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Watkins v. Ghosh

United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division

March 4, 2014

ERIC WATKINS, Plaintiff,
PARTHA GHOSH M.D., et al., Defendants.


CHARLES P. KOCORAS, District Judge.

This matter comes before the Court on the motions for summary judgment of Defendants Dr. Parthasarathi Ghosh ("Dr. Ghosh"), Terry L. McCann ("McCann"), Latonya Williams ("Williams"), Wexford Health Sources, Inc. ("Wexford"), and Dr. Liping Zhang ("Dr. Zhang") (collectively "Defendants") pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56 ("Rule 56"). For the following reasons, the Court grants summary judgment with respect to McCann and Dr. Zhang and denies summary judgment as to all other defendants.


I. Facts

The following facts are taken from the parties' respective statements and exhibits filed pursuant to Northern District of Illinois Local Rule 56.1. The Court reviews each Local Rule 56.1 statement and disregards any argument, conclusion, or assertion unsupported by the evidence in the record. The parties do not dispute the facts below unless otherwise noted.

This case arises out of the allegedly inadequate medical treatment by prison doctors and personnel. Plaintiff Eric Watkins ("Watkins") is an inmate at the Stateville Correctional Center ("Stateville"). While incarcerated at Stateville, Watkins received medical treatment from Wexford, a prison contractor. McCann was the warden of Stateville from August 2006 to March 2009. Dr. Ghosh was Medical Director at Stateville and a Wexford employee from June 2003 to March 2011. Williams, a physician's assistant, and Dr. Zhang, a staff physician, were also Wexford employees. Dr. Ghosh was Dr. Zhang's direct supervisor.

Wexford has held a contract to provide certain medical services at Stateville since 2005. Watkins's medical records while in prison were maintained by the IDOC. In 2006, the medical unit at Stateville was subject to an audit. The audit revealed significant policy lapses in the medical department.

On February 16, 2006, Watkins injured himself at Stateville while lifting weights, causing a back injury (his "back injury"). He did not receive any medical treatment for his back injury on that day. Medical personnel at Stateville had the power to schedule a medical appointment with prisoners to learn of their current conditions. Dr. Ghosh personally examined Watkins for the first time in April 2006.

Pursuant to Dr. Ghosh's April 28, 2006 referral, on June 12, 2006 Watkins underwent a magnetic resonance imaging ("MRI") at the University of Illinois at Chicago ("UIC"). Around June 12, 2006, Dr. Ghosh received and reviewed the MRI results which stated that there was "evidence of diffuse marrow replacement involving all visualized lower thoracic and lumbosacral vertebrae", and that there was an "L5-S1 posterior central disk herniation resulting in no neural compromise". Watkins was told of his MRI results over two years later on September 16, 2008.

On August 2, 2007, Williams personally treated Watkins. The parties dispute whether Watkins appropriately requested medical attention and which injuries Watkins complained of at the time of his visit with Williams. Watkins claims he complained to Williams about his back pain and she did not provide him with any treatment or pain medication. Williams relies on the medical records which do not show any complaints by Watkins about his back injury when she treated him. On August 5, 2011, Williams examined Watkins again after he complained of lower back pain, numbness, and tingling in his leg. Williams prescribed pain medication.

An inmate may submit a grievance as an emergency grievance, which then is supposed to be signed by the warden's office. Watkins made numerous written requests (approximately thirteen) to be on the "sick call" and filed multiple emergency grievances for medical treatment at Stateville from 2006 to 2011. The parties dispute whether many of these requests and grievances were ever received, whether they were ever time-stamped, when they were received, who received them, and who should have received them.

The record indicates that Watkins filed his first grievance about his back injury on March 14, 2006 and another on July 28, 2008. Watkins also filed a grievance on November 9, 2008 ("November 9, 2008 Grievance") complaining of his back injury, which he later amended twice on November 11, 2008 and November 12, 2008 (collectively the "November 11, 2008 Grievance"). The November 11, 2008 Grievance was not marked as an emergency and was sent to the Stateville grievance office through the normal, non-emergency procedure. The Grievance Office time-stamped the November 11, 2008 Grievance on January 22, 2009. After consulting with Dr. Ghosh and reviewing Watkins's MRI report and medical records, Dr. Zhang wrote a written response to the November 11, 2008 Grievance concluding Watkins was receiving proper care for his lower back pain and that surgery was unnecessary.

The parties disagree on when exactly Watkins received medical treatment after his June 12, 2006 MRI at UIC. The parties dispute the accuracy of his medical records against the credibility of Watkins's deposition testimony. Watkins's medical records show that he was treated on May 2, 2007 for complaints of headaches. Watkins claims in his deposition that he always complained of his back injury when he was treated by any medical personnel, but his back injury is not always noted in his ...

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