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Mittss v. Martin

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

September 14, 2017



          NANCY J. ROSENSTENGEL United States District Judge

         This matter is before the Court on the Motion for Summary Judgment filed by Defendants Phil Martin, Stephen Duncan, Thomas Simmons, Bradley Rue, Randall Baylor, and Michael Zwilling (Doc. 109). For the reasons set forth below, Defendants' Motion is granted in part and denied in part.

         Procedural Background

         Plaintiff Joecephus Mitts, an inmate in the custody of the Illinois Department of Corrections (“IDOC”), filed this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 alleging his constitutional rights were violated while he was incarcerated at Lawrence Correctional Center (“Lawrence”). Mitts asserts he was denied adequate medical treatment for a rare skin cancer condition, mycosis fungoides, insofar as he was not allowed to see an outside specialist to monitor and treat his condition. Mitts also asserts he was assaulted by correctional officers on May 14, 2014, after a nurse in the healthcare unit made false allegations of sexual assault against him. Following a screening of Mitts's original complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A and the filing of a First Amended Complaint with leave of Court, Mitts is proceeding on the following claims:

Count One: Eighth Amendment deliberate indifference claim against Phil Martin and Stephen Duncan for failing to provide Plaintiff with regular consultations with a cancer specialist; and
Count Two: Eighth Amendment excessive force and failure to intervene claim against Randall Baylor, Bradley Rue, Thomas Simmons, and Michael Zwilling.

         Defendants filed their motion for summary judgment on January 3, 2017 (Doc. 109). Because Defendants failed to file the requisite Rule 56 Notice with their motion, the Court filed the appropriate Notice and extended Mitts's response deadline (see Doc. 118). The Court again extended the response deadline on August 1, 2017 to August 15, 2017 (see Doc. 120). The Court subsequently provided another brief extension of time, and Mitts timely filed his response on August 22, 2017 (see Doc. 124).[1]

         Factual Background

         Mitts suffers from mycosis fungoides, a rare type of cancer that affects his skin (Deposition of Joecephus Mitts, Doc. 110-1, p. 13). Mitts was diagnosed with this condition in 1997 and, after being transferred to Lawrence Correctional Center (“Lawrence”) in July 2013, he received the recommended treatments for his condition, including ultraviolet therapy (“UVB treatment”) (Id. at 14, 18-19). From July 2013 to May 14, 2014, Mitts received UVB treatments three times per week and was sent for follow-up appointments with a specialist, Dr. Hurley, every eight weeks (Id. at pp. 18-19).

         It is undisputed that Mitts underwent a UVB treatment on May 14, 2014; however, the parties dispute the events that took place on this date. According to Mitts, Nurse Brooks monitored his UVB treatment on May 14, 2014, and while he was in the booth receiving the treatment, the light started to burn his face, neck, and fingers (Id. at pp. 20-22). Mitts explained at his deposition that Nurse Brooks “lost it” when he complained of burning, they “had words, ” and he cussed at her (Id. at p. 23). Mitts avers that Nurse Brooks then went to the front desk and “the police” came in to take Mitts to the bullpen (Id. at p. 25). Mitts was escorted to the hallway and handcuffed by Defendant Lieutenant Baylor (Id. at p. 29).[2] Defendant Baylor twisted the handcuffs causing Mitts to feel as if his wrists were breaking (Id.). While Defendant Baylor was holding Mitts's handcuffs, Defendants Simmons, Rue, and Zwilling kicked, stomped, and punched Mitts in the head, back, and groin for a “good five minutes” (Id. at pp. 33-34). At his deposition, Mitts testified that he suffered from a swollen wrist and a “busted head” with a “dab of blood” following this incident and, although he asked Defendants for medical treatment, they denied him care (Id. at p. 38).

         Defendants assert Mitts sexually assaulted Nurse Brooks during his treatment on May 14, 2014 (Affidavit of John Coe, M.D., Doc. 110-2, ¶ 22). Mitts was issued a disciplinary ticket for sexual misconduct and insolence and was ultimately found guilty of the charges (Doc. 110-1, p. 26).

         After the incident on May 14, 2014, Mitts refused to go to the healthcare unit for his UVB treatments until he was ultimately transferred to Centralia Correctional Center (“Centralia”) in July 2016 (Doc. 110-1, pp. 7, 43, 58). Due to his refusal to undergo his UVB treatments, Mitts's referrals to the outside specialist, Dr. Hurley, also ceased (See Id. at p. 56). Mitts asserts Defendant Martin was responsible for this circumstance, as he was the healthcare administrator and approved all outside appointments (Id. at p. 44). According to Mitts, Dr. John Coe told him he was not scheduled for his follow-up appointments with the specialist because of Martin and was informed that if he continued to refuse his UVB treatments he would not be sent out to the specialist (Id. at p. 51). Defendant Martin also advised Mitts on one occasion that he would not be sent out so long as Mitts refused on-site treatment (Id. at p. 76). Mitts also spoke with Defendant Duncan, the Warden at Lawrence during the relevant time period, about whether he would be sent to an outside specialist, but Defendant Duncan failed to approve any referrals despite indicating he would look into the situation (Id.).

         Dr. John Coe attests Mitts was not approved for follow-up appointments with Dr. Hurley because of his non-compliance with her treatment plan (Doc. 110-2, ¶¶ 30, 40). In particular, Dr. Coe asserts he consulted with Dr. Hurley and understood that if Mitts continued to refuse UVB therapy, there was no reason for him to come to her office (Id. at ¶ 31). Following his transfer to Centralia in July 2016, Mitts resumed his UVB treatments and was also sent out for appointments with Dr. Hurley (Doc. 110-1, p. 58).

         Summary ...

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