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Williams v. Ghosh

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

August 31, 2017

CORDELL WILLIAMS, Plaintiff,
v.
PARTHASARATHI GHOSH, WEXFORD HEALTH SERVICES, LATANYA WILLIAMS, IMHOTEP CARTER, and LIPING ZHANG, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          John Z. Lee, United States District Judge.

         Plaintiff Cordell Williams (“Plaintiff”) is an inmate incarcerated at Stateville Correctional Center (“Stateville”) who suffers from Crohn's disease. He brings this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Defendants LaTanya Williams (“Ms. Williams”), Liping Zhang (“Dr. Zhang”), Parthasarathi Ghosh (“Dr. Ghosh”), Imhotep Carter (“Dr. Carter”), and Wexford Health Services (“Wexford”), alleging deliberate indifference to his serious medical needs in violation of the Eighth Amendment. He seeks monetary damages as well as injunctive relief. Defendants have filed a motion for summary judgment. For the reasons stated herein, Defendants' motion is granted in part and denied in part.

         I. Factual Background

         Except where otherwise noted, the following facts are not in material dispute. Plaintiff has been incarcerated in various correctional facilities in Illinois since 1994. See Defs.' LR 56.1(a)(3) Stmt. ¶ 11, ECF No. 271. In 1998, he was diagnosed with Crohn's disease. Id. ¶ 12. Crohn's disease is chronic inflammatory disease of the small intestine and colon. Pl.'s LR 56.1(b)(3)(C) Stmt. ¶ 6, ECF No. 281. The symptoms of Crohn's disease include diarrhea, constipation, bloody stool, loss of electrolytes, weight loss, abdominal pain, ulcers, infections, small bowel obstructions, abscesses, and the formation of fistulas between the bowel and other areas of the abdomen. Id. It is undisputed that these symptoms are “very painful.” Id.

         A. April 2009-August 2009: Lapses in Medications upon Plaintiff's Transfer to Stateville

         Plaintiff was transferred to Stateville from another correctional facility on April 8, 2009. Defs.' LR 56.1(a)(3) Stmt. ¶ 14. As of that date, Ms. Williams, Dr. Zhang, and Dr. Ghosh were Wexford employees who worked at Stateville. Pl.'s LR 56.1(b)(3)(B) Stmt. ¶¶ 5, 7-8, ECF No. 280. Ms. Williams was a physician's assistant, Dr. Zhang was a staff physician, and Dr. Ghosh was the medical director. Id. At the time of Plaintiff's transfer, Ms. Williams, Dr. Zhang, and Dr. Ghosh knew that Plaintiff had Crohn's disease and was taking several medications. Pl.'s LR 56.1(b)(3)(C) Stmt. ¶ 12.

         On April 10, 2009, Plaintiff received a supply of medications for treatment of his Crohn's disease. Defs.' LR 56.1(a)(3) Stmt. ¶ 15. On May 1, 2009, however, his medications were discontinued. Id. ¶ 16; Pl.'s LR 56.1(b)(3)(B) Stmt. ¶¶ 16-17. Five days later, on May 6, 2009, Ms. Williams learned that Plaintiff was inquiring about the status of his medications. Defs.' LR 56.1(a)(3) Stmt. ¶ 16.[1] Ms. Williams confirmed with Dr. Zhang that Plaintiff's medications should have been continued through September 1, 2009, rather than discontinued on May 1, 2009, and Ms. Williams subsequently submitted a new prescription order for Plaintiff to the pharmacy. Id. ¶ 17; Pl.'s LR 56.1(b)(3)(B) Stmt. ¶ 17. On May 12, 2009, Plaintiff began receiving his medications again. Defs.' LR 56.1(a)(3) Stmt. ¶ 18.

         About six weeks later, on June 23, 2009, Plaintiff developed a headache and passed out in his cell. Id. ¶ 20; Pl.'s LR 56.1(b)(3)(B) Stmt. ¶ 20. Later that day, Ms. Williams evaluated him and ordered a treatment plan that included a prescription for Prednisone, a steroid that reduces inflammation and is used to treat acute symptoms of Crohn's disease. Defs.' LR 56.1(a)(3) Stmt. ¶¶ 21-22. According to Plaintiff, however, he never received the Prednisone. Pl.'s LR 56.1(b)(3)(B) Stmt. ¶¶ 21, 23. He posits that he failed to receive it because some of his prescription orders and medical records were listed under the wrong inmate registration number. Id. ¶ 23; Defs.' LR 56.1(a)(3) Stmt., Ex. B, Pl.'s Dep., at 54:6-59:10.

