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MacK v. Nwaobasi

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

January 20, 2015

HENRY L. MACK, Plaintiff,


MICHAEL J. REAGAN, Chief District Judge.

Pro se Plaintiff Henry Mack is currently in custody at the DeKalb County (Illinois) Jail. On September 11, 2012, he filed this § 1983 civil rights claim, broadly alleging deliberate indifference to various medical conditions in violation of the Eighth Amendment's proscription against cruel and unusual punishments. Several Defendants were dismissed on § 1915A threshold review, several more because Plaintiff did not exhaust administrative remedies against them, and Plaintiff's claims against Defendants Nwaobasi, Fahim, and Shepherd survived. The case is before the Court on those Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. 94). Plaintiff has responded (Doc. 101), Defendants have replied (Doc. 106), and the motion is ripe for ruling. For the reasons explained below, the Court GRANTS (Doc. 94) Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment.


Plaintiff filed suit in September 11, 2012, alleging (for purposes relevant here) Defendants acted with deliberate indifference in treating rectal bleeding and pain in Plaintiff's hips and shoulder. Specifically, Plaintiff complained of a delay in treating pain in his hips and providing him with a low bunk permit, a delay in treating his complaints of blood in his stool, and a failure to treat pain in his shoulder caused by a fall on July 15, 2011.

Plaintiff had transferred to Menard Correctional Center on March 18, 2009 (Doc. 95-1, 9). Prior to arriving at Menard, Plaintiff had suffered from arthritis in his hips due to a gunshot wound sustained in the late 1980s (Doc. 1 at ¶¶ 17-18). Plaintiff was seen by Defendant Nwaobasi on March 3, 2011, for his hip pain (Doc. 95-1 at 11-12; 95-2 at ¶ 2). At that time, Plaintiff explained his history of pain in his hips, including the previous gunshot wound and bone graft he had received as a part of his treatment ( Id. ). Nwaobasi ordered x-rays for Plaintiff's hips ( Id. at p. 12; 95-2 at ¶ 2). Nwaobasi further prescribed Plaintiff Motrin (i.e., ibuprofen) and a muscle relaxer called Robaxin (Doc. 95-2 at ¶ 2; 95-1 at 13; 95-5 at 1).

Plaintiff saw Defendant Fahim on March 31, 2011 (Doc. 95-1 at 13-14; Doc. 95-5 at 2-3). Fahim read the results of Plaintiff's X-rays, noting narrowing of the joint spaces in Plaintiff's hips (Doc. 95-5 at 2-3; 95-3 at ¶ 2). The X-ray also noted moderate osteoarthritis in both hips (Doc. 95-5 at 2). Fahim provided Plaintiff with a low bunk permit and prescribed Mobic (a non-sterodial anti-inflammatory pain medication) as Plaintiff indicated that Motrin upset his stomach (Doc. 95-5 at 3; 95-3 at ¶ 2; 95-1 at 14-15). Dr. Fahim also performed an abdominal exam; his findings were normal (Doc. 95-3 at ¶¶ 2-3). Plaintiff testified that he also informed Fahim about blood in his stool, and that Fahim told him that it was probably caused by hemorrhoids. Fahim directed Plaintiff to drink more fluids (Doc. 95-1 at 15-16).

Plaintiff, complaining of blood in his stool, saw Nwaobasi again on April 22, 2011 (Doc. 95-2 at ¶ 3; 95-5 at 4). Plaintiff informed Nwaobasi he had no family history of colon cancer (Doc. 95-1 at 19). Nwaobasi ordered stool sample tests and directed Plaintiff to follow up with him in three months (Doc. 95-1 at 19; 95-2 at ¶ 3). The stool samples tested negative for blood (Doc. 95-2 at ¶ 3; 95-5 at 5). Plaintiff followed up with Nwaobasi on July 28, 2011. At that time, Nwaobasi performed a rectal exam and found no palpable mass (Doc. 95-2 at ¶ 4; 95-5 at 6). Nwaobasi changed his pain prescription back to Ibuprofen to see if that solved his stomach problems, and ordered another stool sample ( Id. ). Plaintiff never submitted that stool sample. Nwaobasi ordered another sample on August 18, 2011 (Doc. 95-2 at ¶ 5; 95-5 at 7). The August 2011 sample returned positive for blood in the stool (Doc. 95-5 at 8).

