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Pledger v. Wexford Health Sources, Inc.

United States District Court, C.D. Illinois, Peoria Division

June 26, 2017




         Plaintiff, proceeding pro se and presently incarcerated at Hill Correctional Center brought the present lawsuit pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 alleging deliberate indifference to a serious medical need. The matter comes before this Court for ruling on the Defendants' Motions for Summary Judgment. (Docs. 55, 61). The motions are granted.


         Summary judgment should be granted “if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). All facts must be construed in the light most favorable to the non-moving party, and all reasonable inferences must be drawn in his favor. Ogden v. Atterholt, 606 F.3d 355, 358 (7th Cir. 2010). The party moving for summary judgment must show the lack of a genuine issue of material fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). In order to be a “genuine” issue, there must be more than “some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts.” Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986). “Only disputes over facts that might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law will properly preclude the entry of summary judgment.” Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986).


         Plaintiff was incarcerated at Pontiac Correctional Center (“Pontiac”) from February 23, 2011 through March 16, 2013. Defendants were employed at the facility in the following capacities: Defendant Tilden was a physician; Defendant Ojelade was a physician's assistant; Defendant Pierce was the Warden; and, Defendant Birkel was a medical technician.

         Defendant Tilden first examined Plaintiff on March 1, 2011 for complaints of hearing loss and loss of balance with occasional vertigo. Based upon the symptoms Plaintiff reported, Defendant Tilden ordered a cranial x-ray, noted the possibility that more tests would be required should these symptoms persist, and scheduled a follow-up appointment in 30 days. The cranial x-ray disclosed nothing significant.

         Nonetheless, when Plaintiff reported similar symptoms at his March 30, 2011 follow-up appointment, Defendant Tilden ordered additional x-rays, lab work, and sought approval for an MRI and consultation with a specialist. Defendant Tilden received approval the next day. Plaintiff underwent the MRI, and he was examined by specialists at the neurology clinic at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) within the next several weeks.

         In between Defendant Tilden's first and second examinations, Plaintiff filed a grievance dated March 24, 2011 seeking a referral to an ear, nose, and throat doctor and the results of his x-rays. After Defendant Pierce declined to expedite the grievance as an emergency, Plaintiff submitted the grievance via the normal channels. The grievance officer ultimately recommended denial of the grievance in late April 2011 after medical staff reported that Plaintiff was receiving treatment. Defendant Pierce concurred with this recommendation.

         Defendant Tilden reviewed Plaintiff's MRI results the day they were received at the prison. Two days later, on May 15, 2011, Defendant Tilden discussed the results with Plaintiff. The diagnosis: an “enhancing mass approximately 4 cm in diameter at the left pontine angle that extended into the left internal auditory canal most consistent with a vestibular schwannoma.” In layman's terms, Plaintiff had a non-cancerous tumor in his ear canal.

         Plaintiff was thereafter scheduled and taken to examinations with a neurologist and neurosurgeon at UIC, the latter of whom recommended surgery to remove the tumor. Four days later, on June 20, 2011, Plaintiff underwent a successful surgery. He remained at UIC for the next month.

         Upon Plaintiff's discharge, the UIC doctors recommended prescriptions for Tylenol 3, Dexamethasone, Pepcid, ocular solution every two hours, and ocular lubricant every four hours. Plaintiff was admitted to the infirmary when he returned to Pontiac, and Defendant Tilden prescribed the recommended medications. Plaintiff remained in the infirmary for approximately one month before he was released back into general population.

         On August 26, 2011, Plaintiff returned to UIC. UIC doctors ruled out a potential complication arising from the surgery and recommended that Plaintiff return for a follow-up examination in one year. In August 2012, the UIC specialist noted that the tumor had not returned and that Plaintiff's recovery was going well. Plaintiff admitted in his deposition that he has received regular checkups at UIC since the surgery. Pl.'s Dep. 55:8-12.

         In October 2011, Defendant Ojelade extended Plaintiff's then-existing prescription for Motrin for an additional three months. In May 2012, Defendant Ojelade noted that Plaintiff had normal muscle tone and ...

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