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Gallo v. Ghosh

United States District Court, Seventh Circuit

October 10, 2013

CARL GALLO, JR., Plaintiff,
v.
DR. PARTHA GHOSH, LATANYA WILLIAMS, and WEXFORD HEALTH SOURCES, INC., Defendants.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

HARRY D. LEINENWEBER, District Judge.

Pending before the Court is Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment. For the reasons stated herein, the Motion is granted in part and denied in part.

I. BACKGROUND

This case arises out of allegedly inadequate medical treatment by prison doctors. At all times relevant to this case, Plaintiff Carl Gallo, Jr. was incarcerated by the state of Illinois and confined at Stateville Correctional Center ("Stateville"). While there, he received medical treatment from Defendant Wexford Health Services, a prison contractor. Defendant Dr. Partha Ghosh ("Dr. Ghosh") was the Medical Director at Stateville. Defendant Latanya Williams ("Williams") was a physician's assistant at Stateville. The facts recited herein are undisputed unless otherwise noted.

Plaintiff suffers from ulcerative colitis and gastro esophageal reflux disease. Plaintiff was transferred from another prison to Stateville in August 2006, and he first met with Dr. Ghosh on October 30, 2006. Dr. Ghosh, who lacked expertise in treating ulcerative colitis, referred Plaintiff to an outside specialist. Dr. Ghosh retained responsibility for prescribing medications.

Plaintiff saw that outside specialist on November 22, 2006. The specialist recommended that Plaintiff receive a colonoscopy and "start PPI (prevacid qd 30 mg)." "PPI" stands for "protein-pump inhibitor, " a class of medications used to decrease the body's production of gastric acid. Prevacid is a PPI.

Five days later, Plaintiff returned to Dr. Ghosh, who noted and approved all of the specialist's findings and recommendations but did not write the prescription. On December 20, 2006, Dr. Ghosh prescribed Prilosec, a different but pharmacologically identical PPI. Prilosec is a "formulary" drug, which means that it is on an approved list of medications that patients can receive if prescribed. Prilosec is cheaper than Prevacid, a non-formulary drug. Wexford has a process by which physicians like Dr. Ghosh can request that Wexford approve a non-formulary drug.

The specialist performed a colonoscopy and endoscopy on December 27, 2006. The specialist recommended a trio of prescriptions: Prednisone and Mesalamine for Plaintiff's colitis, and Prevacid for his esophagitis and duodenitis. Dr. Ghosh prescribed Prevacid on January 3, 2007, and two days later noted and approved all of the specialist's findings and recommendations. Plaintiff went back to the specialist on January 17, 2007, who this time recommended that Plaintiff receive steroids, proctofoam enemas, mesalamine, and Prevacid. Dr. Ghosh approved these recommendations, and it is reasonable to infer from the record that he wrote the prescriptions as well.

In his deposition, Plaintiff testified that he received the wrong medication after the January 17 appointment. Specifically, he says he was given proctofoam cream for hemorrhoids instead of the proctofoam enema for ulcerative colitis that was prescribed to him. He testified further that he could not take some of the medications he did receive - and that he sought alternatives - because the medications he was taking aggravated his symptoms.

Plaintiff sought help from Defendants so that he could get the correct medication, replace other medications that aggravated his symptoms, and relieve the severe pain and discomfort caused by his condition. Plaintiff raised his concerns by mailing letters to Dr. Ghosh, filing administrative grievances, and hand-delivering dozens of letters to medical staff, including Williams. Plaintiff testified that those letters and requests were ignored. Plaintiff's deposition testimony suggests that there may have been an unofficial policy of nurses ignoring requests in the "sick box." Defendants, for their part, cannot recall any complaints, letters, or grievances. It took Plaintiff eight months to get back to see a doctor, at which point his treatment appears to have resumed. In his brief opposing the Motion for Summary Judgment, Plaintiff does not take issue with his treatment since August 2007.

II. LEGAL STANDARD

Summary judgment is appropriate "if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." FED. R. CIV. P. 56(a). The Court construes all facts and draws all reasonable inferences in favor of the non-moving party. Ricci v. DeStefano, 557 U.S. 557, 586 (2009).

III. ANALYSIS

"Prison officials violate the Eighth Amendment's proscription against cruel and unusual punishment when they display deliberate indifference to serious medical needs of prisoners.'" Greeno v. Daley, 414 F.3d 645, 652-53 (7th Cir. 2005) (quoting Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 104 (1976)). Defendants do not contest the seriousness of Plaintiff's medical ...


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