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Terrance Smith v. Thomas Dart

March 21, 2012

TERRANCE SMITH, PLAINTIFF,
v.
THOMAS DART, COOK COUNTY SHERIFF ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Amy J. St. Eve, District Court Judge:

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Plaintiff Terrance Smith, proceeding pro se, is an inmate in the custody of the Cook County Department of Corrections. Plaintiff brings this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging that Defendants violated his constitutional rights by denying him a wheelchair pillow, special shoes, and a lower bunk permit.

Before the Court is Defendants' motion for summary judgment pursuant to Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. (R. 41.) For the reasons below, the Court grants Defendants' motion.

BACKGROUND

I. Northern District of Illinois Local Rule 56.1

Local Rule 56.1 assists the Court by "organizing the evidence, identifying undisputed facts, and demonstrating precisely how each side propose[s] to prove a disputed fact with admissible evidence." Bordelon v. Chicago Sch. Reform Bd. of Trs., 233 F.3d 524, 527 (7th Cir. 2000). "The Rule is designed, in part, to aid the district court, 'which does not have the advantage of the parties' familiarity with the record and often cannot afford to spend the time combing the record to locate the relevant information,' in determining whether a trial is necessary." Delapaz v. Richardson, 634 F.3d 895, 899 (7th Cir. 2011) (internal citation omitted).

Under the Local Rule, the moving party must file "a statement of material facts as to which the moving party contends there is no genuine issue." Cracco v. Vitran Exp., Inc., 559 F.3d 625, 632 (7th Cir. 2009). The purpose of the Local Rule is to permit the parties to identify the relevant admissible evidence supporting the material facts, not to make factual or legal arguments. See Cady v. Sheahan, 467 F.3d 1057, 1060 (7th Cir. 2006) (holding that a "statement of material facts did [] not comply with [Local] Rule 56.1 [because] it failed to adequately cite the record and was filled with irrelevant information, legal arguments, and conjecture").

The opposing party must file "a response to each numbered paragraph in the moving party's statement, including, in the case of any disagreement, specific references to the affidavits, parts of the record, and other supporting materials relied upon." TradeFin. Partners, LLC v. AAR Corp., 573 F.3d 401, 408-09 (7th Cir. 2009) (citing Local Rule 56.1(b)); see also Sys. Dev. Integration, LLC v. Comp. Sci. Corp., 739 F. Supp. 2d 1063, 1068 (N.D. Ill. 2010). Additionally, Local Rule 56.1(b)(3)(C) requires the nonmoving party to present a separate statement of additional facts that requires the denial of summary judgment. See Ciomber v. Cooperative Plus, Inc., 527 F.3d 635, 643-44 (7th Cir. 2008). The responding party does not satisfy the Local Rule by offering "evasive denials that do not fairly meet the substance of the material facts asserted," Bordelon, 233 F.3d at 528, or statements that do not properly cite to the record, see Cadoy, 467 F.3d at 1060; Cichon v. Exelon Generation Co., LLC, 401 F.3d 803, 809-10 (7th Cir. 2005).

District courts may rigorously enforce compliance with Local Rule 56.1. See, e.g., Stevo v. Frasor, 662 F.3d 880, 886-87 (7th Cir. 2011) ("Because of the high volume of summary judgment motions and the benefits of clear presentation of relevant evidence and law, we have repeatedly held that district judges are entitled to insist on strict compliance with local rules designed to promote the clarity of summary judgment filings"). Pro se litigants, although entitled to some leniency, must comply with the Local Rules. See Cady v. Sheahan, 467 F.3d 1057, 1061 (7th Cir. 2006); see also Koszola v. Bd. of Educ. of the City of Chicago, 385 F.3d 1104, 1108 (7th Cir. 2004).

In this case, Defendants filed a statement of uncontested material facts pursuant to Local Rule 56.1. Defendants additionally served Plaintiff with a notice that clearly explained Local Rule 56.1's requirements and warned Plaintiff that a party's failure to controvert the facts as set forth in the moving party's statement may result in those facts being deemed admitted. See, e.g., Smith v. Lamz, 321 F.3d 680, 683 (7th Cir. 2003). Nonetheless, many of Plaintiff's responses to Defendants' Rule 56.1 Statement fail to either admit or deny the asserted facts, or fail to cite to the record when disputing the facts. The Court disregards such responses.*fn1 See, e.g., Obrycka v. City of Chicago, No. 07 C 2372, 2012 WL 601810, at *2 (N.D. Ill. Feb. 23, 2012) (citing Cady, 467 F.3d at 1060).

II. The Parties

Plaintiff is a pre-trial detainee in the custody of the Cook County Department of Corrections ("CCDOC"). (R. 43, Defs.' 56.1 Stmnt. & R.47, Pl.'s 56.1 Stmnt. Resp. ¶ 2.) Defendants are: (1) Thomas Dart, the Cook County Sheriff; (2) Salvador Godinez, the Executive Director of the CCDOC; (3) Marilyn Martinez, a superintendent with the Cook County Sheriff's Department who oversaw Housing Division Number 10 from February 7, 2010 until December 28, 2010; and (4) Avery Hart, M.D., the Chief Medical Officer of Cermak Health Services of Cook County ("Cermak"), which is the medical facility serving the CCDOC.*fn2 (Id. ¶¶ 3-6.) Plaintiff asserts claims against Defendants in their official and individual capacities. (Id. ¶ 8.)

