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Karmatzis v. Fuqua

United States District Court, C.D. Illinois, Springfield Division

September 10, 2014

THOMAS KARMATZIS, Plaintiff,
v.
DEFENDANT FUQUA, et al., Defendants.

OPINION

SUE E. MYERSCOUGH, District Judge.

Plaintiff, proceeding pro se, pursues claims for deliberate indifference to his serious medical needs and retaliation for filing grievances. He is currently incarcerated in Pontiac Correctional Center, but his claims in this case involve his stay in Western Illinois Correctional Center.

Defendants move for summary judgment. In sum, the evidence shows that Dr. Baker, Plaintiff's treating physician at Western, was responsive to Plaintiff's medical complaints, exercising his professional judgment. Further, no evidence supports a claim for retaliation against any Defendants. The only issue that gives the Court pause is Dr. Baker's handling of lung nodules reported on a CT scan of Plaintiff's lungs. Summary judgment will be granted to Defendants on all claims except for the lung nodule claim against Dr. Baker.

SUMMARY JUDGMENT STANDARD

"The court shall grant summary judgment if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). A movant may demonstrate the absence of a material dispute through specific cites to admissible evidence, or by showing that the nonmovant "cannot produce admissible evidence to support the [material] fact." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(B). If the movant clears this hurdle, the nonmovant may not simply rest on his or her allegations in the complaint, but instead must point to admissible evidence in the record to show that a genuine dispute exists. Id .; Harvey v. Town of Merrillville , 649 F.3d 526, 529 (7th Cir. 2011). "In a ยง 1983 case, the plaintiff bears the burden of proof on the constitutional deprivation that underlies the claim, and thus must come forward with sufficient evidence to create genuine issues of material fact to avoid summary judgment." McAllister v. Price , 615 F.3d 877, 881 (7th Cir. 2010).

At the summary judgment stage, evidence is viewed in the light most favorable to the nonmovant, with material factual disputes resolved in the nonmovant's favor. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc. , 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). A genuine dispute of material fact exists when a reasonable juror could find for the nonmovant. Id.

FACTS

These facts are set forth in the light most favorable to Plaintiff, for purposes of this order only. Cites to Defendants' undisputed facts refer to the motion for summary judgment filed by Defendants Dr. Baker, et al.

Plaintiff filed his Complaint in October of 2011 from Western Correctional Center, seeking damages, medical care, and a soy-free diet. He was transferred to Menard Correctional Center in September or October of 2012, mooting his claims for injunctive relief. (10/1/12 Change of Address, docket.) Remaining are Plaintiff's claims arising from his incarceration in Western Illinois Correctional Center from June 29, 2011, to September or October of 2012. Plaintiff was also incarcerated in Western Illinois Correctional Center for a month beginning in February of 2011, but none of the incidents giving rise to Plaintiff's claims arose during that time. Defendant Dr. Baker, Plaintiff's treating doctor at Western, did not become Western's Medical Director until April of 2011.

Plaintiff is a veteran. His medical history before his incarceration in January of 2011 is lengthy, complicated, and sad. In March of 2009, Plaintiff had lumbar spine fusion surgery. Complications arose, requiring the removal of some of Plaintiff's colon and small bowel, a temporary ileostomy, and other abdominal surgery. (Defs.' Undisputed Fact 5.) Plaintiff developed mesenteric ischemia, [1] which led to additional abdominal surgeries. (Defs.' Undisputed Fact 6.) In October of 2009. Plaintiff developed enterocutaneous fistulas, which is "an abnormal connection between the gastrointestinal (GI) tract and the skin." "Postoperative Enterocutaneous Fistula: When to Reoperate and How to Succeed, " J. Clin. Colon Rectal Surg. Nov. 2006, 19(4): 237-246 ("The development of an enterocutaneous fistula (ECF) is a potentially catastrophic postoperative complication."). All these major problems, in addition to others, caused Plaintiff to suffer chronic pain which unfortunately led to a serious and debilitating addiction to pain medicine and concomitant attempts to manipulate health care providers into prescribing more pain medicine. (Defs.' Undisputed Facts 5-22.) Plaintiff objects to the characterization that he was drug-seeking, but he admits that he needed more and more pain medicine over time because his body had become acclimated.

When Plaintiff was transferred to Western Correctional Center on June 29, 2011, he was 49 years old, six feet three inches, about 230 pounds, with normal vital signs, and taking Metamucil, HCTZ, Lopressor, ECASA, Colace, and Ultram. He also used a cane, a low bunk/low gallery permit, non-standard issue tennis shoes which he had bought at the commissary ("Skechers"), and an abdominal binder for his abdominal hernias.[2] (IDOC Recs. 47.)