         On July 9, 2009, Plaintiff was admitted to the Stateville infirmary due to weight loss and rectal bleeding. Defs.' LR 56.1(a)(3) Stmt. ¶ 24; Pl.'s LR 56.1(b)(3)(B) Stmt. ¶ 24. Dr. Ghosh evaluated Plaintiff and prescribed Prednisone, Bentyl, Azulfidine, and folic acid for treatment of his symptoms. Defs.' LR 56.1(a)(3) Stmt. ¶ 24. Plaintiff claims that, during this evaluation, Dr. Ghosh learned that some of Plaintiff's medical records were listed under the incorrect inmate registration number. Pl.'s LR 56.1(b)(3)(B) Stmt. ¶ 24.

         The following week, on July 16, 2009, Plaintiff returned to the infirmary in significant pain. Id. He claims that he informed Ms. Williams at this time that he was not receiving his medications.[2] Id. Ms. Williams wrote Plaintiff another prescription for Prednisone later that day. Id. Next, around July 23, 2009, Plaintiff returned to the infirmary again, this time complaining of pain in his feet and dehydration. Id. He asserts that he still had not received some of his medications as of this date, although he does not claim to have informed anyone of that fact during this visit to the infirmary. See id.

         On July 25, 2009, Plaintiff had a check-up appointment with Dr. Ghosh. Defs.' LR 56.1(a)(3) Stmt. ¶ 25. In addition, on July 30, 2009, Dr. Zhang evaluated Plaintiff for complaints of edema. Id. ¶ 26. Based on her evaluation, Dr. Zhang recommended that Plaintiff be referred to a gastroenterologist. Id. Such outside referrals were handled by Dr. Ghosh as Stateville's medical director. Id. ¶ 27. Later that day, Dr. Ghosh secured approval for Plaintiff to be evaluated at an outside facility, and he filled out a Medical Special Services Referral and Report Form (“Referral Form”) to refer Plaintiff to a gastroenterologist at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC). Id. ¶ 28.

         On August 11, 2009, Dr. Zhang learned that Plaintiff had written a letter to Dr. Ghosh complaining of abdominal cramps and a lapse in his medications. Id. ¶ 29; Pl.'s LR 56.1(b)(3)(B) Stmt. ¶ 29. In response, Dr. Zhang prescribed Bentyl to alleviate Plaintiff's cramps. Defs.' LR 56.1(a)(3) Stmt. ¶ 29. The prescription order, however, was written using the wrong inmate registration number. Pl.'s LR 56.1(b)(3)(B) Stmt. ¶ 30. On September 3, 2009, Ms. Williams learned that Plaintiff had not been receiving his medications. See id.; Defs.' LR 56.1(a)(3) Stmt. ¶ 30. Accordingly, Ms. Williams followed up with Stateville's pharmacy. Defs.' LR 56.1(a)(3) Stmt. ¶ 30. Pharmacy staff told her that Plaintiff's medications had arrived that day and would be distributed. See id.

         B. September 2009-April 2010

         1. UIC Appointments

         As a result of Dr. Zhang's recommendation and Dr. Ghosh's referral, Plaintiff was evaluated at UIC Gastroenterology by Dr. Russell Brown (“Dr. Brown”) on September 15, 2009. Id. ¶ 31. Based on his evaluation, Dr. Brown recommended that Plaintiff stop taking Azulfidine and start taking Pentasa. Id. He also requested Plaintiff's medical records. Id.

         Following this initial evaluation at UIC, Dr. Ghosh secured approval for Plaintiff to return for a second evaluation on October 12 and 13, 2009. Id. ¶¶ 32-33. At this second evaluation, Plaintiff received a CT scan of his abdomen and pelvis. Id. ¶ 32. According to Plaintiff, the CT scan revealed a large inflammatory mass in the lower right quadrant of his abdomen, but Dr. Brown could not determine whether the mass was infected or merely inflamed, because Stateville had failed to provide the medical records that Dr. Brown had previously requested. Pl.'s LR 56.1(b)(3)(B) Stmt. ¶¶ 32-33.

         Based on the results of the CT scan, Dr. Brown ordered Plaintiff to continue his current medications, as well as to start taking Cipro and Flagyl. Defs.' LR 56.1(a)(3) Stmt. ¶ 33. Plaintiff asserts that Dr. Brown also ordered a follow-up appointment with Plaintiff in four weeks so that he could review Plaintiff's medical records and determine the appropriate course of treatment for the mass in his abdomen. See Pl.'s LR 56.1(b)(3)(B) Stmt. ¶ 33; see also Pl.'s LR 56.1(b)(3)(C) Stmt., Ex. 9, at ¶ 168 (Dr. Brown's medical notes of 10/13/2009). Defendants point out, however, that the Referral Form corresponding to Dr. Brown's evaluation on October 12 and 13, 2009, does not specifically request such a follow-up. Defs.' LR 56.1(a)(3) Stmt. ¶ 33; id., Ex. L, at 3 (Referral Form for UIC visit of 10/13/2009).