III. Underlying Medical Condition

In 2002, a police officer shot Plaintiff in the back, causing injuries to Plaintiff's spinal cord. (Id. ¶ 16.) As a result of the gunshot wound, Plaintiff uses intermittent self-catheterization. (Id.) Plaintiff suffers from "saddle syndrome paralysis," a condition "he alleges [to] cause[] him to have no pressure in the bottom of his feet through the back of his legs to his buttocks." (Id. ¶ 21 (internal quotation marks and alternations omitted).) According to Plaintiff, if he "walks around and stands up for too long, he gets bedsores on his feet." (Id. (internal quotation marks omitted).) Additionally, Plaintiff experiences muscle spasms and "shooting 'shock pains' from his waist down." (Id. ¶ 17.)

After being shot in 2002, Plaintiff underwent rehabilitation at Oak Forest Hospital. (Id. ¶¶ 16-18.) Plaintiff was "provided a wheelchair pillow during rehabilitation to use to sit," and has not used such a pillow since his release from rehabilitation. (Id.) Plaintiff is neither paralyzed nor confined to a wheelchair. (Id.) Defendants state that a "lay person would not know by looking at Plaintiff that he has any medical conditions" (Defs.' 56.1 Stmnt.¶ 21 (citing Ex. B at 68:14-69:7)), but Plaintiff disagrees, stating that he has "a great limp that [is] obvious from a drop foot due to his paralysis and is required to w[ear] a foot brace." (Pl.'s 56.1 Resp. (citing 3/1/10 medical records).) Following his discharge from the Oak Forest Hospital, Plaintiff was incarcerated until 2008. (Defs.' 56.1 Stmnt. & Pl.'s 56.1 Stmnt. Resp. ¶ 19.)

IV. CCDOC Custody

On or about February 13, 2010, Plaintiff was arrested and held in CCDOC custody from February 14, 2010 until March 1, 2010. (Id.) As part of CCDOC's intake process, a prison official performed a medical examination of Plaintiff, and Plaintiff "was sent to the emergency room at Cermak, where he was examined by Dr. Yan Yu, an attending physician." (Id. ¶ 24.) Dr. Yu treated Plaintiff for a urinary tract infection, and conducted a "physical examination of Plaintiff, which was normal." (Id. ¶ 26.)

According to Plaintiff, he told Dr. Yu that he suffered from "saddle syndrome paralysis" and requested a pillow, special shoes for which he needed a prescription,*fn3 and a low bunk permit. (Id. ¶¶ 28-29.) Upon Dr. Yu's recommendation, CCDOC assigned Plaintiff to Division 10, a medical unit with access to a nurse (Defs.' 56.1 Stmnt. ¶ 30), although Plaintiff asserts that the "medical staff" was "unresponsive and inadequate." (Pl.'s 56.1 Stmnt. Resp. ¶ 30.)

While housed in Division 10, Plaintiff alleges that Defendant Hart saw him for a follow-up visit relating to a urinary tract infection, during which:

Plaintiff explained that he needed supplies for self-catheterization and that he needed a wheelchair pillow and shoes. Dr. Hart provided Plaintiff with the supplies for catheterization and told Plaintiff that he would write him a prescription for the wheelchair pillow and shoes. Plaintiff did not have any bedsores when he saw Dr. Hart. Plaintiff never saw Dr. Hart again. (Defs.' 56.1 Stmnt. & Pl.'s 56.1 Stmnt. Resp. ¶¶ 31-32.) On or about March 1, 2010, Plaintiff "was transferred" to the custody of the Illinois Department of Corrections ("IDOC"). (Id. ¶ 22.)

Plaintiff returned to the custody of CCDOC on July 27, 2010, whereupon Dr. Sunita Williamson, a non-party doctor, saw Plaintiff in the Cermak emergency room for complaints of a bladder infection and boils on his buttocks and legs. (Id. ¶¶ 33-34.) Plaintiff requested a wheelchair pillow and prescription shoes, but Dr. Williamson denied Plaintiff's requests as not medically necessary. (Id. ¶ 34.) Plaintiff asserts that the doctor failed to appreciate Plaintiff's medical history. (Id.)

On August 6, 2010, Plaintiff filed a grievance, "complaining that he had not received 'medical essentials' including a bottom bunk permit, a wheelchair pillow, and comfortable shoes, and requested that he be provided these items." (Id. ¶ 41.) The grievance, which prison officials treated as a "request," indicates "'Referred to: Supt. Div. 10.'" (Id.) Plaintiff did not receive a written response to the grievance. (Id.) "Plaintiff did not file another grievance in August, September or October because he did not feel it was necessary," nor did Plaintiff request or receive any medical attention during that period. (Id.)

On November 1, 2010, Plaintiff "filed a detainee health service request form seeking medical attention for bedsores on his feet and butt that he had for one week." (Id.) Plaintiff experienced pain in his feet and soreness when he sat down, and felt a knot on the inside of his buttocks that he believed was a bedsore. (Id. ¶¶ 48-51.) The sores were not visible because, according to Plaintiff, the sores "start from the inside out. (Pl.'s 56.1 Stmnt. Resp. ¶ 51.) On November 5, 2010, Plaintiff filed a grievance, seeking "medical treatment for three painful bedsores." ...


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