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Williams v. Fenoglio

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

June 2, 2014

LEONARD WILLIAMS, #R-05138, Plaintiff,


J. PHIL GILBERT, District Judge.

Plaintiff, currently incarcerated at Lawrence Correctional Center ("Lawrence"), has brought this pro se civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. ยง 1983. Plaintiff is serving a 22-year sentence for armed robbery as well as sentences for several other related convictions. His claims stem from injuries he suffered in 2012, followed by the Defendants' deliberate indifference to his medical condition, retaliation, and a conspiracy to deny him medical care.

In the complaint, Plaintiff states that on May 12, 2012, he twisted his ankle while playing basketball (Doc. 1, p. 9). The ankle quickly became swollen to the point that Plaintiff was unable to walk, and an officer escorted him to the Health Care unit. There, he was examined by Defendant Nurse Hallingworth, who scheduled him for an x-ray in two days. She gave him a permit for crutches, an Ace wrap, and ice for 24 hours. Plaintiff asked for a low-bunk and low-gallery permit because his ability to climb stairs and maneuver to the top bunk would be impaired. Defendant Hallingworth denied the permits, telling Plaintiff it would be up to his Wing Officer to grant the request (Doc. 1, p. 10).

Later that day, Plaintiff asked the Wing Officer, Defendant Willis, for help because he could not get up or down the stairs or climb into the top bunk in his condition. Defendant Willis instructed Plaintiff to talk to the Lieutenant. That evening on Plaintiff's way to dinner, he asked Defendant Lt. Boldrey for help, but was told it was "a medical issue and a Doctor's recommendation" (Doc. 1, p.10). Over the next three days, Plaintiff spoke to Defendant Officers Dallas, Vaughn, Willis, and Eubank about his mobility impairments, but each refused to take any action, because it was a "medical issue." Plaintiff also personally spoke with Defendant Warden Hodge[1] on May 14, 2012, about his need for a low-bunk/low-gallery permit, but the warden responded that he had nothing to do with medical issues and Plaintiff needed a doctor's recommendation (Doc. 1, p. 11).

Later on May 14, Plaintiff saw Defendant Dr. Fenoglio. The doctor renewed Plaintiff's crutch permit because it would be two weeks before Plaintiff could walk unaided. Plaintiff appealed to him for the low-gallery/low-bunk permit, explaining that the other Defendants had denied it. However, Defendant Fenoglio refused to issue the low-gallery/low-bunk permit, saying the Wing Officer (who had already passed the buck) should take care of it.

On May 12, [2] Plaintiff was on his way up the stairs when his crutch slipped, causing him to come down hard on his bad ankle and then fall backward down eight steps (Doc. 1, p. 12). He landed on his back, head, and shoulders. He was taken to Health Care on a stretcher in severe pain. While there, Defendant Nurse Cummins and Defendant Officers Vaughn and Rhondes tried to convince Plaintiff that nothing was wrong with his back and shoulder, and "forced" him up off the stretcher by grabbing his bad shoulder while ignoring his "agonizing screams" from the pain. Id. He was sent back to his unit in a wheelchair, and was finally issued the low-bunk and low-gallery permit.

On May 16, 2012, Plaintiff saw Defendant Dr. Fenoglio for his back and shoulder injuries suffered in the fall (Doc. 1, p. 15). Defendant Fenoglio ignored the severity of Plaintiff's pain, and prescribed only analgesic balm and acetaminophen. Those medications failed to stop Plaintiff's pain at all. Defendant Fenoglio did not order an x-ray.

Plaintiff wrote over ten grievances complaining about the lack of proper medical attention, and requested to be sent to an outside hospital or transferred to a different prison. At some time prior to his injuries, Plaintiff had filed grievances against Defendants Fenoglio and Martin (the Health Care Unit Administrator) regarding an unrelated problem with soy food (Doc. 1, pp. 15, 20). He continued to submit request slips for further medical treatment of his back and shoulder injuries, many of which were denied.

On June 15, 2012, Nurse John Doe gave Plaintiff an x-ray (Doc. 1, p. 16).

