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Meskauskas v. Buskohl

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

September 5, 2017




         I. Introduction

         Pro Se Plaintiff Jonathon Meskauskas, an inmate in the custody of the Illinois Department of Corrections (“IDOC”), filed the suit at bar pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. He alleges that while incarcerated at Menard Correctional Center (“Menard”), he was assaulted by several Menard officials, denied adequate medical care, and issued two baseless disciplinary tickets in retaliation for reporting the staff assault. Plaintiff was placed in segregation, and he also brings claims alleging unconstitutional conditions of confinement during his segregation.

         As part of his suit, Plaintiff listed as defendants IDOC officials, as well as employees of Wexford Health Sources (“Wexford”) and Wexford itself. Among the defendants Plaintiff named were Jane and Jon Does. On September 30, 2015, Plaintiff was warned that he had 90 days to identify the Jane and John Doe defendants. (Doc. 49, p. 3). He has not done so. Since Plaintiff has failed to identify these defendants, all Jane and John Doe defendants are DISMISSED without prejudice. Since a John Doe defendant is the only defendant listed in Count 10, the Court's dismissal of Doe defendants renders Count 10 DISMISSED without prejudice.

         This matter is before the Court on two motions seeking summary judgment, or partial summary judgment-one filed by Defendants Berry, Harrington, Maciura, and Willis (“IDOC Defendants”)[1] (Doc. 109), and the other filed by Defendants Trost and Wexford (Doc. 89). As discussed below, the motion filed by the IDOC Defendants (Doc. 109) is GRANTED, and the motion filed by Dr. Trost and Wexford (Doc. 89) is GRANTED in part and DENIED in part.

         II. Factual and Procedural Background

         In deciding a motion seeking summary judgment, the Court views the facts in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. Anderson v. Donahoe, 699 F.3d 989, 994 (7th Cir. 2012). When that party fails to respond to a summary judgment motion, or any facts set forth in such a motion, the Court can consider those facts set forth by the moving party as undisputed. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e). Plaintiff filed three responses to the motion filed by Defendants Trost and Wexford, but he failed to file a response to the motion filed by the IDOC Defendants. (See Docs. 112, 125, & 126). Therefore, though the Court views the facts in the light most favorable to Plaintiff, pursuant to Rule 56(e), it considers the facts set forth by the IDOC Defendants as undisputed.

         During all times relevant to this suit, Plaintiff was an inmate incarcerated with the IDOC. (Doc. 1). From 2013 to April 2014, Plaintiff was housed at Menard. (Doc. 90-6, p. 9). On February 3, 2014, there was a physical altercation between inmates in the west dining room. (Doc. 90-6, p. 11-12). Plaintiff was in close proximity to this altercation, and, after the altercation broke out, a “warning shot” was fired. (Id. at 12- 13, 14). After the warning shot, correctional officers entered the dining hall. (Id. at 14). Plaintiff went to the ground when the warning shot was fired. (Id. at 13, 14). The responding officers rushed into the dining hall “screaming, ” and Plaintiff was sprayed in the face with mace, rendering him “essentially blind” at that time. (Id. at 14, 17). After being sprayed with the mace, Defendant Buskohl kicked Plaintiff in the face while the other correctional officers were running into the dining hall, “swarming around.” (Id. at 17-18). According to Plaintiff, Defendant Buskohl only kicked him one time, and no other officer physically assaulted Plaintiff in the dining hall. (Id. at 17, 18). At the moment Plaintiff was kicked in the face, he was not able to see exactly how close the other officers were to him, but he testified that they were “in close proximity.” (Id. at 19). After the incident in the dining hall, Plaintiff was taken to the healthcare unit (“HCU”). (Id.).

         At approximately 9:15 a.m., Plaintiff presented to the HCU with blood on his face after allegedly being assaulted by an IDOC officer. (Doc. 90-1, p. 2; Doc. 90-2, p. 1). Plaintiff was treated for the injury to his nose and for pepper spray. (Doc. 125, p. 2). He was seen by Dr. Trost, a licensed physician employed by Wexford, a company that has contracted with the State of Illinois to provide health care services to incarcerated inmates. (Doc. 90-1, p. 1). While Dr. Trost contends that Plaintiff had two superficial injuries-a small laceration on his nose, and a small abrasion over his left eye, (Doc. 90-1, p. 2), Plaintiff contends that he was bleeding so much that the nurse attending to him asked if he was a hemophiliac (Doc. 125, p. 2). The nurse attempted to stop the bleeding to his nose by putting gauze in it. (Id.). Plaintiff told Dr. Trost that he was in pain; however, Dr. Trost never prescribed Plaintiff any medication, including pain medication. (Id.). Dr. Trost does not dispute that Plaintiff did not receive any pain medication. (Doc. 90-1, p. 2). Plaintiff was treated with an antibiotic ointment and a Band Aid, and Dr. Trost determined that no further treatment was necessary. (Id.).

