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Billups v. Butalid

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

September 22, 2016

MICHAEL BILLUPS, #R-07807, Plaintiff,


          NANCY J. ROSENSTENGEL United States District Judge.

         Plaintiff William Billups, an inmate who is currently incarcerated at Robinson Correctional Center (“Robinson”), brings this pro se action for alleged violations of his constitutional rights under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (Doc. 16). The complaint before the Court is an amended complaint, filed after this Court appointed counsel to assist Billups in presenting his claims. Billups's claims all stem from the core assertion that the care providers at Robinson and the supervisory medical entity (Wexford) have been deliberately indifferent to his serious medical needs, which has led to ongoing and increasingly progressive and permanent deterioration of his hand and arm. As to the individual defendants, Billups alleges that their course of treatment was not effective or sufficient to meet his needs. As to Wexford, Billups alleges that they maintain a violative policy or custom linked to the provision of inadequate care at Robinson. In connection with his claims, Billups has specifically named Drs. James, Williams, and Butalid, as well as Wexford. He seeks monetary compensation.

         The case is now before the Court for a preliminary review of the amended complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. Under Section 1915A, the Court is required to promptly screen prisoner complaints to filter out nonmeritorious claims. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). The Court is required to dismiss any portion of the complaint that is legally frivolous, malicious, fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or asks for money damages from a defendant who by law is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b).

         The Complaint

         According to the complaint, Billups has suffered the ill-effects of inadequate medical care since his entry into the Illinois Department of Corrections (“IDOC”) in 2013 (Doc. 1). Prior to entering the IDOC, Billups alleges that he was a physical laborer and that full use of his hands was critical to his work (Id. at 2). During his initial time in IDOC, Billups also worked as a physical laborer for the dietary unit, work which required ample use of his hands (Id.). In November or December of 2013, Billups was diagnosed with high cholesterol and was prescribed Zocor and aspirin for the condition, without being warned of potential side-effects (Id. at 3). Sometime thereafter, Billups began to notice deterioration of the tissue in his right hand and arm (Id. at 3-4).

         In 2014, Defendant Williams noted that Billups did not have high cholesterol and discontinued the medication for this condition (Id.). Billups complained about pain in his hand and arm and chronic headaches (Id. at 4). He also showed Defendant Williams the tissue deterioration, but received no treatment for the condition aside from aspirin (Id.).

         In December 2014 and May 2015, Billups saw Defendant Butalid, who prescribed Gemfibrozil for high cholesterol, as well as aspirin (Id.). Billups informed Butalid of the deteriorating arm tissue and muscle and he told him he had completely lost the ability to pick things up with his right hand (Id.). In May 2015, Defendant Butalid ordered x-rays, which showed osteoid-arthritic changes of the thumb joint and minor changes of the radial carpal joint (Id.). Despite the results of the x-ray, Billups alleges that Butalid did not prescribe further treatment (Id.).

         In February 2016, after ongoing complaints of chronic pain, Billups was sent to an external care provider for surgery. Billups underwent surgery for carpal tunnel syndrome and for nerve release (in relation to nerve palsy) (Id. at 5). The surgery did help, but Billups alleges that the improvements were minimal and that he still suffers from noticeable muscle atrophy in his right arm and hand, as well as chronic pain (Id.).

         Billups's complaint makes individual allegations as to each medical defendant in distinct counts (counts 1-3). As to Defendant James, Billups alleges that he was made aware of the hand and arm deterioration in 2013 and 2014 and that he did not prescribe any course of treatment for said condition (count 1) (Id. at 6). Billups alleges that Defendant Williams saw him in 2014, was made aware of the increasingly severe deterioration, and merely prescribed aspirin-an allegedly ineffective course of treatment (count 2) (Id. at 6-7). Defendant Butalid saw Billups in 2014 and 2015, prescribed ineffective medications, and ultimately ordered an x-ray (Id. at 7-8). Despite having ordered an x-ray, Billups contends that Butalid was deliberately indifferent because he failed to act on the findings of the x-rays (count 3).

         Billups also alleges that Defendant Wexford Health Source, Inc. maintained a custom or policy of providing inadequate medical care by prioritizing cost management over the quality of care provided to inmates (Id. at 8). The policy manifested in a number of ways, including: no continuity of care providers; inadequate medical staffing at Robinson; inadequate medical record keeping; and discouragement of external care referrals, among other things (Id. at 8-9). As a result of the custom or policy, Billups alleges that he has suffered permanent disfiguration and that he will never enjoy the opportunity of employment as a laborer due to the resulting disabilities (Id. at 9-10). Billups seeks monetary compensation from all parties.


         Based on the allegations, the Court will adopt the designation of counts set forth by Billups's attorney in the amended complaint. The parties and the Court will use these designations in all future pleadings and orders, unless otherwise directed by a judicial officer of this Court. The designation of these counts does not constitute an opinion regarding their merit.

Count 1: Eighth Amendment deliberate indifference claim against Defendant James for his alleged failure to provide any pertinent treatment for Billups's muscle and tissue deterioration in 2013 or 2014;
Count 2: Eighth Amendment deliberate indifference claim against Defendant Williams for his alleged failure to provide any pertinent treatment for Billups's muscle ...

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