On June 5 and 19, 2012, Plaintiff was called back to Health Care and saw Defendant Phillippe (nurse practitioner). She told him that the grievance he wrote against Defendant Fenoglio for denying the low-bunk/low-gallery permit "will not stick, " and if he complained about the officers not helping him, she would not help him either. She tested and examined Plaintiff, diagnosed him with arthritis and/or a torn muscle, and recommended that he do certain workouts or exercises for his shoulder. Performing these movements was extremely painful. Plaintiff followed these exercise recommendations for several months, through at least October 2012 (Doc. 1, pp. 16-20). He claims that she "maliciously and intentionally diagnosed [him] with the wrong treatment" (Doc. 1, p. 17), and should not have told him to exercise when his back was so fragile. He lists several incidents when his back "went out" or he had shoulder pain as a result of exercising or lifting weights (Doc. 1, p. 19). Further, she did not order the proper type of x-ray or an MRI, and merely gave him medication for pain and not to cure the injury (Doc. 1, p. 18).

On September 13, 2012, Plaintiff again consulted Defendant Fenoglio for the shoulder injury. He told Plaintiff that if he had not written the grievances on Defendant Martin and the medical staff over the soy food, his back and shoulder injuries "would have been cured by now" (Doc. 1, p. 20). Defendant Fenoglio told Plaintiff he was leaving his job and didn't care any more about Plaintiff's situation, but he scheduled an x-ray and physical therapy for the shoulder. After Defendant Fenoglio left Lawrence, Defendant Martin canceled the physical therapy order, and he got no more treatment for that painful condition until May 22, 2013, a full year after the injury.

Between July 2012 and April 2013, Plaintiff wrote over 30 request slips seeking treatment for his shoulder, and filed a grievance (Doc. 1, p. 21). However, many times he was not called to Health Care when other inmates were called, or his requests were denied (he includes a detailed list of these incidents and dates between July 2012 and March 2013[3]) (Doc. 1, pp. 21-22). On four different dates, Defendant Nurses Potts, Downey, and John Doe called all other prisoners who had received call passes for medical visits, but refused to call Plaintiff even though he had also been issued a pass for treatment of his back or shoulder. When he finally was called on October 15, 2012, Defendant Nurse Reed told him that he "had an X' on his back, " referring to the grievance Plaintiff had written on the medical staff (Doc. 1, p. 22). Plaintiff challenged her decision to charge him a co-payment for the visit because he was coming for follow-up care. She prescribed Ibuprofen for his back.

After the October 15, 2012, visit to Nurse Reed, Plaintiff was never called out for treatment again, and claims that the medical staff destroyed his request slips. Only after Plaintiff's father contacted Defendants Martin and Hodge in April 2013 was Plaintiff called again to see a nurse, which resulted in a referral to Dr. Coe (Doc. 1, p. 22).

On May 22, 2013, Dr. Coe (who is not a Defendant) evaluated Plaintiff, and diagnosed him with a torn rotator cuff that would likely need surgery, noting it was in bad condition due to the lack of treatment (Doc. 1, p. 21). He stated the back injury was probably a pinched nerve that would need outside hospital treatment after Plaintiff was released (Doc. 1, p. 22). Plaintiff had 120 days of physical therapy for his shoulder, which was completed in October 2013. At that time, Nurse Tillman (also not a Defendant) told him that his shoulder was still seriously damaged and he would be referred back to Dr. Coe. However, this never happened, and Plaintiff continues to experience severe shoulder pain that has gone untreated.

Plaintiff alleges that these facts demonstrate deliberate indifference to his serious medical needs, failure to properly evaluate his condition or provide adequate medical treatment, deliberate denial and delay of treatment in retaliation for Plaintiff's prior grievances against Defendants Martin and Fenoglio, and a conspiracy between the medical Defendants and Defendant Warden Hodge to deny medical care.

As relief, Plaintiff seeks damages, a transfer to another prison, and a preliminary injunction to require specific treatment in the form of a "proper X-ray and MRI" (Doc. 1, p. 32). He did ...

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