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Snow v. Keegan

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

June 25, 2014

JAMES SNOW, Plaintiff,


JOHN W. DARRAH, District Judge.

Plaintiff James Snow filed a Third Amended Complaint against Defendants Michael Keegan and Dr. Young Kim (collectively, "Defendants"), pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging deliberate indifference to serious medical needs. Defendants have filed a Motion for Summary Judgment [78]. For the reasons set forth below, that Motion is granted.


Local Rule 56.1(a) requires the party moving for summary judgment to provide "a statement of material facts as to which the moving party contends there is no genuine issue" and to cite to the relevant admissible evidence supporting each fact. Local Rule 56.1(b)(3)(B) then requires the nonmoving party to admit or deny each factual statement proffered by the moving party and to concisely designate any material facts that establish a genuine dispute for trial. Martin v. Gonzalez, 526 F.Appx. 681, 682 (7th Cir. 2013). Under Local Rule 56.1(b)(3)(C), the nonmoving party may file a statement of additional facts and the moving party may submit a concise reply under Local Rule 56.1(a)(3). To the extent that a purported fact is merely a legal conclusion, it is disregarded. See Judson Atkinson Candies, Inc. v. Latini-Hohberger Dhimantec, 529 F.3d 371 (7th Cir. 2008).

A litigant's failure to respond to a Rule 56.1 statement, or to dispute the statement without "specific references to the affidavits, parts of the record, and other supporting material, " results in the court's admitting the uncontroverted statement as true. Banks v. Fuentes, 545 F.Appx. 518, 520 (7th Cir.2013). Similarly, responses containing argumentative denials or extraneous information do not properly dispute a fact. See Graziano v. Village of Oak Park, 401 F.Supp.2d 918, 937 (N.D. Ill. 2005).

Medical records and affidavits may properly be offered to demonstrate adequate care. Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 113 (1976). As with all statements of fact, the validity of a proffered medical record may not be disputed without contrary evidence. See, e.g., Richmond v. Dart, No. 11 C 65, 2012 WL 6138751, at *1 (N.D. Ill.Dec. 11, 2012); Johnson v. Hart, No. 10 C 0240, 2011 WL 5509546, at *2 (N.D. Ill. Nov. 8, 2011); Moss v. Mormon, No. 99 C 3571, 2001 WL 1491183, at *4 (N.D. Ill. Nov. 26, 2001). Mere "self-serving statements in affidavits without factual support in the record carry no weight on summary judgment." Butts v. Aurora Health Care, Inc., 387 F.3d 921, 925 (7th Cir. 2004) (citation and emphasis omitted).

Snow was incarcerated in the Lake County Jail in August 2009 as he awaited trial in two cases and remained incarcerated through his October 2010 transfer to the Illinois Department of Corrections ("IDOC") upon his conviction in both cases. (Defs.' SOF ¶ 2.)[1] Dr. Kim is a licensed physician who, at all times relevant to this action, was the contracted Medical Director of the Lake County Jail. (Defs.' SOF ¶¶ 3-4.) Nurse Keegan is a licensed nurse who, at all times relevant to this action, was the health service administrator ("HSA") of the Lake County Jail. (Defs.' SOF ¶¶ 5, 6.) Upon being taken into custody, Snow disclosed a history of asthma, which resulted in his placement in the chronic care clinic. (Defs.' SOF ¶ 18.)

