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John Martinez v. Tammy Garcia

January 30, 2012


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Milton I. Shadur Senior United States District Judge


John Martinez ("Martinez") has brought suit under 42 U.S.C. §1983*fn1 against various doctors, nurses, medical technicians and other employees of Stateville Correctional Center ("Stateville"), asserting violations of his Eighth Amendment right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment. Defendants Terry McCann ("McCann"), Ami Workman ("Workman") and Tammy Garcia ("Garcia") have moved for summary judgment under Fed. R. Civ. P. ("Rule") 56, and the parties have proceeded in accordance with this District Court's LR 56.1.*fn2 For the reasons stated here, the Rule 56 motion is denied in its entirety.

Summary Judgment Standard

Every Rule 56 movant bears the burden of establishing the absence of any genuine issue of material fact (Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322--23 (1986)).*fn3 For that purpose courts consider the entire evidentiary record and must view all of the evidence and draw all inferences from that evidence in the light most favorable to nonmovants (Egan Marine Corp. v. Great Am. Ins. Co. of N.Y., -- F.3d --, 2001 WL 5924425, at *9 (7th Cir. Nov. 23)). But a non-movant must produce more than "a mere scintilla of evidence" to support the position that a genuine issue of material fact exists and "must come forward with specific facts demonstrating that there is a genuine issue for trial" (Carmichael v. Vill. of Palatine, Ill., 605 F.3d 451, 460 (7th Cir. 2010), quoting Wheeler v. Lawson, 539 F.3d 629, 634 (7th Cir. 2008)). As Hall v. Bodine Elec. Co., 276 F.3d 345, 354 (7th Cir. 2002) has explained in confirming the appropriateness of a summary judgment there:respectively.

It is well settled that conclusory allegations and self-serving affidavits, without support in the record, do not create a triable issue of fact.

Ultimately summary judgment is warranted only if a reasonable jury could not return a verdict for the non-movant (Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986)). What follows is a summary of the relevant facts, viewed of course in the light most favorable to non-movant Martinez.

Factual Background

At all times material to the allegations made in the Amended Complaint, Martinez was a prisoner at Stateville, McCann was the Stateville Warden and Garcia and Workman were grievance officers there (D. St. ¶¶1-4). McCann, Garcia and Workman have no medical expertise or training (id. ¶¶36-38).

In February 2006 Martinez underwent surgery for a herniated disc to address pain on the lower right side of his back (id. ¶8). Later that year (in October) he sought medical treatment for severe pain in the left side of his back as well as abdominal pain, blood in his stool, the vomiting of blood and a blood-like taste in his mouth (id. ¶¶9-10; M. St. ¶1). Martinez was sent to an appointment with Dr. Parthasarathi Ghosh, at which time he explained his stomach and back problems to Dr. Ghosh and to Physician Assistant LaTanya Williams ("Williams")(M. St. ¶2).

Dr. Ghosh did not examine Martinez physically, but he prescribed pain medication and instructed Martinez not to submit any more sick call requests because Stateville had already expended enough money on his behalf (id. ¶3). Williams told Martinez that she would not go over Dr. Ghosh's head to help him (id. ¶4).

After the appointment with Dr. Ghosh, Martinez continued to experience the back pain and stomach issues (M. St. ¶5). No one responded to his repeated requests for medical attention (id.). Sandy Thompson, a medical technician, informed Martinez that he had been given a direct order from Dr. Ghosh "not to attend to your cry baby ass" (id.).

Stateville prisoners may use a grievance process to address complaints regarding their medical care (D. St. ¶11). Grievances are given to a prisoner's assigned counselor, who sends one copy to a grievance office and another to the healthcare unit (id. ¶¶11-12). Responses from the healthcare unit are recorded in the grievance officer's report and then reported to the Warden (id.¶¶13-14).

Grievance officers are authorized to review all previous grievances in a prisoner's file (M. St. ¶6). But although the Illinois Administrative Code ("Code") specifically dictates that grievance officers must "review grievances" and "consider the grievance" (20 Code §504.830(a) and (d)), grievance officers at Stateville do not--they simply record the healthcare unit's response verbatim (M. Resp. ¶15). After the grievance officer reaches a decision as the Code requires, the Code then specifies that the Warden is to review and sign off on the grievance (D. St. ¶21).

Garcia testified that she does not read medical grievances except insofar as needed simply to determine that the grievance is medical in nature (M. St. ΒΆ8). She does not review the healthcare unit's response to the grievance except to copy it into her report (id.), and she relatedly insisted in her deposition that grievance officers are responsible only for recording medical grievances but need not review them (Garcia Dep. 26-27). Garcia could not envision any circumstance in which she would find the healthcare unit's response to be unacceptable, and she would not consider ...

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