United States District Court, S.D. Illinois
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
J. ROSENSTENGEL UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
pending before the Court is the motion for summary judgment
filed by Defendants Steven Ritz, Jana South, and John Trost
on November 4, 2016 (Doc. 110)and Plaintiff Steven Jordan's
responses to the motion (Docs. 156 and 161). For the reasons
set forth below, the motion is granted.
Steven Jordan, an inmate currently confined at 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 Menard Correctional Center. Jordan
claims that he passed out in his cell from heat stroke while
standing at his sink, causing him to fall, 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. And, Jordan 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.
week prior to his fall, Jordan saw Dr. Trost for complaints
of chest pain that lasted less than one minute,
lightheadedness, and shortness of breath (Doc. 111-1, p. 3).
Dr. Trost gave Jordan a one-month prescription for ibuprofen
(Id.). An x-ray also was taken that showed no active
pulmonary disease (Id.). On June 24, 2016, four days
after his fall, Jordan saw a nurse practitioner in a
follow-up appointment for the chest pain, told her about his
fall and back injury, and was directed to continue taking
ibuprofen (Id., p. 4).
saw Nurse South on June 26, 2014, for complaints of back pain
due to his reported fall. Nurse South checked his vitals and
noted a slightly elevated blood pressure and slow gait (Doc.
111-3, p. 2). She also observed two marks on his back that
“looked like old road rash without infection, and did
not appear to be the result of a fall” (Id.).
Nurse South did not observe any abrasion marks or any other
indications typically associated with a fall. She believed
his complaints were inconsistent with her findings and only
offered him ibuprofen (Jordan told her that he was already
taking Tylenol) (Id.). When Jordan opted to see a
doctor, Nurse South became angry and had him removed from the
healthcare unit by correctional officers (Doc. 156-2, p.
As he was leaving, Nurse South noticed that he was walking
normally (Doc. 111-3, p. 3), although Jordan was being
hurried along by officers regardless of his pain (Doc. 156-2,
thereafter, Jordan was transferred to Stateville Correctional
Center, returning to Menard on July 23, 2014. On July 25,
2014, he saw Dr. Trost and again complained of low back pain
due to the fall (Doc. 111-1, p. 4). Dr. Trost did not observe
antalgic gait, which is an abnormal gait indicative of low
back pain (Id., pp. 2, 4-5). He nonetheless
diagnosed low back pain, i.e., a muscle strain or a lumbar
sprain soft tissue injury, and directed conservative
treatment of ibuprofen, Robaxin (a muscle relaxant), light
exercises, and no strenuous activities (Id., p.
4-5). Jordan told Dr. Trost that ibuprofen and Tylenol were
not alleviating his pain (Doc. 156-2, p. 6).
again was seen for low back pain on August 12, 2014 (Doc.
111-1, p. 5). The medical technician did not observe any
problems with Jordan's gait and, like Dr. Trost, directed
conservative treatment even though Jordan reported a six out
of ten pain level (Id., p. 5). A month later, Jordan
appeared with greater pain, eight out of ten, and was
referred to a doctor or nurse (Id., pp. 5-6). When a
nurse practitioner saw Jordan on September 23, 2014, he again
was prescribed Robaxin but with Prednisone, a steroid used
for muscle inflammation (Id., p. 6). The nurse
observed that Jordan sat down with ease but that he was
walking slowly. The first observation is counter-indicative
of back pain and the second, by itself, is not indicative of
back pain (Id., p. 6). Nonetheless, an x-ray of
Jordan's thoracic and lumbar spine was ordered, and no
abnormalities were revealed (Id., p. 6). A couple of
weeks later, Jordan again presented with low back pain. A
neurological test was negative for neurological deficits, but
Dr. Trost still prescribed ibuprofen and Mobic (an
anti-inflammatory) (Id., pp. 6-7). At some point in
October 2014, Jordan told Dr. Trost he could not do any light
exercises because of excruciating pain.
light of Jordan's continued complaints of pain without
any physical or neurological evidence thereof, Dr. Trost
elected to recommend an MRI, which he believed was a
“likely overtreatment of Mr. Jordan's symptoms, and
unlikely to reveal any physical problems”
(Id., p. 8). The recommendation was sent for
collegial review to Dr. Ritz (Id.). Dr. Ritz denied
the request because of the lack of neurological deficits but
suggested that Jordan undergo physical therapy (Id.,
pp. 8-9). Dr. Ritz noted that an MRI is “indicated for
patients that will likely require back surgery” and
that Jordan was not such a candidate because of the lack of
any physical findings (Doc. 111-2, p. 2).
again was examined on December 1, 2014, after he fell off a
top bunk and injured his shoulder. Dr. Trost noted no
improvement in his back condition; he was prescribed
Naproxen, another anti-inflammatory, and his shoulder was
x-rayed (Doc. 111-1, p. 9). The shoulder x-ray did not reveal
any injury (Id., p. 9).
January 6, 2015, Jordan agreed to physical therapy, which was
approved by Dr. Ritz on April 2, 2015 (Id., p. 10).
Jordan agreed to physical therapy because he “was
willing to try anything to alleviate the suffering, as well
as follow Doctor's recommendation, ” and because he
believed he would receive no other pain management or
treatment options (Doc. 156-2, p. 10). On April 17, 2015,
Jordan was evaluated by a physical therapist who
concluded-like Dr. Trost-that his complaints were consistent
with lumbar muscle sprain or strain (Doc. 111-1, p. 10).
Jordan was instructed on how to perform home exercises
(Id.). Dr. Trost did not believe that Jordan's
injuries warranted either a front cuff permit or a low
bunk/low gallery permit based on his examinations and
Jordan's alleged injuries (Id., pp. 10-11).
judgment is proper only if the moving party can demonstrate
“that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact
and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of
law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a); Celotex Corp. v.
Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986); Ruffin-Thompkins
v. Experian Information Solutions, Inc., 422 F.3d 603,
607 (7th Cir. 2005); Black Agents & Brokers Agency,
Inc. v. Near North Ins. Brokerage, Inc., 409 F.3d 833,
836 (7th Cir. 2005). The moving party bears the burden of
establishing that no material facts are in genuine dispute;
any doubt as to the existence of a genuine issue must be
resolved against the moving party. Adickes v. S.H. Kress
& Co., 398 U.S. 144, 160 (1970); Lawrence v.
Kenosha County, 391 F.3d 837, 841 (7th Cir. 2004).
moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law where
the non-moving party “has failed to make a sufficient
showing on an essential element of her case with respect to
which she has the burden of proof.” Celotex,
477 U.S. at 323. “[A] complete failure of proof
concerning an essential element of the nonmoving party's
case necessarily renders all other facts immaterial.”
Id. The Seventh Circuit has stated that summary
judgment is “the put up or shut up moment in a lawsuit,
when a party must show what evidence it has that would
convince a trier of fact to accept its version of the