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Harrison v. Wexford Health Sevices, Inc.

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

June 23, 2015

DERRICK HARRISON (B-74877), Plaintiff,


THOMAS M. DURKIN, District Judge.

Derrick Harrison, an Illinois prisoner confined at Stateville Correctional Center, alleges that Stateville staff and medical service providers were deliberately indifferent to his medical needs in violation of the Eighth Amendment and retaliated against him for filing a grievance about this conduct. See R. 8. Specifically, Harrison alleges that after he fell while trying to close a high window, Sergeant Troy Mayes and Nurse Jennifer Encarnacion refused to provide him treatment, and that Sergeant Mayes retaliated against him for filing a grievance about the incident. Id. Harrison also alleges that Dr. Saleh Obaisi, the medical director at Stateville, and Stateville's medical services provider, Wexford Health Services, Inc., failed to provide him with appropriate care for his injured back. Id. Dr. Obaisi and Wexford (collectively, "the Medical Defendants") have moved for summary judgment, R. 103, as have Sergeant Mayes and Nurse Encarnacion (collectively, the "Stateville Defendants"). R. 108. For the following reasons, both motions are granted.

Legal Standard

Summary judgment is appropriate "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." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a); see also Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322-23 (1986). The Court considers the entire evidentiary record and must view all of the evidence and draw all reasonable inferences from that evidence in the light most favorable to the nonmovant. Ball v. Kotter, 723 F.3d 813, 821 (7th Cir. 2013). To defeat summary judgment, a nonmovant must produce more than "a mere scintilla of evidence" and come forward with "specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial." Harris N.A. v. Hershey, 711 F.3d 794, 798 (7th Cir. 2013). Ultimately, summary judgment is warranted only if a reasonable jury could not return a verdict for the nonmovant. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986).


I. Northern District of Illinois Local Rules

Because Harrison is a pro se litigant, the Medical Defendants and the Stateville Defendants served him with notices pursuant to Local Rule 56.2, explaining the consequences of failing to properly respond to a motion for summary judgment and statement of material facts under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56 and Local Rule 56.1. R. 104; R. 111. Local Rule 56.1 "is designed, in part, to aid the district court, which does not have the advantage of the parties' familiarity with the record and often cannot afford to spend the time combing the record to locate the relevant information, in determining whether a trial is necessary." Delapaz v. Richardson, 634 F.3d 895, 899 (7th Cir. 2011). Local Rule 56.1 requires the moving party to submit "a statement of material facts as to which the moving party contends there is no genuine issue, " and the opposing party to submit "a response to each numbered paragraph in the moving party's statement... [and] a statement... of any additional facts that required the denial of summary judgment." "When a responding party's statement fails to dispute the facts set forth in the moving party's statement in the manner dictated by the rule, those facts are deemed admitted for purposes of the motion." Cracco v. Vitran Exp., Inc., 559 F.3d 625, 632 (7th Cir. 2009); see also Frey Corp. v. City of Peoria, 735 F.3d 505, 513 (7th Cir. 2013) ("A failure to respond to any numbered fact in the opposing party's motion for summary judgment will be deemed an admission of the fact.").

Both the Medical Defendants and the Stateville Defendants filed statements pursuant to Local Rule 56.1. R. 106; R. 112. Harrison responded to both motions for summary judgment with memorandums in opposition to the motions, see R. 113; R. 114, but he failed to file statements pursuant to Local Rule 56.1. For this reason, the Court accepts all assertions in Defendants' statements of facts as true to the extent that the facts are supported in the record. See L.R. 56.1(b)(3)(C); Apex Digital, Inc. v. Sears, Roebuck & Co., 735 F.3d 962, 965 (7th Cir. 2013). In this regard, the Court "is not required to scour the record looking for factual disputes" nor is the Court required "to piece together" Harrison's arguments for him. See Diadenko v. Folino, 741 F.3d 751, 757 (7th Cir. 2013); see also Herman v. City of Chicago, 870 F.2d 400, 404 (7th Cir. 1989) ("A district court need not scour the record to make the case of a party who does nothing."). Harrison's failure to comply with Local Rule 56.1, however, does not result in an automatic grant of summary judgment in favor of Defendants. Instead, the Court still must evaluate all facts in the light most favorable to Harrison, the non-moving party. See Keeton v. Morningstar, Inc., 667 F.3d 877, 884 (7th Cir. 2012).

