United States District Court, S.D. Illinois
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
MICHAEL J. REAGAN, Chief Judge United States District Court
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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).
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.
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).
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.
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.
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 ...