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Johnsonn v. Shah

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

February 6, 2018

MICHAEL JOHNSON, Plaintiff,
v.
VIPIN K. SHAH, CHRISTINE BROWN, and WEXFORD HEALTH SOURCES, INC., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER.

          STACI M. YANDLE, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Plaintiff Michael Johnson, an inmate in the custody of the Illinois Department of Corrections (“IDOC”), filed this lawsuit pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 alleging that his constitutional rights were violated while he was incarcerated at Pinckneyville Correctional Center (“Pinckneyville”). Specifically, Johnson alleges that he was denied adequate medical care for his Helicobacter Pylori (“H. Pylori”) infection. He is proceeding on the following claims:

Count One: Claim of deliberate indifference to medical needs against Defendants Vipin Shah and Christine Brown, and against Wexford Health Sources, Inc. (“Wexford”) for instituting a policy, custom, or practice in violation of the Eighth Amendment's proscription against cruel and unusual punishment; and
Count Three[1]: State law claim against Wexford for breach of its contractual duty to provide adequate medical services to inmates held in the custody of the Illinois Department of Corrections. Plaintiff asserts rights as a third-party beneficiary.

         This matter is now before the Court on the Motion for Summary Judgment filed by Defendants Shah and Wexford (Doc. 100), and the Motion for Summary Judgment filed by Defendant Brown (Doc. 109). Plaintiff filed timely responses to Defendants' Motions (Docs. 114-115), and Defendants were granted leave to file reply briefs (Docs. 117 and 122). For the following reasons, the Motion for Summary Judgment filed by Defendants Shah and Wexford is GRANTED IN PART AND DENIED IN PART, and the Motion for Summary Judgment filed by Defendant Brown is GRANTED.

         Affidavits of Vipin Shah, M.D. and Christine Brown

         In response to Defendants' Motions, Plaintiff asks the Court to disregard or strike the affidavits submitted by Defendant Shah[2] and Defendant Brown. With regard to Shah's affidavit, Plaintiff contends that Dr. Shah improperly interprets Plaintiff's medical and other records, because he was never disclosed as an expert witness and the records speak for themselves. Plaintiff also argues that portions of Shah's affidavit conflict with his sworn deposition testimony and, due to the inconsistencies, must be disregarded.

         The Court has reviewed Shah's affidavit and finds that he adequately sets forth his qualifications to appropriately review and interpret Plaintiff's medical records. Significantly, Shah does not express expert opinions concerning the adequacy or appropriateness of the treatment Plaintiff received. Accordingly, Shah's affidavit will not be stricken on this basis. However, insofar as Shah's affidavit conflicts with any portion of his sworn deposition testimony, the affidavit will be disregarded. See Russell v. Acme-Evans Co., 51 F.3d 64, 67-68 (7th Cir. 1995) (“Where deposition and affidavit are in conflict, the affidavit is to be disregarded unless it is demonstrable that the statement in the deposition was mistaken …”).

         Plaintiff also seeks to strike, in its entirety, the affidavit of Defendant Brown. Plaintiff asserts that Brown's affidavit contains improper opinions regarding Plaintiff's medical and grievance records, contradicts Brown's prior sworn testimony, and includes numerous paragraphs that are not cited in Brown's statement of facts. The Court, over Plaintiff's objections, will consider those portions of the affidavit that are cited in Brown's statement of facts. No. cited portion of Brown's affidavit appears to offer improper expert testimony, thus, no portion will be stricken on this basis. However, as previously noted, in regards to Dr. Shah's affidavit insofar as Brown's affidavit conflicts with any portion of her sworn deposition testimony, the affidavit will be disregarded.

         Factual Background

         Plaintiff's Medical Treatment

         Michael Johnson was incarcerated at Pinckneyville from January 2013 until October 2014 (Deposition of Plaintiff, Doc. 101-6, p. 3; Plaintiff's Medical Records, Doc. 101-1, p. 40). In April 2013, Johnson began experiencing vomiting, nausea, bloating, and diarrhea after every meal (Doc. 101-6 at 3). Johnson alleges that he advised Defendant Dr. Shah of his abdominal issues when he saw him for an unrelated medical condition on May 7, 2013 and June 18, 2013 (Id. at 4; see Doc. 101-1 at 1, 4). In response, Dr. Shah told Johnson to “put in for nurse sick call, ” as only one ailment could be treated at a time (Doc. 101-6 at 4, 12, 14-15). In his deposition, Dr. Shah testified that Johnson did not complain of any stomach ailments on these dates as they would have been documented in Johnson's medical records (and no such complaints were recorded) (Deposition of Vipin Shah, Doc. 101-3, p. 32).

