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Michael Thomas, #B-71744 v. Stephen Platt

October 12, 2012


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Reagan, District Judge:


I. Introduction

Before the Court is Defendant Dr. Stephen Platt's Motion for Summary Judgment (Docs. 109 & 110). Specifically, Defendant argues that he is entitled to summary judgment on Plaintiff's deliberate indifference claim because Defendant properly treated Plaintiff's left ankle injury and his diagnosis and course of treatment was within the bounds of accepted practice and standards. Plaintiff has filed a response in opposition to the motion along with a supplement and numerous exhibits (Docs. 111, 112, & 113). Based on the following, the Court GRANTS Defendant's motion for summary judgment (Doc. 109).

II. Factual Background

This matter stems from events which occurred while Plaintiff was housed at Menard Correctional Center. Plaintiff alleges in his Complaint that while housed at Menard Correctional Center that Defendant Dr. Stephen Platt was deliberately indifferent in diagnosing and treating Plaintiff's injured ankle. Plaintiff was incarcerated at Menard from May 2008 to February 2010 (Doc. 110 Ex. A at p. 7).

On February 11, 2009, at 7:45 a.m., Plaintiff went to the health unit for an injury to his left ankle (Doc. 110 Ex. B at & 5, Ex. C at p. 3). Plaintiff informed the Health Care Unit that he was playing ball and came down sideways on his ankle (Id.). Medical records indicate that Plaintiff's ankle was swollen and he had a slow, steady gait (Doc. 110 Ex. C at p. 3). Plaintiff was referred to the doctor. At 9:00 a.m. that same day, Plaintiff saw a registered nurse (Doc. 110 Ex. B at &6, Ex. C at p.1). The nurse noted that Plaintiff's ankle was swollen and that Plaintiff limped (Id.). Plaintiff was again referred to a doctor. At 9:15 a.m., Plaintiff was seen by Dr. Fuentes (Doc. 110 Ex. B at &7, Ex. C at p.1). Plaintiff informed the doctor that he was playing basketball the day before and landed on his ankle (Id.). The medical records again note that Plaintiff's ankle was swollen (Doc. 110 Ex. C at p.1). Dr. Fuentes diagnosed Plaintiff with a sprained ankle but ordered x-rays of the ankle to rule out a fracture (Doc. 110 Ex. B at &7; Ex. C at p.1). At 2:00 p.m. that same day Plaintiff had three separate views of x-rays taken of his left ankle (Doc. 110 Ex. B at &8, Ex. C at p. 4).

The radiologist report indicates that small radio-density was noted near the tip of the lateral malleolus suggesting a chip fracture (Doc. 110 Ex. C at p. 26-27). The report also notes minimal subluxation and no gross dislocation, along with soft tissue swelling (Id.). On February 17, 2009, Dr. James Krieg also reviewed the x-rays of Plaintiff's ankle (Doc. 110 Ex. B at &10, Ex. C at p. 5). He noted a possible chip fracture and scheduled to see Plaintiff within seven days (Id.). Medical records from February 22, 2009, indicate that Plaintiff was scheduled to see Dr. Fuentes on February 23, 2009, but Dr. Feinerman wanted Plaintiff to be seen by Dr. Platt (Doc. 110 Ex. C at p. 5). Plaintiff met with Dr. Platt on March 6, 2009 (Doc. 110 Ex. B at &13, Ex. C at p. 6). According to the medical records, Dr. Platt reviewed the x-rays and examined Plaintiff's ankle (Id.). As part of the physical examination of the ankle, Dr. Platt tested the stability of the ligaments. Dr. Platt noted that the ligaments were stable and that no swelling was present, although Plaintiff noted some tenderness in the tip of the fibula (Doc. 110 Ex. B at &13; Ex. C at p.6). Dr. Platt diagnosed Plaintiff with a healing strain that required no restrictions on Plaintiff's activities (Id.). Plaintiff disagrees with the diagnosis and believes that Dr. Platt fabricated or misstated the diagnosis, originally telling him nothing was wrong with his ankle (Doc. 110 Ex. A at p. 28). According to Plaintiff, he read the radiology report months later and it indicated he had a dislocation, ligament damage and a fracture (Id. at p.29). He also claims that other inmates experienced the same problem in the past with the same doctors labeling fractures of the ankle as strains (Id.). Because of this diagnosis, Plaintiff was not relocated to a lower gallery or to the Health Care Unit, nor was he provided any devices to assist him in walking (Doc. 112 at pp. 4-5; Doc. 113 Ex. 12 at && 7 & 13). According to Dr. Platt, an inmate who is able to negotiate stairs, even with some discomfort, is fine to remain in the cell house (Doc. 113 Ex. 12 at & 7).

As already noted, the radiologist report indicates soft tissue swelling, a chip fracture, minimal subluxation and no gross dislocation (Doc. 110 Ex. C at p. 26-27). Dr. Platt explains that when an ankle is rolled it is not uncommon for a small fragment of bone to pull off from the tip of the fibula (Doc. 110 Ex. B at &15). However, the treatment for such an injury, according to Dr. Platt, is the same as for a sprained ankle (Id.). The ankle does not require a cast or restriction in movement, as the chip will eventually reattach itself (Id.).

Plaintiff was again seen in the Health Care Unit on July 3, 2009 (Doc. 110 Ex. C at p. 9). No swelling or redness was present and Plaintiff had good range of movement. Plaintiff was prescribed Tylenol (Id.). Plaintiff was also seen in the Health Care Unit on July 20, 2009, for ankle pain (Id. at p.10). Again, there was no swelling, redness, bruising or limitation of movement, but the ankle was tender (Id.). On July 27, 2009, Plaintiff was again seen and x-rays were ordered (Id. at p. 11). The second set of x-rays was normal; no abnormalities were seen (Doc. 110 Ex. C at p.28).

Plaintiff Thomas alleges that Defendant Platt was deliberately indifferent by failing to adequately treat him, and by causing him to have to climb to the seventh gallery floor several times per day, which Plaintiff alleges further damaged his ankle.

III. Summary Judgment Standard

Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure56(c), summary judgment is proper only if the moving party can demonstrate "that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986). See also Ruffin-Thompkins v. Experian Information Solutions, Inc., 422 F.3d 603, 607 (7th Cir. 2005). The burden is upon the moving party to establish that no material facts are in genuine dispute; any doubt as to the existence of a genuine issue must be resolved against the moving party. Adickes v. S.H. Kress & Co., 398 U.S. 144, 160 (1970). See also Lawrence v. Kenosha County, 391 F.3d 837, 841 (7th Cir. 2004). A fact is material if it is outcome determinative under applicable law. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986); Ballance v. City of Springfield, Illinois Police Department, 424 F.3d 614, 616 (7th Cir. 2005); Hottenroth v. Village of Slinger, 388 F.3d 1015, 1027 (7th Cir. 2004). Even if the facts are not in dispute, summary judgment is inappropriate when the information before the court reveals that "alternate inferences can be drawn from the available evidence." Spiegla v. Hull, 371 F.3d 928, 935 (7th Cir. 2004). See also Anderer v. Jones, 385 F.3d 1043, 1064 (7th Cir. 2004).

The inquiry performed is the threshold inquiry of determining whether there is the need for a trial, whether, in other words, there are any genuine factual issues that properly can be resolved only by a finder of fact because they may reasonably be resolved in favor of either party.

[T]his standard mirrors the standard for a directed verdict underFederal Rule of Civil Procedure 50(a), which is that the trial judge must direct a verdict if, under the governing law, there can ...

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