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Collins v. Kelly

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

April 25, 2017

DeShawn Collins (B-71295), Plaintiff,
Dr. Jonathan Kelly, Defendant.


          John J. Tharp, Jr. United States District Judge.

         Plaintiff DeShawn Collins, who is proceeding pro se, contends that Stateville Correctional Center psychiatrist Jonathan Kelly's decision to discontinue a psychiatric prescription medication for approximately one month violated his Eighth Amendment right to receive constitutionally adequate medical care. Dr. Kelly's motion for summary judgment pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56 is before the Court. The record reflects that Dr. Kelly provided attentive and professionally reasonable care for Collins at all times, so the Court grants Dr. Kelly's motion in its entirety.


         I. Northern District of Illinois Local Rule 56.1

         Local Rule 56.1 sets out a procedure for presenting facts that are germane to a party's request for summary judgment pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 56. Specifically, Local Rule 56.1(a)(3) requires the moving party to submit “a statement of material facts as to which the moving party contends there is no genuine issue and that entitle the moving party to judgment as a matter of law.” Petty v. City of Chicago, 754 F.3d 416, 420 (7th Cir. 2014). Each paragraph of the movant's statement of facts must include “specific references to the affidavits, parts of the record, and other supporting materials relied upon to support the facts set forth in that paragraph.” L.R. 56.1(a). The opposing party must file a response to each numbered paragraph in the moving party's statement, “including, in the case of any disagreement, specific references to the affidavits, parts of the record, and other supporting materials relied upon.” L.R. 56.1(b)(3)(B). “All material facts set forth in the statement required of the moving party will be deemed to be admitted unless controverted by the statement of the opposing party.” L.R. 56.1(b)(3)(C). The nonmoving party may also present a separate statement of additional facts “consisting of short numbered paragraphs, of any additional facts that require the denial of summary judgment, including references to the affidavits, parts of the record, and other supporting materials relied upon.” L.R. 56.1(b)(3)(C). “[I]f additional material facts are submitted by the opposing party . . ., the moving party may submit a concise reply in the form prescribed in that section for a response.” L.R. 56.1(a).

         Because Collins is proceeding pro se, Dr. Kelly served him with a “Notice to Pro Se Litigant Opposing Motion for Summary Judgment” as required by Northern District of Illinois Local Rule 56.2. The notice explained how to respond to Dr. Kelly's summary judgment motion and Local Rule 56.1 statement of facts and cautioned Collins that the Court would deem Dr. Kelly's factual contentions admitted if Collins failed to follow the procedures in Local Rule 56.1.

         Although courts construe pro se pleadings liberally, see Thomas v. Williams, 822 F.3d 378, 385 (7th Cir. 2016), a plaintiff's pro se status does not excuse him from complying with federal and local procedural rules. See McNeil v. United States, 508 U.S. 106, 113 (1993) (holding that “we have never suggested that procedural rules in ordinary civil litigation should be interpreted so as to excuse mistakes by those who proceed without counsel”); Collins v. Illinois, 554 F.3d 693, 697 (7th Cir. 2009) (“even pro se litigants must follow procedural rules”). Collins did not submit any filings in opposition to Dr. Kelly's motion for summary judgment and the time to do so has passed. Because Collins has neither responded to Dr. Kelly's statement of facts nor opposed the summary judgment motion, the Court will accept Dr. Kelly's “uncontroverted version of the facts to the extent that it is supported by evidence in the record.” Keeton v. Morningstar, Inc., 667 F.3d 877, 880 (7th Cir. 2012); L.R. 56.1(b)(3)(C).

         II. Facts

         Collins is currently incarcerated at the Hill Correctional Center, but was housed at the Stateville Correctional Center in 2013, when he received the medical care at issue in this lawsuit. (Def. SOF at ¶ 1.) Dr. Kelly is a psychiatrist who has treated psychiatric disorders at Stateville since January 6, 2011. (Id. at ¶¶ 2, 6.) Dr. Kelly is trained in the pharmacologic management of mental disorders through the use of psychotropic medications. (Id. at ¶ 6.) In determining which psychotropic medicine to prescribe for a mental health disorder, Dr. Kelly utilizes his professional judgment to prescribe the most efficacious medication at the lowest possible dose to obtain the desired therapeutic outcome, while minimizing the risk of adverse side effects. (Id. at ¶ 9.) His practice is to inform patients of the benefits of specific medications, as well as any potential side effects. (Id. at ¶ 10.)

         Dr. Kelly first treated Collins at Stateville on May 14, 2013. (Id. at ¶ 8.) At that time, he diagnosed Collins with an unspecified mood disorder. (Id.; Pl. Dep. at 11:20-12-5.) Based on this diagnosis, Dr. Kelly decided to prescribe Depakote (Valproic Acid) at a dosage of 500 mg twice daily. (Def. SOF at ¶ 12.) Possible side effects of Depakote include infection, a decrease in blood platelets and the ability to clot, a decrease in white blood cells, acute liver failure, and other complications. (Id. at ¶ 14.) Because Collins had a history of leukopenia (abnormally low white blood cells) dating back to 2001, and leukopenia can affect the body's ability to fight infection, Dr. Kelly ordered blood tests during the May 14, 2013 appointment so he could monitor whether Depakote therapy caused any adverse effects. (Id. at ¶¶ 15, 18.)

         On May 29, 2013, Collins' blood was drawn. (Id. at ¶ 16.) Test results obtained the following day showed that his white blood cells, percent neutrophils (the percentage of a type of white blood cell), and platelets were low, and his valproic acid level and percent lymphocytes (the percentage of another type of white blood cell) were high. (Id. at ¶ 17.) On June 4, 2013, Dr. Kelly reviewed the test results with Stateville Medical Director Saleh Obaisi, MD, because he was concerned about Collins' valproic acid level, neutrophils, and platelet count. (Id. at ¶ 19.) Dr. Kelly compared Collins' prior test results, which showed that he had leukopenia in 2001 and 2011, with the May 2013 test results, and concluded that Depakote therapy could be adversely affecting Collins' blood cells. (Id. at ¶¶ 19-20.)

         If Collins' leukopenia worsened, he would have a greater risk of infection and a decreased ability to fight infection, and patients with significant leukopenia who contract an infection can experience complications such as sepsis, septic shock, and death. (Id. at ¶ 22.) Decreased platelets can result in the inability to clot blood in the event of a cut or laceration. (Id.) Infection and physical injuries accompanied by bleeding are of particular concern in the prison context. (Id.)

         Accordingly, Dr. Kelly balanced the benefits versus the risks of continuing Depakote and decided to discontinue Depakote and re-evaluate Collins to determine if Depakote was responsible for Collins' abnormal bloodwork. (Id. at ¶ 21.) Based upon his review of Collins' medical records at Stateville, Dr. Kelly believes that discontinuing Depakote on June 4, 2013, did not result in any physical harm to Collins. (Id. at ¶ 49.) Dr. Kelly's sole reason for discontinuing Depakote was to prevent it from negatively affecting Collins' chronic leukopenia. (Id. at ¶¶ 50, 54.)

         On June 21, 2013, Collins' blood was redrawn pursuant to Dr. Kelly's orders to determine if Collins' condition had improved after discontinuing Depakote. (Id. at ¶ 23.) It had not. (Id.) For unknown reasons, Collins did not present for a July 3, 2013 appointment with Dr. Kelly, who had planned to review Collins' lab results and medication options ...

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