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Floyd v. Wexford Health Sources, Inc.

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

May 11, 2015

THOMAS LAWRENCE FLOYD, # R-61584, Plaintiff,



Plaintiff Thomas Floyd, an individual currently incarcerated at Southwestern Illinois Correctional Center ("Southwestern"), brings this pro se civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. He claims that Defendants were deliberately indifferent to his serious and painful medical condition.

According to the complaint, while Plaintiff was incarcerated at Stateville Correctional Center ("Stateville") in March 2014, he suffered a cut on his right ankle while working at his prison job (Doc. 1, p. 4). The doctor on duty at the Stateville Health Care Unit (who was an employee of Defendant Wexford Health Sources) promptly treated Plaintiff. An x-ray and culture were performed, and Plaintiff was prescribed daily dressing changes for the wound. But the ulcer on Plaintiff's ankle refused to heal. Several doctors at Stateville tried various treatments over the ensuing months, which Plaintiff does not detail.

On October 1, 2014, Plaintiff saw the Medical Director for Defendant Wexford Health Sources ("Wexford") at Stateville. He prescribed a stronger antibiotic and different pain medication, which helped Plaintiff. He also told Plaintiff that he needed surgery on the ankle to remove one or two screws that had been previously implanted in his leg, because these were causing the infection. About a week later, Plaintiff learned that Midland Ortho (where apparently the surgery would have been performed) would no longer accept patients from Stateville. On October 15, 2014, Plaintiff was transferred to Southwestern.

At Southwestern, Plaintiff was not given his prescribed pain medication. Defendant Dr. Shah (or Shaw)[1]also took away the antibiotics that Plaintiff had been prescribed at Stateville (Doc. 1, p. 5). Defendant Shah ordered Plaintiff to be treated daily by the nurses, who were to clean and bandage his ankle wound. Plaintiff reported that under this treatment, his pain was getting a lot worse, but his complaints were ignored. Four different times, Defendant Shah took Plaintiff off the daily treatment line. Each time, Plaintiff went to see Defendant Shah and explained that he was supposed to have surgery before his transfer, the surgery had not been performed, and his pain was becoming unbearable. Defendant Shah continued to deny the surgery, however, and he gave Plaintiff no treatment other than the wound care and dressing changes.

Plaintiff filed grievances in January 2015. He was finally seen by a different doctor in St. Louis on March 2, 2015. This doctor performed an x-ray and told Plaintiff that he would need surgery to remove the eight-inch plate and all screws from his leg, because his bacterial infection had spread under the plate and into the surrounding area of his leg.

Plaintiff states that he will now be having this surgery. In this action, he seeks to recover damages for the pain and suffering he endured during the time (over one year) that he was forced to wait for proper treatment of his injury and infection.

Merits Review Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A

Under § 1915A, the Court is required to conduct a prompt threshold review of the complaint and to dismiss any claims that are frivolous, malicious, fail to state a claim on which relief may be granted, or seek monetary relief from an immune defendant.

Accepting Plaintiff's allegations as true, the Court finds that Plaintiff has articulated a colorable federal cause of action against Defendant Shah for deliberate indifference to his medical needs (Count 1). Plaintiff's allegations do not support a deliberate indifference claim against Defendant Wexford Medical Sources (Count 2), however, and that claim shall be dismissed without prejudice.

Count 1 - Deliberate Indifference to Serious Medical Needs - Defendant Shah

In order to state a claim for deliberate indifference to a serious medical need, an inmate must show that he (1) suffered from an objectively serious medical condition; and (2) that the defendant was deliberately indifferent to a risk of serious harm from that condition. An objectively serious condition includes an ailment that significantly affects an individual's daily activities or which involves chronic and substantial pain. Gutierrez v. Peters, 111 F.3d 1364, 1373 (7th Cir. 1997).

"Deliberate indifference is proven by demonstrating that a prison official knows of a substantial risk of harm to an inmate and either acts or fails to act in disregard of that risk. Delaying treatment may constitute deliberate indifference if such delay exacerbated the injury or unnecessarily prolonged an inmate's pain." Gomez v. Randle, 680 F.3d 859, 865 (7th Cir. 2012) (internal citations and quotations omitted). See also McGowan v. Hulick, 612 F.3d 636, 640 (7th Cir. 2010) (discussing Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 104-05 (1976); Gayton v. McCoy, 593 F.3d 610, 619 (7th Cir. 2010); Edwards v. Snyder, 478 F.3d 827, 832 (7th Cir. 2007) ("a plaintiff's receipt of some medical care does not automatically defeat a claim of deliberate indifference if a fact finder could infer the treatment was so blatantly inappropriate as to evidence intentional mistreatment likely to seriously aggravate' a medical condition")). The Seventh Circuit also has found that an Eighth Amendment claim may be stated where a prison doctor persists in a course of treatment known to be ineffective, fails to order further testing, or refuses to refer the inmate to a specialist. Greeno v. Daley, 414 F.3d 645, 655 (7th Cir. 2005) (doctor continued ineffective treatment and refused to order endoscopy or specialist referral over a two-year period during which plaintiff suffered from ulcer).

The complaint sufficiently alleges that Plaintiff's ankle injury and persistent infection was a serious, painful medical condition. Further, the facts suggest that Defendant Shah's refusal to authorize surgery, and his ineffective and intermittent course of treatment, prolonged Plaintiff's suffering and may well have caused Plaintiff's infection to worsen. Accordingly, the ...

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