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Stallings v. Zhang

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

June 16, 2014



JAMES F. HOLDERMAN, District Judge.

Plaintiff Jasmon Stallings ("Stallings") filed this suit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Dr. Liping Zhang ("Dr. Zhang"), Dr. Parthasarathi Ghosh ("Dr. Ghosh"), Dr. Imhotep Carter ("Dr. Carter"), Dr. Ronald Schaefer ("Dr. Schaefer"), La Tanya Williams ("Williams"), Wexford Health Sources, Inc. ("Wexford"), and the Illinois Department of Corrections ("IDOC"), seeking compensatory and punitive damages for alleged violations of Stallings's Eighth and Fourteenth Amendment rights. Counts I through V of Stallings's first amended complaint ("Amended Complaint") allege that Zhang, Ghosh, Carter, Schaefer, and Williams were deliberately indifferent to Stalling's serious medical needs. (Dkt. No. 45 ("Am. Compl.") ¶¶ 40-90.) Stallings further alleges that Wexford's policies, procedures, and practices (1) deprived Stallings of his right to receive adequate medical care (Count VI) and (2) breached Wexford's contract with IDOC to provide medical services to inmates incarcerated in Illinois prisons (Count VII). (Am. Compl. ¶¶ 91-112.) On March 3, 2012, this court granted IDOC's motion to dismiss Count VII of Stallings's Amended Complaint. (Dkt. No. 56.) On April 23, 2012, this court granted Wexford's motion to dismiss Count VII. (Dkt. No. 76.) Wexford and the individual defendants (collectively, "Defendants") have moved for summary judgment on Counts I through VI. (Dkt. Nos. 133, 136.)[1] For the reasons explained below, Defendants' motions are granted.


In 2004, Stallings was diagnosed with a keloid on the back of his head while he was incarcerated at Menard Correctional Center in Menard, Illinois. (Dkt. No. 150 ("Pl.'s SMF") ¶ 1.) A keloid is a type of permanent scar, the appearance of which depends on a person's skin type. (Dkt. No. 134 ("Defs.' SMF") ¶ 47.) Stallings's keloid initially measured roughly one-half centimeter in diameter but has grown to "a large protuberant mass not less than 2 inches by 1 inch." (Pl.'s SMF ¶ 7.)

In April 2007, Stallings was transferred to Stateville Correctional Center ("Stateville") in Crest Hill, Illinois. (Pl.'s SMF ¶ 2.) Stallings filed at least three grievances with Stateville seeking treatment for his keloid and claims to have written letters to Drs. Ghosh and Schaefer complaining about his keloid treatment. (Pl.'s SMF ¶¶ 10, 12, 14, Ex. H.) His efforts to seek additional treatment-specifically, the surgical removal of his keloid-form the basis of his claims in this lawsuit. (Pl.'s SMF ¶ 2.)

I. Williams and Dr. Zhang

In January 2008, Stateville's barbers refused to cut Stallings's hair without a note from the medical staff stating that Stallings's scalp condition was not dangerous or contagious. (Am. Compl. ¶ 15; Dkt. No. 134 ("Defs.' SMF") Ex. A at 45:4-7.) On January 22, 2008, Stallings sought such a note from Stateville's medical staff. (Defs.' SMF ¶ 10, Ex. A at 45:4-7.) Williams, who was working at Stateville as a physician's assistant, determined that Stallings's scalp condition was a keloid with some "exfoliation, " which means that it had small scratches and superficial abrasions. ( Id. ¶ 11.) Williams prescribed a topical antibiotic ointment to treat the scratches and abrasions present on Stallings's keloid. ( Id. ¶ 12; Defs.' SMF Ex. A at 46:17-20.)

