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Jones v. Aguinaldo

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

March 19, 2015

KEDRON JONES JR., Plaintiff,
v.
EVARISTO AGUINALDO, PARTHA GHOSH, LIPING ZHANG, AND WEXFORD HEALTH SOURCES, INC., Defendants.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

GERALDINE SOAT BROWN, Magistrate Judge.

Plaintiff Kendron Jones, Jr., has been an inmate at Stateville Correctional Center since June 2004. (Am. Compl. ¶¶ 1, 11.) [Dkt 45.] He claims that the defendants Dr. Evaristo Aguinaldo, Dr. Partha Ghosh, Dr. Liping Zhang, and Wexford Health Sources, Inc., who provided medical services at Stateville, were deliberately indifferent to his serious medical needs. ( Id. ¶¶ 22-24.) Before the court is defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment. (Defs.' Mot.) [Dkt 107.][1] For the reasons set forth below, defendants' motion is granted in part and denied in part.

JURISDICTION

There is subject matter jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1331 because the action arises under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and the Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution. The parties have consented to the jurisdiction of a magistrate judge pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636. [Dkt 63.]

BACKGROUND

Jones's amended complaint alleges that defendants failed to treat his chronic epididymitis and severe abdominal pain properly from June 2004 through the filing of the amended complaint in November 2011. (Am. Comp. ¶¶ 11-24.)[2] All of Jones's claims relating to gastrointestinal problems were subsequently dismissed by agreement of the parties. (Order, Nov. 19, 2013.) [Dkt 101.] Similarly, Jones underwent cord denervation surgery in December 2013 which Jones expects will permanently relieve his pain from epididymitis. (Pl.'s Opp'n at 4.) Thus, the remaining issue in this case is Jones's claim that he endured years of unnecessary pain from epididymitis because defendants were deliberately indifferent to his medical needs. ( Id. at 14.) FACTS[3]

Treatment at Cook County Department of Corrections

Jones claims that he developed "chronic testicular pain" as the result of a groin injury sustained while in the custody of the Chicago Police Department in April 2000. (Pl.'s Facts ¶¶ 1-2.) From April 2000 to June 2004, Jones was in the custody of the Cook County Department of Corrections ("CCDOC"). (Defs.' Facts ¶¶ 4-14.) Apparently, in 2011, while in CCDOC custody, Jones was referred to a urologist at Cermak Health Services. (Defs.' Fact Reply ¶ 4.) Jones was prescribed antibiotics and received nerve block treatments on April 1, 2004 and June 10, 2004 at Stroger Hospital. ( Id. ¶ 4-5.) The April 2004 nerve block treatment was successful. ( Id. ¶ 5.) The treating urologists noted that if the June nerve block treatment also proved successful, Jones would be considered for denervation surgery. ( Id. ) Jones was transferred to Stateville in June 2004. (Defs' Facts ¶ 14.)

The record on the present motion, however, raises a question about how much information defendants had about the treatment Jones received while he was in CCDOC custody. Defendants assert that only part of Jones's treatment records went with him to Stateville and that they had no records of his treatment at Stroger Hospital until after the present motion was filed. (Defs.' Reply at 4.) Jones's attorneys admit that they did not receive his records from Stroger Hospital until June 23, 2014. (Pl.'s Facts Resp. ¶ 8.) As far as the record on the present motion reveals, the only information defendants had about Jones's prior treatment at Stroger were Jones's own statements. ( See Defs.' Facts ¶ 8.) Jones's arguments that defendants "ignored" or "refused to continue" the treatment plan developed by Jones's urologist at Stroger ( see, e.g., Pl.'s Opp'n at 8), cannot be considered without some evidence that defendants were aware of that plan.

Defendants did receive medical records showing that Jones underwent four ultrasound tests while at CCDOC: on June 22, 2000, September 19, 2001, August 6, 2003, and September 30, 2003, with varying results. (Defs.' Facts ¶¶ 9-13.) The June 2000 ultrasound results were "highly suggestive of acute epididymitis." ( Id. ¶ 10.) In the September 2001 ultrasound, Jones's testes and epididymis appeared normal. ( Id. ¶ 11.) The August 2003 ultrasound results showed an enlarged left epididymis. ( Id. ¶ 12.) In September 2003, the ultrasound revealed that Jones right epididymis was larger than the left, a finding consistent with chronic bilateral epididymitis. ( Id. ¶ 13.)

