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Dobbey v. Imhotep Carter

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

June 14, 2017

LESTER DOBBEY (R-16237), Plaintiff,


          Robert M. Dow, Jr. United States District Judge.

         Plaintiff Lester Dobbey, an Illinois inmate at Stateville Correctional Center, filed this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Stateville Medical Director Imhotep Carter and Registered Nurse Delores Trevino (collectively “Defendants”). Plaintiff alleges that Defendants acted with deliberate indifference to his knee issues after he received a steroid injection to one of his knees. On September 28, 2015, the Court granted Defendant Carter's motion for summary judgment, denied Nurse Trevino's motion for summary judgment, and denied Plaintiff's motions for summary judgment.[1] [146.] Currently before the Court is Plaintiff's motion to alter or amend the Court's grant of Defendant Carter's motion for summary judgment [149].[2] For the reasons set forth below, the Court denies Plaintiff's motion [149]. The Court will enter a final judgment in favor of Defendant Carter and against Plaintiff and close the case.

         I. Background

         A detailed statement of the facts is set out in the Court's summary judgment opinion [146]. For purposes of ruling on Plaintiff's currently-pending motion [149], the Court will set forth the facts that are relevant to Plaintiff's motion for reconsideration. The Court draws the facts from the parties' Local Rule (“L.R.”) 56.1 Statements of Material Facts (“SOF”). As noted in the Court's summary judgment opinion, where a party failed to respond to a proposed statement of fact or responded with an unsupported denial, the Court will not consider that response, and the proposed statement of fact will be deemed admitted. See L.R. 56.1(a), 56.1(b)(3)(B); Raymond v. Ameritech Corp., 442 F.3d 600, 608 (7th Cir. 2006); see also Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e).

         Plaintiff Lester Dobbey is an inmate incarcerated at Stateville Correctional Center. [113 (Carter SOF), at ¶ 3.] Defendant Dr. Imhotep Carter was the medical director at Stateville from July 25, 2011 to May 10, 2012. [Id., at ¶ 5.] On August 25, 2011, Plaintiff was scheduled to see Dr. Carter in Stateville's health care unit. [Id., at ¶ 5.] The parties disagree about what occurred during Plaintiff's visit, but they agree that later that day, Plaintiff filed a grievance claiming that Dr. Carter stated to him, “I'm not going to see you. I saw you a few weeks ago, and I hear and see your name to[o] much. So you can go back.” [117 (Plaintiff's SOF). ¶ 5.] The grievance further stated that Plaintiff reported stomach pain, back pain, and knee swelling to Dr. Carter. According to Plaintiff's grievance, Dr. Carter responded to the complaints by telling Plaintiff, “Well, put in for a sick call!” [Id.] The next month, a physician's assistant and medical technician noted Plaintiff's complaints of chronic knee pain, ordered x-rays, referred Plaintiff to the medical director, and provided analgesic balm and Tylenol. [Id. at ¶¶ 8-11.]

         On October 7, 2011, Dr. Carter saw Plaintiff about his knee pain. [Id., at ¶ 12.] Dr. Carter observed tendinitis but saw no evidence of joint disease. [Id.] Dr. Carter noted in Plaintiff's file, “schedule knee steroid injections (Thursday), ” and prescribed Plaintiff a knee sleeve. [See id. at ¶¶ 13, 18.] On October 24, 2011, Dr. Carter noted in Plaintiff's file that collegial review had approved the knee sleeve. [Id., at ¶ 21.] Three days later, on October 27, 2011, Plaintiff received the steroid injection in his left knee. [Id. at ¶ 24.] At this point, Dr. Carter believed that Plaintiff had a sports-related knee contusion. [Id.]

         Dr. Carter planned to have a follow-up appointment with Plaintiff three weeks after the injection. [Id., at ¶ 24.] According to Dr. Carter, his general practice was to follow up with patients to evaluate the effectiveness of injections and to check for complications. [See id., at ¶ 27.] Dr. Carter also planned to evaluate at the follow-up visit whether Plaintiff should receive an injection in his right knee. [Id., at ¶ 24.] Plaintiff did not have the planned follow-up exam three weeks later, however. Plaintiff contends that that the injection caused his left knee to hurt more than it had before, such that at times, it would “give out.” [Id., at ¶ 29.]

