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Lewis v. Wexford Health Sources, Inc.

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

December 15, 2016



          Virginia M. Kendall, Judge

         Plaintiff Christopher Donyell Lewis (“Lewis”) is a prisoner housed in the Illinois Department of Corrections. He filed a civil rights suit pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Wexford Health Sources, Inc. (“Wexford”) and Presently Unknown Physicians and Other Medical Personnel, John Does, of Wexford Health Sources, Inc.[1] (“John Does”) for failing to provide adequate medical care for his sleep apnea in violation of the Eighth Amendment. Lewis is currently incarcerated at the Shawnee Correctional Center and was an Illinois prisoner at Stateville Correctional Center at the time of the events in question. Lewis seeks monetary damages to compensate him for his injuries. Wexford moved for summary judgment pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56. For the following reasons, Wexford's Motion for Summary Judgment is granted. [44, 45]


         The following facts are undisputed based upon the Court's review of the Rule 56 statements unless otherwise noted. In July 2014, while in custody at the Cook County Jail as an inmate of the Illinois Department of Corrections (“IDOC”), Lewis participated in a one-night sleep study at the University of Illinois at Chicago Hospital (“UIC”). (See Dkt. No. 48, at 1-3, ¶ 1, 9; Dkt. No. 53, at 1, ¶ 1.) He was diagnosed with sleep apnea and prescribed a CPAP device[2]to be used when he slept. (Id.) Before this, he had never woken up from not breathing or experienced shortness of breath while sleeping. (See Dkt. No. 48, at 3, ¶10.) Lewis used the machine from approximately July 21, 2014, to August 5, 2014 - or about two weeks - prior to his transfer to the Illinois Department of Corrections. (See Dkt. No. 46-2, at 11.) On August 5, 2014, Lewis was transferred from the Cook County Jail to Stateville Correctional Center (“Stateville”). (Dkt. No. 48, at 3, ¶ 11.) The State of Illinois contracted with Defendant Wexford, a private corporation, to provide medical services to inmates housed at IDOC facilities, including Stateville. (Id., at 1, ¶ 2.) When Lewis arrived at Stateville, none of his medical records contained his sleep apnea diagnosis, nor a prescription for a CPAP device. (See id., at 3, ¶ 12.)

         According to Lewis, he alerted two individuals, Dr. Diane and Nurse Chris, to his medical condition and the prescription for the CPAP device upon arriving at Stateville.[3] (See Dkt. No. 53, at 1-2, ¶ 2.) He told them that he had been using a CPAP machine while he was at Cook County Jail. (Id.) Lewis made a request for a CPAP device to Dr. Diane. (See Dkt. No. 48, at 4, ¶¶ 13-14.) Dr. Diane told Lewis that she would need a copy of his medical records from UIC in order to give him a CPAP device. (Id.) She asked Lewis to sign a release so that she could obtain them. (Id.) On August 5, 2014, the same day that Lewis arrived at Stateville, an authorization for release of information form was processed to investigate Lewis's self-reported sleep apnea diagnosis and to evaluate whether he needed a CPAP device. (Id. ¶ 15.) Lewis believes that he communicated his medical condition to Dr. Diane and Nurse Chris on one or more occasions. (Dkt. No. 53, at 2, ¶ 5.)

         On September 19, 2014, after Lewis did not receive a CPAP machine for more than a month, he filed an Official Grievance. (See Dkt. No. 49, Exhibit A.) On the Grievance, Lewis indicated an emergency due to substantial risk of serious or irreparable injury. (See Dkt. No. 49, Exhibit A.) On October 28, 2014, Lewis was discharged from Stateville. (See Dkt. No. 48, at 3-5, ¶¶ 11, 20.) Before his discharge, Lewis never received the CPAP machine. (See Id. at 4-5, ¶¶ 16-18.) During that time, Lewis's medical records did not arrive at Stateville.[4] (See id.) Lewis says he “has no knowledge as to whether Wexford Health Services knew or did not know, at the time period stated, that [Lewis] needed a CPAP device . . . .” (See Id. ¶ 17.) During the 74 days that he was housed at Stateville, he never suffered a breathing attack nor was he hospitalized for any breathing issues.

