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Plummer v. Fahim

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

September 18, 2014



MICHAEL J. REAGAN, District Judge.

Before the Court in this ยง 1983 civil rights case is Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. 97). Defendants Fahim and Fuentes, medical professionals at Illinois' Menard Correctional Center, challenge the sufficiency of Plaintiff's evidence as to the claims of deliberate indifference to Plaintiff's medical needs. Fahim and Fuentes further argue there is no evidence they retaliated against Plaintiff for filing grievances. Finally, Defendant Wexford Health Sources, Inc. (a private contractor that provides healthcare at Menard), argues that it is entitled to summary judgment because there is no evidence it had a policy which kept Plaintiff from being referred to an outside specialist.

Plaintiff has filed a Response (Doc. 116) to Defendants' motion. Defendants have filed a Reply (Doc. 117). For the following reasons, the Court GRANTS Defendants' motion for summary judgment (Docs. 97) and DIRECTS the Clerk to close this case.


On August 10, 2011, Plaintiff filed suit pursuant to 42 U.S.C. ยง 1983, alleging that Defendants Fuentes and Fahim were deliberately indifferent to various medical needs in failing to treat Plaintiff and by refusing to refer him to a specialist, thus violating the Eighth Amendment (Doc. 10). Plaintiff also alleged Fahim and Fuentes refuasal to treat his medical conditions was due to grievances Plaintiff filed against them. Plaintiff further brought a claim for deliberate indifference against Defendant Wexford, alleging it had a cost-saving treatment policy which encouraged medical staff not to refer Plaintiff to a specialist ( Id. ). Because this case comes before the Court at summary judgment, all facts are construed (and all reasonable inferences are drawn) in the light most favorable to Plaintiff. Alexander v. Casino Queen, 739 F.3d 972 (7th Cir. 2014).

Plaintiff's Complaint alleges he suffered from asthma, irritated throat, abdominal pain, back pain, and constipation. Plaintiff has suffered from asthma his whole life, from the time he was one and a half years old (Doc. 98-4 p. 15). His abdominal pain began in October or November 2007, with what felt like a knot on his lower right abdomen; it has progressively gotten worse ( Id. at p. 18). He has not, however, been diagnosed with any condition in his abdomen ( Id. at p. 19). Sometime in summer 2010, he began experiencing sharp pains in his back ( Id. at p. 21). Sometime in 2010 he also began to develop a throat irritation ( Id. at p. 23). He was never diagnosed with any conditions related to his back or throat ( Id. at pp. 22-23).

While at Menard Correctional Center, Plaintiff's asthma was monitored by the asthma clinic; he received inhalers and numerous medications to deal with his asthma (Doc. 98-2; Doc. 98-5). Numerous prescriptions for asthma medication are reflected in prescription records covering 2010 and 2012 (Doc. 98-5).

Medical records indicate that on May 31, 2010, Plaintiff was seen by Dr. Fahim for his asthma (Doc. 98-7 p. 2). Fahim noted that Plaintiff used an Atrovent inhaler several times daily and noted that Plaintiff had mild wheezing in his left lung ( Id. ). Plaintiff was prescribed two different inhalers (Ventolin and Qvar) and was educated on how to properly use them ( Id. ).

Plaintiff was next seen for his asthma about a week later, by Dr. Fuentes on June 7, 2010 (Doc. 98-7 p. 3). Fuentes noted that Plaintiff had "fair control" over his asthma. "Fair control" is defined as having to use no more than one chest-relaxing inhaler per month, no more than once per week awakening with asthma symptoms, and no more than one emergency visit to the healthcare unit within a month ( Id. ). Fuentes noted that Plaintiff took Albuterol eight times a day and that his last X-ray (in 2007) showed no abnormalities ( Id. ).

Plaintiff saw a nurse for his asthma on September 7, 2010, at 8:15 a.m. ( Id. at p. 13). The nurse noted wheezing and provided him with an Albuterol treatment ( Id. ). The nurse referred him to a physician's assistant ("PA") and Plaintiff was immediately taken to the healthcare unit, where he was seen by a nurse practitioner at 8:30 a.m. the same morning ( Id. at p. 14). Plaintiff was prescribed Prednisone (a steroid) and scheduled for a priority recheck by the healthcare unit in one week ( Id.; Doc. 98-5 at p. 15). An X-ray was done on Plaintiff's chest the same day ( Id. at p. 15; Doc. 98-6 p. 6). The X-ray showed no signs of active pulmonary disease (Doc. 98-6 p. 6).

One week later, on September 14, 2010, Plaintiff was seen by a medical doctor for his asthma (Doc. 98-7 p. 16). The doctor noted Plaintiff's breathing was much better than it had been on September 7, 2010, but that he still had some wheezing ( Id. ). Plaintiff was prescribed Advair for his asthma attacks ( Id.; Doc. 98-5 p. 15). Plaintiff contends he never received the Advair due to cost constraints (Doc. 116-1).

Plaintiff was seen again on October 10, 2010 by a nurse (Doc. 98-7 p. 21). Plaintiff was experiencing wheezing and shortness of breath ( Id. ). Plaintiff was scheduled to see a doctor the next day, October 11, 2010 ( Id. ). Dr. Fahim saw Plaintiff and noted significant improvement from his asthma flare-up the day before, but that he still had some wheezing ( Id. at p. 23). Plaintiff was prescribed Prednisone, Mucinex, and given a nebulizer treatment ( Id. ). He was also scheduled for a followup with the asthma clinic ( Id. ).

Plaintiff was eventually sent to a specialist in September 2012 for his continued shortness of breath issues (Doc. 98-7 p. 24). The specialist recommended a high-dose inhaled steroid breathing-aid combination drug like Advair. Albuterol (which does not last as long as Advair) was also recommended to improve Plaintiff's breathing ( Id. ). The specialist also recommended that Plaintiff not be exposed to high amounts of dust, and that Xolair (another drug) may have to be tried if none of the other recommended treatments worked ( Id. ).

Plaintiff was also seen numerous times for his abdominal and back pain. A nurse saw him on July 20, 2010, for abdominal pain to his left side (Doc. 98-7, p. 4). Plaintiff explained that he had the pain for two years ( Id. ). The nurse provided Plaintiff with Maalox and instructed him to maintain a liquid diet for 24 hours ( Id. ). The nurse charted his bowel ...

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