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Scott v. Gale

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

November 12, 2014

TONY SCOTT, Plaintiff,
v.
ANGEL RECTOR, TRACI PEEK, DEBORAH BULLOCK, VIPIN SHAH, and BRENDA GALE, Defendants.

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

NANCY J. ROSENSTENGEL, District Judge.

Plaintiff Tony Scott filed this pro se lawsuit on January 1, 2013, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. ยง 1983. Plaintiff claimed that the defendants were deliberately indifferent to his severe, chronic back pain in violation of his Eighth Amendment rights. Specifically, Plaintiff alleges that Defendants Traci Peek, Deborah Bullock, and Brenda Gale, who are nurses, failed to give him a referral to see a doctor for his back pain, and that Angel Rector, who is a nurse practitioner, and Dr. Vipin Shah, a physician, failed to listen to his complaints or treat his pain.

This matter is currently before the Court on a motion for summary judgment filed by Defendants Rector, Peek, Bullock, Gale, and Shah on December 31, 2013 (Doc. 89). Plaintiff filed a response to the motion for summary judgment on February 4, 2014 (Doc. 96). The Court has carefully considered the briefs and all of the evidence submitted by the parties, and for the reasons set forth below, the motion is granted.

FACTUAL BACKGROUND

Plaintiff Tony Scott is an inmate incarcerated in the Illinois Department of Corrections. He is currently incarcerated at Graham Correctional Center, however, the events giving rise to this lawsuit occurred during the eleven months (June 2012 to May 2013) that he was incarcerated at Pinckneyville Correctional Center ("Pinckneyville CC").

According to Plaintiff, in November 2009, prior to his incarceration, he had surgery on his upper back/neck in which three discs were removed (Doc. 90-1, p. 11). After that surgery, he was told by the surgeon that two more discs in his lower back would also have to be removed in the future ( Id. at 12). He took Vicodin and Baclofan for his continuing back pain ( Id. at 13-17). After he was incarcerated, but before he arrived at Pinckneyville CC, Plaintiff took Tramadol for his back pain ( Id. ).

When Plaintiff arrived at Pinckneyville CC on June 26, 2012, an intake exam was conducted (Doc. 90-2, p. 1). It was noted that Plaintiff had three chronic conditions: hypertension, hyperlipidemia, and a mood disorder. His past medical and surgical history were significant for a stroke, three heart attacks and multiple stents, and spinal surgery. It was further noted that Plaintiff was taking five medications at that time-Plavix, Enalapril, Zocor, nitroglycerine, and aspirin-which were all for treating his hypertension and hyperlipidemia. There was no indication that Plaintiff was suffering from back pain or taking any pain medication.

Plaintiff was referred to the Chronic Illness Clinic for his hypertension and hyperlipidemia ( see Docs. 90-7, 90-8). He was to receive a baseline evaluation, followed by periodic check-ups every four months. His appointments at the cardiac clinic were meant to address only one particular medical condition-his cardiovascular health-and no other medical conditions were to be addressed at those appointments unless it was an emergency. For other non-emergency conditions, inmates were instructed to request a Nurse Sick Call. Nurse Sick Calls are how the prison provided medical services to inmates for routine, non-emergency complaints ( see Docs. 90-3 through 90-8). The nurse could then refer an inmate to a physician if she determined that it was necessary based on her nursing assessment. Otherwise, an inmate will be referred to a physician only if the inmate was seen by a nurse three times in thirty days for the same complaint. Each time an inmate saw a nurse, he was assessed a $5.00 copayment.

Approximately two weeks after his arrival at Pinckneyville CC, on July 10, 2012, Defendant Deborah Bullock saw Plaintiff during a Nurse Sick Call ( Id. at p. 2; Doc. 90-4, p. 1). Bullock is a Licensed Practical Nurse. According to Nurse Bullock:

He told me that he had had back surgery 10 months before and had pain on and off. He described the pain as not severe enough to wake him at night. I noted that he had no limitations or pain with movement. I provided him with patient teaching on proper body mechanics and advised a 48 hour trial of over the counter medications before returning to Nurse Sick Call. He was charged $5.00 according to the protocol.

This was the only time Nurse Bullock treated Plaintiff.

Two days later, on July 12, 2012, Defendant Angel Rector saw Plaintiff in the Chronic Illness Clinic for a baseline evaluation of his heart condition (Doc. 90-2, p. 3; Doc. 90-7). Ms. Rector is a licensed Advanced Practice Nurse and a Certified Nurse Practitioner. Nurse Rector reviewed Plaintiff's extensive cardiovascular history and wrote him a number of related prescriptions. Plaintiff "brought up multiple unrelated issues, " however they were not addressed because they were not "urgent."

According to Plaintiff, he spoke with Nurse Rector about his back pain and showed her the papers from previous institutions indicating that he was prescribed Tramadol for his back (Doc. 90-1, pp. 17-20). Plaintiff testified at his deposition that Nurse Rector "looked at my back. She seen that I had surgery and everything. So, she pretty much had full knowledge of my problem" ( Id. at p. 21). Plaintiff further testified that Nurse Rector told him that she would "put me in to see the doctor, but she never did. And she told me that I would be getting treatment" ( Id. at pp. 17-18). Plaintiff also stated that Nurse Rector "put me in for some Tylenol, but I never got them...." ( Id. at 20-21).[1]

On July 22, 2012, Defendant Traci Peek, who is a Registered Nurse, saw Plaintiff to review his lab results with him (Doc. 90-6). No other medical issues were discussed ( Id. ). Nurse Peek saw Plaintiff again on July 31, 2012, during a Nurse Sick Call ( Id.; Doc. 90-2, p. 4). In her notes from the visit, Nurse Peek wrote that Plaintiff complained "I'm having chest pain and I just took my last nitro, I need more" (Doc. 90-2, p. 4). Plaintiff then asked "Where's your wheelchair to take me to the doctor of which I've not seen yet?" ( Id. ). According to Nurse Peek, Plaintiff was:

demanding, rude, and initially would not allow me to examine him or take his vital signs. He held his crutch up in a threatening manner and demanded to go to the Heath Care Unit. I attempted to educate Mr. Scott on the proper process to get his medication prescription refilled, however he continued to interrupt me. When I instructed Mr. Scott on the Nurse Sick Call and co-pay protocol ...

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