Treatment at Stateville

Wexford Health Sources, Inc., is a corporation that contracted with the Illinois Department of Corrections to provide health care services to inmates at Stateville Correctional Center. (Defs.' Facts ¶ 53.) Dr. Partha Ghosh was the On-site Medical Director for Wexford at Stateville from June 2003 through March 2011. (Defs.' Facts, Ex. B, Dep. of Partha Ghosh at 39-41.)[4] At his deposition, he testified about practices at Stateville during that time. Inmates could not see outside specialists without approval from him. ( Id. at 15-16.) When a patient complained of testicular pain or chronic epididymitis, the typical course of treatment was to prescribe anti-inflammatory medication and pain relievers. ( See id. at 53-55.) If the pain did not resolve with such treatment, then the Medical Director ordered a testicular ultrasound. ( Id. ) If that ultrasound did not show a tumor, then medical staff continued to treat the patient with antibiotics and pain medication. ( Id. at 54-55.) In order for an inmate patient to be referred to a urologist, the Medical Director must write a "consult" to the medical records director of the prison, who then sends the consult and the appropriate documentation to Wexford's collegial review committee. ( Id. at 90-91.) The collegial review committee would then consult with the Medical Director of the prison and determine whether the inmate patient would see a specialist. ( Id. at 91-92.)

Between August 2004 and October 2009, Jones filed seven grievances complaining about lack of medical treatment. (Pl.'s Facts ¶ 16.) Dr. Ghosh was aware of Jones's complaints of chronic testicular pain and responded to four grievances he filed between 2005 and 2007, stating in each response that Jones's issue had been resolved. (Pl.'s Facts ¶ 17.)

In August 2004, Jones filed a grievance complaining that since his arrival at Stateville (in June) he had not received medications for pain and high blood pressure. (Pl.'s Facts, Ex. 8.) Chronic epidydimitis was only one of numerous medical problems he mentioned, which included prostate problems, arthritis, stroke, severe headache, and hypertension, which he called his "most serious" medical problem. ( Id. ) At his deposition, Jones did not recall whether he got a response to that grievance. (Defs.' Facts, Ex. A, Dep. Kendron Jones at 37-38.) The parties agree that between August 2004 and January 2007, Jones was treated on several occasions by various medical personnel at Stateville for gastrointestinal issues and epididymitis. (Defs.' Facts ¶ 15.)

In a grievance dated March 31, 2006, Jones wrote that he had been stomped in the groin by police during custodial interrogation, and was treated for his injuries while at CCDOC. (Pl.'s Facts, Ex. 8.) He reported that he was diagnosed with epididymitis and treated with antibiotics but the treatment was ineffective and the pain got worse. ( Id. ) He said that he had been seen by several urologists and later diagnosed with lesions on his left testicle. ( Id. ) He reported severe pain on his left testicle and asked to be seen by Dr. Ghosh and to be scheduled for an appointment with a urologist. ( Id. ) That grievance does not mention his receiving any nerve blocks while at CCDOC. Dr. Ghosh responded that Jones had been evaluated and treated appropriately the day before he wrote the grievance. (Jones Dep. at 40.)

Jones wrote a similar grievance on May 5, 2006, also complaining of pain and mentioning lesions on his left testicle. (Pl.'s Facts, Ex. 8.) He states he was seen at Stateville by a doctor on March 30, 2006, but given only Advil and an anti-inflammatory drug. ( Id. )

On September 2, 2006, Jones filed another grievance saying that he took antibiotics for three years at CCDOC "for what the doctors thought was epiditymites [sic], " until they ordered a test and found a lesion on his left testicle. ( Id. ) He stated that he was scheduled for an MRI and began to have a series of nerve blocks. ( Id. ) While he acknowledged seeing doctors several times at Stateville, he said that nothing ever happened. He asked to see a urologist to stop the pain which he says was "throbbing" and "unbearable." ( Id. )

On February 16, 2007, with Dr. Ghosh's approval, Jones received a testicular ultrasound at the University of Illinois. (Defs.' Facts ¶ 16.) The ultrasound did not reveal any significant findings or presence of epididymitis. ( Id. ) That ultrasound appeared normal insofar as neither the testes nor the epididymis were enlarged and no tumors were present. (Ghosh Dep. at 184-85.) Jones admits that the ultrasound did not reveal the existence of epididimytis but argues that epididymitis is not detectable from an ultrasound. (Pl.'s Fact Resp. ¶ 16.) Despite the normal ultrasound, Mr. Jones still complained of pain. (Ghosh Dep. at 185.) Dr. Ghosh testified that a complaint of pain in light of a normal ultrasound might suggest that the patient was exhibiting signs of somatization. ( Id. )[5]

The parties agree that, following the February 2007 ultrasound, Jones was treated for gastrointestinal issues and epididymitis by various medical medical personnel at Stateville. (Defs.' Facts ¶ 17.) In May 2007, Jones wrote another grievance complaining of testicular pain but also arthritis in his neck and knees, "major back problems" and swollen feet. (Pl.'s Ex. 8.) In June 2007, Mr. Jones was seen by Dr. Arden, a psychiatrist. (Ghosh Dep. at 186.)

