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Stallings v. Hardy

United States District Court, Seventh Circuit

October 25, 2013

JASMON STALLINGS, Plaintiff,
v.
MARCUS HARDY, et al., Defendants.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

JAMES F. HOLDERMAN, District Judge.

Plaintiff, Jasmon Stallings, has brought this pro se civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff alleges that the defendants, Warden Marcus Hardy ("Hardy") and Dr. Ronald Schaefer, Dr. Parthasarathi Ghosh, and Wexford Health Sources, Inc. (collectively, the "Medical Defendants"), were deliberately indifferent to his serious medical condition, purportedly caused by the Stateville prison's serving meat products containing soy. This matter is before the court for ruling on Hardy's the Medical Defendants' motions for summary judgment. For the reasons stated below, the motions are granted.

LOCAL RULE 56.1 (N.D. ILL.)

Each movant filed a respective statement of uncontested material fact pursuant to Local Rule 56.1 (N.D. Ill.). Each movant also provided Plaintiff a "Notice to Pro Se Litigant Opposing Motion for Summary Judgment, " as required by circuit precedent. Those notices explained in detail the requirements of the Local Rules and warned Plaintiff that a party's failure to controvert the facts as set forth in the moving party's statement results in those facts being deemed admitted. See, e.g., Smith v. Lamz, 321 F.3d 680, 683 (7th Cir. 2003).

Local Rule 56.1(b) requires a party opposing a motion for summary judgment to file:

(3) a concise response to the movant's statement that shall contain:
(A) numbered paragraphs, each corresponding to and stating a concise summary of the paragraph to which it is directed, and
(B) 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, and
(C) a statement, consisting of short numbered paragraphs, of any additional facts that require denial of summary judgment, including references to the affidavits, parts of the record, and other supporting materials relied upon.

L.R. 56.1(b)(3).

The district court 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") (citing Ammons v. Aramark Uniform Serv., Inc., 368 F.3d 809, 817 (7th Cir. 2004)). Although pro se plaintiffs are entitled to lenient standards, compliance with procedural rules is required. 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). "We have... repeatedly held that a district court is entitled to expect strict compliance with Rule 56.1." Cichon v. Exelon Generation Co., 401 F.3d 803, 809 (7th Cir. 2005).

Here, Plaintiff responded to the Defendants' uncontested statements of material fact. However, several of his responses fail to comply with Local Rule 56.1. For example, Plaintiff attempts to dispute several of the Defendants' proposed facts by citing to Exhibit G, which is composed of eight pages of his deposition testimony. While Plaintiff has underlined certain testimony throughout the eight pages, he only references Exhibit G in his responses. As another example, Plaintiff's Exhibit F includes 15 pages of different documents, including grievances Plaintiff filed, responses to the grievances, pages of Plaintiff's deposition testimony, and a newspaper article. Plaintiff attempts to refute some of Defendants' proposed facts with a general citation to Exhibit F. Plaintiff's general citations to lengthy exhibits are insufficient. See Ammons v. Aramark Uniform Servs., 368 F.3d 809, 817-18 (7th Cir. 2004) (finding citations to a lengthy exhibit are not specific for denying a factual allegation by the movant for summary judgment); see also United States v. Dunkel, 927 F.2d 955, 956 (7th Cir. 1991) ("Judges are not like pigs, hunting for truffles buried in briefs"). In other responses, for example the Medical Defendants' proposed fact No. 25, Plaintiff neither admits nor denies the proposed fact; instead, he comments on the proposed fact and fails to support his additional comment with citation to any supporting material.

Plaintiff also submitted additional statements of material fact in his responses. However, with the exception of one proposed additional statement of material fact in each of his responses, Plaintiff failed to reference any materials to support his proposed additional facts. In addition, he cites only generally to his multi-page exhibits in support of each of his proposed additional facts. Thus, Plaintiff has failed to comply with Local Rule 56.1(b)(3)(C).

Accordingly, the Defendants' proposed uncontested statements of material facts that are not properly disputed are deemed admitted. In addition, Plaintiff's proposed additional facts are not considered by the court. Nevertheless, as Plaintiff is proceeding pro se, the court will grant him some leeway and consider the factual assertions he makes in his summary judgment materials to the extent that he could properly testify about the matters asserted. See Fed.R.Evid. 602; see also Berry v. Chicago Transit Authority, 618 F.3d 688, 691 (7th Cir. 2010) (non-movant's uncorroborated testimony may raise a genuine issue of material fact if it is based on personal knowledge or firsthand experience).