II. Facts

At the time of Harrison's fall on November 12, 2012, he was a gallery worker/cell house helper at Stateville, which meant that he picked up garbage, passed out trays, swept the floor, and cleaned the showers. R. 112 ¶ 28. As part of his duties as a gallery worker, Harrison climbed a "bullpen cage" in order to close the windows, allegedly at the direction of an unnamed officer who is not a defendant in this case. R. 106 ¶ 14; R. 112 ¶ 15; R. 106-2 at 14:23-15:9. Harrison slipped and fell off the cage and onto a plastic food cart. R. 106 ¶ 14; R. 112 ¶ 15; R. 106-2 at 14:23-15:9.

When Harrison fell, Sergeant Mayes and Nurse Encarnacion were about four cells away from Harrison, as Sergeant Mayes was escorting Nurse Encarnacion while she distributed medication to inmates in their cells. R. 112 ¶¶ 14-15. After the fall, Harrison told Sergeant Mayes that he had pain shooting from his neck down his leg. Id. ¶ 16. Nurse Encarnacion directed Sergeant Mayes to call the Health Care Unit, which advised Sergeant Mayes that Harrison would be brought to the unit for evaluation the following day. Id. ¶ 17.

The next day, Harrison was examined in the Health Care Unit by physician's assistant La Tanya Williams. Id. ¶ 18; R. 106 ¶ 15. Upon examination, Harrison exhibited tenderness in his neck, and an x-ray of his cervical spine was ordered. Id. Williams prescribed Motrin, an anti-inflammatory medication; Robaxin, a muscle relaxer; and an analgesic balm for Harrison. Id. Williams also provided Harrison with permits for ice, a low-bunk/no activity permit, and a 3-day lay-in to allow Harrison to receive meals in his cell. Id.

Two days later, on November 15, Harrison underwent x-rays of his cervical and lumbar spines, which were negative. R. 106 ¶ 16; R. 112 ¶ 19. On November 20, Harrison was referred to Dr. Obaisi for a further examination in response to his complaints of back pain. R. 106 ¶ 17; R. 112 ¶ 20. Dr. Obaisi had not been aware of Harrison's back injury prior to this examination. R. 106 ¶ 17. Dr. Obaisi told Harrison that the x-rays of his cervical and lumbar spine were negative, and administered an injection of Depo Medrol, an anti-flammatory medication and pain reliever, into Harrison's sacroiliac joint. Id. Dr. Obaisi also injected Lidocaine, a pain reliever, into Harrison's trapezoid. Id. Dr. Obaisi gave Harrison a two-week lay-in permit. Id.

Harrison saw Dr. Obaisi several more times over the following two months, including on November 28 and December 12, 2012, and January 8, 26, and 31, 2013. Id. ¶¶ 18-22. Dr. Obaisi prescribed various pain relievers as a result of these examinations. Id. During January 2013, Harrison reported that his back pain was slowly improving, id. ¶ 20, and that he was not experiencing any pain, tingling, or numbness of his extremities during. Id. ¶ 21. On January 31, Dr. Obaisi discontinued Harrison's prescription for Motrin and prescribed only Tylenol 3. Id. ¶ 22.

Despite these apparent improvements in Harrison's condition, on February 5, 2013, Dr. Obaisi sought approval to schedule an MRI of Harrison's lumbar spine. R. 106 ¶ 23. As a result, Wexford referred Harrison to have an MRI done at the University of Illinois Medical Center ("UIC"). Id. The MRI was taken on April 5, and showed degenerative changes of the lumbar spine at the L4-L5 and L5-S1 levels. Id. ¶ 24.

Harrison then saw Dr. Obaisi or other doctors on May 2, 16, and 29, July 13, August 15, and September 9 and 20. Id. ¶¶ 25-31. At these appointments Harrison complained of back pain and was prescribed a variety of medication to manage his pain. Id.[1] On September 26, Harrison was examined by Dr. Obaisi, who discussed with him the results ...

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