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Payton v. Williams

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

December 1, 2017

LATONYA WILLIAMS, et al., Defendants.


          Robert M. Dow, Jr. United States District Judge

         Plaintiff Tobias Payton (“Plaintiff”) brings suit against Defendants LaTonya Williams (“PA Williams”), Saleh Obaisi (“Dr. Obaisi”), Imhotep Carter (“Dr. Carter”), and Wexford Health Sources, Inc. (“Wexford”) (collectively, the “Medical Defendants”) under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 based on the Medical Defendants' alleged deliberate indifference to his serious medical needs.[1] Currently before the Court is the Medical Defendants' motion [67] to dismiss Plaintiff's amended complaint for failure to state a claim. For the following reasons, the Medical Defendants' motion [67] is granted as to Plaintiff's respondeat superior claim against Wexford (Count V) and denied as to Plaintiff's deliberate indifference and Monell claims against the Medical Defendants (Counts I and III). This matter is set for status on December 20, 2017 at 9:00 a.m. The parties should come prepared to discuss whether and, if so when, a Pavey hearing should be conducted to determine if Plaintiff has exhausted his administrative remedies.

         I. Background [2]

         Plaintiff has been an inmate in the Illinois Department of Corrections (“IDOC”) off and on since at least 2002. Wexford, a private corporation, provides medical services to IDOC inmates under a private contract. During his time in IDOC correctional centers, Plaintiff has been treated by various physicians and psychiatrists who are employed by Wexford. These medical practitioners have prepared medical records, which are kept and maintained by the Illinois penal system and are accessible to Wexford medical personnel. Plaintiff's prison medical records reflect that, since childhood, Plaintiff has suffered from chronic arthritis in his knees. These records also reflect that, as early as 2002, Plaintiff experienced severe pain in his knees, as well as pain in his back.

         Between 2009 and July 9, 2014, Plaintiff was incarcerated at IDOC's Stateville Correctional Center (“Stateville”). PA Williams, Dr. Obaisi, and Dr. Carter worked at Stateville and were employees of Wexford during Plaintiff's incarceration at that correctional center. PA Williams was a physician's assistant. Dr. Obaisi and Dr. Carter were physicians and, during at least part of the relevant period, each served as Medical Director of Stateville. During this period, the prison required inmates to submit written requests to receive medical treatment from a doctor or PA. The Doe defendant-a Wexford or IDOC employee-decided which inmates would be allowed to see a doctor or PA. Neither Doe nor any other representative of Wexford or Stateville “retained the submitted requests, kept a log of submitted requests, or otherwise recorded the identity of inmates seeking medical treatment or the dates on which such inmates sought medical treatment.” [65] at 5.

         “From the inception of his placement at Stateville in 2009 and continuing through and including his transfer from Stateville in July 2014, [Plaintiff] submitted constant, repeated oral and written requests to see a physician or [PA] to obtain treatment for his chronic arthritis and/or back pain.” [65] at 5. Plaintiff alleges that the Medical Defendants, collectively, acted with deliberate indifference by refusing and/or disregarding his numerous and repetitive requests to see a doctor or PA for his arthritis and back pain and to get refills of his prescribed medications; requiring him to file grievances before finally scheduling him to see a PA or doctor; failing to provide him with automatic and/or permanent refills for his prescribed medications; and failing to schedule him for necessary additional tests. Plaintiff alleges that the times he “was finally permitted to see a physician or [PA] were few and far between, and even those few visits failed to provide [Plaintiff] with the necessary treatment for his permanent, ongoing conditions.” Id. at 5-6.

         In particular, on December 17, 2009, Plaintiff filed a grievance complaining of the lack of treatment he was given for the arthritis in his knees and back pain. On December 20, 2009, Plaintiff saw PA Williams, who prescribed two months of Tylenol, gave him some “Icy hot, ” and authorized a permit for a back support. PA Williams also had x-rays taken of Plaintiff's knees and lower spine, “which came back negative.” [65] at 6. In January 2010, Williams treated Plaintiff again and ordered three months' worth of Motrin, Robaxin, and a balm. In March 2010, Williams treated Plaintiff and ordered a back brace and three additional months of medication.

         However, after the March 2010 visit, “the treatment provided for [Plaintiff's] ongoing medical problems was sporadic at best.” [65] at 6. Plaintiff did not see Williams again until six months later, in September 2010. Williams gave Plaintiff only one month's worth of medication and two months' worth of balm, and did not schedule a follow-up visit.

         Thereafter, Plaintiff repeatedly requested medical treatment, but was ignored. In April 2011, he filed a grievance explaining that he had “been without pain medications for my back and the arthritis in my knees for over a year, ” despite repeated requests for treatment. [65] at 7. Plaintiff was scheduled to see a doctor on May 24, 2011, but not provided with any refills of his medications to hold him over until then.

         Plaintiff was not allowed to see a doctor or PA on May 24, 2011, and instead had to wait until August 30, 2011. He was not given any medication during this period, despite filing a grievance on July 4, 2011. When Plaintiff finally saw Williams on August 30, 2011, she gave him one month's medication and balm and told him to exercise and stretch. She did not schedule a follow-up appointment.

         Plaintiff did not have any follow-up appointments or receive any refills of his medication or balm by December 2011. He filed a grievance, which was dismissed on the basis that he was scheduled to see a doctor in March 2012. He was not given any medication refills to hold him over until then.

         On March 8, 2012, Plaintiff saw Dr. Carter. Dr. Carter ordered an x-ray of Plaintiff's knees and lower spine and prescribed three months' worth of Naprosyn and 15 pills of Tylenol. Dr. Carter did not schedule a follow-up appointment. Plaintiff was not allowed to see a doctor or PA for the rest of 2012, and did not get any refills on his medications.

         In September and December 2012, Plaintiff met with a social worker, Beth Hart, who was employed by IDOC or Wexford. Plaintiff complained that he had been trying to see a doctor for months for his chronic back and knee pain and threatened to file a lawsuit. At their December 2012 appointment, Hart told Plaintiff that she had been advised by “medical” that “no more attention would be given him regarding his arthritis.” [65] at 10.

         On March 3, 2013, Plaintiff was allowed to see Dr. Obaisi. The notes from that visit reference Plaintiff's chronic back pain and arthritis in his knees. Dr. Obaisi did not prescribe any medication or schedule a follow-up appointment. Despite Plaintiff's repeated and continuing oral and written requests, Plaintiff was not allowed to see a doctor or PA from March 2013 until he ...

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