         Lewis was subsequently incarcerated at the Vandalia Correctional Center. (See Id. at 5, ¶ 20.) While he was there, Vandalia received the results of Lewis's sleep study. (Id.) Based on the sleep study results, a medical official named Dr. Afuwape made a referral for Lewis's CPAP device, and Wexford approved. (See id.)

         Lewis filed an Amended Complaint alleging that Wexford and John Does were deliberately indifferent to his medical needs by failing to obtain a CPAP device for him. (See Dkt. No. 17.) Lewis seeks monetary damages for the pain and suffering resulting from these events. (See id.) The parties do not dispute that “Wexford does not have a policy denying inmates access to a CPAP device where such a device is indicated for an inmate's care.” (See Dkt. No. 48, at 5, ¶ 21.) Lewis has not further amended his First Amended Complaint to identify and name specific individuals who were personally involved with the conduct addressed in the FAC. [44, 45] (See Dkt. No. 17; Dkt. No. 48, at 6, ¶ 22.)


         Summary judgment is proper where “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). In evaluating a motion for summary judgment, the Court's primary function is not to “evaluate the weight of the evidence or to determine the truth of the matter, ” but to determine whether there is a general issue for trial. Outlaw v. Newkirk, 259 F.3d 833, 837 (7th Cir. 2001). “A factual dispute is ‘genuine' only if a reasonable jury could find for either party.” Nichols v. Mich. City Plant Planning Dep't, 755 F.3d 594, 599 (7th Cir. 2014) (internal quotation marks and citation omitted). The party moving for summary judgment bears the initial burden of production to show that no genuine issue of material fact exists. Outlaw, 259 F.3d at 837 (citing Logan v. Commercial Union Ins. Co., 96 F.3d 971, 978 (7th Cir. 1996)). The burden may be discharged by showing “an absence of evidence to support the nonmoving party's case.” Id. (quoting Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986)). Upon such a showing, the nonmoving party must set forth specific facts showing a genuine issue for trial. Id. (citing to Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e)). The facts must demonstrate that the genuine issue is material and not simply a factual disagreement between the parties. Id. 259 F.3d at 837 (quoting Logan, 96 F.3d at 978). The “nonmovant fails to demonstrate a genuine issue for trial ‘where the record taken as a whole could not lead a rational trier of fact to find for the non-moving party.'” Id. (citations omitted).


         Defendants move for summary judgment on the ground that Lewis “cannot establish deliberate indifference.” [44, 45] Defendants argue that Lewis has neither alleged that Wexford's policies have violated his Eighth Amendment rights, nor that any specific individual acted with deliberate indifference. Lewis argues that the facts presented suffice to support his allegations that he communicated his diagnosis multiple times to Dr. Diane and Nurse Chris, and that these individuals did not take adequate action to secure a CPAP device for Lewis. There is no dispute that Lewis never received the CPAP machine during the time that he was housed in Stateville nor is there any dispute that he was never treated for any injury as a result of not having the CPAP machine. (See Dkt. No. 46-2, at 11, 19-21; Dkt. No. 48, at 4-5, ¶¶ 16-18.) The Plaintiff further has admitted that he cannot establish that there is a pattern or practice of denying inmates CPAP devices when they are needed, including stating that he knew that other people had CPAP machines. (See Dkt. No. 46, at 18-19; Dkt. No. 48, at 4-5, ¶¶ 16-18.)

         A claim of deliberate indifference to a serious medical condition has an objective and subjective component. To meet the objective component, a plaintiff must demonstrate that his medical condition is “objectively, sufficiently serious.” Farmer v. Brennan, 593 F.3d 610, 834 (1994). To satisfy the subjective component, a prisoner must demonstrate a sufficiently culpable state of mind, “something akin to criminal recklessness.” Norfleet v. Webster, 439 F.3d 392, 396-97 (7th Cir. 2006). Negligence does not meet this standard. Id.

         I. Count I - ...

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