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Akins v. Wexford Health Sources, Inc.

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

April 12, 2017

FRANCISCO AKINS, Plaintiff,
v.
WEXFORD HEALTH SOURCES, INC., et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          STACI M. YANDLE United States District Judge

         Before the Court is Defendants Wexford Health Sources, Inc. (“Wexford”), Dr. John Shepherd and Dr. Robert Shearing's Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. 59). Plaintiff Francisco Akins, an inmate with the Illinois Department of Corrections filed this action against these defendants and others on May 8, 2014, alleging violations of his constitutional rights in relation to medical treatment he received for his right ankle while he was incarcerated at Menard Correctional Center (“Menard”) (Doc. 1). On November 24, 2015, the Court dismissed Defendant Wills based on Plaintiff's failure to exhaust administrative remedies, and Plaintiff voluntarily dismissed Defendant Fuentes (Doc. 55). Plaintiff has proceeded on the following claims:

Count 1: Defendant John Doe, a correctional officer, violated Plaintiff's Eighth Amendment rights by acting with deliberate indifference to Plaintiff's injuries caused by falling on August 23, 2012;
Count 3: Defendants Wexford Health Sources, Shepherd, and Shearing violated Plaintiff's Eighth Amendment rights by acting with deliberate indifference to Plaintiff's need for medical treatment in relation to his right ankle.

(Docs, 1, 6.)

         Defendants Wexford, Shepherd and Shearing move for summary judgment on Count 3. For the following reasons, Defendants' motion (Doc. 59) is GRANTED.

         BACKGROUND

         From 2012 to July 17, 2016, Plaintiff was incarcerated at Menard (Doc. 60-1 at 4; Doc. 83). During this period, Defendant Wexford contracted with the Illinois Department of Corrections to provide medical services to inmates, including those incarcerated at Menard (Doc. 60-5). Defendant Shepherd worked as a physician with Wexford from 2001 to 2013 and last worked at Menard on October 26, 2012 (Doc. 102-2 at 5). Defendant Shearing worked as a physician at Menard from October 15, 2012, to November 16, 2013 (Doc. 60-4).

         On the evening of August 23, 2012, Plaintiff fell injuring his right ankle and was taken to the medical unit. (Doc. 60-1 at 5-6; Doc. 60-3 at 1). Dr. Shepherd examined Plaintiff the following morning and assessed a right ankle sprain. (Doc. 60-3 at 3). He recommended a permit for a low bunk for two weeks, prescribed Motrin and ordered a right ankle X-ray. (Id.) He also recommended that Plaintiff tightly lace his ankle high leather boots for support as a substitute for an ankle brace. (Id.; Doc. 60-2 at 2.) Later that day, Dr. Shepherd again examined Plaintiff and diagnosed a right ankle strain or sprain. (Doc. 60-3 at 4.) He reviewed the right ankle X-ray and interpreted it as showing either an avulsion fracture or calcium deposits along the Achilles tendon. (Id.) Based on his observations and interpretation of the X-ray, Dr. Shepherd did not to refer Plaintiff to a specialist or for an MRI (Doc. 102-2 at 8.) Following the examination, Plaintiff did not receive the low bunk permit recommended by Dr. Shepherd. (Doc. 60-1 at 10.) Dr. Shepherd did not submit the order for the low bunk permit because he believed that a nurse would complete the form for the order. (Doc. 60-2 at 2; Doc. 102-2 at 7.) On August 27, 2012, the radiologist interpreted the right ankle X-ray, finding no acute bony abnormality. (Doc. 60-2 at 2-3; Doc. 60-3 at 16.)

         Dr. Shepherd examined Plaintiff again on September 27, 2012 and concluded that Plaintiff's ankle sprain/strain was slowly improving. (Doc. 60-3 at 8.) At that time, Plaintiff favored his right ankle as he walked and continued to complain of ankle pain. (Id.) Dr. Shepherd ordered right ankle X-rays, replaced the prescription for Motrin with Naproxen and recommended a follow up appointment in three weeks. (Id.) He concluded that the X-rays revealed a chronic fracture but no acute abnormality. (Id. at 18; Doc. 60-2 at 3-4.)

         Dr. Shepherd next examined Plaintiff on October 19, 2012. At that time, Plaintiff complained that he could not bear weight on his right heel. (Doc. 60-3 at 9.) Dr. Shepherd diagnosed right ankle pain, replaced Plaintiff's prescription for Naproxen with Motrin at Plaintiff's request, ordered arch supports, two-week permit for food in cell and one-year permits for low bunk and slow walk and recommended a follow up appointment in one month. (Id.; Doc. 60-1 at 16.) Dr. Shepherd did not recommend an MRI (Doc. 102-2 at 10.) Also, Dr. Shepherd did not consider a referral for physical therapy because Plaintiff could perform range of motion exercises within the correctional facility. (Id.)

         Plaintiff did not receive the arch supports Dr. Shephard recommended.[1] (Doc. 60-1 at 16.) Dr. Shepherd asserts that he ordered the arch supports but assumed that staff members would complete the order and did not follow up on it. (Doc. 102-2 at 11.) Dr. Shepard ordered another X-ray on Plaintiff's right ankle, which was taken on November 15, 2012. (Doc. 60-3 at 19.) The X-rays revealed no acute bony abnormality. (Id.) Dr. Shepard left his position at Menard on October 26, 2012. (Doc. 60-2 at 4.)

         On November 26, 2012, Dr. Shearing examined Plaintiff, reviewed the X-rays and diagnosed chronic right ankle pain, with no objective evidence of an ongoing injury. (Doc. 60-3 at 10.) He prescribed ibuprofen for pain and recommended that Plaintiff follow up as needed. (Id.)

         On January 8, 2013, Dr. Fuentes ordered a six-month low gallery permit for Plaintiff. (Doc. 103-1 at 5.) He also ordered an X-ray of Plaintiff's right ankle on March 13, 2013, which revealed no acute bony abnormality. (Doc. 60-3 at 20.)

         On May 20, 2013, Plaintiff fell due to his right ankle but did not see a physician. (Doc. 60-1 at 20.) He fell again on June 1, 2013. He was admitted to the infirmary and was prescribed Motrin. (Doc. 60-1 at 22; Doc. 60-3 at 11-12.) Dr. Shearing examined Plaintiff on June 3, 2013 and assessed a mild right ankle sprain. (Doc. 60-3 at 14.) He ordered right ankle X-rays to confirm the diagnosis. (Id.; Doc. 60-4 at 2-3.) The X-rays revealed no ...


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