United States District Court, S.D. Illinois
LEVERT J. JONES, Plaintiff,
DONALD GAETZ, CHRISTINE BROWN, and VIPIN SHAH, Defendants.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
J. ROSENSTENGEL United States District
Levert J. Jones, an inmate in the custody of the Illinois
Department of Corrections (“IDOC”), filed this
lawsuit pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 alleging his Eighth
Amendment rights were violated while he was incarcerated at
Pinckneyville Correctional Center
(“Pinckneyville”). More specifically, Jones
alleges that prison and medical personnel at Pinckneyville
denied him surgery for removal of his colostomy bag.
a screening of the complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
1915A, Jones was allowed to proceed on a deliberate
indifference claim against Dr. Vipin Shah, Pinckneyville
Nursing Director Christine Brown, and the former
Pinckneyville Warden, Donald Gaetz.
matter is currently before the Court on the motions for
summary judgment filed by Defendant Dr. Shah (Doc. 65) and
Defendants Gaetz and Brown (Doc. 76). The Court has
considered the briefs and all of the evidence submitted by
the parties and, for the reasons set forth below, the Motion
for Summary Judgment filed by Defendant Dr. Shah is denied,
and the Motion for Summary Judgment filed by Defendants Gaetz
and Brown is granted.
claims in this matter stem from an incident on June 23, 2013,
in which Jones was shot in the back by a security guard
during a “snatch and grab” attempt (Doc. 66-3, p.
11). The bullet entered Jones's body in the right lower
quadrant (at the pubic bone) and exited above his left
buttock in his lower back (Doc. 66-2, ¶13; Doc. 66-5, p.
1). Jones was taken to Advocate Good Samaritan Hospital
(“Good Samaritan Hospital”) and underwent
emergency surgery, which entailed a small bowel and sigmoid
resection, appendectomy, proctoscopy, and formation of a
colostomy (Doc. 66-2, ¶13; see Doc. 66-5, pp.
1-2). Jones claims he was told by his surgeon following
surgery that he should return in three to six months for a
colostomy reversal surgery, because his colostomy was not
permanent (Doc. 66-3, pp. 13-14; Doc. 75, p. 13, ¶9).
There are no notations, however, regarding any required
follow-up procedure or follow-up instructions in the records
from Good Samaritan Hospital (see generally Doc.
was discharged from Good Samaritan Hospital on June 28, 2013,
and he was held at DuPage County Jail until he was placed
into IDOC custody at Stateville Correctional Center
(“Stateville”) on December 12, 2013 (Doc. 66-2,
¶¶14-15; Doc. 66-3, pp. 14-15). Approximately one
month later, Jones was transferred from Stateville to
Centralia Correctional Center (“Centralia”) (Doc.
66-3, p. 30; see Doc. 66-7, p. 1). Dr. Venerio
Santos, the Medical Director at Centralia, requested copies
of Jones's medical records from Good Samaritan Hospital
on at least two occasions (see Doc. 66-8; Doc.
66-9). It is not clear when (or if) the records
were ever sent (or received). On August 25, 2014, however,
Dr. Santos requested a consult for a colostomy reversal, and
the procedure was denied on September 2, 2014, by Dr. Garcia
“during collegial discussion with Dr. Santos”
(see Doc. 66-7, pp. 5-6).
was transferred to Pinckneyville on September 9, 2014 (Doc.
66-2, ¶16; Doc. 66-3, p. 10; see Doc. 66-7, p.
7). On September 24, 2014, Jones was seen by a nurse and
referred to a physician about having a colostomy reversal
(Doc. 66-2, ¶18; see Doc. 66-7, p. 8).
Defendant Dr. Shah saw Jones on September 26, 2014, and noted
that the wound surrounding Jones's stoma for his
colostomy bag was clean (Doc. 66-2, ¶19; see
Doc. 66-7, p. 9). The Court is unable to decipher any of Dr.
Shah's other notes from this appointment (see
Doc. 66-7, p. 9), but Jones attests that he told Dr. Shah
that his surgeon indicated his colostomy “could and
should” be reversed in three to six months (Doc. 75, p.
testified that Defendant Dr. Shah was “[t]he most
person I ever talked to” regarding his request for a
colostomy reversal and indicated that Dr. Shah told him that
“unless it's an emergency, we cannot do it”
(Doc. 66-3, p. 18). Defendant Dr. Shah attests that during
the time he has treated Jones, the colostomy site has
remained stable and asymptomatic, and it is functioning with
no problems (Doc. 66-2, ¶20). There are no other medical
records before the Court, however, which reflect any further
examinations of Jones's colostomy by Dr. Shah. Dr. Shah
further attests that the records from Jones's surgeon do
not indicate that the colostomy could be reversed, and most
colostomies are permanent (Id. at
¶¶21-25). There is also no medical indication that
a reversal of Jones's colostomy is necessary at this time
and, as such, the procedure would be considered elective
(Id.). Jones attests, however, that his colostomy
causes frequent abdominal pain, and it has led to significant
weight gain, high blood pressure, and severe mental anguish,
including depression and anxiety (Doc. 66-3, pp. 19, 32; Doc.
75, p. 15, ¶19). Jones also indicates that he has been
told that if he has the colostomy too long, it will become
permanent (Doc. 66-3, p. 25).
addition to complaining about his colostomy and seeking a
reversal from Dr. Shah, Jones also asserts that he wrote
letters and grievances to Defendant Gaetz, and he spoke with
Gaetz a couple of times, informing him that he needed a
colostomy reversal and the medical personnel at Pinckneyville
were not doing their jobs (Doc. 66-3, pp. 21-23). Defendant
Gaetz never responded to Jones's letters or grievances
and never followed up after he lodged his oral complaints
(Id. at pp. 23-24). Jones could not definitively
recall if he wrote any letters to Christine Brown, nor could
he remember when he sent the letters; he also did not provide
any testimony about the contents of the supposed letters
(Id. at pp. 25-26). But Brown is the Director of
Nursing at Pinckneyville, and Jones regularly informed the
nurses that he needed a colostomy reversal (Id. at
pp. 25-26). Jones also attests that Brown would have received
his request slips seeking a colostomy reversal, but ignored
his complaints (Doc. 82, p. 1, ¶1).
standard applied to summary judgment motions under Federal
Rule of Civil Procedure 56 is well-settled and has been
succinctly stated as follows:
Summary judgment is appropriate where the admissible evidence
shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material
fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a
matter of law. A “material fact” is one
identified by the substantive law as affecting the outcome of
the suit. A “genuine issue” exists with respect
to any such material fact . . . when “the evidence is
such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the
nonmoving party.” On the other hand, where the factual
record taken as a whole could not lead a rational
trier of fact to find for the non-moving party, there is