United States District Court, N.D. Illinois
KENNETH E. SMITH (K-54173), Plaintiff,
WEXFORD HEALTH SOURCES, INC., DR. SALEH OBAISI, and TARRY WILLIAMS, Defendants.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
pro se 42 U.S.C. § 1983 suit, Kenneth E. Smith,
an Illinois prisoner, alleges that Stateville Correctional
Center Warden Tarry Williams and Dr. Saleh Obaisi,
Stateville's medical director, were deliberately
indifferent to his knee pain, and also that Dr. Obaisi's
employer, Wexford Health Sources, Inc., had a policy of
sacrificing patient care in favor of saving money. Doc. 29.
(Smith voluntarily dismissed a claim against another
defendant regarding his request for a lower bunk permit.
Docs. 45, 59.) Defendants have moved for summary judgment.
Docs. 74, 80. Smith did not respond, despite having been
given ample opportunity to do so. Docs. 86, 91.
Defendants' motions are granted.
with the local rules, Defendants filed Local Rule 56.1(a)(3)
statements of undisputed facts with their summary judgment
motions. Docs. 76, 81. The relevant factual assertions in the
Local Rule 56.1(a)(3) statements cite evidentiary material in
the record and are supported by the cited material.
See N.D. Ill. L.R. 56.1(a) (“The statement
referred to in (3) shall consist of short numbered
paragraphs, including within each paragraph specific
references to the affidavits, parts of the record, and other
supporting materials relied upon to support the facts set
forth in that paragraph.”). Also consistent with the
local rules, Defendants served Smith with Local Rule 56.2
Notices, which explain what Local Rule 56.1 requires of a
pro se litigant opposing summary judgment. Docs. 78,
83. Miller did not file a response brief, Local Rule
56.1(b)(3)(B) responses to the Local Rule 56.1(a)(3)
statements, or a Local Rule 56.1(b)(3)(C) statement of
district court is entitled to decide [a summary judgment]
motion based on the factual record outlined in the [Local
Rule 56.1] statements.” Koszola v. Bd. of
Educ., 385 F.3d 1104, 1109 (7th Cir. 2004) (third
alteration in original), overruled on other grounds by
Ortiz v. Werner Enters., 834 F.3d 760, 764 (7th Cir.
2016) (citation and internal quotation marks omitted);
see also Stevo v. Frasor, 662 F.3d 880, 886-87 (7th
Cir. 2011) (“Because of the high volume of summary
judgment motions and the benefits of clear presentation of
relevant evidence and law, we have repeatedly held that
district judges are entitled to insist on strict compliance
with local rules designed to promote the clarity of summary
judgment filings.”); Patterson v. Ind. Newspapers,
Inc., 589 F.3d 357, 360 (7th Cir. 2009) (“We have
repeatedly held that the district court is within its
discretion to strictly enforce compliance with its local
rules regarding summary-judgment motions.”); Ammons
v. Aramark Unif. Servs., Inc., 368 F.3d 809, 817 (7th
Cir. 2004) (“We have … repeatedly held that a
district court is entitled to expect strict compliance with
Rule 56.1.”). Smith's pro se status does
not excuse him from following Local Rule 56.1. See McNeil
v. United States, 508 U.S. 106, 113 (1993) (“[W]e
have never suggested that procedural rules in ordinary civil
litigation should be interpreted so as to excuse mistakes by
those who proceed without counsel.”); Coleman v.
Goodwill Indus. of Se. Wis., Inc., 423 F. App'x 642,
643 (7th Cir. 2011) (“Though courts are solicitous of
pro se litigants, they may nonetheless require strict
compliance with local rules.”); Wilson v. Kautex,
Inc., 371 F. App'x 663, 664 (7th Cir. 2010)
(“[S]trictly enforcing Local Rule 56.1 was well within
the district court's discretion, even though Wilson is a
pro se litigant.”) (citation omitted); Cady v.
