United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
MATTHEW F. KENNELLY UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Watson was incarcerated at the Illinois Department of
Corrections' Northern Reception and Classification Center
(NRC) from September 22, 2014 through March 24, 2015. Back in
2008, Mr. Watson suffered a gunshot wound in his back, and he
has suffered from chronic pain ever since. He contends that
he did not get appropriate treatment for this pain while at
the NRC. Mr. Watson has sued Claude Owikoti, a
physician's assistant, and Dr. Evaristo Aguinaldo, a
physician, alleging that they violated his Eighth Amendment
rights by their deliberate indifference to his serious
medical needs. The Court recruited counsel, Deanna Kunze and
Maureen Mullen of Nixon Peabody LLP, to represent Mr. Watson
and thanks them for their diligent prosecution of this case
on Mr. Watson's behalf.
has been completed, and the case is set for trial in
mid-October 2017. Mr. Owikoti and Dr. Aguinaldo have moved
for summary judgment. Mr. Owikoti and Dr. Aguinaldo contend
that Mr. Watson lacks evidence from which a reasonable jury
could find in his favor. They also contend that Mr. Watson
failed to exhaust administrative remedies before filing suit
as required by the Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA). The
Court will address these points in the same order in which
defendants have made them.
being imprisoned, Mr. Watson was prescribed hydrocodone and a
muscle relaxant for his back pain. IDOC records reflect that
when he arrived at the NRC in late September 2014, Mr. Watson
told IDOC staff that he was taking Tylenol (and only Tylenol)
for his back pain. Mr. Watson says this is untrue.
October 15, 2014, Mr. Watson filed a grievance stating that
"[t]he medical attention here is very poor. They refuse
my sick call." But his grievance referenced chest pain
and rashes, not back pain. A counselor's response to the
grievance, inexplicably dated six weeks later, November 28,
2014, says that the grievance had been forwarded to the
health care unit for review.
November 21, 2014, Mr. Watson filed another grievance. This
one specifically referenced his gunshot wound and his back
pain. He stated, "I got a gun shot wound in my back
an[d] I have been seeking medical attention since I've
been here at Stateville NRC. . . . I was currently taking
pain medication in the world for my back. Now I'm
incarcerated. My back is in very bad pain [and] I can't
get any medical attention." A counselor's response
to this grievance, dated November 27, 2014, likewise stated
that it had been forwarded to the health care unit for
Watson saw Mr. Owikoti on one occasion, on December 17, 2014.
Records that Mr. Owikoti prepared state that Mr. Watson
complained only of a rash on his lower back, and Mr. Owikoti
has testified that he routinely asks each patient's
current complaints and records what they say. Mr. Watson says
that he told Mr. Owikoti about his back pain "and
explained to him that I was on medication for my back before
I got incarcerated." Watson Dep. at 68. Mr. Owikoti
prescribed an antibiotic for the rash but nothing for the
back pain (he says that Mr. Watson said nothing about back
pain). According to Mr. Watson, Mr. Owikoti "didn't
want to believe me" and "said he couldn't help
me." Id. at 68, 70.
January 8, 2015, Mr. Watson filed another grievance. He said
that he had submitted earlier grievances "about me not
getting the proper medical attention for my back injury. . .
. I been in back pain since I've been incarcerated at
Stateville with no help. I was taking medication for my back
when I was out [in] the world. Doctor [sic] Owikoti denied me
medication for my back 12-17-14." He asked for
"proper medical attention." A counselor's
response, dated January 15, 2015, somewhat cryptically
stated, "Answered this grievance on HCU" (the
health care unit).
Watson saw Dr. Aguinaldo once, on February 24, 2015. It
appears to be undisputed that Mr. Watson reported his back
pain to Dr. Aguinaldo. Dr. Aguinaldo testified, and records
reflect, that he prescribed Motrin for Mr. Watson and
counseled him to do exercises. He did not order an x-ray. He
testified this was because there were no objective findings
that warranted an x-ray. Mr. Watson testified that Dr.
Aguinaldo prescribed Tylenol.
grievance officer's March 2, 2015 report regarding Mr.
Watson's October and November 2014 grievances states,
"Inmate complains of back pain from a GSW" (gunshot
wound). The report further states that Mr. Watson "was
seen by Dr. Augie [sic] ¶ 2/24/15 for his back pain. He
had no pain when doing range of motion. He was given Tylenol
[sic] for 10 days and was told to follow up as needed."
records reflect that Mr. Watson saw another
doctor-unidentified-at the NRC on March 13, 2015. Records
reflect that the doctor found "tenderness" in the
right mid-back area "over [an] old wound." The same
records reflect that the doctor prescribed Tramadol (a pain
killer) and Robaxin (a muscle relaxant). Not too long after
that, Mr. Watson was transferred to another prison.