earlobe. The Plaintiff stated he had the condition since 1997 and there had been no recent changes. Dr. Larson reported that the Plaintiff had a 1.7 by 1.8 millimeter soft mass on the back of his left earlobe which was a soft tissue, keloid-like mass. Dr. Larson told the Plaintiff he should not squeeze or manipulate the keloid. Dr. Larson's assessment was it was best not to intervene and no treatment was planned at that time. (Def. Memo, Mahone Aff, p. 4)

AUGUST 29, 2004: The Plaintiff was again seen by Dr. Larson on an urgent care visit. The Plaintiff said he was experiencing pain in the keloid area of his ear. The Plaintiff says he had been playing basketball three weeks earlier when his ear was scratched, and it began hurting at that time. The Plaintiff stated that he had been using an antibiotic ointment. (Def. Memo, Mahone Aff, p. 4) Dr. Larson prescribed an oral antibiotic and a different ointment to be applied to the ear with dressing changes twice a day. The Plaintiff was also to return to sick call in a week. (Def. Memo, Mahone Aff, p. 4-5)

SEPTEMBER 5, 2004: The medical records show the Plaintiff was scheduled for a return visit, but he did not show up. (Def. Memo, Mahone Aff, p. 5). However, Dr. Larson did see the Plaintiff on the following day. The Plaintiff reported that the keloid had fallen off his ear. Dr. Larson observed that the left earlobe keloid had "auto amputated" on its own. (Def. Memo, Mahone Aff, p. 5). Dr. Larson drew a diagram of the ear which shows a "defect" to the left earlobe which appears to be a missing segment in the middle of the earlobe. (Def. Memo, Mahone Aff, p. 5) The doctor noted there was no signs of infection. He ordered the wound care to continue with medication and dressing changes. No new treatment was planned.

JANUARY 15, 2007: The Plaintiff sent a letter to Medical Director Mahone complaining that he had a keloid on his ear for several years.

JANUARY 16, 2007: Dr. Mahone responded with a memorandum stating she had reviewed the Plaintiff's medical records. The doctor says Plaintiff had made no complaints concerning his left ear since September 6, 2004. Nonetheless, Dr. Mahone told the Plaintiff that his ear would be evaluated that week. (Def. Memo, Mahone Aff, p. 6, Ex. 13)

JANUARY 18, 2007: Dr. Zhang evaluated the Plaintiff's ear. Dr. Zhang observed that the Plaintiff was in no acute distress, but his left earlobe had a 2 by 2 centimeter nodule. Dr. Zhang's noted that keloids are caused by trauma and this could be a reoccurrence. Dr. Zhang told the Plaintiff he could see a dermatologist after his sentence was served, but for now, the plan was to observe the nodule for any changes in size. (Def. Memo, Mahone Aff, p. 7)

MAY 7, 2007: The Plaintiff was seen by a registered nurse and reported that he had scratched his keloid and it had gotten bad. The nurse noted that the keloid was enlarged and had a foul smelling drainage. The nurse believed the Plaintiff had an engorged left earlobe keloid. The nurse contacted Dr. Mahone by telephone and reported her observations. Dr. Mahone prescribed an antibiotic and ordered that the ear be cleaned three times a day for ten days. Dr. Mahone also ordered a follow up visit in two weeks. (Def. Memo, Mahone Aff, p. 7)

MAY 8, 2007: The Plaintiff was seen by a nurse in urgent care and the nurse referred the Plaintiff to Dr. Mahone. (Def. Memo, Mahone Aff, p. 8) The Plaintiff said his ear was scratched by a fingernail while playing basketball two days prior. The Doctor observed a 1 1/2 by 2 inch soft lesion that was fluid filled. Dr. Mahone's treatment plan called for an incision and drainage of the earlobe. The Plaintiff was also to receive a tetanus shot and the Doctor ordered a series of additional tests and a surgical referral was planned. (Def. Memo, Mahone Aff, p. 8)

Dr. Zhang performed the incision and drainage procedure later that same day. Dr. Zhang's assessment was the Plaintiff had gangrene of the left earlobe keloid. Ointment and a gauze covering was applied to the area. After the procedure, Dr. Zhang sent the Plaintiff's medical chart back to Dr. Mahone for a planned surgical removal of the dead keloid. (Def. Memo, Mahone Aff, p. 9).

On the same day, Dr. Mahone completed a request for consultation form asking that the Plaintiff be examined by an outside doctor for removal of the dead tissue from his earlobe. The Regional Medical Director approved the request. (Def. Memo, Mahone Aff, 9; Ex. 20 Req. Form)

MAY 9, 2007: The Plaintiff was sent to an outside hospital for surgical removal of the keloid. The surgery was performed and the Plaintiff returned to the prison on the same day. The doctor who performed the surgery, Dr. Scharf, recommended that the Plaintiff receive ...

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