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Sharif v. Ghosh

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

April 1, 2014

JAMAL SHARIF (A-8847), Plaintiff,
v.
DR. PARTHASARATHI GHOSH, KEVIN HALLORAN, and WEXFORD HEALTH SOURCES, INC., a corporation, Defendants.

OPINION AND ORDER

SARA L. ELLIS, District Judge.

Plaintiff Jamal Sharif, an inmate at Stateville Correctional Center ("Stateville"), suffered a knee injury while playing basketball in July 2010. Although he received some treatment, he filed this suit against Defendants Dr. Parthasarathi Ghosh, Kevin Halloran, and Wexford Health Sources, Inc. ("Wexford"), alleging that Defendants exhibited deliberate indifference to his serious medical needs. Dr. Ghosh, Stateville's former Medical Director, is sued in both his individual and official capacities, while Wexford, which provides health care services to inmates at Stateville, and Halloran, its Chief Executive Officer, are sued only in their official capacities. Before the Court is Halloran and Wexford's motion to dismiss [80]. The Court finds that Sharif has sufficiently alleged that Wexford maintains a policy or practice of deliberate indifference and may proceed on that theory against Wexford. Because Sharif's claim against Halloran is redundant of that against Wexford, however, the claim against Halloran is dismissed.

BACKGROUND[1]

On July 29, 2010, Sharif injured his right knee while playing basketball. He placed a sick call request that day and was taken to the health care unit on July 31 to receive medical care. Because no doctor or physician's assistant was available, however, he was sent back to his cell. He was taken to the health care unit on August 4 for treatment, only to be sent back to his cell yet again without treatment. On August 13, Sharif was examined by Latonya Williams, a physician's assistant. PA Williams ordered an x-ray and a knee support for his right knee, and prescribed Tylenol. On October 10, Sharif wrote to PA Williams thanking her for the knee support but explaining that she never provided him with a permit to use it. That same day, he also wrote to Dr. Ghosh complaining that he remained in pain and requesting an MRI and a permit for a low bunk and low gallery. On October 26, while waiting at the health care unit, Sharif attempted to speak to Dr. Ghosh about his injury and request for an MRI, but Dr. Ghosh refused to speak with him.

Over the next two months, Sharif continued to file grievances and requests for medical treatment. On January 3, 2011, Sharif filed an emergency grievance requesting an MRI. On January 10, Sharif was finally examined by Dr. Ghosh, who scheduled Sharif for an MRI. On February 4, Sharif was taken to the health care unit for medical treatment, waited three hours, and was sent back to his cell without seeing a doctor. His next two scheduled doctor's appointments, on February 18 and 25, were canceled without explanation. On February 28, Sharif was seen by Dr. Ronald Schaefer for his annual check-up. Dr. Schaefer refused to examine Sharif's knee, however, claiming he was not an orthopedist. After filing several additional sick call requests in March and April that went ignored, Sharif again wrote Dr. Ghosh and filed another grievance requesting further medical treatment for his knee.

On April 27, 2011, an MRI was performed on Sharif's right knee. The MRI revealed tricompartmental degenerative joint disease, a medial meniscus tears, and medial collateral ligament sprain with mild surrounding edema. In May, Sharif wrote to Dr. Ghosh asking to be moved to a low gallery, but that request was ignored. Sharif also wrote to Dr. Richard Shute, who was then acting Medical Director at Stateville, asking to be seen by an outside knee specialist and to see the results of his MRI. In June and July, Sharif was examined by Dr. Bautista, who had replaced Dr. Shute as acting Medical Director. Dr. Bautista ordered seven weeks of physical therapy for Sharif's torn meniscus. On August 19, Dr. Imhotep Carter, Stateville's new Medical Director, examined Sharif and stated that if physical therapy was not successful, he would recommend surgery.

On August 25, Sharif wrote to Halloran describing his injury, stating that he had not received the MRI report, and requesting that Halloran order immediate surgery to correct Sharif's injured knee. Sharif never received a response. On September 10, Sharif sent a letter to Dr. Carter with a similar request, asking for the MRI results and to be seen by an outside orthopedic specialist. On September 15, Sharif saw PA Williams, who scheduled Sharif to receive a previously ordered cortisone injection. Sharif received this injection on September 29.

Over the next nineteen months, Sharif sent numerous requests for medical treatment, many of which were ignored. Ten of his appointments to see medical personnel were canceled during this time period without explanation. In May 2012, ten months after Dr. Bautista ordered physical therapy, Sharif finally received five sessions. In July, he was told he would not be receiving any more sessions. That same month, his right knee support, which Williams had provided to him in August 2010, was confiscated because PA Williams had never given him a permit for it. He received a replacement only in March 2013. And although he was told on January 18, February 5, and March 20, 2013 that he would be considered for surgery if his knee pain did not subside after six weeks, those six weeks passed and he still has not been considered for or received surgery.

LEGAL STANDARD

A motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) challenges the sufficiency of the complaint, not its merits. Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6); Gibson v. City of Chicago, 910 F.2d 1510, 1520 (7th Cir. 1990). In considering a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, the Court accepts as true all well-pleaded facts in the plaintiff's complaint and draws all reasonable inferences from those facts in the plaintiff's favor. AnchorBank, FSB v. Hofer, 649 F.3d 610, 614 (7th Cir. 2011). To survive a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, the complaint must not only provide the defendant with fair notice of a claim's basis but must also be facially plausible. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 173 L.Ed.2d 868 (2009); see also Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 167 L.Ed.2d 929 (2007). "A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678.

ANALYSIS

To state a claim for deliberate indifference, Sharif must allege both (1) an objectively serious medical condition and (2) that Defendants acted with deliberate indifference to that condition. Arnett v. Webster, 658 F.3d 742, 750 (7th Cir. 2011). With respect to his official capacity claims against Halloran and Wexford, Sharif must state facts indicating that Wexford maintained a policy or custom that violated his right to adequate medical care, which caused him harm. Minix v. Canarecci, 597 F.3d 824, 832 (7th Cir. 2010) (private contractors that provide medical services to prisoners are treated like municipalities for purposes of ยง 1983 claims).

I. Official Capacity Claim against Halloran

Initially, the Court addresses Sharif's claim against Halloran. In Defendants' opening memorandum, they argue that Halloran should be dismissed because Sharif did not cure the deficiencies identified by the Court when it previously dismissed Sharif's claim against Halloran in his individual capacity. In response, Sharif confirms that he is only pursuing claims against Halloran in his official capacity. Doc. 86 at 2 n.1 & 7. Thus, the Court will not address Halloran's argument that claims against him in his individual capacity should be dismissed. But in reply, Defendants maintain that even if Sharif is only pursuing an official capacity claim against Halloran, he nonetheless must allege that Halloran was personally involved in the alleged violations. Because Sharif ...


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