Sheahan, 467 F.3d 1057, 1061 (7th Cir. 2006)
(“[E]ven pro se litigants must follow rules of
the court will accept as true the factual assertions set
forth in Defendants' Local Rule 56.1(a)(3) statements,
and will view the facts and inferences therefrom in the light
most favorable to Smith. See N.D. Ill. L.R.
56.1(b)(3)(C) (“All material facts set forth in the
statement required of the moving party will be deemed to be
admitted unless controverted by the statement of the opposing
party.”); Olivet Baptist Church v. Church Mut. Ins.
Co., 672 F. App'x 607, 607 (7th Cir. 2017)
(“The district court treated most of the
[defendant's] factual submissions as unopposed, because
[the plaintiff] failed to contest them in the form required
by Local Rule 56.1(b). We have held that the district court
is entitled to enforce that rule in precisely the way it
enforced the rule in this litigation.”); Rao v. BP
Prods. N. Am., Inc., 589 F.3d 389, 393 (7th Cir. 2009)
(“In accordance with [Local Rule 56.1(b)(3)(C)], the
district court justifiably deemed the factual assertions in
BP's Rule 56.1(a) Statement in support of its motion for
summary judgment admitted because Rao did not respond to the
statement.”). That said, the court is mindful that
“a nonmovant's … failure to comply with
Local Rule 56.1 … does not … automatically
result in judgment for the movant. The ultimate burden of
persuasion remains with [the movants] to show that [they are]
entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Raymond
v. Ameritech Corp., 442 F.3d 600, 608 (7th Cir. 2006)
(citations omitted). The court thus will recite the facts in
Defendants' Local Rule 56.1(a)(3) statements, and then
determine whether, on those facts, Defendants are entitled to
relevant times, Smith was incarcerated in Stateville
Correctional Center, where Dr. Obaisi was the onsite medical
director. Doc. 76 at ¶¶ 3-5; Doc. 81 at ¶ 1.
Dr. Obaisi, who specializes in internal medicine, is employed
by Wexford, the contractual provider of specified medical
clinical services to Illinois prisons. Doc. 76 at
¶¶ 4-5. Williams was warden of Stateville from
April 1, 2014, through July 12, 2015. Doc. 81 at ¶ 2.
medical and IDOC personnel are involved in patient care and
the scheduling of examinations. Doc. 76 at ¶¶ 9-10.
Written requests for medical treatment are reviewed by IDOC
correctional medical technicians or administrative personnel.
Id. at ¶ 10. Generally, triage and initial
medical evaluations of inmates are made by physician's
assistants, registered nurses, licensed practice nurses, and
correctional medical technicians, who can refer patients for
further intervention by other medical providers based upon
their observations. Id. at ¶¶ 11, 14, 16.
When an inmate complains of pain, a medical provider will
determine a course of action based upon the reported pain,
along with objective observations such as swelling, redness,
deformity, or warmth at the site, or issues with range of
motion or gait. Id. at ¶ 22. Dr. Obaisi does
not schedule his own appointments or follow-ups, but relies
upon other staff members to do so. Id. at ¶ 10.
Institutional lockdowns instituted by prison staff may
restrict inmate medical care. Id. at ¶ 12.
first experienced knee pain on or about December 11, 2013.
