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Hempstead v. Miller

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

July 13, 2017



          MICHAEL J. REAGAN Chief Judge

         On March 11, 2015, Plaintiff Calvin Hempstead, a former inmate with the Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC), filed this civil rights lawsuit asserting that his Eighth Amendment rights were violated while he was at Pinckneyville Correctional Center (“Pinckneyville”). In February 2014, prison officials transferred Hempstead from Vienna Correctional Center (“Vienna”) to Pinckneyville. Upon arriving at Pinckneyville, Hempstead states that he was placed in an unsanitary cell in the prison's disciplinary segregation unit and that he developed a rash on his scalp. Hempstead alleges that various employees of the Pinckneyville Health Care Unit failed to provide adequate medical treatment for the condition.

         On July 7, 2015, Hempstead filed an amended complaint (Doc. 33). In Count I of the amended complaint, he asserts an Eighth Amendment conditions of confinement claim against IDOC employees Jeff Miller and Jeff Roelandt for knowingly placing him in the filthy cell in the prison's segregation unit. In Count II, Hempstead asserts an Eighth Amendment deliberate indifference to serious medical needs claim against Sarah Farris, Marcia Hill, Ladonna Long, Angel Rector and Vipin Shah for failing to provide adequate medical treatment for his scalp condition. Farris, Hill, Long, Rector and Shah work in the Pinckneyville Health Care Unit and are employed by Wexford Health Sources, Inc. (“Wexford”), a corporation that provides healthcare services to IDOC inmates.

         Defendants now seek summary judgment. (Docs. 87 and 93). Hempstead did not respond to the motions for summary judgment, though he was notified of the potential consequences of failing to do so. See Doc. 89; Timms v. Frank, 953 F.2d 281, 285 (7th Cir. 1992) (pro se litigants “entitled to notice of the consequences of failing to respond to a summary judgment motion”). Hempstead was also notified that pursuant to Local Rule 7.1(c), the failure to file a response to a motion “may, in the Court's discretion, be considered an admission of the merits of the motion.” For the following reasons, Defendants' motions for summary judgment are granted.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff Calvin Hempstead was an inmate with IDOC from August 27, 2013, through September 4, 2015. (Affidavit of Chalene Hale, Doc. 88-1, p. 1). On February 6, 2014, Hempstead was transferred from Vienna to Pinckneyville for disciplinary reasons after he assaulted an IDOC staff member at Vienna. Id. Upon arriving at Pinckneyville, prison officials placed Hempstead in cell B-74 in the facility's segregation unit. Id. at p. 2. Hempstead resided in cell B-74 until February 23, 2014, when he was transferred to segregation cell A-69. Id. at p. 2. Hempstead remained in cell A-69 until he was transferred out of segregation on May 13, 2014. Id. at p. 2. After a few more stays in the Pinckneyville segregation unit in late 2014 and early 2015, Hempstead was released from IDOC custody in September 2015. Id. at p. 2.

         Upon arriving at Pinckneyville, Hempstead was examined in the facility's Health Care Unit at 10:00 a.m. on February 6, 2014. (Doc. 94-2, p. 19). Hempstead's medical records state that he was wearing a brace on his right hand because he had suffered a fracture in the fourth metacarpal bone (the bone in the hand connected to the ring finger). Id. at pp. 19-20. After a few examinations for the hand issue in February and March 2014, Hempstead was examined for a scalp condition for the first time on May 30, 2014. (Doc. 94-3, p. 6). Defendant Sarah Farris, L.P.N., examined Hempstead on that date and observed a rash on Hempstead's scalp. Id. Hempstead told Nurse Farris that the rash developed approximately three weeks prior and that it was the first time he had experienced such a rash. Id. Nurse Farris diagnosed Hempstead as having either dermatitis or tinea. Id. After consulting with Defendant Dr. Vipin Shah, Nurse Farris prescribed Hempstead hydrocortisone cream and selsun lotion. Id. After the May 30, 2014, examination, Nurse Farris did not provide any additional treatment for Hempstead's scalp condition. (Farris Affidavit, Doc. 94-8, p. 2).

