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Thompson v. Tourville

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

March 30, 2015




Plaintiff, Dennis Thompson, is an inmate in the custody of the Illinois Department of Corrections at Menard Correctional Center ("Menard"). He filed this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. ยง 1983 alleging that Defendants Kimberley Criss, a nurse practitioner, and John Tourville, a correctional officer, violated his constitutional rights. More specifically, Plaintiff alleges that he was improperly single-cuffed by Defendant Tourville, which resulted in injuries that Defendant Criss subsequently failed to adequately treat. Plaintiff also alleges that Defendant Tourville retaliated against him for filing grievances by placing his legal documents in plain view of staff and other inmates.

This matter is currently before the Court on the Motion for Summary Judgment filed by Defendant Criss on August 11, 2014 (Doc. 107) and the Motion for Summary Judgment filed by Defendant Tourville on September 10, 2014 (Doc. 120). Plaintiff filed a timely response to Defendant Criss's Motion (Docs. 117 and 118), as well as Defendant Tourville's motion (Doc. 139).[1] The Court has carefully considered the briefs and all of the evidence submitted by the parties, and for the reasons set forth below, both motions are granted.


On June 3, 2012, while Plaintiff's housing unit was proceeding to lunch, a disturbance occurred in a different housing unit (Doc. 121-1, pp. 10-11). Due to the disturbance and pursuant to standard prison protocol, Plaintiff and the other inmates in his housing unit were ordered to get on the ground ( Id. at p. 11). Approximately three officers, including Defendant Tourville, stayed and monitored Plaintiff's housing unit while the disturbance was addressed by other officers ( Id. at pp. 17-18). An emergency lockdown was instituted, which required all inmates to be secured and escorted back to their housing unit ( Id. at p. 20; Doc. 121-2, p. 1). Accordingly, the officers retrieved handcuffs to secure all of the inmates (Doc. 121-1, p. 19).

Plaintiff has a multi-cuff permit ("MCP"), which means that more than one set of handcuffs should be used to cuff him. It was issued by a medical staff member because he suffers from osteoarthritis of his spine and degenerative joint disease (Doc. 121-1, p. 24-25; see Doc. 117, pp. 4-5, 10, 14, 19). According to institutional policy, an inmate who presents his MCP at the time of cuffing will be cuffed according to the approved deviation (Doc. 121-2, pp. 1-2); however, an inmate who does not present his MCP at the time of cuffing will be cuffed using only one pair of handcuffs (Doc. 121-2, p. 2). As such, inmates with MCPs are expected to carry their permits with them at all times (Doc. 121-2, p. 1).

Plaintiff asserts that Defendant Tourville approached him and motioned for him to cuff up (Doc. 121-1, p. 24). Plaintiff conveyed to Tourville that he had an MCP ( Id. at pp. 24, 31). But Tourville did not ask to see it, and Plaintiff claims that Tourville did not give him an opportunity to show it ( Id. at pp. 24-25, 31). Instead, Tourville told Plaintiff that he was just taking him "right back into the cell house, " while simultaneously grabbing Plaintiff's arms and proceeding to single cuff Plaintiff ( Id. at pp. 24-25). Plaintiff was made to wait approximately twenty to twenty-five minutes before he was ultimately un-cuffed ( Id. at p. 27). At no point did Plaintiff explain his medical condition to Tourville, complain of pain, or attempt to have Tourville retrieve his permit ( see id. at pp. 34-35).

As a result of being single-cuffed, Plaintiff contends that he aggravated his pre-existing medical conditions, including his well-documented osteoarthritis and degenerative joint disease (Doc. 121-1, pp. 44, 59-60). Plaintiff submitted a sick call request seeking medical attention for his neck and shoulder immediately following the incident ( Id. at p. 57). Plaintiff wrote the request out as an emergency and indicated that he was in extreme pain and suffering from severe muscle spasms ( Id. at pp. 59-60).