Meanwhile, Plaintiff was seen by a nurse practitioner named Kohring for his shoulder injury. She ordered an X-ray (Doc. 95-5 at p.7). However, Plaintiff was sent to Stateville on a writ from August 26, 2011 to September 21, 2011, and could not, therefore, receive the X-ray (Doc. 95-1 at 27; 95-2 at ¶ 7). When Plaintiff returned to Menard Correctional Center, Nwaobasi noted in his chart that the X-ray had not been performed and ordered another. He also ordered a colonoscopy and upper endoscopy for the blood in Plaintiff's stool (Doc. 95-2 at ¶ 8; 95-5 at 10). X-rays were performed on Plaintiff's shoulder on October 3, 2011 (Doc. 95-5 at 10). The X-ray noted a slight down-sloping acromion, which a Dr. Yousuf noted was possibly from a rotator cuff impingement (Doc. 95-5 at 11). Defendant Shepherd met with Plaintiff on October 18, 2011, and showed Plaintiff exercises to alleviate the impingement (Doc. 95-4 at ¶ 3; 95-5 at 15).

On October 4, 2011, Plaintiff saw Defendant Shepherd (Doc. 95-4 at ¶ 2; 95-5 at 12). Shepherd diagnosed Plaintiff with possible gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) and prescribed Prilosec (Doc. 95-5 at 12). Shepherd also ordered a blood test to test for the H. Pylori bacteria (which causes ulcers); that test came back negative ( Id. at 12, 14). Shepherd ordered an upper endoscopy and colonoscopy for Plaintiff, who submitted to both tests on October 20, 2011 ( Id. at 12, 16). Biopsies were taken ( Id. at p. 16). The colonoscopy showed Plaintiff had diverticulosis coli which can cause rectal bleeding ( Id. at 16-17; 95-3 at ¶ 4). The gastroenterologist performing the colonoscopy recommended a high fiber diet ( Id at p. 17). Plaintiff's other biopsies came back normal ( Id. at 19; 95-4 at ¶ 4).

Plaintiff next saw Defendant Nwaobasi on November 10, 2011. Nwaobasi read Plaintiff's colonoscopy results (finding that he had diverticulosis coli) but he could not read the gastroenterologist's recommendations (Doc. 95-5 at 21; 95-2 at ¶ 10; 95-1 at 31). Nwaobasi made a note to clarify the recommendations but renewed Plaintiff's prescription for ibuprofen, and further prescribed Flexeril for his hip pain ( id.; 95-2 at ¶ 11; 95-1 at 31). Plaintiff saw Defendant Shepherd on November 18, 2011, and Shepherd explained the results of the colonoscopy (Doc. 95-5 at 22; 95-4 at ¶ 5; 95-1 at 32). He advised Plaintiff to lose weight and increase his fiber and water intake, as he believed that this was the appropriate remedy for his condition ( id. ).


1. Summary Judgment Standard

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56 governs motions for summary judgment. Summary judgment should be granted 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." Anderson v. Donahoe, 699 F.3d 989, 994 (7th Cir. 2012) (citing FED. R. CIV. P. 56(a)). A genuine issue of material fact remains "if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party." Serednyj v. Beverly Healthcare, LLC, 656 F.3d 540, 547 (7th Cir. 2011) (citing Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986)).

Summary judgment has been described as the "put up or shut up moment" in the case, at which "the non-moving party is required to marshal and present the court with the evidence she contends will prove her case"-evidence on which a reasonable jury could rely. Porter v. City of Chi., 700 F.3d 944, 956 (7th Cir. 2012) (citing Goodman v Nat'l Sec. Agency, Inc., 621 F.3d 651, 654 (7th Cir. 2010)). In assessing a summary judgment motion, the district court views the facts in the light most favorable to, and draws all reasonable inferences in favor of, the non-moving party (here, Plaintiff). Anderson, 699 F.3d at 994; Righi v. SMC Corp., 632 F.3d 404, 408 (7th Cir. 2011); Delapaz v. Richardson, 634 F.3d 895, 899 (7th Cir. 2011). But the district court may not resolve ...

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