         Hempstead's medical records indicate that he was next examined in the Health Care Unit on July 21, 2014. (Doc. 94-3, p. 7). Defendant Ladonna Long, L.P.N., examined Hempstead for complaints of knee and hand pain. There is no mention in the record of the visit that the two discussed Hempstead's scalp condition. Id. Hempstead's next medical appointment was scheduled for July 30, 2014. Id. at p. 8. However, the notes of Defendant Marcia Hill from that date state that Hempstead “became very angry” when he was informed that he would be required to provide a co-pay and that he refused treatment. Id. at p. 8.

         Hempstead returned to the Health Care Unit on August 8, 2014, for complaints of knee pain. (Doc. 94-3, p. 9). The examining nurse referred Hempstead for a follow up appointment, and on August 12, 2014, Defendant Angel Rector, P.A., examined Hempstead. Id. at p. 10. Rector and Hempstead discussed his knee and hand issues, but there is no indication that they discussed the rash. Id. at p. 10. On August 14, 2014, Nurse Long examined Hempstead for the rash issue. (Doc. 94-3, p. 11). Hempstead told Nurse Long that he had an itchy rash all over the top of his head, and he suspected that the rash was caused by his unsanitary cell. Id. Hempstead was also upset that he was being seen by a nurse and not a doctor. Id. Long referred Hempstead for a follow-up examination, and on August 18, 2014, Defendant Rector again examined Hempstead. Id. at p. 12. P.A. Rector noted that Hempstead's scalp condition was stable but there were a few dark patches near the rash. Id. at p. 12. At the conclusion of the examination, P.A. Rector referred Hempstead to be seen by Dr. Shah. Id. at p. 12.

         Dr. Shah examined Hempstead on August 22, 2014. Id. at p. 13. Dr. Shaw diagnosed Hempstead as having “tinea versicolor” and prescribed a selenium sulfate shampoo. Id. at p. 13. According to Dr. Shah's declaration attached to his motion for summary judgment, tinea versicolor “is a fungal infection of the skin and is caused by a type of yeast that naturally lives on human skin.” (Doc. 94-9, p. 2). The condition is not contagious, but “acidic bleach from the growing yeast causes areas of skin to be a different color than the surrounding skin[.]” Id. Dr. Shah also states in his declaration that “[t]here was no epidemic of ring worm at Pinckneyville Correctional Center in 2014.” Id. at p. 3. After the August 22, 2014, examination, there is no record of Hempstead making any further complaints about his scalp condition.

         In addition to the healthcare Defendants, Hempstead asserts claims against IDOC correctional officers Jeff Miller and Jeff Roelandt. Attached to the IDOC Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment are affidavits from Miller and Roelandt. Miller states in his affidavit that he has been a Correctional Officer at Pinckneyville since 1996. From February through May 2014, he was assigned to work in Pinckneyville's segregation unit. (Doc 88-3, p. 1). On February 6, 2014, Miller received notice from the Pinckneyville placement officer that Hempstead was to be assigned to a cell in the segregation unit. Id. at p. 2. Miller states that he did not observe Hempstead's cell to be contaminated, nor did he knowingly provide Hempstead with contaminated bedding. Id. at p. 2. Inmate workers clean the cells prior to having a new inmate assigned. Id. at p. 2. Furthermore, Hempstead never notified Miller that the cell was contaminated or unfit for human habitation. Id. at pp. 2-3.

         Jeff Roelandt states in his affidavit that he has been a Correctional Officer at Pinckneyville since 2013. (Doc. 88-4, p. 1). Roelandt was also assigned to work in the Pinckneyville segregation unit from February through May 2014. Id. Roelandt has never been the placement officer at Pinckneyville, and he did not personally assign Hempstead to the cell. Id. Inmate workers deliver mattresses and bed linens to the inmates in the segregation unit. Id. Roelandt states in his affidavit that he did not knowingly provide Hempstead with contaminated bedding, nor did he knowingly place Hempstead in a cell contaminated with fungus or bodily fluids. Id. at p. 2.

         II. ANALYSIS

         Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure states, “the court shall grant summary judgment 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.” When faced with a motion for summary judgment, the Court must examine the record in a light most favorable to the nonmoving party and all reasonable inferences are to be drawn in their favor. Payne v. Pauley, 337 F.3d 767, 770 (7th Cir. 2003). At this point in the litigation “[t]he court has one task and one task only: to decide, based on the evidence of record, whether there is any material dispute of fact that requires a trial.” Id. Summary judgment shall be denied ...

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