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Milsap v. Baker

United States District Court, C.D. Illinois

August 10, 2016

JAMES MILSAP, Plaintiff,
v.
DR. THOMAS BAKER, Defendant.

          OPINION

          SUE E. MYERSCOUGH, U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Plaintiff, proceeding pro se and incarcerated at Western Illinois Correctional Center, brought the present lawsuit pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 alleging Dr. Thomas Baker violated his Eighth Amendment rights when he was deliberately indifferent to his serious medical condition. The matter is before the Court for ruling on the Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. 26). For the reasons stated below, the motion is granted.

         SUMMARY JUDGMENT STANDARD

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(c) provides that summary judgment “shall be rendered forthwith if the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c); Ruiz-Rivera v. Moyer, 70 F.3d 498, 500-01 (7th Cir. 1995). The moving party has the burden of providing proper documentary evidence to show the absence of a genuine issue of material fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323-24 (1986). Once the moving party has met its burden, the opposing party must come forward with specific evidence, not mere allegations or denials of the pleadings, which demonstrates that there is a genuine issue for trial. Gracia v. Volvo Europa Truck, N.V., 112 F.3d 291, 294 (7th Cir. 1997). “[A] party moving for summary judgment can prevail just by showing that the other party has no evidence on an issue on which that party has the burden of proof.” Brazinski v. Amoco Petroleum Additives Co., 6 F.3d 1176, 1183 (7th Cir. 1993). “As with any summary judgment motion, we review cross-motions for summary judgment construing all facts, and drawing all reasonable inferences from those facts, in favor of the nonmoving party.” Laskin v. Siegel, 728 F.3d 7314, 734 (7th Cir. 2013)(internal quotation marks omitted).

         Accordingly, the non-movant cannot rest on the pleadings alone, but must designate specific facts in affidavits, depositions, answers to interrogatories or admissions that establish that there is a genuine triable issue; he “‘must do more than simply show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material fact.’” Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 256-57 (1986) quoting Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986); Hot Wax, Inc. v. Turtle Wax, Inc., 191 F.3d 813, 818 (7th Cir. 1999). Finally, a scintilla of evidence in support of the non-movant’s position is not sufficient to oppose successfully a summary judgment motion; “there must be evidence on which the jury could reasonably find for the [non-movant].” Anderson, 477 U.S. at 250.

         FACTS

         The Plaintiff is a fifty-three year old male who has been incarcerated at the Western Illinois Correctional Center since May 5, 2011.

         Dr. Thomas Baker was the Medical Director at Western Illinois Correctional Center from April 4, 2011 to September 8, 2015. (Def. Mot., Bak. Aff., p. 1). The doctor first examined Plaintiff on May 19, 2011. Plaintiff reported a prior neck surgery in 2005, and complained of left-side weakness due to a prior stroke. (Def. Mot., Bak. Aff., p. 2, Med. Rec. p. 210). Although the medical record indicates Plaintiff reported a previous stroke which was treated in Quincy, Illinois, Plaintiff now denies he ever suffered from a stroke. (Def. Mot, Med. Red. P. 210)

         Dr. Baker also saw Plaintiff on June 16, 2011, June 29, 2011, July 27, 2011, and August 26, 2011. On each occasion, Plaintiff “had normal gait with 5/5 strength in both upper and lower extremities” but he was slightly weaker on his left side. (Def. Mot., Bak. Aff., p. 2, Med. Rec. p. 211, 213, 215, 216).

         Plaintiff’s next complaint of back pain or left-sided weakness was on June 12, 2013 during a sick call visit with a nurse. The nurse provided ibuprofen, referred Plaintiff to a doctor, and instructed him to take warm showers, rest as needed, no lifting for five days, and no participation in sports activities. (Def. Mot., Bak. Aff., p. 2, Med. Rec. p. 238).

         Dr. Baker examined the Plaintiff two days later. Plaintiff complained of lower back pain which radiated down his legs. He had mild left-sided weakness compared to his right side and walked with a hunched posture favoring his left side. Dr. Baker prescribed muscle relaxers for back spasms, anti-inflammatories, ibuprofen, and ordered a lumbar spine x-ray. (Def. Mot., Bak. Aff., p. 2, Med. Rec. p. 234-240).

         The x-ray did not reveal any fractures nor problems with the disc height or spaces along his spine. However, the x-ray did show signs of “normal osteoarthritis or degenerative joint disease.” (Def. Mot., Bak. Aff., p. 2, Med. Rec. p. 241).

         A nurse saw Plaintiff on February 13, 2014, for his complaints of chronic left shoulder pain. She ordered an x-ray and another follow-up appointment. Plaintiff saw Dr. Baker due to an abnormal finding in the x-ray revealing “an accessory articulation” from the edge of the left shoulder to the deltoid. (Def. Mot., Bak. Aff., p. 3). Dr. Baker examined the Plaintiff and ordered an x-ray of the right shoulder for comparison. Dr. Baker says he asked Plaintiff several questions about the history of his shoulder pain, but Plaintiff was a “poor historian and would not answer questions” to assist in pinpointing the cause of his complaints. (Def. Mot., Bak. Aff., p. 3) Plaintiff simply reported he had always had limited mobility with his left shoulder. The doctor believed this was consistent with a rotator cuff injury or bicep tendinitis (Def. Mot., Bak. Aff., p. 3, Med. Rec. p. 248-251).

         The additional x-ray revealed no sign of fracture or dislocation, and the abnormality in the left shoulder was not detected in the right shoulder. Dr. Baker sent both x-rays to a ...


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