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Michael Harris (N03870 v. Dr. Partha Ghosh

September 7, 2012

MICHAEL HARRIS (N03870), PLAINTIFF,
v.
DR. PARTHA GHOSH, IN HIS INDIVIDUAL CAPACITY AS MEDICAL DIRECTOR OF SCC; MICHAEL P. RANDLE, IN HIS INDIVIDUAL CAPACITY AS DIRECTOR OF IDOC; SARAH JOHNSON, IN HER INDIVIDUAL CAPACITY AS ARB COORDINATOR; MARCUS HARDY, IN HIS INDIVIDUAL CAPACITY AS WARDEN OF SCC; TERRY L. MCCANN, IN HIS INDIVIDUAL CAPACITY AS WARDEN; DR. LIPING ZHANG,
IN HER INDIVIDUAL CAPACITY AS STAFF PHYSICIAN; EVARISTO AGUINALDO, IN HIS INDIVIDUAL
CAPACITY AS STAFF PHYSICIAN; MARK HOSEY, IN HIS INDIVIDUAL CAPACITY AS ASSISTANT WARDEN
OF PROGRAMS; ALLAN KARRAKER, IN HIS INDIVIDUAL CAPACITY AS WEXFORD REGIONAL ADMINISTRATOR; MARVIN REED, IN HIS INDIVIDUAL CAPACITY AS ASSISTANT WARDEN OF PROGRAMS; ANTHONY RAMOS, IN HIS INDIVIDUAL CAPACITY AS ACTING WARDEN; CHRIS CANNON, IN HIS INDIVIDUAL CAPACITY AS COUNSELOR; AND MARGARET THOMPSON, IN HER INDIVIDUAL CAPACITY AS GRIEVANCE OFFICER, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge Rebecca R. Pallmeyer

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Plaintiff Michael Harris, a prisoner at the Stateville Correctional Center, has brought this pro se suit pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging deliberate indifference to his serious medical needs resulting from diabetes. Defendants have moved for summary judgment, arguing that the undisputed facts show that several of the named Defendants were not responsible for Plaintiff's medical care at all, and that there is no evidence of deliberate indifference on the part of those who were responsible for that care. For the reasons explained here, the motions for summary judgment are granted.

FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY*fn1

Plaintiff has been incarcerated at the Stateville Correctional Center ("Stateville") since 1987 when he was convicted of attempted murder. (Wexford Defs.' Local Rule 56.1(a) Statement of Material Facts (hereinafter "Wexford Defs.' 56.1") [77] ¶¶ 8, 10.) Now 52 years old, Plaintiff is 6'1" tall and weighs 227 pounds. (Wexford Defs.' 56.1 ¶ 9; Harris Dep., Ex. C to Wexford Defs.' Exs. in Supp. of Summ. J. [80, 81], 106:11-14.) Plaintiff was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes in 1992 and with high blood pressure in 2000. (Wexford Defs.' 56.1 ¶ 7; Harris Dep. 64:6-10.)

In 2007, Plaintiff suffered a heart attack and underwent surgery. (Harris Dep. at 11:1-11, 62:2-3.) Plaintiff admits that there is no evidence that the heart attack resulted from diabetes, (Harris Dep. at 11:1-11, 82:7-17), but he asserts that his heart condition "was misdiagnosed three times" by Dr. Partha Ghosh, Dr. Edward Aguinaldo, and by physician assistant LaTonya Williams.*fn2

(Harris Dep. 11:15-12:13.) Plaintiff also testified that, "in the middle of [20]10," he experienced pain in his eye and underwent corrective surgery. (Harris Dep. 13:14-24, 15:14-24.) Plaintiff testified that he had "floaters that . . . were bursting in the back of [his] eyes[,] interfering with [his] vision . . . ." (Harris Dep. 14:2-6.) In an eye check-up six months after the surgery, Dr. Ghosh said he wanted to monitor the health of Plaintiff's other eye; as of August 8, 2011, when Plaintiff gave his deposition, however, Plaintiff had not yet been back for another eye exam. (Harris Dep. 16:23-17:5.)

Plaintiff also suffers from pain in his legs, arms, and feet, which he attributes to diabetic neuropathy or nerve damage resulting from high blood sugar levels. (Harris Dep. at 9:16-10:5.)

Asked how he knew the pain was caused by neuropathy, Plaintiff explained that he had "asked several physicians that work here and have worked here. And I also subscribe to the American Diabetic Association and in the information they explain a lot of these things to you, what the symptoms are and the pain and what caused it." (Harris Dep. 10:9-18.)

