United States District Court, S.D. Illinois
CARLOS E. ESPINOZA, Plaintiff,
DANIEL JUSTICE, ALFONSO DAVID, SHERRI LYNN, CHRISTINE BROWN, and DAN VAREL, Defendants.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
MICHAEL J. REAGAN United States District Judge
himself, Carlos Espinoza (Plaintiff), an inmate in the
custody of the Illinois Department of Corrections, filed this
suit pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff alleges
that his civil rights were violated when defendants failed to
adequately provide treatment for an injury to his right knee.
This matter is before the Court on motions for summary
judgment filed by Defendants Justice, Lynn, and Brown (Doc.
145), Defendant Varel (Doc. 138), and Defendant David (Doc.
134). Those motions are ripe for disposition. For the reasons
described below, summary judgment is appropriate as to
Defendants Lynn, Brown, and Varel.
Summary of Key Allegations and Evidence
2009, Plaintiff was incarcerated at Dixon Correctional Center
(Dixon). (Doc. 157-1, p. 2). On June 1, 2009, Plaintiff
suffered an injury to his right knee during an altercation
with another inmate. (Id.). An MRI performed on
September 29, 2009 indicates that Plaintiff suffered a
rupture of his ACL versus a high-grade sprain. (Doc. 157-2,
p. 3). While Plaintiff was being escorted to segregation, he
informed the escorting officer that he needed medical
attention for his knee injury. (Id. at 2). The
officer radioed his supervisor, Defendant Justice, to relay
Plaintiff's request. (Id. at 3). Defendant
Justice, however, refused to allow Plaintiff to see a nurse
or a doctor for treatment. (Id.).
received medical care the following day, June 2, 2009, though
he does not recall the specific time. (Doc. 146-1, p. 88).
Plaintiff was in pain until he was seen by the nurse and
given ibuprofen. (Doc. 157-1, p. 17). Plaintiff had no
further interaction with Defendant Justice regarding his
failure to obtain medical care and/or his knee. (Doc. 146-1,
p. 89). Plaintiff claims that he filed a grievance against
Defendant Justice in September 2009, but did not receive a
response. (Doc. 157-1, p. 15).
was seen by nurses and doctors on numerous dates in June and
July of 2009. (Doc. 113, p. 8). In September 2009, Plaintiff
was sent to the University of Illinois Medical Center where
he received an MRI of his right knee. (Doc. 146-1, p. 18;
Doc. 157-1, p. 4). In October 2009, Plaintiff consulted with
an orthopedic specialist, Dr. Chmell. (Doc. 157-2, p. 5). It
was indicated that Plaintiff would be sent for some physical
therapy and that Plaintiff was to follow up in three months.
transferred to Shawnee Correctional Center
(“Shawnee”) in early January 2010. (Doc. 157-1,
p. 5). Once at Shawnee, Plaintiff was seen by Defendant Dr.
David. Plaintiff saw Dr. David for the first time on January
12, 2010. (Doc. 153, p. 8). Plaintiff informed Dr. David of
his ACL injury and of the orthopedist's assessment and
plan. (Id.). Plaintiff told Dr. David that the
orthopedist ordered that Plaintiff be sent for physical
therapy and then sent to the orthopedist's office for a
follow up. (Id.). According to Plaintiff, he was
told by the orthopedist that surgery might be necessary.
(Id. at 9). Plaintiff requested that Dr. David send
Plaintiff to an outside clinic for physical therapy.
(Id.). According to Plaintiff, however, Dr. David
stated that Plaintiff would not be sent either for physical
therapy or to an outside orthopedic surgeon. (Id.).
Dr. David recommended that Plaintiff do some exercises in his
cell, which Plaintiff claims he was unable to do by himself
due to the weakness and instability of his injured knee.
(Id.). Plaintiff also asked Dr. David to provide a
knee sleeve or brace due to the weakness and instability
suffered by Plaintiff; however, Dr. David refused.
to Dr. David, he reviewed the orthopedist's report. (Doc.
135-2, p. 2). Dr. David acknowledges that the orthopedist
recommended physical therapy, but did not recommend surgery.
(Id.). Dr. David's review of Plaintiff's
records indicated to him that Plaintiff underwent physical
therapy at Dixon from October 30, 2009 to November 13, 2009,
but was then documented as a “no show” discharged
on December 14, 2009. (Id.). Plaintiff told Dr.
David that he was in segregation during the “no
show” period. (Id.) Dr. David indicates that
during his initial examination of Plaintiff, he found no
swelling, tenderness, or deformity of his right knee.
(Id.). Nor did he find any limitation, and he noted
that Plaintiff had good muscle strength, as well as, the
ability to walk without assistance. (Id.). In Dr.
