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Gonzalez v. Wexford Health Sources, Inc.

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

January 3, 2018




         This matter comes before the Court on the Report and Recommendation (“Report”) (Doc. 60) of Magistrate Judge Donald G. Wilkerson recommending that the Court grant the defendants' motion for summary judgment (Doc. 52). The plaintiff has objected to the report (Doc. 61) and the defendants have responded (Doc. 63). For the following reasons, the Court GRANTS the defendants' motion for summary judgment (Doc. 52).

         I. BACKGROUND

         Jose Gonzalez is an inmate in the custody of the Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC). He brought this action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 because he believes that the medical staff at Robinson Correctional Center (Robinson CC) were deliberately indifferent to his serious medical needs in violation of the Eighth Amendment. Specifically, Gonzalez claims that the medical staff failed to properly diagnose and treat his pneumonia in a timely manner, which led to an emergency room visit and lung surgery.

         Magistrate Judge Wilkerson has already described the record in this case to a great degree of precision. Gonzalez first checked in with the doctors at the medical unit at Robinson CC on April 9, 2015, claiming that he had a dry cough and nasal congestion. (Doc. 53-6, ¶ 5; Doc. 53-1, pp. 26-27.) A nurse examined Gonzalez and found that he only had a slight of temperature of 100.4° F and normal pulse oxygenation readings. Accordingly, the nurse gave Gonzalez some Ibuprofen and an antihistamine and sent him on his way, along with instructions to rest and drink more fluids. (Id.; Doc 56-1, p. 10.)

         Four days later, Gonzalez went back to the medical unit complaining of chills, coughing, and sputum. (Doc. 53-6, ¶ 6.) Another nurse examined Gonzalez, found a temperature of 96.7° F, and noted that Gonzalez's lung sounds were clear and the throat and nasal exams were normal. This nurse gave Gonzalez Acetaminophen and an expectorant to help relieve the reported symptoms. (Id.)

         A week later, Gonzalez returned to the medical unit. (Doc. 53-6, ¶ 7.) This time, he said that he had pain in his right lung and that he could not sleep due to coughing fits. The nurse referred Gonzalez to a doctor. That doctor-defendant Dr. Michael Adams-saw Gonzalez the very next day. (Doc. 53-6, ¶ 8.) This time, Gonzalez described the pain as a sharp pain with a cough and “nasty” sputum. Dr. Adams then ran several tests. He found that Gonzalez's temperature was 99.6° F and that several of his other vital signs were normal. Dr. Adams then tested Gonzalez's lungs and found one area that appeared to be more dull to a percussion test than the rest of his lungs, though Gonzalez's breathing sounds were normal. Dr. Adams diagnosed Gonzalez with bronchitis and prescribed him an antibiotic to be taken daily for seven days. (Id.) The FDA has approved this particular antibiotic-Levaquin-to treat both bronchitis and uncomplicated pneumonia. (Doc 56-3, ¶ 9.) Dr. Adams did not think it was necessary to take an x-ray of Gonzalez's lung at this time.

         Two days later, the medical unit called an emergency because Gonzalez's condition worsened. (Doc 56-3, ¶ 10.) His fever had risen to 103° F, several of his other vital signs were above normal, he continued to cite pain in his right lung, and he was coughing up green and brown sputum. The acting nurse called Dr. Adams, who then instructed the nurse to been seen by another doctor on duty the next day-Dr. Shah. The medical staff continued to monitor Gonzalez until Dr. Shah was available. When Dr. Shah did examine Gonzalez two days later, Dr. Shah diagnosed him with probable pneumonia and sent him to the emergency room. (Doc 56-3, ¶ 13.) The doctors at the emergency room diagnosed Gonzalez with pneumonia and an empyema. Gonzalez then underwent surgery to remedy and drain the lung. (Doc 56-3, ¶ 14-18.)

         Now, Gonzalez claims that (1) Dr. Adams was deliberately indifferent to his lung complications in violation of the Eighth Amendment; (2) Wexford has an unconstitutional “cost over care” policy, practice, or custom that deprives inmates of inadequate medical care at the prison; and (3) Wexford has an unconstitutional policy of juggling doctors, nurses, and patients around that results in a broken system of care for inmates. The defendants have moved for summary judgment on all of Gonzalez's claims.


         A. Standard of Review

         The Court may accept, reject, or modify-in whole or in part-the findings or recommendations of the magistrate judge in a report and recommendation. Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b)(3). The Court must review de novo the portions of the report to which objections are made. Id. “If no objection or only partial objection is made, the district court judge reviews those unobjected portions for clear error.” Johnson v. Zema Sys. Corp., 170 F.3d 734, 739 (7th Cir. 1999).

         B. Summary Judgment

         Summary judgment must be granted “if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a); see also Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986); Spath v. Hayes Wheels Int'l-Ind., Inc., 211 F.3d 392, 396 (7th Cir. 2000). The Court must construe the evidence in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party and draw all reasonable inferences in favor of that party. See ...

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