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Jordan v. Stahr

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

March 13, 2017



          John Z. Lee United States District Judge

         Plaintiff Melvin Jordan has filed this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Defendants Kerry Williams (“Williams”), Akinola Iyiola (“Iyiola”), Rebecca Buczkowski, f/k/a Rebecca Lawler (“Lawler”), Bryan Stahr (“Stahr”), and Jeffery Nurse (“Nurse”). Plaintiff brings claims under the Eighth Amendment for deliberate indifference to medical needs (Count I) and excessive force (Count II). Defendants have filed a motion for summary judgment [206]. For the reasons provided herein, Defendants' motion is granted in part and denied in part.

         Factual Background

         Plaintiff is an inmate in the custody of the Illinois Department of Corrections. Defs.' LR 56.1(a) Stmt. ¶ 1, ECF No. 208. At all times relevant to this case, he resided at Stateville Correctional Center (“Stateville”), where Defendants Williams, Iyiola, Stahr, and Nurse were employed as correctional officers. Id. ¶¶ 1-2. Defendant Lawler was employed at Stateville as a healthcare practitioner. Id.

         At the outset, the Court notes that there are several Stateville policies central to this case that the parties do not dispute. First, when an inmate at Stateville claims to be injured, correctional officers are responsible for informing Stateville's medical technicians about the injury so that a medical technician “can go in and assess [the] inmate right away.” Pl.'s LR 56.1(b)(3)(C) Stmt. ¶¶ 68, 75, ECF No. 225. Under Stateville policy, a medical technician is always dispatched to evaluate an inmate upon notification of a claimed injury. Id. ¶ 71. After evaluating the inmate, medical technicians decide whether the inmate needs to be taken to Stateville's healthcare unit immediately, or whether the inmate can instead be scheduled for treatment the next day. Id. ¶ 68.

         On August 11, 2008, sometime between 4:30 and 7:00 p.m., Plaintiff injured his left foot while playing basketball during a recreational session in a yard next to his confinement unit. Defs.' LR 56.1(a) Stmt. ¶ 8; Pl.'s LR 56.1(b)(3)(C) Stmt. ¶¶ 1- 2. According to Plaintiff, Defendant Williams arrived at the yard at the end of the recreational session to escort the inmates inside. Id. ¶ 4. When Williams arrived, Plaintiff was sitting on the ground with his left shoe off. Id. ¶ 5. He showed Williams his foot, which was visibly swollen, and he told Williams he was unable to walk and was suffering from excruciating pain. Id. ¶¶ 5, 7. He also asked Williams to call a healthcare provider to bring a wheelchair to the yard. Id. ¶ 7. In response, Williams told Plaintiff he “didn't give a fuck what happened” and refused to call a healthcare provider. Id. With no medical care forthcoming, Plaintiff made his way inside by hopping on one foot with the assistance of two other inmates. Id. ¶ 8. Williams denies that he ever had this interaction with Plaintiff. Defs.' Resp. Pl.'s LR 56.1(b)(3)(C) Stmt. ¶¶ 4-8, ECF No. 227.

         Upon entering his confinement unit, Plaintiff told Defendant Iyiola about his injury. Pl.'s LR 56.1(b)(3)(C) Stmt. ¶ 9. Iyiola advised Plaintiff that a healthcare provider would be notified of the injury. Id. ¶ 10. In the meantime, however, Iyiola ordered Plaintiff to return to his cell on the fourth tier of the unit. Id. ¶¶ 10-11. Plaintiff did not want to climb the several flights of stairs leading to his cell, given the severity of his pain. Id. ¶ 11. He explained to Iyiola that he was in extreme pain and requested permission to wait in a ground floor holding cell until a healthcare provider arrived. Id. Iyiola denied this request. Id. Although Iyiola has no recollection of this conversation with Plaintiff, he does not dispute that it occurred. Defs.' LR 56.1(a)(3) Stmt. ¶ 22; Defs.' Resp. Pl.'s LR 56.1(b)(3)(C) Stmt. ¶¶ 9-11.

         After speaking with Iyiola, Plaintiff returned to his cell. Pl.'s LR 56.1(b)(3)(C) Stmt. ¶ 12. Once there, he submerged his foot in the toilet bowl, hoping the water would alleviate his pain. Id. Even though Iyiola had told Plaintiff a healthcare provider would be notified of his injury, no healthcare provider arrived that night. Id. Plaintiff's pain prevented him from climbing to the top of his cell's bunk bed, where Plaintiff normally slept, and so he spent the night on the floor. Id. ¶ 13. When Plaintiff awoke on the morning of August 12, 2008, his foot was discolored and still swollen. Id. He returned to the toilet bowl, again soaking his foot in the water in an effort to dull the pain. Id.