Upon intake at Western on June 29, 2011, Plaintiff was scheduled for an appointment with the doctor on July 11, hypertension labs on July 5, and an EKG on July 2, 2011. Per Dr. Baker's standard practice, Plaintiff's low bunk and low gallery permits were discontinued until Dr. Baker personally evaluated Plaintiff. Plaintiff contends that Nurse Still and/or Nurse Hazelrigg were the ones who discontinued those permits, but the record shows that Nurse Still did so pursuant to Dr. Baker's order. (Still Aff. paras. 3-4.) Dr. Baker's practice is to discontinue the permits for transferees with "no recent surgery, no blindness, no history of seizures, no amputations, no morbid obesity, and under the age of 65, ... in light of the limited placements available at Western Illinois Correctional Center...." (Dr. Baker Aff. para 12.). According to Plaintiff, during Plaintiff's stay in Western a few months earlier, the low bunk and low gallery permits had been approved without delay. (6/29/11 Grievance.)

Plaintiff filed a grievance the same day-June 29, 2011- seeking permits for a low bunk and low gallery, his Skecher shoes, and help with his gastrointestinal problems. (6/29/11 grievance.)

Dr. Baker saw Plaintiff for an initial visit on July 11, 2011. Plaintiff reported blood in his stool, kidney stones, high blood pressure, back pain, lung nodules, and trouble urinating. Dr. Baker noted that a hemoccult test done in April was positive and a stool sample taken on July 11, 2011 was negative. Dr. Baker reviewed Plaintiff's medical chart, vital signs, and family history. Dr. Baker examined Plaintiff, finding Plaintiff with normal bowel sounds, no exterior anal skin tags, and a possible enlarged prostate "with no tenderness, no nodules, and no masses." (Dr. Baker Aff. paras. 13-14.) Dr. Baker prescribed the same prescriptions which Plaintiff had when he transferred to Western, in addition to Tylenol. Dr. Baker also prescribed a cane, low bunk and low gallery permits, an abdominal binder, and a permit for Plaintiff to keep his pair of Sketchers. Dr. Baker ordered Plaintiff's records from the Veterans Administration hospital, blood tests and follow-up labs regarding the rectal bleeding and a weekly weight check. Id.

On July 15, 2011, Officer Gille, who is not a Defendant in this case, wrote a disciplinary report against Plaintiff for failing to produce a urine sample for a random drug screen. Major Kuntz (also not a Defendant in this case) placed Plaintiff in temporary confinement, pending a disciplinary hearing. Four days later, the hearing was held and the ticket was expunged because the health care staff confirmed Plaintiff's difficulty urinating due to his medical conditions. (7/15/11 disciplinary report; 7/19/11 Adjustment Committee Final Summary Report.)

On July 18, 2011, Plaintiff went to the morning medicine line ("med line") without his cane. Nurse Still told Plaintiff that Plaintiff was required to have the cane with him at all times. Defendants assert that Plaintiff again appeared at the morning med-line two days later without his cane, but Plaintiff denies this. However, Plaintiff does not dispute that security staff reported to Nurse Still that "Plaintiff had left his cane unattended in the dayroom and that upon a correctional officer seeing the Plaintiff, the Plaintiff sprinted from the front door to his cell to retrieve the cane." (Defs.' Undisp. Fact 54.) Nurse Still reported this information to Dr. Baker.

Dr. Baker saw Plaintiff on August 4, 2011, in part to determine Plaintiff's need for special, prescribed orthotic shoes other than the Skechers and Plaintiff's need for the cane, in light of the observations by others that Plaintiff had left his cane unattended. Dr. Baker examined Plaintiff's feet, finding no gross deformities or calluses and no appreciable difference in size. Dr. Baker concluded that the Skechers were sufficient and that no special shoes were necessary. Dr. Baker also revoked Plaintiff's cane permit, based on the reports that Plaintiff had been seen three times without the cane. (Defs.' Undisputed Fact 61.) An unattended cane is a security risk: Plaintiff admits that "around this time an incident occurred at the Western Illinois Correctional Center in which an inmate was beaten with a cane." (Defs.' Undisputed Fact 62.)

Dr. Baker saw Plaintiff the following week, on August 11, 2011, for Plaintiff's reports of constipation or blood in his stool. Plaintiff reported straining during bowel movements and occasional blood from anal fissures. Dr. Baker examined Plaintiff, diagnosing benign prostatic hyperplasia (prostate enlargement), constipation, and hemorrhoids. Hytrin was prescribed for the benign prostatic hyperplasia, and Plaintiff's Metamucil and Colace were continued. Plaintiff was provided with hemorrhoid cream and advised to increase his fluids. (Defs.' Undisputed Fact 64.)

Dr. Baker saw Plaintiff about two and 1/2 weeks later, on August 30, 2011, regarding Plaintiff's complaints of acne, jock itch, allergies, dandruff, and indigestion. Upon examination, Dr. Baker did not observe jock itch or dandruff. Dr. Baker prescribed Mintox for the indigestion, Benzoyl Peroxide for Plaintiff's mild acne, and Chlor-Trimeton for Plaintiff's allergies. (Defs.' Undisp. Fact 69.)

Dr. Baker saw Plaintiff again on September 16, 2011, about two weeks later. Plaintiff complained of muscle spasms and reported that the Ultram and Tylenol were not helping for his back and hip pain. Plaintiff said that Baclofen, a muscle relaxer, had helped in the past, so Dr. Baker prescribed Baclofen. By this time Plaintiff's medical records from the Veterans ...


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