David's opinion, Plaintiff's knee was normal.
seeing a nurse practitioner on several occasions, Plaintiff
was seen by Dr. David again on March 8, 2010. (Doc. 153, p. 9
- 10). Plaintiff told Dr. David that he needed something for
the pain he was experiencing with his knee. (Id. at
10). Plaintiff had previously been prescribed naproxen by the
nurse practitioner. (Id.). Dr. David again
determined that Plaintiff's knee was normal; however,
Plaintiff points out that the nurse practitioner had
previously noted some crepitus, which, according to Dr.
David, is a crackling sound that can be heard from a joint in
some conditions. (Id; Doc. 135-2, p. 2). Dr. David
continued Plaintiff's order for naproxen, and again
advised him to continue performing range of motion exercises
to maintain the normal function of his right knee. (Doc.
135-2, p. 3).
March 10, 2010 and March 16, 2010, Plaintiff claims he
continued to experience pain, weakness, and instability on
his injured knee. (Doc. 153, p. 11). During this time,
Plaintiff again saw Dr. David, and informed the doctor that
Plaintiff's knee would sometimes give out on him.
(Id.). Dr. David continued Plaintiff on naproxen and
gave Plaintiff a low bunk permit for three months.
David next saw Plaintiff on November 9, 2010, after a
referral from a visit with the nurse practitioner.
(Id. at 12). Plaintiff complained of his treatment,
and told Dr. David that he was having occasional pain to his
right knee. (Id.). Again, Dr. David continued
Plaintiff on his naproxen order, advised Plaintiff of his
range of motion exercises, and removed Plaintiff's low
bunk/low gallery permit. (Id.). He advised Plaintiff
to be careful going up and down the top bunk. (Id.
at 13). According to Dr. David, he performed some tests on
Plaintiff's knee which came back negative. (Doc. 135-2,
August 11, 2012, Plaintiff reported to nurse sick call and
complained that he had slipped and hurt his right knee while
in the shower. (Doc. 153, p. 14; Doc. 135-2, p. 5). Dr. David
indicates that he noted no swelling, tenderness, crepitus, or
limitation of movement. (Doc. 135-2, p. 5). The doctor found
the right knee to be normal. (Id.). He noted that
Plaintiff had degenerative joint disease or arthritis, and
advised Plaintiff to rest his right knee and do range of
motion exercises as tolerated. (Id.).
November 28, 2012, Plaintiff saw a Dr. Shepard, who was
filling-in for Dr. David. (Doc. 153, p. 15). Dr. Shepard
performed testing that indicated that Plaintiff may have
reinjured his right knee. (Id.). Dr. Shepard
referred Plaintiff to an orthopedic surgeon for an
evaluation. (Id.). At a collegial, however, a Dr.
Haymes determined that Plaintiff should be sent to an offsite
physical therapist rather than an orthopedic surgeon.
(Id.). Plaintiff saw a physical therapist on
December 28, 2012. (Doc. 135-1, p. 76). The therapist found
that Plaintiff presented with an old ACL tear and ordered
home exercises. (Id.).
meeting with the physical therapist, Plaintiff saw Dr. David
again on March 5, 2013 regarding complaints of occasional
pain to his right knee. (Doc. 153, p. 17). Plaintiff informed
Dr. David that he had been doing the exercises recommended by
the physical therapist. (Id.). Dr. David noted that
Plaintiff was walking normally, that there was no swelling of
the right knee, that Plaintiff had normal range of motion,
and that there was no crepitus. (Id.). To ensure
that the exercises were performed as shown by the physical
therapist, Dr. David ordered that Plaintiff be scheduled on
the treatment line every other day for 30 minutes for two
months to perform his exercises, and that nursing staff
should document and chart the exercises to make sure
Plaintiff is doing them properly. (Id.).
next saw Dr. David on May 7, 2013 for a follow-up after
completing his home exercises. (Id. at 18 - 19).
Plaintiff reported that he was suffering from worse, sharp,
knee pain and that his knee was weak, popping, and was giving
out on him. (Id. at 19). Plaintiff also informed Dr.
David that he has to support himself to prevent himself from
falling. (Id.). Dr. David's physical examination
found that Plaintiff's knee was not swollen or tender,
but that there was some crepitus when Plaintiff shifted his
leg. (Id.). Dr. David then ordered an x-ray of
Plaintiff's right knee. (Id.). The x-ray was
performed on May 9, 2013. (Id.). The x-ray came back
negative. (Doc. 135, p. 7). It did not show a joint effusion,
acute displaced fracture, or a dislocation. (Id.).
presented to Dr. David again on July 17, 2013, at which time
he told Dr. David that his knee had gotten worse. (Doc. 153,
p. 20). Plaintiff indicated that his knee was still giving
out and made a popping noise when walking. (Id.).
Dr. David indicated that he would review Plaintiff's
medical records again and possibly represent Plaintiff at a
collegial for referral to an orthopedist. (Id.). Dr.
David then completed a referral for Plaintiff to be seen by
an orthopedist on July 22, 2013. (Id.). He discussed