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Taylor v. Wexford Health Sources, Inc.

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

September 18, 2017




         Now pending before the Court is the motion for summary judgment filed by Defendants John Coe and Wexford Health Sources, Inc. on January 9, 2017 (Doc. 127), and the motion for summary judgment filed by Defendant Phil Martin on January 13, 2017 (Doc. 131). Plaintiff Douglas Taylor filed a combined response to both motions on April 11, 2017 (Doc. 148). For the reasons set forth below, the motions are denied.


         Douglas Taylor (“Taylor”), an inmate currently housed at Big Muddy River Correctional Center is proceeding on a third amended complaint filed pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 on June 17, 2016. He alleges four claims (Counts 3, 4, 5, and 6) related to the eye care he received while incarcerated at Lawrence Correctional Center beginning on or about June 7, 2012 (Doc. 101). These claims are:

Count 3: Deliberate indifference to a serious medical need against Wexford Health Sources, Inc., for maintaining unconstitutional practices or policies with respect to staffing the optometrist position and procedures for requesting medical care.
Count 4: Deliberate indifference to a serious medical need against Defendant Dr. John Coe for failing to treat Plaintiffs eye condition from June 7, 2012, to the present.
Count 5: Failure to intervene against Defendant Dr. Coe for failing to prevent harm related to his eye condition caused by Dr. Hohenbary's deliberate indifference.
Count 6: Deliberate indifference to a serious medical need against Defendant Phil Martin for failing to treat Plaintiffs eye condition and/or by delaying treatment.[1]

         The remaining Defendants now seek summary judgment.


         Taylor first sought eye care in June 2012 when he began experiencing sensitivity to light and pain in his eyes. (Doc. 148-1, p. 7; Doc. 148-4, p. 12-13). In his deposition, Taylor testified that he requested nurse sick call in June 2012 for his eye problems by placing the request in the healthcare unit box. Taylor asserts he made more than thirty such requests between June 2012 and June 2013 (Doc. 148-4, p. 13-14). Ten to twenty such requests were specifically addressed to Defendant Martin, the Health Care Unit Administrator (“HCUA”) (Doc. 148-1, p. 11). Taylor's medical records, however, do not reflect any treatment for eye pain in 2012 or early 2013 (Doc. 128-1, pp. 2-6). On April 20, 2013, Taylor complained of migraines and was referred to the doctor (Doc. 128-2, p. 1).

         Taylor was seen by Dr. Coe on June 4, 2013. He described migraine pain behind and in his eye and that it felt like his eyes would “explode” (Doc. 148-1, p. 7). He reported he may need glasses and was referred to optometry (Doc. 128-2, p. 2).[2] Dr. Coe also prescribed Imitrex (a migraine drug)[3] and Indocin for a 6-month period (although the Imitrex was discontinued 10 days later in favor of the Indocin, which Dr. Coe stated “may work” (Doc. 128-2, p. 3, 5)).[4]

         Taylor again was seen by Dr. Coe on September 19, 2013. Taylor reported that the Indocin was working and that when he “popped his neck” his headaches sometimes went away (Doc. 128-2, p. 5). Dr. Coe increased the Indocin dosage (from 25 mg to 50 mg), noted that Taylor was scheduled to see an optometrist, and said that Taylor should return if the headaches did not improve after his vision was checked (Id.). During this visit, Taylor told Dr. Coe that he believed he was losing vision and that the medication and “popping” his neck did nothing to resolve the eye pain (Doc. 148-1, p. 8). Dr. Coe told Taylor that the optometrist was busy and that Taylor may be confusing migraines for eye problems, which Taylor did not believe was accurate (Doc. 148-1, p. 8).

