United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
S. Shah, Judge
Marshaun Laws, an inmate at Stateville Correctional Center,
brings an action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against
defendants, Dr. Saleh Obaisi and Wexford Health Sources,
Inc., for violating his Eighth Amendment right to be free
from cruel and unusual punishment. Defendants move for
summary judgment, arguing that Laws has not shown that Dr.
Obaisi or Wexford has been deliberately indifferent to his
objectively serious medical condition of chronic,
progressive, and severe back pain. Their motion is granted.
judgment is appropriate if 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). A genuine dispute of
material fact exists if “the evidence is such that a
reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving
party.” Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477
U.S. 242, 248 (1986). The party moving for summary judgment
bears the burden of proving the absence of such a dispute.
See Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323
(1986). All facts and reasonable inferences are construed in
the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. Chaib v.
Geo Grp., Inc., 819 F.3d 337, 341 (7th Cir. 2016).
than fifteen years ago, Laws sustained his first back injury
when he fell off his motorcycle.  ¶ 6. A few years after
that incident, Laws sustained a second back injury when he
rolled his car while attempting to flee the police in a
high-speed chase. Id. Laws did not seek medical
attention after either accident. Id. Approximately
one year after the high-speed chase, Laws was incarcerated.
 ¶ 7.
physician assistant evaluated Laws shortly after he was
transferred to Stateville Correctional Center in January
2013.  ¶ 11. During that evaluation, Laws complained
of a ten-year history of intermittent lower back pain.
Id. The PA examined Laws's lumbar spine, which
revealed no trauma, no deformity, and a full range of motion.
Id. Going forward, the PA's plan was for Laws to
undergo x-ray of his lumbar spine, apply heat to the affected
area, and return to the clinic in one month for a follow-up
appointment. Id. On the same day as this evaluation,
Laws underwent x-ray of his lumbar spine.  ¶ 12. A
few days later, a radiologist reviewed the x-ray and
interpreted it as negative.  ¶ 5.
one-month follow-up appointment, Laws told the PA that he was
working out five days per week. The PA entered a plan to
strengthen Laws's core and to return to the clinic on an
as-needed basis.  ¶ 14. Approximately two months
later, during an evaluation for Laws's complaint of a
several-year history of headaches, he told the PA that he
experienced a few episodes of back pain per year, but that he
was not experiencing any such pain at the evaluation. 
¶ 16. The PA entered a plan for Laws to take Tylenol,
500 mg, twice a day for three months, apply heat to the
affected area up to three times per day, apply an analgesic
balm to the affected area, and perform strengthening
Obaisi evaluated Laws for the first time on November 5, 2013,
in response to Laws's complaints of intermittent lower
back pain.  ¶ 19. Dr. Obaisi performed a physical
examination of Laws's back, which revealed that Laws
could bend to ninety degrees, a straight leg test within
normal limits, deep tendon reflexes within normal limits, and
tenderness to palpation over the right paraspinal musculature
at ¶ 4-5. Id. From these assessments, Dr.
Obaisi concluded that Laws suffered from chronic, recurrent
back pain and Dr. Obaisi entered a plan for Laws to take
Motrin, 600 mg twice a day, for sixty days. Id.
end of February 2014, Laws reported to Dr. Obaisi that his
lower back pain and right leg pain had resolved.  ¶
21. Dr. Obaisi's physical examination revealed no acute
findings; he entered a plan for Laws to follow up for care in
three months. Id. At the follow-up evaluation, Laws
reported to Dr. Obaisi that he experienced lower back pain
intermittently.  ¶ 23. Dr. Obaisi's objective
examination revealed no change in Laws's condition; Laws
continued to suffer from chronic lower back pain.
Id. Dr. Obaisi entered a plan for Laws to use an
analgesic balm, a back brace, and to apply ice to his back
twice a day. Id. Approximately six months later, a
certified medical technician prepared a progress note to
document a letter Laws wrote complaining of sciatic pain.
 ¶ 25.