On September 1, 2008, Stateville "Med Tech" Wendy Olsen-Foxen placed Stallings on "sick call" due to bleeding and pain associated with Stallings's keloid. (Defs.' SMF ¶¶ 14-15.) On September 6, 2008, Dr. Zhang, a physician on Stateville's medical staff, treated Stallings for his scalp condition. ( Id. ¶ 16.) Dr. Zhang, like Williams, diagnosed the scalp condition as a keloid. ( Id. ) Although Stallings's keloid was not bleeding at the time of Dr. Zhang's examination, the skin area around the keloid appeared to be infected and contained bumps indicative of scratching. ( Id. ¶¶ 16-17; Defs.' SMF Ex. B at 47:8-48:11.) Dr. Zhang prescribed Selsun lotion and a topical antibiotic to treat the infection and reduce itching. ( Id. ) Dr. Zhang explained at her deposition that scratching a keloid-which Stallings appeared to be doing- could stimulate the area and cause the keloid to grow. (Defs.' SMF Ex. B at 48:6-11.)

On October 2, 2008, Dr. Zhang again treated Stallings. (Defs.' SMF ¶ 18.) Dr. Zhang prescribed Mycolog, an anti-inflammatory cream containing a steroid, and Diflucan, an oral medication. (Defs.' SMF ¶ 19.) Dr. Zhang intended the two prescriptions to address a possible yeast infection and itching in the area around the keloid. (Defs.' SMF Ex. B at 53-54.)

On January 4, 2010, Williams treated Stallings for his scalp condition. (Defs.' SMF ¶ 20.) Stallings complained to Williams that bumps on his scalp had caused him pain for the past two weeks. ( Id. ¶ 21.) Williams determined that Stallings's keloid was swollen and infected. ( Id. ¶ 22.) Williams prescribed a number of concurrent treatments: Cipro, an oral antibiotic; Tylenol; Trimeton, a steroid; Lidex, a lotion; and warm compresses.[2] ( Id. ¶ 23.) Williams intended the prescribed regimen to treat the infection, swelling, and itching around the keloid. ( Id.; Defs.' SMF Ex. A at 57-60.)

On January 5, 2010, Dr. Zhang examined Stallings because he also complained of throbbing headaches. (Defs.' SMF ¶ 25.) Dr. Zhang ordered a skull x-ray, a complete metabolic panel, and blood testing. ( Id. ¶ 26.) She also prescribed Antivart for dizziness, prescribed Tylenol for pain, and requested that Stallings return to the clinic in two weeks. ( Id. ¶ 26-27.) On February 8, 2010, Dr. Zhang met with Stallings to go over the test results and concluded that none of the tests shed light on the cause of Stallings's headaches and dizziness, which she also concluded were caused by Stallings's keloid. ( Id. ¶ 29.)

On May 22, 2010, Dr. Zhang again treated Stallings for his keloid, which was not at the time swollen or infected. ( Id. ¶ 31.) Stallings stated that he wanted the keloid removed and refused to continue using the prescribed shampoo because he thought it caused hair loss. (Defs.' SMF ¶¶ 31-32; Pl.'s Resp. to Defs.' SMF ¶ 32.) Dr. Zhang discussed with Stallings the risks of keloid removal, which include infection and the possibility that the keloid might regrow even larger after removal. (Defs.' SMF ¶ 33, Ex. B at 73:1-23.) Dr. Zhang further advised Stallings that removal would be purely elective and was not medically necessary. ( Id. ¶ 34, Ex. B at 74:12-19.) In Dr. Zhang's medical opinion, Stallings's keloid was not the cause of his headaches or dizziness. ( Id. ¶¶ 30, 35.) Wexford terminated Dr. Zhang's employment in June 2010 because of an unrelated incident. ( Id. ¶ 37.)

II. Dr. Ghosh and Dr. Schaefer

On March 1, 2011, Dr. Schaefer, another staff physician at Stateville, treated Stallings for blood in his stool and lower abdominal pain. (Defs.' SMF ¶ 49.) The parties dispute whether Stallings complained about his keloid when Dr. Schaefer treated him for blood in his stool and lower abdominal pain. Although Dr. Schaefer did not note Stallings's keloid in the medical record of his examination on March 1, (Defs.' SMF ¶ 49), Stallings claims that Dr. Schaefer ...

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