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Williams v. Fenoglio

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

May 3, 2017

LEONARD WILLIAMS, R05138, Plaintiff,
v.
DR. JAMES FENOGLIO, LYNN PHILLIPPE, PHIL MARTIN, STEPHANIE REED, LT. ROBERT BOLDREY, ALAN DALLAS, BRIAN EUBANK, DALLAS WILLIS, RODNEY RHODES, PATRICIA POTTS, CLAUDIA DOWTY, KELSEY CUMMINS, MARC HODGE and CECIL VAUGHN, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          MICHAEL J. REAGAN, Chief Judge United States District Court

         Plaintiff Leonard Williams is an inmate in the Illinois Department of Corrections (“IDOC”) prison system. On May 12, 2012, he injured his ankle while playing basketball in the Lawrence Correctional Center (“Lawrence”) gymnasium. Williams was provided crutches and an ankle wrap, but his condition worsened three days later when his crutch slipped while he was ascending a flight of stairs. Williams fell backwards down the stairs, landing hard on his back and shoulder. Despite his repeated visits to the Lawrence Health Care Unit (“HCU”), Williams asserts that he did not receive adequate medical treatment. Williams filed this lawsuit against various IDOC employees and employees of Wexford Health Sources, Inc. (Wexford), a contractor that provides health care services to IDOC inmates. The defendants moved for summary judgment. (Docs. 128, 135). For the following reasons, the Defendants' Motions for Summary Judgment are hereby GRANTED.

         I. BACKGROUND

         On May 12, 2012, Plaintiff Leonard Williams was playing basketball in the Lawrence prison gymnasium when he fell and injured his ankle. (Plaintiff's Deposition, Doc. 129-7, p. 5). Two correctional officers arrived shortly thereafter and carried Williams to the Lawrence HCU. Id. He arrived at the HCU at approximately 1:30 p.m., and he was examined by Nurse Hollingsworth. (Doc. 129-1, p. 2). Medical records from the examination indicate that Williams complained of pain (an “8” on the 1-10 scale) and tingling in his left ankle. Id. He also stated that he was unable to put weight on the ankle. Id. Nurse Hollingsworth observed swelling in the ankle and noted that Williams exhibited a limited range of motion. Id. She prescribed him Tylenol, an ACE wrap to stabilize the ankle, a pair of crutches, and a permit for ice. Id. Williams stated at his deposition that he also asked Nurse Hollingsworth for a low gallery and low bunk permit, but she told him that “it wasn't up to her.” (Doc. 129-7, p. 5). After the examination, Williams was placed in a wheelchair, and a correctional officer escorted him back to his housing unit. Id.

         Two days later on May 14, 2012, Williams returned to the Lawrence HCU to be examined by Dr. James Fenoglio. (Doc. 129-7, p. 6). An x-ray examination showed that Williams's leg was not fractured. Id. However, Dr. Fenoglio observed that the ankle was swollen, and he diagnosed that it was sprained. (Doc. 129-1, p. 3). Dr. Fenoglio then reissued Williams a permit for the crutches and scheduled a follow up examination in two weeks. Id. Williams testified at his deposition that he also requested a low gallery and low bunk permit, but Dr. Fenoglio told him that such permits were issued by corrections staff. (Doc. 129-7, p. 6).[1]

         Williams testified at his deposition that he requested a low bunk and low gallery permit from multiple other individuals. Between May 12, 2012, and May 15, 2012, Williams alleges that he spoke to Lt. Robert Boldrey on two occasions to request a low bunk and low gallery permit. (Doc. 129-7, p. 15). Lt. Boldrey told Williams that a doctor would need to approve that kind of permit. Id. During that same time period, Williams also requested a low bunk permit from Correctional Officer Cecil Vaughn. Id. at 16. Vaughn told Williams that he should request the permit from a doctor. Id. Additionally, Williams requested permits from Brian Eubanks, Dallas Willis, and Warden Marc Hodge, but they each told him to either speak to a Lieutenant or request a permit at the HCU. Id. at 17-19.

         Lorie Cunningham, who is not a party to this litigation but is the current Health Care Unit Administrator at Lawrence, provided an affidavit attached to the IDOC Defendants' motion for summary judgment. (Doc. 136-1). Cunningham states in her affidavit that low bunk and low gallery permits may only be authorized by a medical doctor, nurse practitioner, or a physician's assistant. Id. at p. 1. She also states that security staff members are not authorized to issue low bunk and low gallery permits, and that this policy was in effect in 2012. Id. at p. 1.

         On May 15, 2012, Williams experienced another injury. (Doc. 129-7, p. 6). Williams's cell was located on the upper gallery, so he was required to descend a flight of stairs to get to ground level shower and telephones. Id. Williams wanted to use the shower that day, and his cellmate helped him walk down the flight of stairs. Id. After using the shower and placing a telephone call to his mother, Williams decided to navigate back up the stairs by himself using only one crutch. Id. When Williams was about three-quarters of the way up the stairs, his crutch slipped, and he fell backwards, landing on his back and shoulder. Id. at 7. The “Offender Injury Report” for the incident states “I/M was going up the stairs [with] one crutch when he was ordered to have 2 crutches - lost balance [and] fell down the stairs hurt his back [and] R shoulder.” (Doc. 129-1, p. 37). Two correctional officers named Eubanks and Rhodes immediately came over to assist. (Doc. 129-7, p. 7). They then called a “Code 3” or medical emergency. Id.