Asthma is a chronic lung disease that inflames and narrows the airways, which can cause wheezing, shortness of breath, chest tightness, and coughing. (Defs.' SOF ¶ 11.) Respiratory function in asthmatics is assessed both by listening to the patient's lungs and measuring the patient's oxygen saturation level. (Defs.' SOF ¶ 15.) Oxygen saturation levels are normal between 95 and 100 percent and low under 90 percent. ( Id. )

Inhalers are devices that deliver medicine to the lungs to treat asthma and its symptoms. (Defs.' SOF ¶ 12.) Albuterol is a fast-acting inhaler to treat sudden symptoms, but should not be used regularly, as persistent use presents a risk of over-dilating the lungs resulting in continual asthma symptoms. (Defs.' SOF ¶ 13.) Conversely, QVAR is a maintenance inhaler, intended for regular use to control and prevent asthma symptoms. (Defs.' SOF ¶ 14.) The Lake County Jail prohibits inmates from keeping Albuterol inhalers and, instead, requires correctional staff determine whether an inmate's complaints of asthma symptoms require a medical emergency call, to which medical staff will respond and administer Albuterol if needed. (Defs.' SOF ¶¶ 16, 17.)

Upon Snow's initial placement in the chronic care clinic, Dr. Kim prescribed Snow HNAlbuterol on a "PRN, " or as needed, basis. (Defs.' SOF ¶ 19.) Snow began to request his inhaler more frequently, suggesting his asthma was not well controlled, and Dr. Kim prescribed twice daily use of a QVAR inhaler in response. (Defs.' SOF ¶ 20.)

On November 13, 2009, Dr. Kim examined Snow's lungs and heard no wheezing or rales, measured his oxygen saturation at 99 percent, and noted Snow denied experiencing any shortness of breath, chest pain, or coughing. (Defs.' SOF ¶ 21.) Dr. Kim also instructed Snow to use his QVAR inhaler twice daily, as directed, even if Snow was not experiencing symptoms of asthma attack, and reminded Snow of the proper use of his Albuterol. (Defs.' SOF ¶¶ 22, 23.) On November 28, 2009, Dr. Kim renewed Snow's Albuterol prescription. (Defs.' SOF ¶ 24.)

Dr. Kim visited Snow again on January 6, 2010, in response to Snow's request for a lower bunk permit because he felt chest pain and shortness of breath jumping from the top bunk. (Defs.' SOF ¶ 25.) Snow's evaluation was normal, his oxygen saturation 100 percent, and a lower bunk permit was not medically indicated, but Dr. Kim ordered an electrocardiogram to assess Snow's heart function. ( Id. ) On January 27, 2010, Dr. Kim met with Snow to advise him his electrocardiogram was normal and that he should return to the clinic as needed. (Defs.' SOF ¶¶ 25, 26.) The following day, Snow requested that his QVAR inhaler be discontinued. (Defs.' SOF ¶ 27.)

On February 11, 2010, Dr. Kim responded to Snow's complaints of chest pain from an asthma attack. (Defs.' SOF ¶ 28.) Snow requested a chest x-ray, but Dr. Kim declined to order one as a result of an exam showing Snow's oxygen saturation at 98 percent, no wheezing or rales, and a normal heart rhythm and rate. ( Id. ) Dr. Kim noted after the exam that Snow's sarcastic behavior coupled with his objectively clean exam indicated malingering. (Defs.' SOF ¶ 29.) However, Snow's insistence that he had a problem motivated Dr. Kim to order a chest x-ray and to direct a deputy to have Snow exercise to determine whether Snow's asthma was induced by physical activity. (Defs.' SOF ¶ 30.) After exercise, Snow experienced no trouble breathing and maintained an oxygen saturation of 99 percent. ( Id. ) The results of Snow's chest x-ray came back normal on March 18, 2010. (Defs.' SOF ¶ 31.)

On April 19, 2010, Nurse Keegan was called to assess Snow's complaints of trouble breathing. (Defs.' SOF ¶ 41.) Nurse Keegan attempted to listen to Snow's lungs and asked Snow to take deep breaths, but Snow refused. ( Id. ) Nurse Keegan heard no irregularities in Snow's lungs as he took shallow breaths and measured his oxygen saturation level at 98 percent. ( Id. ) Based on Snow's lack of apparent distress or objective symptoms, Nurse Keegan did not administer Snow his Albuterol inhaler. ( Id. ) Snow responded by asking the attendant correctional officer to call a medical ...

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