Id. at ¶ 27; Doc. 81 at ¶ 10. Over the
next two days, he separately told two medical staffers that
his knee hurt. Doc. 76 at ¶¶ 27-28. Medical records
indicate that on January 7, 2014, Smith complained to a
correctional medical technician of knee pain and was
scheduled to see a nurse on January 13, 2014. Id. at
¶ 29; Doc. 81 at ¶¶ 11-12. Smith reported
intermittent pain in his left knee for a month; the nurse
observed no swelling and ordered ibuprofen for pain, an x-ray
of the knee, and a two-week follow- up appointment. Doc. 76
at ¶ 29; Doc. 81 at ¶ 13. Smith's knee was
x-rayed that day, and Dr. Obaisi evaluated the film the
following day and determined that it was negative for
fracture. Doc. 76 at ¶¶ 29-30; Doc. 81 at ¶
January 27, 2014, Smith saw a nurse for a scheduled follow-up
and reported severe pain on the inside of his knee while
walking. Doc. 76 at ¶ 31; Doc. 81 at ¶ 15. The
nurse documented crepitus (a crackling sound) but no
swelling, edema, eurhythmia, or bruising. Doc. 76 at ¶
31. She informed Smith that the x-ray was negative for
fracture, noted that his “gait” was
“steady” and that he did not appear to be in
acute distress, Doc. 84 at 3, and prescribed an analgesic
balm and ibuprofen, Doc. 76 at ¶ 31; Doc. 81 at ¶
16. On February 7, 2014, at an asthma clinic visit during
which no complaint of knee pain was documented, Smith was
issued a six-month low gallery permit. Doc. 76 at ¶ 32;
Doc. 81 at ¶ 18.
February 10, 2014, Smith saw a nurse for his knee pain; she
found no ecchymosis, redness, bruising, swelling, or
tenderness. Doc. 76 at ¶ 33; Doc. 81 at ¶ 19. Smith
reported taking his pain medication off and on as needed.
Doc. 76 at ¶ 33, Doc. 76-1 at 34 (Tr. 104:19-21.)
Smith's range of motion in the knee was “within
normal limits, ” and the nurse prescribed hot and cold
packs and told him to follow up if the pain worsened. Doc. 76
at ¶ 33.
physician's assistant (“P.A.”) prescribed
Smith Tylenol 325 mg on February 18, 2014. Id. at
¶ 34; Doc. 81 at ¶ 17. A week later, the P.A. again
examined Smith for his knee pain, which Smith said had
worsened. Doc. 76 at ¶ 34; Doc. 81 at ¶ 21. The
P.A. found no deformities and that Smith had full range of
motion “and negative anterior and posterior drawer
test, ” Doc. 76 at ¶ 34, indicating no injury to
the cruciate ligaments. The P.A. referred Smith to the
medical director (Dr. Obaisi) for follow-up and prescribed
Naprosyn 500 mg. Ibid.; Doc. 81 at ¶¶
was scheduled to see Dr. Obaisi on March 19 and May 22, 2014,
but neither appointment took place. Doc. 76 at ¶¶
35, 38; Doc. 81 at ¶¶ 23-24. The May 22 appointment
appears not to have been rescheduled. At his request, on
August 8, 2014, Smith was placed on Dr. Obaisi's schedule
for September 10, 2014. Doc. 76 at ¶ 39; Doc. 81 at
¶ 25. That appointment was rescheduled to October 9,
2014, due to a prison lockdown. Doc. 76 at ¶ 40; Doc. 81
at ¶ 26. Plaintiff saw medical providers on September 12
and October 2, 2014, but the records of those visits reflect
no complaints of knee pain. Doc. 76 at ¶¶ 41, 42.
On November 26, 2014, no medical provider was available, and
Smith was rescheduled to January 6, 2015. Doc. 81 at ¶
January 6, 2015, Dr. Obaisi finally saw Smith, who reported
that his knee had hurt for six months with occasional
swelling. Doc. 76 at ¶ 44; Doc. 81 at ¶ 28. Dr.
Obaisi found no swelling or heat, explained that Smith's
x-ray was within normal limits, diagnosed a “sprained
medial collateral ligament, ” and prescribed Motrin 400
mg twice a day for four weeks. Doc. 76 at ¶ 44. On
January 23, 2015, Smith was scheduled to see a nurse but did
not attend due to a conflicting personal visit. Id.
at ¶ 46. On February 10, 2015, Dr. Obaisi again examined
Smith, who reported ongoing pain. Id. at ¶ 47;
Doc. 81 at ¶ 29. Again, Dr. Obaisi observed no heat or
swelling and found the knee to be within normal limits. Doc.
76 at ¶ 47. Dr. Obaisi prescribed a knee sleeve, a
device intended to reduce knee pain by taking pressure ...