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Combs v. Flowers

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

June 12, 2015

CHAD COMBS, Plaintiff,



Plaintiff Chad Combs, a former inmate of the Illinois Department of Corrections ("IDOC"), initiated this action on February 21, 2013. Combs alleges that his constitutional rights were violated by Defendants Vipin Shah and Matt Flowers while he was incarcerated at Pinckneyville Correctional Center ("Pinckneyville"). Following the screening of his initial complaint, Combs was granted leave to file two amended complaints. This matter proceeded on the following three counts:

Count One: Claim for unconstitutional conditions of confinement against Defendants Flowers, John Doe #1, and John Doe #3 for denial of adequate exercise;
Count Two: Claim for deliberate indifference to serious medical needs against Defendants Shah, Traci Peek, and Tammy Harmon; and
Count Three: Retaliation claim against Defendant Shah.

( See Docs. 7, 25, 27, 54, 58, and 60).

On January 30, 2015, the undersigned issued a Memorandum and Order dismissing Count Two against Defendants Shah, Peek, and Harmon with prejudice (Doc. 150). Accordingly, the only remaining claims are Counts One and Three.

Now pending before the Court is the Motion for Summary Judgment filed by Defendant Shah (Doc. 140) and the Motion for Summary Judgment filed by Defendant Flowers (Doc. 143). Combs filed a response to Defendant Shah's Motion (Doc. 147). For the reasons set forth below, Defendants' Motions are granted.


In February 2012, Combs was transferred to Pinckneyville from Graham Correctional Center ("Graham") and placed in disciplinary segregation (Doc. 89-1, Plaintiff's November 8, 2013 Deposition, p. 4; Doc. 89-2, Plaintiff's Medical Records, p. 3; Doc. 144-9, Plaintiff's November 21, 2014 Deposition, p. 6). Combs alleges that although inmates housed in segregation are allowed five hours of outside recreation time each weekend, he was denied all weekend recreation time from January 18, 2012, through July 18, 2012[2] (Doc. 58, p. 3). Combs asserts that the lack of yard time caused him to suffer seizures and other health conditions (Doc. 144-9, pp. 4, 6; see also Docs. 89-2 and 89-3). In Count One, Combs asserts a claim against Defendant Flowers for unconstitutional conditions of confinement for denial of exercise. Defendant Flowers, however, did not work weekends from January through July 2012 (Doc. 144-2). Further, Combs testified during his November 21, 2014, deposition that he did not have a claim against Defendant Flowers, and he intended to withdraw or terminate Defendant Flowers from this action[3].

Combs contends he suffered a seizure on March 20, 2012, due to his inability to partake in outside recreation (Doc. 89-2, p. 16; Doc. 89-1, p. 8). On March 30, 2012, Defendant Shah physically examined Combs (Doc. 89-5, Affidavit of Vipin Shah, M.D., ¶ 3). Defendant Shah found Combs's vital signs normal, and there was no indication in his medical records that he had a history of seizures ( Id. ). Combs again presented to Defendant Shah on April 27, 2012, for his complaints of seizures and was admitted to the infirmary for observation until April 30, 2012 (Doc. 89-2, pp. 23 and 24).

At some point prior to his placement in observation, Combs filed a grievance complaining about Defendant Shah's treatment of his seizures (Doc. 147, Plaintiff's Affidavit, p. 4). In his affidavit, Defendant Shah explained that he has no recollection of Combs filing a grievance about his treatment for seizures. Defendant Shah avers that he admitted Combs for observation so that he could determine whether Combs was actually having seizures (Doc. 141-1, Second Affidavit of Vipin Shah, M.D., ¶¶ 2, 3).

Combs contends, however, that Defendant Shah placed him in observation in retaliation for his filing grievances. Specifically, Combs avers that on April 27, 2012, Defendant Shah told him that he "would be stopped from filing grievances" and, upon his discharge from the infirmary, Defendant Shah asked him if he "had learned [his] lesson?" (Doc. 147, p. 4). Combs further stated that due to his placement in observation he was not able to have his books, hygiene products, or Bible, and was unable to speak to his wife on the telephone ( Id. ). Combs remarked that he would have been "okay" being placed in observation if he was properly diagnosed and treated, but he was not given any diagnosis or treatment ( Id. ).

Importantly, during his deposition on November 8, 2013, Combs testified that being placed in the infirmary "really didn't matter to [him], because [he] was in seg" at the time, and "they really didn't take anything other than the hygiene products and the toothbrush and stuff like that" away from him during his time in observation (Doc. 89-1, p. 10). Moreover, when asked about his April 27, 2012, appointment with Defendant Shah, Combs testified that "[i]t's not in [his] memory bank, " and he did not have any specific recollections of this examination ( Id. at 9). Combs also testified that on the day he was discharged from the infirmary he only "vaguely remember[ed]" seeing Defendant Shah ( Id. at 10). Following Combs's ...

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