         Between October 27, 2011 (the day of the injection) and January of 2012, Plaintiff alleges that he submitted approximately ten medical request slips (about one per week), in which he complained of the increased knee pain. [113, at ¶ 30.] However, Plaintiff submits no evidence suggesting that Dr. Carter received, or was aware of, any of these requests. [Id., at ¶ 30; see also 113 Exhibit A (Plaintiff's Deposition), at 73:2-18 (Plaintiff admitting that he had “no idea” if Dr. Carter had ever received any of his medical request slips).] Moreover, at Stateville, inmates' medical or “sick call” request slips are reviewed and triaged by the nursing staff, who prioritize medical services based on medical need. [113, at ¶ 42.] Thus, Dr. Carter reviewed inmates' sick call requests only when asked to do so by a nurse. [Id. at ¶ 43.] Dr. Carter's practice was to initial and place in an inmate's medical file any medical request slips he reviewed. [See id.] Plaintiff's medical file contains no medical request slips initialed by Dr. Carter. [See 113 Exhibit B, 5-13.] In addition to receiving and triaging medical request slips, the nursing staff was also responsible for scheduling appointments, as well as processing and following up with physician orders for medical equipment. [113, at ¶ 44; 117, at ¶ 49.]

         Plaintiff also wrote a grievance on November 25, 2011, detailing, among other ailments, the history of his knee problems, including that he was supposed to have a follow-up appointment three weeks after the steroid injection, but that no appointment had occurred. He further specified that he had not received the knee brace that Dr. Carter had ordered, that he was experiencing pain in both knees, and that his knees “clicked” when he bent them. [126, at ¶ 31.] The parties dispute whether Dr. Carter reviewed the November 25, 2011 grievance. Dr. Carter states he was not consulted about the grievance and was unaware of the complaints therein. [113, at ¶¶ 17, 19.] Plaintiff objects to these statements by Dr. Carter and cites to the Health Care Unit Policy and Procedure Manual (“the Manual”), which states that “[a]ll offender complaints/grievances received in the Health Care Unit will be forwarded to the Health Care Unit Administrator's Office” and that “[t]he Administrator and Medical Director will review all offender complaints.” [117, at ¶ 44.] Dr. Carter contends that the policy quoted by Plaintiff does not reflect the actual practice regarding the review of grievances at Stateville and points out that the Manual also states that “the Administrator / Medical Director will assign complaints that do not necessitate intervention at their level to the appropriate staff person for response and corrective action if warranted.” [126, at ¶ 44.]

         It is undisputed that the November 25, 2011 grievance was received by former Defendant Nurse Trevino and that on January 5, 2012, she wrote a memo to the Grievance Office, stating:

[M]edical file shows 10/15/11 inmate was seen by LPN in urgent care for multiple complaints of stomach pain, back pain, knee pain, he was referred to MDSC for further evaluation. Condition ongoing. On 10/24/11 collegial review approved for knee sleeve. On 10/27/11 inmate was seen by Dr. Carter and had a left knee steroid injection. MD visit within 3 weeks of that to consider right knee injection. Condition ongoing.

[113, at ¶ 18; see also 1 (Complaint), at Exhibit K.] The Grievance Office then responded to Plaintiff's November 25, 2011 grievance, relying on Nurse Trevino's memo. [113, at ¶ 18; 113, Exhibit D, at 8.] There is no mention of any consultation with Dr. Carter about Plaintiff's complaints in Nurse Trevino's memo to the Grievance Office or in the Grievance Office's response to Plaintiff. Further, it is undisputed that after reviewing the grievance, Nurse Trevino did not follow up with any medical personnel about Plaintiff's complaints of ongoing knee pain, not receiving the approved knee sleeve, and not having a follow-up appointment with Dr. Carter after the steroid injection. [104, at ¶ 18; 129, at ¶ 18.] Although there are no directives or policies that would have prevented her from doing so, Trevino did not examine Plaintiff, schedule an appointment for him, or attempt to otherwise treat him after reviewing his grievance.[3] [104, at ¶ 19-21; 129, at ¶ 19-21.]

         On January 23, 2012, Plaintiff filed an emergency grievance stating, among other complaints, that he had “not received the knee brace Dr. Carter [ ] stated [he] would receive.” [117, at ¶ 32.] Plaintiff subsequently was scheduled for an appointment the next day but it was canceled, due to a facility lockdown. [Id., at ¶¶ 33-34.] Stateville was on lockdown from January 23, 2012 through January 30, 2012 and from February 7, 2012 through February 8, 2012. [113, at ¶ 32.]

         On February 14, 2012, Dr. Carter completed a prescription order for a knee sleeve for Plaintiff. [113, at ¶ 33; 117, at ¶ 36.] Dr. Carter subsequently saw Plaintiff on March 20, 2012, and assessed his complaints of left knee pain as mild degenerative joint disease with tendinitis, issued Plaintiff a low-bunk permit, and prescribed him Naprosyn (an anti-inflammatory drug). [117, at ¶¶ 37, 39, 40.] After the March ...

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