BACKGROUND

Plaintiff was an inmate at the Stateville Correctional Center at all times relevant to this action. (Med. Defs.' 56.1(a)(3) Statement ¶ 1.) Defendant Warden Hardy was the Warden at Stateville at all times relevant to this action. ( Id. at ¶ 2.) Dr. Schaefer and Dr. Ghosh were physicians employed by Wexford Health Sources, Inc., a corporation that staffs healthcare departments in correctional centers, at all times relevant to this action. ( Id. at ¶¶ 3-5.)

The meat products that Plaintiff was provided as part of his diet at Stateville contained soy. (Med. Defs.' 56.1(a)(3) Statement ¶ 8.) At all relevant times, Stateville followed the American Dietary Association (ADA) standards for composition of meals. ( Id. at ¶ 11.)

Plaintiff alleges that soy in the meat products caused him to experience digestive issues, including pain and rectal bleeding, a "couple of hours after [he] ate it." (Med. Defs.' 56.1(a)(3) Statement ¶ 9.) Plaintiff does not have an allergy to soy. ( Id. at ¶ 17.) Plaintiff admits that no medical professional has ever told him that the soy in his diet was the cause of his stomach pain or blood in his stool. ( Id. at ¶ 16.) The most likely cause of Plaintiff's digestive issues was ultimately identified as hemorrhoids, not soy. ( Id. at ¶ 20.)

On March 1, 2011, at 9:15 a.m., Plaintiff complained to a certified medical technician (CMT) that he was experiencing lower abdominal pain. (Med. Defs.' 56.1(a)(3) Statement ¶ 23.) The CMT immediately transferred Plaintiff by wheelchair to urgent care for evaluation by a physician. ( Id. ) At 9:30 a.m., Dr. Schaefer performed a history and physical examination of Plaintiff. ( Id. at ¶ 24.) Plaintiff complained of blood in his stool. ( Id. ) Dr. Schaefer's examination revealed normal vital signs and left lower quadrant pain without rebound or masses present. ( Id. ) Dr. Schaefer's assessment was to rule out irritable bowel disease versus hemorrhoids. ( Id. ) Dr. Schaefer ordered monitoring for a 23-hour period, an imaging study of Plaintiff's abdomen, and lab studies. ( Id. at ¶ 25.)

At 2:00 p.m., a nurse evaluated Plaintiff and noted that he had intermittent abdominal pain and tenderness to palpation without guarding. (Med. Defs.' 56.1(a)(3) Statement ¶ 26.) Plaintiff was instructed to save his stool for examination. ( Id. ) Dr. Schaefer reevaluated Plaintiff at 2:30 p.m. ( Id. at ¶ 27.) Dr. Schaefer noted that Plaintiff had blood on a piece of toilet tissue. ( Id. ) Dr. Schaefer revised his plan to wait for the results of the previously ordered labs to determine blood loss, ordered Tylenol for pain, ordered Colace to soften Plaintiff's stool, and recommended continued monitoring of Plaintiff's stool. ( Id. at ¶ 28.) At 4:00 p.m., Plaintiff was evaluated by a nurse. ( Id. at ¶ 29.) The nurse observed blood on a toilet tissue and noted that Plaintiff denied abdominal pain at that time. ( Id. )

On March 2, 2011, at 11:40 a.m., Dr. Ghosh performed a history and physical examination of Plaintiff. (Med. Defs.' 56.1(a)(3) Statement ¶ 32.) Plaintiff complained of blood in his stool and continued left lower quadrant pain, which had subsided. ( Id. ) Dr. Ghosh's exam revealed no guarding, rebound or masses in Plaintiff's abdomen and no visual hemorrhoids. ( Id. ) Dr. Ghosh assessed Plaintiff as having rectal bleeding, possibly related to hemorrhoids. ( Id. ). Dr. Ghosh admitted Plaintiff to the infirmary, continued his regular diet, ordered monitoring of Plaintiff's stool by use of a diaper, and ordered a 30-day supply of Colace and Tylenol.

At 12:20 p.m., a nurse examined Plaintiff, noting that he was in no "apparent acute discomfort, " and that there was a small amount of blood on a toilet tissue. (Med. Defs.' 56.1(a)(3) Statement ¶ 34.) Plaintiff also asked the nurse if he could leave the infirmary. ( Id. ) At 4:00 p.m., Nurse Stegall evaluated Plaintiff, who was resting in bed with no apparent distress. ( Id. at ¶ 30.) Plaintiff denied complaints of rectal bleeding at that time and was instructed to save his stool for ...


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