         The parties dispute whether Dr. Ghosh and Dr. Zhang knew that Dr. Brown had requested a four-week follow-up appointment with Plaintiff after evaluating him on October 12 and 13, 2009. Plaintiff argues that Dr. Ghosh and Dr. Zhang indeed knew about the request. In support, he points to a medical record dated October 27, 2009, in which Dr. Ghosh noted that he needed to schedule a follow-up appointment for Plaintiff with UIC Gastroenterology. See Pl.'s LR 56.1(b)(3)(B) Stmt. ¶ 33. Plaintiff also points to a medical record dated November 19, 2009, in which Dr. Zhang, after examining Plaintiff and prescribing medication for him, likewise noted that Plaintiff should be scheduled for a follow-up appointment at UIC. Id. ¶ 36; see also Defs.' LR 56.1(a)(3) Stmt. ¶ 36. Dr. Ghosh, however, testified that he was unaware that Dr. Brown had requested a follow-up appointment with Plaintiff. Pl.'s LR 56.1(b)(3)(C) Stmt. ¶ 26; Defs.' LR 56.1(a)(3) Stmt., Ex. C, Ghosh Dep., at 102:2-17. On December 17, 2009, Dr. Ghosh referred Plaintiff for a follow-up appointment at UIC. See Defs.' LR 56.1(a)(3) Stmt. ¶ 37. Dr. Ghosh testified that he scheduled this appointment based upon his independent determination that an appointment was appropriate, rather than based upon the request from Dr. Brown. See id.; Ghosh Dep. at 102:2-23. The appointment was originally scheduled for March 23, 2010, but it was later rescheduled for April 13, 2010. Defs.' LR 56.1(a)(3) Stmt. ¶ 37.

         2. Additional Lapses in Medications

         In addition to delays surrounding the scheduling of his four-week follow-up at UIC, Plaintiff claims that he experienced multiple lapses in the receipt of his medications throughout late 2009 and early 2010. First, around October 24, 2009, Plaintiff stopped receiving Prednisone. Pl.'s LR 56.1(b)(3)(C) Stmt. ¶ 16. After he filed a grievance, his Prednisone prescription was restarted on October 29, 2009. Id. Next, on December 17, 2009, Plaintiff stopped receiving Pentasa. Id. ¶ 17. Plaintiff again filed a grievance, and his Pentasa prescription was reinstated about a month later, on January 15, 2010. Id. On January 26, 2010, Plaintiff again stopped receiving Prednisone. See Id. ¶ 13.

         On February 1, 2010, Plaintiff saw Ms. Williams for an evaluation. Defs.' LR 56.1(a)(3) Stmt. ¶ 38. During this evaluation, Plaintiff inquired about the status of his follow-up appointment at UIC, and he informed Ms. Williams that his Prednisone had been discontinued the previous week. Id. In response, Ms. Williams checked the status of Plaintiff's follow-up appointment and advised Plaintiff that the appointment had already been scheduled. Id.; Pl.'s LR 56.1(b)(3)(C) Stmt. ¶ 27. Additionally, that same day, Ms. Williams prescribed him a two-month supply of Prednisone. Defs.' LR 56.1(a)(3) Stmt. ¶ 38. Plaintiff began receiving Prednisone again three days later, on February 4, 2010. Pl.'s LR 56.1(b)(3)(C) Stmt. ¶ 13.

         On February 9, 2010, Plaintiff submitted a grievance complaining that some of his prescriptions had not been dispensed. Id. ¶ 18. Following the submission of this grievance, Plaintiff's prescription for Pentasa was restarted on February 17, 2010, and his prescriptions for Prednisone, folic acid, and iron were restarted on March 25, 2010. Id. Plaintiff also claims that he filed a grievance on April 7, 2010, to report that his abdomen was in pain, that he had not been seen in a timely fashion even though he had submitted multiple sick-call requests, and that his medications had yet again been discontinued. Id. ¶ 19.[3]

         C. April 2010-October 2014: Plaintiff's Surgery and Post-Surgery Care

         On April 13, 2010, Plaintiff visited UIC Gastroenterology for his follow-up appointment with Dr. Brown. Defs.' LR 56.1(a)(3) Stmt. ¶ 39. Dr. Brown recommended adjustments to Plaintiff's medication regime and ordered Plaintiff to return for further evaluation. Id. Accordingly, after Dr. Ghosh again secured approval for an outside referral, Plaintiff returned to UIC on June 9, 2010. Id. ¶ 40. At that time, Plaintiff's Crohn's disease was found to be clinically stable. Id.

