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Jordann v. Welborn

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

September 18, 2017

STEVEN JORDAN, Plaintiff,
v.
WILLIAM WELBORN, JOHN TROST, M.D., STEVEN RITZ, M.D., and JANA SOUTH, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          NANCY J. ROSENSTENGEL, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Now pending before the Court is the motion for summary judgment filed by Defendant William Welborn on December 6, 2016 (Doc. 119), and the motion to withdraw admissions filed by Welborn on April 4, 2017 (Doc. 158). For the reasons set forth below, the motion for summary judgment is granted, and the motion to withdraw is denied.

         Introduction

         Plaintiff Steven Jordan, an inmate currently confined at the Hill Correctional Center, is proceeding on a second amended complaint (Doc. 96) filed pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. His claim relates to a fall that occurred on June 20, 2014, while he was housed at the Menard Correctional Center. On that day, Jordan claims that he passed out in his cell and fell, and that Sergeant Welborn did not summon medical care. When he saw Nurse South and Dr. Trost a few days later, they did nothing meaningful to address his pain. He further claims Dr. Ritz failed to approve necessary diagnostic testing, contributing to his prolonged pain and suffering. Jordan is proceeding on one count alleging that each Defendant was deliberately indifferent to his serious medical needs (Doc. 95). Defendants Ritz, South, and Trost filed a separate motion for summary judgment (Doc. 110).

         After Welborn filed his motion for summary judgment, Jordan sought additional time to respond and filed a flurry of discovery motions. Jordan then filed a response to Welborn's motion on April 3, 2017 (Doc. 157). In that response, Jordan cited to requests to admit that Welborn had failed to timely answer. Welborn filed a motion to withdraw his admissions the following day, April 4, 2017 (Doc. 158).

         All discovery motions were resolved in an Order issued by Magistrate Judge Wilkerson dated June 13, 2017 (Doc. 161). In that Order, Welborn was permitted to withdraw his admissions. Magistrate Judge Wilkerson later reconsidered his ruling, however, and reinstated Welborn's motion to withdraw his admissions (Doc. 169). Therefore, now pending before the Court are Welborn's motion for summary judgment and his request to withdraw his admissions. To the extent that Jordan seeks additional discovery, his request is denied.

         A. Motion to Withdraw Admissions

         On January 13, 2017, Jordan served requests to admit that Welborn failed to answer within the thirty days allowed by Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 36(a)(3). Therefore, the matters were deemed admitted by operation of the Federal Rules. This harsh result can be avoided by withdrawing the admissions. Kalis v. Colgate-Palmolive Co., 231 F.3d 1049, 1059 (7th Cir. 2000). “A court, in its discretion, may permit a party to rescind admissions when doing so better serves the presentation of the merits of the case and the party who benefits from the admissions (usually by relying on them) is not prejudiced.” Banos v. City of Chicago, 398 F.3d 889, 892 (7th Cir. 2005). In his motion to withdraw, Welborn argues that Jordan would suffer no prejudice and the interests of justice required that this matter be resolved on the merits (Doc. 158). He notes that Jordan has neither filed his own motion for summary judgment, “nor has Plaintiff relied on these admissions in his response to Defendant Welborn's Motion for Summary Judgment” (Doc. 159, p. 3).

         Welborn has filed a motion for summary judgment, which indicates he believes he has a meritorious defense to Jordan's claim and that this matter would benefit from an analysis of the record evidence rather than unintentional admissions. While permitting Welborn to withdraw his admissions would better serve the presentation of the merits of this case, Welborn has failed to show how Jordan is not prejudiced. In his response to Welborn's motion for summary judgment (Doc. 157), Jordan did, in fact, attach the requests to admit as Exhibit D and referred to them on pages 12-14 of his brief when discussing Welborn's state of mind, an element integral to a deliberate indifference claim. Jordan has relied on the admissions in arguing that this matter should go to trial. Jordan can conduct no further discovery to support his claims (as set forth in the June 13, 2017 Order), the discovery deadline having expired on March 3, 2017, and dispositive motions having been filed.

         Welborn's excuse for failing to respond also is weak. He states he did not respond because Jordan did not comply with Local Rule 26.1(b)(1). The Court is unaware of any rule of law that would permit one party to ignore the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure merely because another party does not comply with a Local Rule. Welborn's motion to withdraw admissions is accordingly denied. To the extent that Jordan's requests to admit relate to “facts, the application of law to fact, or opinions about either, ” they conclusively establish the same.

         B. Motion for Summary Judgment

         The facts relating to Jordan's medical care are detailed in this Court's Order on Defendants Ritz, South, and Trost's motion for summary judgment. Therefore, only facts relevant to Jordan's claim against Welborn are set forth here.

         Welborn, a correctional sergeant at the time, was on duty in Jordan's cellhouse on the night of the incident but does not recall the actual incident (Doc. 120-1, p. 2). On that night, June 20, 2014, Jordan was at his sink when he “fainted and fell to the floor of my cell, hitting [his] head, and hurting [his] back and shoulders” (Doc. 157-2, p. 2). Jordan's cellmates “pounded on the bars and called for help, ” and Welborn arrived outside the cell bars (Id.). Welborn told Jordan to get up. When Jordan tried but could not, Welborn told him that he was “faking” (Id.). When Jordan said he could not get up, Welborn directed another inmate to drag him to the bars (Jordan's cell was eight-feet long) (Id.; Doc. 120-1, p. 2). The cellmate only “partially complied” (Id.). Welborn did not take Jordan to the healthcare unit but did tell him he would “drop a sick call slip” for him (Doc. 157-2, p. 2). Jordan then fell asleep (Id. at p. 3). He received no further medical care from either a nurse making rounds early the next morning or from other correctional officers who made rounds every thirty minutes throughout the night (Jordan was sleeping at the time these rounds were made) (Doc. 120-1, p. 3).

         Welborn has no medical training, except for CPR and First Aid, and did not examine Jordan or open his cell door (Doc. 157-1, ¶ 1, 2, 5). In fact, Welborn “made the determination that the plaintiff's fall, and subsequent condition was not a ‘medical emergency' from outside the cell . . . without ever even touching the plaintiff” (Id. ¶ 6). Welborn had “no direct knowledge of whether the Plaintiff's spine was injured or not, . . . or not injured enough to warrant a call to medical personnel qualified to administer medical care . . . ...


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