         Later that morning, at 11:00 a.m., Stateville went on lockdown. Defs.' LR 56.1(a)(3) Stmt. ¶ 9. The lockdown required inmates to be confined to their cells absent a medical emergency. Id. ¶ 10. According to Plaintiff, Defendant Lawler came to distribute medicine to inmates in Plaintiff's unit sometime that afternoon or evening, while the lockdown remained ongoing. See Pl.'s LR 56.1(b)(3)(C) Stmt. ¶ 14. Plaintiff showed Lawler his swollen, discolored ankle, told her he was in pain, and requested medical care. Id. ¶ 15. Lawler acknowledged Plaintiff's injury and told him she would send someone to escort him to the healthcare unit as soon as she finished distributing medications. Id. As with the previous evening, however, no healthcare provider or escort ever arrived, and Plaintiff spent another night sleeping on the floor of his cell. Id. Lawler denies that she ever had this interaction with Plaintiff. Defs.' Resp. LR 56.1(b)(3)(C) Stmt. ¶¶ 14-15.

         Around 3:00 a.m. on August 13, 2008, an officer named Lieutenant Young was walking through the gallery in Plaintiff's unit. Pl.'s LR 56.1(b)(3)(C) Stmt. ¶ 16. Plaintiff showed his injured foot to Young and asked him to notify the healthcare unit of his injury. Id. Later that morning, Defendant Stahr arrived at Plaintiff's cell to finally escort him to the healthcare unit. Defs.' LR 56.1(a)(3) Stmt., Ex. B (“Pl.'s Dep.”), at 48. Before descending the stairway to the ground floor, Plaintiff told Stahr about his injury and pain, and he asked Stahr to request that a healthcare provider bring a wheelchair to transport him. Pl.'s LR 56.1(b)(3)(C) Stmt. ¶¶ 19-20. Stahr refused to do so. Id. ¶ 19. Plaintiff then asked Stahr to temporarily handcuff Plaintiff's arms in front of his body rather than behind his back, so he could use the stairway railings for balance and support. Id. ¶ 20. Stahr refused to accommodate this request as well. Id. Accordingly, Stahr handcuffed Plaintiff behind his back, and Plaintiff proceeded to “walk and hop” down three flights of stairs to the ground level. Id. ¶ 21. Plaintiff believes that proceeding down the stairs in this manner exacerbated his foot injury, id., though he admitted at his deposition that he does not know whether this belief is accurate, Pl.'s Dep. at 53.

         Next, Plaintiff attests that, when he reached the bottom of the stairs, he saw Defendant Nurse. Pl.'s LR 56.1(b)(3)(C) Stmt. ¶ 22. He informed Nurse of his pain and inability to walk. Id. He also asked Nurse to call for a wheelchair, but Nurse refused this request. Id. Nurse denies that this interaction took place. Defs.' Resp. Pl.'s LR 56.1(b)(3)(C) Stmt. ¶ 22.

         At 11:00 a.m. that morning, Plaintiff was finally seen by a medical practitioner in the healthcare unit. Pl.'s LR 56.1(b)(3)(C) Stmt. ¶ 25. By this time, the lockdown had ended. Defs.' LR 56.1(a)(3) Stmt. ¶ 9. The doctor who examined Plaintiff's foot, Dr. Liping Zhang, found that the foot showed no swelling, bruising, or marked deformity. Id. ¶ 12. Dr. Zhang diagnosed Plaintiff with a left foot strain, a type of soft tissue injury caused by overuse. Id. ¶ 13. At her deposition, Dr. Zhang testified that, if a patient is not seen by a doctor for two days following a foot strain, it is possible that any swelling caused by the strain will decrease by the time the doctor examines the foot. Pl.'s LR 56.1(b)(3)(C) Stmt. ¶ 53.

         In addition to diagnosing a foot strain, Dr. Zhang told Plaintiff that his foot could possibly be fractured. Id. ¶ 26. She accordingly ordered an x-ray for Plaintiff's left foot. Id. ¶ 27. She also provided Plaintiff with an ankle brace, one crutch to be used for two weeks (a second crutch was not available), analgesic balm to apply to his foot, and a package of 400 mg Ibuprofen. Id. ¶ 29.

         For reasons not apparent from the record, the x-ray of Plaintiff's left foot was not taken until October 2012, four years after Dr. Zhang ordered it. Id. ¶ 47. The x-ray results were negative for a fracture. Id. Defendants admit, however, that a fracture will not necessarily be detected by an x-ray that is taken four years after the fracture is formed. Defs.' Resp. Pl.'s LR 56.1(b)(3)(C) Stmt. ΒΆ 47. As of the time of his ...

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