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Buford v. Obaisi

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

September 6, 2016

JIMMIE BUFORD, Plaintiff,
v.
SALEH OBAISI, LATONYA WILLIAMS, JENNIFER ENCARNARCION and WENDY OLSEN, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          Virginia M. Kendall United States District Court Judge

         Plaintiff Jimmie Buford, an Illinois prisoner at Stateville Correctional Center, brings this suit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Stateville Medical Director Dr. Saleh Obaisi[1] for failing to provide adequate medical care for his partially-torn left Achilles tendon in violation of the Eighth Amendment. Buford seeks monetary damages to compensate him for his injuries, as well as an injunction requiring Obaisi to provide him appropriate medical treatment. Obaisi moves for summary judgment. For the following reasons, his Motion for Summary Judgment is now denied. (Dkt. No. 99).

         BACKGROUND

         The following facts are undisputed unless otherwise noted. On August 21, 2012, Buford was evaluated by a Registered Nurse around 6:30 p.m. after allegedly injuring his ankle or Achilles tendon on the basketball court. (Def. 56.1, ¶ 10; Pl. 56.1 Resp., ¶ 10). The nurse performed a physical examination and found no swelling, redness, or discoloration to his ankle. (Id.) She noted that Buford described his pain as a level two out of ten. (Id.) The nurse gave Buford ice, Tylenol #10 (325 mg), and a crutch for five days in response to his subjective complaints of pain. (Def. 56.1, ¶ 11; Pl. 56.1 Resp., ¶ 11).

         The next day, Buford complained to a correctional medical technician (“CMT”) that he had snapped his Achilles tendon. (Def. 56.1, ¶ 13; Pl. 56.1 Resp., ¶ 13). The CMT noted that Buford complained of pain in his left ankle, but that there was no swelling and Buford was able to move the ankle. (Id.) Buford was transported to the health care unit via wheelchair for further evaluation of his foot-related complaints. (Id.) In the health care unit, Obaisi examined Buford and assessed him as having a ruptured Achilles tendon. (Def. 56.1, ¶ 14; Pl. 56.1 Resp., ¶ 14). Obaisi prescribed Buford two crutches, a low bunk and gallery permit, and Naproxen (500 mg) to be taken twice daily for thirty days. (Id.)

         Five days later, on August 27, 2012, in collegial review with Dr. Baker, Dr. Obaisi secured approval for an MRI of the Plaintiff's left ankle in order to further assess Plaintiff's “ruptured Achilles tendon.” (Def. 56.1, ¶ 15; Pl. 56.1 Resp., ¶ 15; Pl. Add'l Facts, ¶ 4; Def. Resp., ¶ 4). The only record of this approval is a doctor's note written by Obaisi. There is no evidence in the record of when that approval was memorialized in an order, whether it was marked urgent, and when efforts to make an appointment for the approved MRI first began.

         Wexford policies provide that the appropriate primary response to a ruptured Achilles tendon is “splint, crutches, antibiotics if laceration;” the appropriate secondary response is “refer semi-emergent if lacerations, urgent if ruptured (closed).” (See Dkt. No. 104, Ex. C at 4). The secondary response policy also notes that “unless emergent, conduct collegial review.” (See id.)

         The next mention of the MRI in the record appears to be on September 6, 2012, when a PA told Buford that he had been approved for an MRI and that the MRI appointment was pending. (Def. 56.1, ¶ 17; Pl. 56.1 Resp., ¶ 17). On that day, Buford complained to a CMT that he was in a lot of pain and could not ambulate without crutches. He was subsequently evaluated by a physician's assistant in the health care unit. (Def. 56.1, ¶ 16; Pl. 56.1 Resp., ¶ 16 Pl. Add'l Facts, ¶ 5; Def. Resp., ¶ 5). The PA noted that Buford complained of pain mostly at night and that she had consulted with Obaisi. (Id.) The PA made a treatment plan for Buford consisting of a posterior splint, continuing all medications as directed, prescribing Tramadol (50 mg) for 14 days, and continuing all previous orders. (Def. 56.1, ¶ 17; Pl. 56.1 Resp., ¶ 17). The continuation of orders included Obaisi's previous orders, including his prescriptions for two crutches, a low bunk and gallery permit, and Naproxen. (Def. 56.1, ¶ 20; Pl. 56.1 Resp., ¶ 20). It was at this time that she also advised Buford that he had been approved for an MRI and that the MRI appointment was pending. (Def. 56.1, ¶ 17; Pl. 56.1 Resp., ¶ 17). On three other occasions in September and October, 2012, Buford was treated by Obaisi and a PA for various other ailments unrelated to his Achilles tendon. There is no record of Buford making complaints regarding his Achilles tendon at any of those unrelated appointments. (Def. 56.1, ¶ 22; Pl. 56.1 Resp., ¶ 22).

         On October 31, 2012, Buford was taken to the University of Illinois Chicago Hospital for an MRI of his Achilles tendon; he did not, however, receive an MRI. (Def. 56.1, ¶ 23; Pl. 56.1 Resp., ¶ 23). When Buford returned to Stateville, he was evaluated by a Registered Nurse who informed him that the MRI appointment was rescheduled for November 16, 2012. (Def. 56.1, ¶ 24; Pl. 56.1 Resp., ¶ 24). The nurse noted that Buford ambulated well with one crutch and that she notified Obaisi, who ordered Motrin (400 mg) for Buford. (Id.) That same day, in collegial review, Obaisi again secured approval for Buford's referral for an MRI, this time marking the request as urgent. (Def. 56.1, ¶ 25; Pl. 56.1 Resp., ¶ 25).

         Buford was referred less than a week later, on November 5, 2012, to receive an MRI at Provena St. Joseph Medical Center. (Def. 56.1, ¶ 26; Pl. 56.1 Resp., ¶ 26). The MRI results showed that Buford had a partial longitudinal tear of the Achilles tendon extending the length of the tendon. (Def. 56.1, ¶¶ 28, 30; Pl. 56.1 Resp., ¶¶ 28, 30). The parties agree that longitudinal tears “are the most benign tears, which heal by themselves without surgical intervention.” (Def. 56.1, ¶ 31; Pl. 56.1 Resp., ¶ 31). Traverse tears, on the other hand, “are much more concerning as the fibers are cut laterally, causing them to shrink upward.” (Id.)

         On November 9, 2012, Obaisi again evaluated Buford in the health care unit, noting that the MRI showed a partial tear of the left Achilles tendon. (Def. 56.1, ¶ 29; Pl. 56.1 Resp., ¶ 29). Obaisi prescribed Buford with Tylenol with Codeine #3 for two weeks. (Id.)

         On November 20, 2012, Buford was sent to UIC for follow-up and evaluation of his partially torn Achilles tendon. (Def. 56.1, ¶ 32; Pl. 56.1 Resp., ¶ 32). Buford was evaluated by two orthopedic surgeons who noted that Buford had left foot tenderness to palpation along the Achilles; that he was able to plantarflex; and that his motor strength was three out of five. (Def. 56.1, ¶ 33; Pl. 56.1 Resp., ¶ 33). UIC's recommendation was to “Return to clinic with MRI CD and report, ” and this recommendation was “Approved” and signed by Obaisi on November 21, 2012. (Pl. Add'l Facts, ¶ 12; Def. Resp., ¶ 12). A return visit to UIC was not scheduled until March 2013.

         During an examination of his eye by a Registered Nurse on December 21, 2012, the nurse noted no signs of distress, but that Buford stated, “Say my leg is killing me.” (Pl. ...


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