         On the same day, after being seen by medical staff at the HCU, Plaintiff was taken to Internal Affairs. (Doc. 90-6, p. 20). He was asked questions by Defendants Hect, Spiller, and Reichert about the incident in the dining hall. (Id. at 21). According to Plaintiff, during the interview he was physically assaulted by Defendants Spiller and Reichert. (Id.). After this second assault, Plaintiff was taken back to the HCU and then to segregation. (Id. at 22 - 23).

         After the incident with Internal Affairs, Plaintiff presented to the HCU at roughly 10:15 a.m. (Doc. 90-1, p. 2). According to Dr. Trost, Plaintiff had a quarter-sized abrasion to his left hairline with a small amount of controlled bleeding as well as bleeding from Plaintiff's nostrils. (Id.). Plaintiff claims that his injuries occurred when Defendant Reichert slammed his head against a metal bar protruding from the ground. (Doc. 125, p. 3). He notes that his head wound included swelling covering a large surface. (Doc. 125, p. 3; Doc. 90-4.). Plaintiff claims that upon receiving the blow to the head, he saw stars, heard ringing in his ears, felt extreme pain, and was disoriented. (Doc. 125, p. 4). He claims that the incident with Internal Affairs occurred in the HCU and that one of the nurses was a couple of rooms away. (Id.). A nurse treated Plaintiff's wound by putting ointment on it and informed him that the large lump on his head would probably require an x-ray. (Id.). She told Plaintiff that his wound would not require stitches. (Id.).

         Plaintiff taken to the main HCU and was again treated by Dr. Trost and another nurse. (Id. at 5). Plaintiff's nose was still bleeding, and he was disoriented. Despite his condition, he still managed to tell Dr. Trost that he was in pain and that he thought his nose was broken. (Id.). Plaintiff asked for x-rays of both his head and nose, but Dr. Trost refused. (Id.). Dr. Trost also would still not prescribe any pain medication. (Id.). Plaintiff was given a tetanus shot. (Id.). According to Dr. Trost, when he saw Plaintiff, he saw no evidence that his nose was displaced or broken. (Doc. 90-1, p. 2). Plaintiff, however, contends that his nose was displaced or broken and is still displaced. (Doc. 125, p. 6). Based on his findings, Dr. Trost also did not believe that pain medication was medically necessary. (Doc. 90-1, p. 2). Plaintiff, for his part, notes that he specifically informed the doctor that he was in pain and takes issue with not receiving pain medication upon presenting with visible open wounds. (Doc. 125, p. 6). Plaintiff admits that he has received pain medication and x-rays on other occasions, however. (Doc. 90-6, p. 70).

         After leaving the HCU, Plaintiff claims that he filed various medical requests by depositing them in the outgoing mail in the segregation unit. (Id. at 57). He testified that officers collected the mail but that he could not testify whether Dr. Trost personally reviewed any of his medical requests to determine whether to grant him a medical pass. (Id.). The only remaining sign or symptom of Plaintiff's injuries at this time is his slightly displaced nose. (Id. at 60 - 61). Plaintiff has denied any residual pain or trouble breathing as a result of the displacement and has agreed with it being categorized as cosmetic. (Id. at 60).

         On February 6, 2014, Plaintiff appeared before a disciplinary committee relating to the incident during the Internal Affairs interview. (Doc. 110-2, p. 1). Immediately thereafter, another disciplinary hearing was held regarding the incident in the dining hall. (Doc. 110-1, p. 1). The Adjustment Committee report indicates that Defendants Willis, Berry, and Maciura were witnesses to the events in the dining hall. (Doc. 110-1, p. 1). Plaintiff was found guilty of the charged violations at both hearings, and Defendant Harrington signed off on the recommended disciplinary actions. (Doc. 110-1, p. 1, 2; Doc. 110-2, p. 1, 2). Plaintiff alleges that he was given no notice of the disciplinary hearings and was not allowed to call witnesses. (Doc. 90-6, p. 26). The only two officials involved in the hearing were Defendants Hart and Hughes. (Id. at 28; Doc. 110-1, p. 1; Doc. 110-2, p. 1).

         III. ...

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