         From October 3 to October 7, 2013, Taylor sent daily request slips, addressed to Dr. Coe and HCUA Martin, expressing concerns about not receiving eye care and about the pain he was experiencing because of the delay (Doc. 148-1, p. 8). On October 22, 2013, the optometrist (Dr. Hohenbary) indicated that Taylor's appointment needed to be rescheduled because he “ran out of time” and that Taylor's appointment should be rescheduled “ASAP” (Doc. 128-2, p. 8). When Taylor saw Dr. Coe again on November 5, 2013, he again sought to see the optometrist. Taylor was told nothing could be done and he needed to write a grievance (Doc. 148-1, p. 8). On this visit, it was noted that Indocin was effective for the migraines (Doc. 128-2, p. 9). On November 20, 2013, Taylor again sought care for headaches “around the eyes” with blurry vision and “put in” to see the eye doctor. (Id. at p. 10).

         On February 20, 2014, Taylor again saw Dr. Coe and explained that his conditioned had worsened; his eyes were now so sensitive to light that he could not open them outside (Doc. 148-1, p. 9). Dr. Coe prescribed some additional medications including Topamax for what appears to be a 4-week plus 4-day period (Doc. 128-2, p. 11).[5] Dr. Coe conducted a chart review twice in April 2014.[6] (Id. at pp. 11-12).

         Taylor was finally seen by an optometrist, Dr. Kehoe, on May 16, 2014. Dr. Kehoe ordered glasses for Taylor and told Taylor his eye pressure was three times the normal amount (Doc. 148-1, p. 9; Doc. 128-3, p. 1). The records appear to reveal astigmatism and possible glaucoma (Id.). A second examination on June 8, 2014, resulted in orders for further diagnostic testing, including a baseline Pachymetry and visual field test (used to test for glaucoma), scheduled for July 17, 2014 (Doc. 128-2, p. 14). Taylor went to an outside clinic for the tests (see Doc. 128-3, p. 4) and was told thereafter that he had an “absolute nasal quadrant defect spreading past the horizontal/midline” (Doc. 148-1, p. 9). Taylor was diagnosed with hypertension glaucoma and told that he had 25% vision loss in his right eye (Doc. 148-1, p. 9).[7] Various medications were prescribed (Doc. 129-3, p. 6) and an “urgent” MRI was requested on July 20, 2014 (Doc. 128-3, p. 7). Dr. Coe reviewed the MRI results with Taylor, which showed no abnormalities (Doc. 128-4, p. 5).[8] According to Taylor, the eye drops prescribed for his glaucoma has lessened his eye pain considerably (Doc. 148-1, p. 9).

         Dr. Coe continued treating Taylor's migraine headaches and re-prescribed Topamax on August 11, 2014 (Doc. 128-2, p. 16).[9] At this appointment, Taylor told Dr. Coe that the drug “hurt my eyes.” Dr. Coe told Taylor not to worry; the drug causes a little pain that he would have to live with (Doc. 148-1, p. 10). Dr. Coe subsequently told Taylor, on December 1, 2014, to stop taking Topamax (Id. 11; Doc. 132-2, p. 61). Three days later, Taylor experienced uncontrollable shaking and falling to the ground, severe pain in his head, episodes of unconsciousness, and uncontrollable bowel movements and urination (Doc. 148-1, p. 11). Taylor sought medical care for these issues but never was called to the healthcare unit (Id.). Taylor believes that the symptoms were the result of stopping Topamax suddenly. Dr. Coe saw Taylor again in June 2015 and noted that he only had a “mild headache” at the time (Doc. 132-2, p. 70).

         During the relevant time period, Defendant Martin was the Health Care Unit Administrator at Lawrence. Martin does not have a medical degree and does not manage the health care that is provided to inmates. Rather, he ensures that “offenders were generally receiving medical care in accordance with all administrative directives” (Doc. 148-4, p. 2). Martin attested that he has no authority to “direct an offender's medical care, ” nor did he direct the work of the optometrist or “manage any waiting list of patients to see the optometrist” (Id.). He had the authority to review offender grievances and medical records, however, and would “request staff to schedule” an offender to see a medical professional (Id. at p. 3). In particular: “if it appears [from a grievance or through some notification process] that the offender was not being seen by medical staff altogether, I ...

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