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Petties v. Carter

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

June 30, 2014



GEORGE M. MAROVICH, District Judge.

Dissatisfied with the treatment he received in prison after he injured his Achilles tendon on his left leg, plaintiff Tyrone Petties ("Petties") filed suit against defendants Dr. Imhotep Carter ("Dr. Carter")[1] and Dr. Saleh Obaisi ("Dr. Obaisi"). Defendants move for summary judgment. For reasons set forth below, the Court grants defendants' motion for summary judgment.

I. Background

Unless otherwise noted, the following facts are undisputed.[2]

Plaintiff Petties is a 48-year-old inmate of the Illinois Department of Corrections and is (and was at all relevant times) incarcerated at Stateville Prison ("Stateville") in Lockport, Illinois. The Illinois Department of Corrections contracts with Wexford Health Services, Inc. ("Wexford") for certain health care services at Stateville.

Wexford employed defendant Dr. Carter as medical director at Stateville Prison from July 25, 2011 through May 10, 2012. The other defendant, Dr. Obaisi, has been medical director at Stateville Prison since August 2, 2012. The medical director is responsible for all health care provided by Wexford at Stateville and for "ensuring timely and efficient response" to inmates' health care needs.

On January 19, 2012, Petties required medical treatment when he injured his Achilles tendon on his left ankle. This was not his first Achilles tendon injury. Petties had previously (it is unclear when) injured the Achilles tendon on his right ankle, which was still healing when he injured his left. That day in January, Petties felt a pop while he was walking up a flight of stairs and fell to the floor in pain. Petties was taken to Stateville's health care unit, where he complained of left lower leg pain and weakness in his ankle. Dr. Dubrick prescribed Vicodin (a painkiller), ice, crutches and "lay-in meals, " which is to say Petties's meals were brought to him so he did not need to walk to eat his meals. The same day, Dr. Carter signed a referral for an ankle MRI for Petties. The referral says the reason for the MRI is "Achille's tendon rupture playing sports." Dr. Baker approved the MRI on January 25, 2012.

Although he had crutches, ice and painkillers, Petties was not initially prescribed a splint, brace or bandage to immobilize his ankle. Petties felt terrible pain when his ankle moved. An outside physician, Dr. Puppala, who treated Petties, testified that an Achilles tendon rupture did not always need to be immobilized. He stated, "I think it provides a lot of comfort being immobilized, but it doesn't have to be done. The Achilles would probably heal without it." Petties' other outside treating physician, Dr. Chmell, testified that he would always immobilize an Achilles tendon rupture unless the patient had an open wound.

In the weeks that followed Petties's injury, security issues sometimes kept Petties from doctor appointments. On January 25 and 26, 2012, Petties was unable to see prison medical personnel due to a prison lockdown. Petties saw a prison doctor on January 27, at which time Petties told medical personnel that he had weakness in his left foot, but it could bear weight. Another security problem delayed an X-ray, which Petties was scheduled to have on February 8, 2012. The medical director had the authority to have a prisoner referred out for medical treatment only in emergency and urgent situations.

Petties saw Dr. Carter on February 14, 2012. Dr. Carter noted that Petties had a shortened and swollen left Achilles tendon. Dr. Carter put in an order for Petties to have a low bunk, crutches and a medical lay-in. That order did not expire until April 14, 2012. Dr. Carter also ordered Petties to walk slowly and avoid stairs. Also on February 14, Dr. Carter prescribed Petties Vicodin (for pain), as well as Motrin and Toradol (both NSAIDs to reduce inflammation).

On March 6, 2014, Petties finally received the ordered MRI at Provena St. Joseph Medical Center. The MRI showed that Petties had suffered a complete Achilles tendon rupture measuring between 2.0 and 4.7 centimeters. Next, on March 14, 2012, Petties was examined by Dr. Puppala at Hinsdale Orthopaedics. In his report, Dr. Puppala noted:

Mr. Petties has not been placed into any sort of cast on his left side. He has been walking on this. I think this is contributing to his pain and also likely contributing to some gapping at his rupture site. I think immobilization in a boot will be of great benefit to him. It should allow him to walk with less pain. He may of course use crutches for minimization of weight bearing. I will refer him to a foot and ankle specialist for definitive treatment. I think he could benefit from repair of his Achilles tendon; however, at this juncture being 2 months out from injury, he might even need graft augmentation of this rupture to have the best possible outcome.

(Plaintiff's Exh. E at 9).

By the next day, Petties's ankle was in a boot. On March 15, 2012, Dr. Carter examined Petties. Dr. Carter ordered Petties a daily bag of ice and to remain in the boot. The orders were to stay in place until June 15, 2012. Dr. Carter told Petties he would not order surgery to fix the tendon, because that would be too expensive. Dr. Carter told Petties that his job was to save money for Wexford. Nonetheless, Dr. Carter referred Petties to the orthopedic clinic at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Petties continued to see medical staff at Stateville regularly.[3] Petties was given a prescription for Norco (for pain) on March 23 and April 6. On April 5, Petties was given a prescription for Vicodin and ibuprofen. In April, a doctor ordered Petties support shoes. Petties's prescription for Vicodin was renewed on April 19, May 30 and June 18. On May 11, 2012, Petties's prescription for the orthopedic boot, the low bunk and the crutches was ...

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