         On June 14, 2010, however, Plaintiff developed an elevated fever and abdominal pain. See Pl.'s LR 56.1(b)(3)(B) Stmt. ¶ 41. Five days later, on June 19, 2010, he was admitted to UIC, where he remained as an inpatient for about a month. Defs.' 56.1(a)(3) Stmt. ¶ 41. During that month, Plaintiff underwent surgery comprising a small bowel resection, an ileectomy, and the installation of a colostomy bag. Id. ¶ 42. Dr. Brown later testified that the delay between Plaintiff's CT scan in October 2009 and his follow-up appointment in April 2010 possibly contributed to the need for surgery. Pl.'s LR 56.1(b)(3)(C) Stmt., Ex. 1, Brown Dep., at 83:14- 85:13; see also Pl.'s LR 56.1(b)(3)(B) Stmt. ¶¶ 39, 41. On July 22, 2010, Plaintiff was discharged from UIC and returned to Stateville. Defs.' LR 56.1(a)(3) Stmt. ¶ 44.

         On October 13, 2010, Plaintiff returned to UIC for a post-surgery follow-up appointment. Id. ¶ 47. At that time, UIC physicians ordered that Plaintiff start Remicade infusion treatments at UIC. See Id. Dr. Robert Carroll (“Dr. Carroll”), a gastroenterologist who treated Plaintiff at UIC around this time, testified that a patient starting Remicade infusions should receive three infusions within the first six weeks of treatment. See Pl.'s LR 56.1(b)(3)(C) Stmt. ¶ 28; Defs.' LR 56.1(a)(3) Stmt., Ex. G, Carroll Dep., at 35:14-36:12. He also testified that, after the initial three infusions, the patient should continue receiving infusions at least once every eight weeks. Pl.'s LR 56.1(b)(3)(C) Stmt. ¶ 28; Carroll Dep. at 36:13-14.[4]

         After Dr. Ghosh secured approval for Plaintiff to receive Remicade treatments at UIC, Plaintiff received his first Remicade infusion in November 2010. Defs.' LR 56.1(a)(3) Stmt. ¶ 48. He received his second Remicade infusion on December 9, 2010. Id. ¶ 49. When UIC physicians sent the Referral Form corresponding to the December 9 appointment back to Stateville, they noted on the form: “follow up PRN.” Id., Ex. L, at 7 (Referral Form for UIC visit of 12/9/2010). The parties dispute whether this notation gave Defendants knowledge of whether and when Plaintiff was to be scheduled for additional Remicade infusions at UIC.[5]According to Defendants, “follow up PRN” was an instruction for Stateville medical staff to simply “follow up as needed, ” and not necessarily to schedule Plaintiff for additional Remicade infusions. See Defs.' LR 56.1(a)(3) Stmt. ¶ 49. For his part, Plaintiff contends that “follow up PRN” was an instruction to continue scheduling Plaintiff for Remicade infusions on a regular basis, given that Remicade is supposed to be administered every eight weeks rather than on an irregular, “as needed” basis. See Pl.'s LR 56.1(b)(3)(B) Stmt. ¶ 49. During the next year, Plaintiff was not scheduled for any additional Remicade infusions. See Id. ¶ 54; Defs.' LR 56.1(a)(3) Stmt. ¶¶ 49-54.

         In March 2011, Dr. Ghosh left his position as Stateville's medical director. Pl.'s LR 56.1(b)(3)(B) Stmt. ¶ 5. Dr. Carter took over as Stateville's medical director in July 2011. Id. ¶ 6. In September 2011, Dr. Carter learned that Plaintiff was complaining about the lapse in his Remicade treatments. Defs.' LR 56.1(a)(3) Stmt. ¶ 53. In response, on September 22, 2011, Dr. Carter secured approval to refer Plaintiff for an appointment at UIC on December 1, 2011. Id. ¶ 54. He noted on the Referral Form for this appointment that Plaintiff's Remicade treatments had been interrupted since December 2010. Pl.'s LR 56.1(b)(3)(B) Stmt. ¶ 54. Accordingly, on December 1, 2011, Plaintiff went to UIC and received a Remicade infusion for the first time in approximately one year. See Defs.' LR 56.1(a)(3) Stmt. ¶ 55. When UIC physicians returned Plaintiff's Referral Form for this appointment to Stateville, they noted: “Dr. Carroll strongly recommends that [Plaintiff] receive Remicade infusions per ...


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