Four days later, on June 7, 2012, Plaintiff was seen by Defendant Criss (Doc. 121-1, p. 52; Doc. 107-1, p. 1). This appointment was a follow-up examination for a chronically infected cyst; it was not to address Plaintiff's sick call request following the cuffing incident (Doc. 107-1; Doc. 107-4, p. 1). Nevertheless, Criss noted in Plaintiff's medical records that he complained his neck and shoulder were re-injured because he had been single-cuffed (Doc. 107-4, p. 1). She prescribed Plaintiff an antibiotic for his infected cyst and also provided him twenty-four 200 milligram dosages of Motrin ( Id. at p. 2).

As Plaintiff tells it, Criss refused to provide any treatment for his neck and shoulder pain (Doc. 121-1, pp. 64, 98). He claims that during the examination his neck was in "excruciating" pain and his shoulder was pounding ( Id. at p. 64). He further claims that his pain was obvious as he was grimacing when he was speaking and could not move his right arm ( Id. ). But Criss told Plaintiff that she was not there to treat him for his neck and shoulder complaints because this appointment was scheduled to address his cyst and, pursuant to institutional policy at that time, an inmate was to be treated for only the condition he was scheduled to be seen for unless the inmate had an emergent medical condition ( Id. ; Doc. 107-1, p. 3). Criss specifically indicated that the Motrin was intended to treat only residual pain related to his infected cyst (Doc. 121-1, pp. 65-66). According to Plaintiff, Criss was also well-aware that his chronic pain required a higher dosage of Motrin than the one she prescribed, and his muscle spasms required prescription muscle relaxers ( Id. at p. 66).

Defendant Criss tells a different story. According to her, Plaintiff did not appear to be in any apparent physical distress (Doc. 107-4, p. 2). And he did not convey that he was in excruciating pain or suffering from a pinched nerve, muscle spasms, or the inability to move his neck and arms ( Id. ). She further contends that Plaintiff did not inform her that he had run out of muscle relaxant or pain reliever, nor did he request any such medication ( Id. ). As such, based on her skill, expertise, knowledge, and observations, Criss asserts that it was not apparent that Plaintiff was experiencing a medical emergency or urgent medical condition ( Id. at pp. 2-3). She also contends that Motrin is an acceptable treatment for complaints of muscle pain and inflammation and, as such, the twenty-four doses of Motrin could have alleviated Plaintiff's neck and shoulder discomfort ( Id. at p. 3).

The day after Plaintiff was examined by Defendant Criss, he was seen by a certified medical technician to address the complaints he made in his sick call request after the cuffing incident (Doc. 107-1, p. 3; Doc. 121-1, p. 62). At this appointment, Plaintiff indicated he had a pinched nerve in his neck that was aggravated due to being single-cuffed behind his back (Doc. 107-4, p. 2). The med tech referred Plaintiff to a physician ( Id. ). Six days later, Plaintiff was examined by Dr. Nwaobasi ( Id. ). Dr. Nwaobasi diagnosed Plaintiff with cervical muscle spasms in his neck, and he prescribed 400 milligrams of Motrin and 500 milligrams of Robaxin, a muscle relaxant, for four months ( Id. ; Doc. 121-1, pp. 73-74, 106). Dr. Nwaobasi also issued Plaintiff a front-cuff permit (Doc. 107-4, p. 3; Doc. 121-1, p. 73).

At his deposition, Plaintiff testified that he experienced muscle spasms for approximately three and one-half to four months after the cuffing incident (Doc. 121-1, pp. 88-89). Plaintiff also testified that he suffered irreparable psychological damage and was made to suffer in excruciating pain for seven days after his appointment with Defendant Criss until he was examined by Dr. Nwaobasi ( Id. at p. 85).

In December 2012, months after the cuffing incident, Plaintiff put a rough draft of a memorandum he was writing for a pending lawsuit in an empty toilet paper wrapper, which he placed in the bars of his cell so that it could be discarded (Doc. 121-1, pp. 119, 120, 121, 128). This is the typical procedure inmates use to throw away their garbage as they do not have trash receptacles in their cells ( Id. at ...

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