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Perkins v. Wexford Health Sources, Inc.

United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division

November 3, 2017

ALVIN PERKINS, JR., Plaintiff,


          Gary Feinerman, Judge

         Alvin Perkins, Jr. sues Dr. Saleh Obaisi, Dr. Andrew Tilden, Latonya Williams, James Caruso, Jill Parrish, Sherry Benton, Nicholas Lamb, Tarry Williams, Randy Pfister, and Wexford Health Sources, Inc., alleging violations of 42 U.S.C. § 1983 arising from his medical treatment while incarcerated. Doc. 47. The individual defendants are sued in their individual capacities, not their official capacities. Doc. 71 at 2 n.1; Doc. 72 at 2 n.1.

         Parrish has not appeared and may not have been served. Doc. 59 at 2. Latonya Williams and Caruso answered, and Wexford answered one claim against it. Docs. 60, 86. Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), Pfister, Benton, Lamb and Tarry Williams (“State Defendants”) move to dismiss the claims against them, while Dr. Obaisi, Dr. Tilden, and Wexford (“Wexford Defendants”) move to dismiss the claims against Drs. Obaisi and Tilden and most of the claims against Wexford. Docs. 61, 65. The motions are granted.


          In resolving a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, the court assumes the truth of the operative complaint's well-pleaded factual allegations, though not its legal conclusions. See Zahn v. N. Am. Power & Gas, LLC, 815 F.3d 1082, 1087 (7th Cir. 2016). The court must also consider “documents attached to the complaint, documents that are critical to the complaint and referred to in it, and information that is subject to proper judicial notice, ” along with additional facts set forth in Perkins's briefs opposing dismissal, so long as those additional facts “are consistent with the pleadings.” Phillips v. Prudential Ins. Co. of Am., 714 F.3d 1017, 1020 (7th Cir. 2013). The facts are set forth as favorably to Perkins as those materials allow. See Pierce v. Zoetis, Inc., 818 F.3d 274, 277 (7th Cir. 2016). In setting forth those facts at this stage, the court does not vouch for their accuracy. See Jay E. Hayden Found. v. First Neighbor Bank, N.A., 610 F.3d 382, 384 (7th Cir. 2010).

         Perkins was incarcerated at Stateville Correctional Center from December 9, 2013 to December 11, 2014, at Pontiac Correctional Center from December 11, 2014 to March 11, 2015, and again at Stateville from March 11, 2015 to September 27, 2016. Doc. 47 at ¶ 5. Wexford contracts to provide health services at Pontiac and Stateville. Id. at ¶ 6. Drs. Obaisi and Tilden were employed by Wexford as the Medical Directors for Stateville and Pontiac, respectively. Id. at ¶¶ 7-8. During the relevant time frame, Benton was either the Chair or a member of the Illinois Department of Correction (“IDOC”) Administrative Review Board (“ARB”), Lamb was Acting Warden of Stateville, Tarry Williams was Warden of Stateville, and Pfister was Warden of both Pontiac and Stateville. Id. at ¶¶ 12-15.

         In August 2014, during his first stint at Stateville, Perkins developed a rash around his groin area. Id. at ¶ 25. He informed an unidentified nurse, who advised him to ask to see a physician. Ibid. Perkins made an appointment request to the Stateville Health Care Unit (“HCU”), but never received a response. Id. at ¶ 26. In September, Perkins began to experience swelling and stiffness in his right index finger. Id. at ¶ 27. By October, those symptoms, which began to spread to his other fingers and left hand, had become debilitating, affecting his ability to perform simple tasks. Id. at ¶ 28. Meanwhile, the rash spread to his legs and arms and began to blister and scab, causing severe pain. Id. at ¶ 29. On October 12, Perkins submitted an additional request to the HCU, but again received no response. Id. at ¶ 30.

         On October 18, Perkins submitted a grievance concerning the non-responses to his HCU requests. Id. at ¶ 31. He did not receive a response to the grievance. Ibid. Perkins made another appointment request to the HCU in late October, again receiving no response. Id. at ¶ 32. He filed another grievance in mid-November, complaining about the lack of medical treatment. Id. at ¶ 33.

         On December 11, Perkins was transferred from Stateville to Pontiac. Id. at ¶ 35. In notes taken at a transfer screening, an unnamed medical professional, John Doe #1, did not refer to Perkins's hand pain or rash, and made one-word notes concerning his other long-term health conditions. Id. at ¶ 37. Doe #1 did not question Perkins about his health or examine him. Id. at ¶ 37. Perkins underwent a similarly meager evaluation the same day by another medical professional, John Doe #2. Id. at ¶ 38. Around this time, Perkins submitted a request for an appointment with the Pontiac HCU, and received no response. Id. at ¶ 39.

         In late December, Perkins received a response to one of his Stateville grievances. Id. at ¶ 40. The response did not address the substance of the grievance, and instead stated that, due to his transfer to Pontiac, Stateville grievance officers would not review the grievance. Ibid. The response directed Perkins to appeal to the ARB, which he did shortly thereafter. Id. at ¶¶ 40-41.

         In January 2015, Perkins submitted a grievance at Pontiac, again complaining of the lack of medical treatment. Id. at ¶ 42. The grievance complained that he had been requesting an HCU appointment, that he had a severe rash and was unable to use his right index finger, and that he had not received care at Stateville for those conditions. Ibid. Perkins did not receive a response to that grievance. Ibid.

         On January 27, Perkins received the ARB's decision, prepared by Benton, on his original grievance. Id. at ¶ 43. The ARB summarily rejected the grievance on two grounds. Ibid. The first was that Perkins should have contacted the HCU before going to the ARB, and the second was that the grievance failed to satisfy certain requirements of the Illinois Administrative Code. Ibid. Specifically, the ARB stated that the grievance contained no date from which the ARB could determine whether he had complied with the requirement that an inmate file a grievance within 60 days of his discovery of the grievance's subject matter. Ibid. The ARB also stated that the grievance had insufficient factual detail. Ibid.

         In March, Perkins saw a nurse at Pontiac, John Doe #3, about his rash, which by then had spread to his arms and legs. Id. at ¶ 44. Doe #3 prescribed hydrocortisone cream, but did not examine Perkins for any contraindicated conditions such as open wounds, lesions, or fungal infections. Ibid. Upon seeing Doe #3 again shortly thereafter, Perkins reported that the cream was not working and complained of the hand pain and mobility issues. Id. at ¶ 45. Doe #3 did not indicate any further follow-up or treatment. Ibid.

         A few days later, Perkins met with Caruso, a physician's assistant. Id. at ¶ 46. Caruso noted the rash, but conducted no examination and wrote that Perkins “leaves [Pontiac] Wednesday [March 11, 2015] - so he won't receive cream.” Ibid. That same day, in preparation for Perkins's transfer back to Stateville, ...

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