         Shortly thereafter, Williams was placed on a stretcher and wheeled to the HCU. Id. Williams testified at his deposition that Nurse Kelsey Cummins examined his ankle, back and shoulders. Id. At the conclusion of the examination, Williams was issued a low bunk and low gallery permit, some ibuprofen, and a renewal of the crutches permit. Id. at 8. Nurse Cummins then told Williams that there was “nothing wrong” with him. Id. at 33. Despite Williams's continued complaints of pain, at the conclusion of the medical examination Correctional Officers Vaughn and Rhodes picked up Williams off the examining table and placed him in a wheelchair. Id. at 25. After this examination, Nurse Cummins provided no further treatment for Williams' back, shoulder or ankle. (Nurse Cummins Affidavit, Doc. 129-5, p. 2, ¶ 8).

         On May 16, 2012, Williams was again examined by Dr. Fenoglio. (Doc. 129-2, p. 3, ¶ 11, Doc. 129-1, p. 3). Williams told Dr. Fenoglio that he slipped on the stairs and fell backwards onto his right shoulder. (Doc. 129-1, p. 3). Dr. Fenoglio then prescribed Williams an analgesic balm to apply to the injury. Id. Williams returned to see Dr. Fenoglio on May 21, 2012, for a follow up appointment regarding the ankle injury. (Doc. 129-1, p. 5). Williams told Dr. Fenoglio that his ankle was still swollen and that he was unable to put all of his weight on the leg. Id. Dr. Fenoglio decided to discontinue Williams' ibuprofen prescription, issued a 30 day prescription for Ultram (a stronger, opioid painkiller), discontinued the use of the right crutch, and scheduled a follow up appointment in one week. Id. Medical records from May 24 through May 26, 2012, indicate that Williams refused to take the prescribed Ultram on those dates. (Doc. 129-1, pp. 6-8). However, Williams testified at his deposition that he does not remember refusing the medication. (Doc. 129-7, p. 8).

         Dr. Fenoglio next examined Williams for his ankle injury on May 29, 2012. (Doc. 129-1, p. 7). Dr. Fenoglio noted that Williams was “barely using [the] crutch, ” and that his ankle was swollen but improving. Id. He issued Williams a prescription for ibuprofen. Id. On June 1, 2012, Nurse Claudia Dowty examined Williams during “Nurse Sick Call.” (Dowty Affidavit, Doc. 129-4, p. 2). Williams told Nurse Dowty that he was experiencing pain in his right shoulder and that the Ultram medication was not helping. Id. Nurse Dowty then scheduled Williams for a follow up examination with the nurse practitioner. Id.

         Williams underwent a shoulder and back examination on June 5, 2012, at the HCU by Nurse Practitioner Lynn Phillippe. (Doc. 129-3, p. 2, Doc. 129-1, pp. 10-11). Nurse Phillippe issued Williams a prescription for ibuprofen, renewed the low bunk and low gallery permit, and ordered spinal x-rays. (Doc. 129-1, p. 10). The x-rays were taken on June 7, 2012. (Doc. 129-1, p. 33). The x-rays did not show a spinal fracture or dislocation, but the radiologist noted “[m]ild degenerative changes of disc disease at ¶ 5-S1 level.” Id. On June 19, 2012, Williams was again examined by Nurse Phillippe. (Doc. 129-1, p. 13). Williams complained of back pain and stated that his legs had recently given out in the chow hall line. Id. Nurse Phillippe instructed Williams on some exercises he could perform to build up his strength, issued him a prescription for Naproxen, and recommended that he use the analgesic balm on his back. Id. Medical records from the next day indicate that the HCU began to taper off Williams's Ultram prescription. (Doc. 129-1, p. 14).

         On July 15, 2012, Williams was examined by Nurse Patricia Potts during “Nurse Sick Call.” (Potts Affidavit, Doc. 129-6, p. 1). Williams told Nurse Potts that he was experiencing back pain and that he would like to be seen in the HCU for a follow up examination regarding his injuries. Id. at 2. Nurse Potts told Williams that she was willing to examine him, but he would be required to pay the $5.00 co-pay. Id. Williams declined to pay the co-pay and immediately left. Id. This was the only instance in which Nurse Potts examined Williams for the injuries that form the basis of this lawsuit. Id.

         Williams was next examined on August 12, 2012, by Nurse Claudia Dowty. (Doc. 129-4, p. 2). Williams told Nurse Dowty that he had experienced back and shoulder pain for the past three months. Id. He also told her that he had difficulty sleeping due to the pain. Id. Nurse Dowty noted tenderness in Williams' right shoulder and scheduled him for a follow up examination with the nurse practitioner. Id. On August 14, 2012, Nurse Phillippe examined Williams. (Doc. 129-3, p. 3). Williams told her that he was experiencing back pain, that he could not play basketball, and that the Naproxen prescription was not providing any relief. Id. Nurse Phillippe noted that he exhibited a normal gait and could demonstrate a full range of motion in his back. Id. She was unable to identify any physical indication of a problem, but she recommended that exercise and weight loss may be helpful. Id.

         On September 9, 2012, Nurse Dowty examined Williams at Nurse Sick Call in regards to complaints of shoulder pain. (Doc. 129-4, p. 3). Nurse Dowty remarked during the examination that Williams was initially scheduled for Nurse Sick Call on August 22, 2012, but he opted instead to go to the gym. Id. Nurse Dowty states in her affidavit that Williams then became angry and confrontational and that he was escorted back to his cell by a correctional ...


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