United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Honorable Thomas M. Durkin United States District Judge.
Dixon is an inmate in the custody of the Illinois Department
of Corrections (“IDOC”) at Menard Correctional
Center in Illinois. In his amended complaint, he alleges
that, while he was in custody at Stateville Correctional
Center, IDOC staff and medical service providers were
deliberately indifferent to his medical needs in violation of
the Eighth Amendment (Counts I & II), and retaliated against
him for filing this case (Counts III & IV). R. 75.
Specifically, Dixon has sued Stateville's former Warden,
Marcus Hardy; Stateville's former Assistant Warden,
Darryl Edwards; correctional officer, Ricardo Tejeda;
clothing room supervisor, Milton Jones; the IDOC's
medical services provider, Wexford Health Sources, Inc.; and
a doctor employed by Wexford, namely Imotep Carter, who
served as Stateville's medical director. See Id.
Defendants have filed motions for summary judgment. R. 104;
R. 109. The Court appointed counsel for Dixon, and his
counsel has prepared the amended complaint and papers
opposing Defendants' motions. For the following reasons,
Defendants' motions are granted in part and denied in
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).
worked as a “cellhouse worker” in Stateville. R.
117 ¶ 10. Dixon requested gloves for his job, but was
told that he would not be provided gloves because he did not
work outside. Id. ¶ 12. As part of his duties,
on August 4, 2011, Dixon was pushing a heavy cart when
another cellhouse worker's chart pushed the cell
house's door into Dixon's cart, and Dixon's
middle finger was smashed between the cart and the wall.
Id. ¶ 10. The tip of his middle finger was
severed. Id. Dixon claims that Stateville's
failure to provide him with gloves caused his injury, and has
sued Warden Hardy, Assistant Warden Edwards, and clothing
room supervisor Jones, with regard to this claim.
he injured his finger, Dixon was immediately treated by Dr.
Carter at Stateville and then transferred to a private
hospital, where his finger's condition was stabilized. R.
121 ¶¶ 9-13. Over the next six days, Dixon was
examined several times by a hand specialist at the medical
offices of Alan Chen Surgical Associates, namely Dr. Victor
Tsai, and had two surgeries. Id. ¶¶ 14-27.
Dr. Tsai was ultimately unable to re-attach the tip of his
middle finger. Id. Dixon does not dispute
that his finger healed adequately despite Dr. Tsai's
inability to reattach the tip of his finger. Dixon also does
not claim that he received inadequate medical care
with respect to the efforts to repair and heal his finger.
alleges that he was given inadequate pain medication and was
not provided necessary physical therapy, and has sued Warden
Hardy, Assistant Warden Edwards, Dr. Carter, and Wexford with
regard to these claims. At his initial hospital visit to
treat his injury, Dixon was prescribed Norco, which is opioid
pain medication. R. 121 ¶ 17. But when he returned to
Stateville, Dixon was instead given Tramadol, a narcotic-like
pain reliever with the brand name Ultram. R. 106-4 at 5. On
August 5, 2011, Dr. Tsai prescribed Vicodin. R. 121 ¶
22. But upon his return to Stateville, Dixon was again given
Tramadol. Id. ¶ 23. Dixon saw Dr. Tsai again on
August 9, 2011, but he was not prescribed any pain
medication. Id. ¶ 25; R. 121-9 at 16. After
performing surgery on Dixon's finger on August 11, 2011,
Dr. Tsai prescribed Tylenol #3, R. 121 ¶ 28, but
Stateville provided Dixon with Motrin. R. 121-7 at 14.
Stateville continued to provide Dixon with Tramadol through
the date of his transfer to Menard on September 17, 2012.
See R. 121 ¶¶ 30, 43, 47, 53, 60; R. 121-7
at 36; R. 106-4 at 64.
Carter referred Dixon for physical therapy on November 23,
2011. R. 121-7 at 36. Dr. Tsai also recommended physical
therapy on December 8, 2011. R. 121 ¶ 58. Dixon
testified that he never received physical therapy, and
Defendants have not identified any evidence in the record to
show that he did receive physical therapy. The parties
dispute whether Dixon was ever instructed on how to do range
of motion exercises on his own.
filed this action on July 13, 2012. Two months later on
September 17, 2012, Dixon was transferred to Menard
Correctional Center (which is 400 miles further away from his
family) based on an investigation that revealed that Dixon
had threatened another inmate saying, “I'm gonna
bag and tag the b****.” R. 111-1 at 101. Dixon contends
that there was no basis for this investigation and that it
was undertaken solely to create pretext for his transfer.
See R. 116 at 6-7.
argues that Warden Hardy, Assistant Warden Edwards, and
clothing room supervisor Jones were deliberately indifferent
to Dixon's need to wear gloves to safely complete his
duties as a cellhouse worker. “In the context of a
conditions of confinement claim . . . a convicted prisoner is
entitled to be free from conditions that constitute cruel and
unusual punishment” in violation of the Eighth
Amendment. Smith v. Dart, 803 F.3d 304, 309 (7th
Cir. 2015). To be cruel and unusual, “the alleged
condition must be objectively serious . . . and the defendant
prison official must possess a sufficiently culpable state of
mind.” Id. “An adverse condition amounts
to a constitutional deprivation when it results in the denial
of a basic human need, such as adequate food, clothing,
shelter, and medical care.” Id. at 309-10;
see also Grady v. Hardy, 826 F.3d 1000, 1005 (7th
Cir. 2016) (“lack of heat, clothing, or
sanitation”). To have a sufficiently culpable state of
mind a defendant must have been deliberately indifferent to
the condition posing a serious risk. See Smith v.
Sangamon Cty. Sheriff's Dep't, 715 F.3d 188, 191
(7th Cir. 2013). Deliberate indifference “requires a
showing that the [defendant] was aware of a substantial risk
of serious injury to [the plaintiff] but nevertheless failed
to take appropriate steps to protect him from a known
has failed to demonstrate that performing his cellhouse
duties without gloves was an objectively serious risk.
Pushing a cart (even if it was large and heavy) around the
prison is not objectively dangerous work. Notably,
Dixon's injury was caused by a freak accident when
another cart was pushed into a door which in turn caused
Dixon's cart to smash his finger against a wall. Dixon
has not argued, let alone presented evidence, that an
accident such as this was foreseeable such that officials at
Stateville should have taken additional precautions such ...