28, 2015, Dr. Obaisi entered an order for Plaintiff to
undergo an MRI of his lumbar spine.  ¶ 38. The
impetus behind the MRI is disputed. Dr. Obaisi recalls
ordering the MRI in order to rule out “something major,
” and to reassure Laws. Id. Laws believes Dr.
Obaisi only ordered the MRI due to a scheduled hearing on his
motion for an injunction compelling an MRI and an evaluation
by an orthopedic surgeon. Id. Ultimately, Laws
underwent an MRI of his lumbar spine on August 26, 2015. 
¶ 39. Dr. Obaisi reviewed the MRI results with Laws on
October 14, 2015 and entered a plan for Laws to undergo an
ANA C-reactive protein test to determine if Laws's lower
back pain was caused by rheumatoid arthritis or
lupus.  ¶ 41. The MRI report
“Impression” was “[m]ild degenerative disc
disease of the lower lumbar spine with an annular tear at
¶ 4-L5. No neural compromise.” [66-42] at 3. Dr.
Obaisi interpreted the report as showing that Laws did not
suffer from any disc herniations and thus, he concluded that
the annular tear was an unlikely cause of Laws's
intermittent back pain.  ¶ 39; [66-5] at 96:3-99:2.
Laws interprets the MRI report as showing a herniated disc
and he references the portion of the report that discusses a
“posterior disc protrusion.” Under
“Findings, ” the MRI report stated, in relevant
part, “L4-L5: There is a posterior disc protrusion with
annular tear. The neural foramen are widely patent and while
there is mild mass effect on the thecal sac, no evidence of
spinal canal stenosis is seen.” [66-42] at 2.
six months later, Dr. Obaisi examined Laws in response to his
complaints of low back pain, which radiated to his buttocks
and groin, and insufficient pain relief from Motrin. 
¶ 44. Dr. Obaisi's impression was that Laws suffered
from diffuse osteoarthritis; Dr. Obaisi prescribed Indocin,
75 mg, another non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug used to
treat pain, and Robaxin, a muscle relaxant used to treat
muscle spasms and pain. Id. Laws reported to a PA
one month later that he did not take the previously
prescribed Indocin because of the side effects listed on the
label.  ¶ 47. The PA's examination revealed no
acute findings in Laws's lower extremities. Id.
The PA's progress note did not reveal any evidence that
Laws was experiencing any lower back pain at that time.
Id. The PA entered a plan for Laws to discontinue
taking Indocin and restart taking Motrin, 600 mg, four times
a day. Id.
April 5, 2016, an orthopedic surgeon from the University of
Illinois evaluated Laws.  ¶ 52. Laws explained his
longstanding history of lower back pain, but reported that
overall, he was doing “okay” and had a general
pain score of zero. Id. After eliciting a history,
performing a physical exam, and reviewing the MRI, the
orthopedic surgeon concluded that Laws had a disc protrusion
at ¶ 4-5 and L5-S1, mild degenerative disc disease of
the lumbar spine, an annular tear at ¶ 4-5, and no
neural compromise. Id. The orthopedic surgeon's
plan was to start Laws on a course of physical therapy and to
continue using the same course of non-steroidal
anti-inflammatory medications, or to try a course of stronger
medications. Id. In response to the orthopedic
surgeon's recommendation, an order was entered at
Stateville for Laws to undergo physical therapy.  ¶
2013, Laws has been evaluated more than twenty-five times in
the Stateville Health Care Unit for various medical
conditions.  ¶ 61. He has received many forms of
treatment for his lower back pain including medications, an
analgesic balm, a back brace, ice, core strengthening
exercises, imaging studies, labs to test for rheumatoid
factors, a permit for a low bunk, a consultation from an
orthopedic surgeon, and an order for physical therapy. 
¶ 62. Nothing in Laws's medical records from January
2013 to January 2016 show that he had difficulty ambulating,
limited range of motion, or decreased strength in his lumbar
spine or lower extremities.  ¶¶ 58-59. No
physician has rendered the opinion that Laws is an