United States District Court, S.D. Illinois
DARRIN W. SHATNER, Plaintiff,
MIKE ATCHISON, et al., Defendants.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
M. Yandle United States District Judge
the Court is a motion for summary judgment filed by
Defendants Mike Atchison, Timothy Veath and Richard
Harrington (Doc. 69). Plaintiff Darrin Shatner is challenging
the conditions of his prison confinement. He alleges that
Atchison and Harrington delayed prescribed medical treatment
of his ingrown toenails for more than one year in violation
of the Eighth Amendment's prohibition against cruel and
unusual punishment. While Veath was initially a party and
movant, he has since been dismissed (Doc. 84). The motion is
opposed (Doc. 70).
judgment will be entered if the movant shows that there is no
genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is
entitled to a judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P.
56(a). The facts and all reasonable inferences are drawn in
favor of the nonmoving party. Ault v. Speicher, 634
F.3d 942, 945 (7th Cir. 2011).
Court of Appeals has summarized the law applicable to
Plaintiff's medical care claim:
[To] prevail on his medical claim, Mr. Pyles was required to
make two showings. First, he needed to demonstrate that he
suffers from an objectively serious medical condition.
Arnett v. Webster, 658 F.3d 742, 750 (7th Cir.
2011). A medical condition is objectively serious if a
physician has diagnosed it as requiring treatment, or the
need for treatment would be obvious to a layperson.
Knight v. Wiseman, 590 F.3d 458, 463 (7th Cir.
2009). Second, Mr. Pyles had to demonstrate that Dr. Fahim
knew about his condition and the risk it posed, but
disregarded that risk. Arnett, 658 F.3d at 751.
Something more than negligence or even malpractice is
required. Duckworth v. Ahmad, 532 F.3d 675, 679 (7th
Pyles v. Fahim, 771 F.3d 403, 409 (7th Cir. 2014).
Serious Medical Need
defendants suggest that Plaintiff has not proffered evidence
to support a finding that prescribed treatment of ingrown toe
nails qualifies as a serious medical need. Without citing to
facts in the record, they maintain that Plaintiff's
ailment was the type that did not typically need medical
attention (Doc. 70, p. 6).
has pointed to facts, gleaned from his own testimony and
medical records, which could rationally support a finding in
his favor on this element of proof. He describes a recurring
ailment that was sufficiently painful to interfere with his
ability to put on shoes, walk, sleep and stand (Doc. 80,
p.3). When he had the opportunity to see medical
professionals, they diagnosed his condition and ordered or
provided forms of treatment to relieve his symptoms (Doc. 80,
p. 2; Doc. 70-2, pp. 13-14, 18, 24, 45-47). A reasonable jury
could conclude that Plaintiff's ailment was significant
in that it had been assessed by a physician as mandating
treatment or that the need for a doctor's attention would
be obvious to a layperson. Greeno v. Daley, 414 F.3d
645, 653 (7th Cir. 2005). Thus, this argument for summary
Defendants also argue that they did not respond to
Plaintiff's need for medical treatment of ingrown
toenails with deliberate indifference. On this element of
proof, the Court looks for facts that would show that these
Defendants acted or refused to act with a sufficiently
culpable state of mind. That is, the defendants must be aware
of a substantial risk of serious harm and disregard the risk.
Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 834 (1994);
Greeno, 414 F.3d at 653.
point, Defendants assert that they are not medical
professionals and that they opted to rely on medical
professionals to attend to Plaintiff's medical needs
(Docs. 70-3, 70-4). In response, Plaintiff does not suggest
that the defendants should have given him medical treatment
themselves - he presents facts showing that he was not called
to the health care unit to receive prescribed medical
treatment because of an unwritten policy, implemented by the
defendants, to restrict or eliminate inmate movement during
lockdowns that were practically continuous (Doc. 80, pp.
2-5). While Defendants suggest otherwise, Plaintiff's
testimony, testimony from a witness and medical records could
rationally support findings that (1) Shatner's personal
access to prescribed treatment was delayed during lockdowns
and (2) his symptoms of pain were exacerbated as a result of
those extensive delays (Docs. 70-3, p. 2; 70-2, p. 3-4, 23,
25, 28; 70-6, p. 19; Doc. 80). Deliberate indifference may
occur where a prison official, having knowledge of a
significant risk to inmate health or safety, delays a
prisoner's treatment for non-medical reasons, thereby
exacerbating his pain and suffering. McGowan v.
Hulick, 612 F.3d 636, 640 (7th Cir. 2010).
evidence from both sides creates a factual dispute regarding
the knowledge that may properly be attributed to these
defendants. Harrington and Atchison deny having personal
knowledge of Plaintiff's medical issues (Doc. 70-3, p. 1;
Doc. 70-4, p. 1). On the other hand, Plaintiff describes a
personal conversation as well as correspondence mailed to
both as evidence of Defendants knowledge (Doc. 70-6, pp.
11-12, 17-18). While this may present a relatively thin basis
for liability, Plaintiff can present enough evidence
suggesting personal knowledge to survive summary judgment.