On June 21, 2007, Jones was treated by Dr. Aguinaldo, a staff physician at Stateville Correctional Center from 2001 through 2008, who saw Jones only on that single occasion. (Defs.' Facts ¶ 22.) Dr. Aguinaldo testified that his examination of Mr. Jones was normal. ( Id., Ex. E, Dep. of Evaristo Aguinaldo at 84.) At that visit, Mr. Jones complained of testicular pain in his left testicle on and off for seven years, but Dr. Aguinaldo's examination revealed no swelling, no tenderness and no palpable mass. ( Id. at 83-84.) His notes indicated that Jones was alert, not distressed and laughing most of the time. ( Id. at 83.) Jones also complained of low back pain, arthritis of the knee and neck, migraine headaches and chest pain. ( Id. ) Jones also requested a refill of Metamucil for constipation. ( Id. ) Dr. Aguinaldo prescribed Tylenol because Jones's pain was intermittent and there were no objective findings to warrant a referral to the Medical Director. ( Id. at 85-87.)

Defendants dispute Jones's claim that, during the June 21, 2007 exam, Dr. Aguinaldo made inappropriate remarks to Jones regarding his pain, telling him he should masturbate more often in order to alleviate his pain and that sleeping on the floor was a good thing. (See Defs.' Fact Reply ¶ 14.) At his deposition, Dr. Aguinaldo testified that while he does not have an independent recollection of everything that was said at the June 21, 2007 examination of Jones, he would not make those kinds of remarks to anyone under any circumstances. (Aguinaldo Dep. at 134-36.)

Dr. Aguinaldo testified that as a staff physician at Stateville, he would first treat epididymitis with antibiotics or pain relievers, and if that did not resolve the patient's issues, then he would refer the patient to the Medical Director. ( Id. at 62.) Only the Medical Director of Stateville had the authority to refer a patient to a specialist such as a urologist. ( Id. at 69.) Dr. Aguilindo testified that prescribing pain medication such as Motrin or Tylenol for a patient with epididymitis was typical. ( Id. at 73.)

Dr. Liping Zhang treated Jones at Stateville on six occasions between August 2008 and March 2010. (Defs.' Fact Reply ¶ 11.) Dr. Zhang was a staff physician with Wexford from 1995 to 2000 and 2006 to 2010. (Pl.'s Facts, Ex. 3, Dep. of Liping Zhang at 19, 27-29.) She worked at Joliet Correction Center from 1995 to 2000, Pontiac Correctional Center from 2006 until 2008 or 2009 and then transferred to Stateville until she was terminated by Wexford in 2010. ( Id. )

Dr. Zhang first treated Jones on August 14, 2008 as part of her work with the chronic cardiac clinic at Stateville. ( Id. at 97.)[6] Inmates with high blood pressure or chronic cardiac conditions were seen at the chronic cardiac clinic every three to six months, at which time they could also make other complaints. ( Id. at 98.) On that occasion, Dr. Zhang prescribed Doculax for Jones's chronic constipation, and saline and cortisporin for problems with his ear and nose. ( Id. at 97.) There is no indication that Jones complained of testicular pain at that examination. On August 27, 2008, Jones complained of two episodes of chest pain, as well as indigestion and constipation. ( Id. 89-92.) Dr. Zhang prescribed Zantac, an antacid, and milk of magnesia. ( Id. ) Dr. Zhang saw Jones again at the chronic cardiac clinic in December 2008. ( Id. at 117-121.) At that visit, she prescribed Jones medication for constipation and blood pressure as well as skin cream and aspirin. ( Id. at 119.) She also treated him for a minor ear infection. ( Id. at 120.)

Dr. Zhang treated Jones again in January 2009. ( Id. at 99-101.) At that visit, Jones had a number of complaints, the chief one being constipation for which she prescribed Doculax. ( Id. 101-02.) Dr. Zhang also noted Jones was dealing with epididymitis for which she prescribed an antibiotic, Bactrim double strength. ( Id. ) Dr. Zhang treated Jones again in February 2010 when he complained of chronic back pain and a perianal abscess. ( Id. at 102-105.)[7] At that visit, she prescribed antibiotics for the abscess and Tylenol for the back pain. ( Id. ) Dr. Zhang treated Jones for a final time in March 2010. ( Id. at 129.) At that visit, she prescribed Tylenol for Jones's back pain and ointment for his perianal cyst. ( Id. at 130.)

Dr. Zhang testified that when an inmate patient appeared at the clinic, she treated whatever their complaint was that day. She did not look at their entire medical record at each clinic appointment, but she did look at the medical record if she had questions in answering grievances. (Id. at 106-07.) In her notes she wrote down the problems ...


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