United States District Court, C.D. Illinois, Springfield Division
OPINION GRANTING SUMMARY JUDGMENT
SUE E. MYERSCOUGH, District Judge.
Plaintiff proceeds pro se from his incarceration in Lincoln Correctional Center. Plaintiff's remaining claim is an Eighth Amendment claim against Defendant Dr. Obaisi for alleged deliberate indifference to Plaintiff's serious medical needs arising from an injury Plaintiff suffered in an accident at Logan Correctional Center.
Dr. Obaisi moves for summary judgment. After reviewing the parties' submissions, the Court concludes that Dr. Obaisi's motion must be granted. Plaintiff has no evidence that Dr. Obaisi's treatment approach, consisting essentially of rest and pain medicine, amounted to deliberate indifference. In fact, the record shows that Plaintiff recovered fully from his injuries under that conservative approach.
SUMMARY JUDGMENT STANDARD
"In a § 1983 case, the plaintiff bears the burden of proof on the constitutional deprivation that underlies the claim, and thus must come forward with sufficient evidence to create genuine issues of material fact to avoid summary judgment." McAllister v. Price , 615 F.3d 877, 881 (7th Cir. 2010). At the summary judgment stage, evidence is viewed in the light most favorable to the nonmovant, with material factual disputes resolved in the nonmovant's favor. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc. , 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). A genuine dispute of material fact exists when a reasonable juror could find for the nonmovant. Id.
On November 29, 2010, Plaintiff was riding with another inmate in the flatbed of a John Deere "Gator, " an all-terrain, open-air work vehicle, on their way to repair a gate at the Logan Correctional Center. The Gator had two seats in the front and a flatbed in the back which lifts up for dumping. (Pl.'s Dep. pp. 62-63.) Plaintiff and another inmate were riding in the back with their legs hanging over the end because the two front seats were already occupied by Plaintiff's supervisor and an inmate. Plaintiff was typically transported to his job on the grounds at the prison, even though the Gator was not designed to safely carry people in the flatbed and bore a warning label specifically advising against such transport.
On November 29, 2010, Plaintiff's supervisor was driving the Gator more quickly than usual because the tools needed to fix the gate had been left behind. (Pl.'s Dep. p. 34.) The Gator hit a bump, which catapulted Plaintiff and the other inmate riding in the back into the air. Plaintiff landed on his right buttock and lower back, and he believes he lost consciousness for a second or two. (Pl.'s Dep. 38-40.) Plaintiff lay still until an ambulance came with a stretcher and took him to the hospital, where he received a CT of his cervical spine and head and x-rays of his right hip and lumbar spine. (Dr. Obaisi's Aff. ¶ 4.)
The x-rays and CTs showed no "acute abnormalities, " only mild degenerative changes attributable to normal aging-Plaintiff was 44 years old when the accident occurred. (Radiology Reports dated 11/29/10, d/e 30-3, pp. 29-32; Dr. Obaisi's Aff. ¶¶ 5-14.) The lumbar spine x-ray showed that "L5 is sacralized bilaterally, " which, according to Dr. Obaisi, "is a congenital condition where the L5 vertebral body is incorporated into the S1 vertebral body, where normally they are separated by a disc. This condition can cause low back stiffness and chronic law back pain." (Dr. Obaisi Aff. ¶ 6; lumbar spine x-ray, d/e 30-3, p. 29.)
Plaintiff was returned to Logan Correctional Center from the hospital that same day, where Plaintiff saw Dr. Obaisi. After reviewing the hospital tests and examining Plaintiff, Dr. Obaisi diagnosed Plaintiff with an acute sprain of the right hip and low back. Dr. Obaisi prescribed Motrin, gave Plaintiff a five day "lay-in" from work, and a low bunk permit for one month. Dr. Obaisi also scheduled a follow-up in three days. (Dr. Obaisi Aff. ¶ 7.)
The next day, Plaintiff saw Dr. Obaisi for complaints of back pain-Plaintiff had not yet received his Motrin-and also for complaints of blood in Plaintiff's stool. Dr. Obaisi diagnosed internal hemorrhoids and gave Plaintiff a fecal occult blood test, which was negative. Dr. Obaisi also prescribed Plaintiff Atenolol for Plaintiff's headaches and Zantac. (Dr. Obaisi Aff. ¶ 8.) Plaintiff believes that the bleeding was caused by the accident because Plaintiff had not had blood in his stool before the accident. However, Plaintiff does not dispute Dr. Obaisi's conclusion that Plaintiff's bleeding was attributable to internal hemorrhoids. Over the following months, Plaintiff continued to have occasional bleeding if he strained on the toilet, but eventually the hemorrhoids resolved on their own. (Pl.'s Dep. Pp. 45-46.)
Over the two months following the accident, Plaintiff continued to report soreness in his low back and right buttocks where he had fallen, as well as occasional numbness in his leg and foot. Dr. Obaisi examined Plaintiff about every two weeks in December and January: on December 2, 10, and 27, 2010, and on January 11 and 26, 2011. (Dr. Obaisi Aff. ¶¶ 40-60.) Plaintiff does not dispute that during this time he had full range of motion without tenderness to touch. Plaintiff also does not dispute that at the January 26th visit he described his back as slowly improving. (Dr. Obaisi Aff. ¶ 58.) Dr. Obaisi continued with the conservative treatment, prescribing rest, pain medicine, and some stretching exercises. Plaintiff asked for an MRI, but Dr. Obaisi did not believe any further testing was indicated. (Dr. Obaisi Aff. ¶ 99; Pl.'s Dep. p. 46.)
Plaintiff saw Dr. Obaisi on March 14, 2011, this time reporting that his back pain was mild, with an occasional tingling in his leg. (Dr. Obaisi's Aff. ¶ 65.) Plaintiff's movements were within the normal range, as was a straight leg elevation test, which tests for pinched nerves. (Dr. Obaisi's Aff. ¶¶ 65-72.) Dr. Obaisi prescribed Motrin and ordered a blood test to check kidney function in light of Plaintiff's extended use of Motrin.
Dr. Obaisi next saw Plaintiff on May 12, 2011, for a follow-up appointment. At that time Plaintiff reported only occasional low back pain which responded well to Motrin. Plaintiff had also ...