The record demonstrates that Plaintiff is conscientious and knowledgeable about his diabetes. He attempts to keep his weight at 224 to 227 pounds-a task that he describes as a "constant struggle" and that requires him to check his weight every other day. (Harris Dep. 107:9-14.) Getting sufficient exercise is not an issue for him; he enjoys walking, running, and boxing. (Harris Dep. 107:15-20.) Plaintiff works hard to take care of himself because he knows that diabetes raises his risk of heart attack, stroke, blindness, and limb amputation. (Harris Dep. 11:15-19, 21:13-18.)

By his own account, Plaintiff has been able to maintain a reasonably healthy diet while incarcerated. He has a prison job as a cook where he prepares inmate meals every day from 5:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. (Harris Dep. 107:24-108:16.) The job allows Plaintiff "certain privileges that other inmates with diabetes are not afforded," namely access to heathier low-sodium, low-fat food like salads with chicken or turkey. (Harris Dep. 108:4-9.) He eats breakfast at work by 6:30 a.m. and then has a light lunch around noon. (Harris Dep. 108:18-20.) After work, he receives a snack bag around 3:00 p.m. that usually contains cheese, crackers, and juice. (Harris Dep. 30:22-24, 109:13-15.) At 6:30 or 7:00 p.m., Plaintiff takes his evening meal, a diet consistent with cardiac needs, free of eggs, hot dogs, cold cuts, sausage, gravy or other high fat foods. (Harris Dep. 30:10-15; 109:4-7.)

The Illinois Department of Corrections ("IDOC") has granted Plaintiff several other privileges in order to accommodate his diabetes. He is allowed to have food-such as peanut butter crackers, a sandwich, or candy-with him at all times, so that he can raise his blood sugar as necessary. (Harris Dep. 109:22-110:10.) He is allowed to wear a pressure cuff to help with blood circulation. (Harris Dep. 77:3-4.) Plaintiff is housed in a cell on a low gallery and assigned a bottom bunk as a protective measure, should he black out from an insulin reaction. (Harris Dep. 77:6-11.) He also has permission to wear special, soft leather shoes. (Harris Dep. 77:12-13.)

Plaintiff receives Glucophage, a prescription medication, to treat his diabetes, and a number of other medications to treat his high blood pressure and heart disease. (Harris Dep. 62:10-63:17.) Three to four times a year, Plaintiff visits a diabetes clinic conducted by the medical staff at Stateville. (Harris Dep. 98:17-99:12.) During a clinic visit, the medical professionals check his weight, take his blood pressure and temperature, conduct blood tests, and discuss his eating and exercise habits with him. (Harris Dep. 98:17-100:17.) The clinic visits provide Plaintiff with an opportunity to speak with the medical staff about his problems and report "how [his] body has been doing over the last [four] months." (Harris Dep. 99:20-24.) In addition to the information provided at the clinic, Plaintiff has learned about diabetes from other sources, such as the physicians working at Stateville and the American Diabetic Association. (Harris Dep. 10:13-18).

Plaintiff's primary challenge to the adequacy of his care is his claim that his twice-daily insulin shots are distributed irregularly. (Harris Dep. 62:13-15.) He administers the injections himself in the presence of the medical technicians who deliver the insulin to him. (Harris Dep. 71:2-5.) Typically, he receives his first insulin shot at 6:00 a.m when he is working in the kitchen. (Harris Dep. 108:18-19.) The delivery time for the second injection is particularly inconsistent; Plaintiff testified that the medical technicians sometimes deliver it between 4:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m., but that on other days, they arrive as late as 10:30 p.m. or 11:00 p.m. (Harris Dep. 24:5-9.) He explained that this irregularity can cause "serious complications" where one dose of insulin "runs into" another dose. (Harris Dep. 24:5-14.) The timing of the insulin injections is most irregular when the prison is on "lockdown," which is not uncommon and can sometimes last for days or even months. (Harris Dep. 94:1-95:1.)

Plaintiff also expressed concern about his lack of regular access to a glucometer machine to test his blood sugar levels. Sometimes the medical technicians who deliver the insulin have a glucometer with them, but at other times, they do not. (Harris Dep. 23:17-24.) Plaintiff recalled that, in 1995, when a different warden managed Stateville, he was able to keep a glucometer machine in his cell, but he is no longer allowed to do so. (Harris Dep. 24:1-4.) According to Plaintiff, the irregular delivery of insulin combined with the inconsistent access to a glucometer machine could cause a dangerous drop in his blood sugar-he described it as "playing Russian roulette." (Harris Dep. 25:17-27:4.) When his blood sugar is too low, Plaintiff becomes irritable and has what he describes as "a fit"; he can even become ...


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