         Abdominal pain is first documented in Johnson's medical records on July 16, 2013, when he presented to Nurse Sick Call (Doc. 101-1 at 6). On that date, Johnson reported that he was no longer experiencing abdominal issues since he began fasting for Ramadan (Doc. 101-2 at ¶ 12; see Doc. 101-1 at 6-7). The nurse did not refer Johnson for an evaluation with a nurse practitioner or physician, but recommended that he eat properly, increase his fluid intake, and return if he experienced ongoing complaints (Id.).

         On July 30, 2013, Johnson was evaluated by Shah as part of the hypertension chronic care clinic (Affidavit of Vipin Shah, M.D., Doc. 101-2, ¶ 13; see Doc. 101-1 at 8). On physical examination, Dr. Shah noted that Johnson's abdomen was soft, non-tender, and “without mass” (Id.). Johnson contends that he reported complaints of abdominal distress during this exam, but Dr. Shah asserts that no such complaints were made (Doc. 101-6 at 4; Doc. 101-2 at ¶ 13).

         Johnson was next seen on August 29, 2013, by Nurse Practitioner Rector, complaining of issues with food, headaches, and fatigue (Id. at ¶ 15; see Doc. 101-1 at 9). Johnson requested a thyroid test, which NP Rector ordered (Id.). Johnson returned for a follow-up exam with NP Rector on September 12, 2013 (Doc. 101-2 at ¶ 17; see Doc. 101-1 at 11). During this appointment, Johnson again complained of abdominal issues. His physical exam was normal, aside from concern of trace pedal edema (swelling of Johnson's lower extremities related to his hypertension) (Id.).

         Johnson was examined by Dr. Shah on October 1, 2013, to address his complaints of abdominal pain with bloating, excessive gas, bowel movements after every meal, and occasional vomiting (Doc. 101-2 at ¶ 18; see Doc. 101-1 at 12-13). Dr. Shah conducted a physical examination and noted that his abdomen was soft and non-tender, but that he had a superficial hemorrhoid (Id.). Dr. Shah ordered various blood tests, including a comprehensive metabolic panel, an H. Pylori screening, and a soy allergy test (Id.). He also prescribed Bentyl (an antispasmodic medication for his stomach), and directed Johnson to return in one month (Id.). The laboratory testing was completed on October 4, 2013, and revealed an H. Pylori exposure value of 10.8, (values of 2.3 or greater suggest a previous exposure to H. Pylori or a current infection) (Doc. 101-2 at ¶ 19; see Doc. 101-1 at 15).

         Dr. Shah conducted a follow-up exam with Johnson on October 11, 2013 (Doc. 101-2 at ¶ 21; see Doc. 101-1 at 20). Based on the results of his blood tests, Dr. Shah diagnosed Johnson with H. Pylori[3] and prescribed various medications, including Biaxin or Clarithromycin (antibiotics used to treat stomach ulcers caused by H. Pylori), Amoxicillin (an antibiotic used to treat H. Pylori stomach ulcers), Protonix (a protein inhibitor used to treat excessive stomach acid), Pepto-Bismol, and hemorrhoid cream (Id.). Johnson was to return in three weeks for re-evaluation (Id.). Johnson next saw Dr. Shah during his routine hypertension appointment on November 1, 2013 (Doc. 101-2 at ¶ 23; see Doc. 101-1 at 22). It is disputed whether Johnson complained about his stomach problems again on this date (Doc. 101-6 at 4; Doc. 101-2 at ¶ 23).

         Johnson saw Dr. Shah for a follow-up on November 7, 2013 related to his H. Pylori diagnosis (Id. at ¶ 24; see Doc. 101-1 at 23). He reported he was feeling better and Dr. Shah directed Johnson to continue taking Protonix (Id.). Dr. Shah also ordered Johnson a fecal blood occult to be performed in one month (Id.). The fecal blood occult was performed in December 2013, and produced a positive result for fecal blood (Doc. 101-2 at ¶¶ 25-27; see Doc. 101-1 at 24-25).

         Johnson again followed-up with Dr. Shah on December 5, 2013 regarding his recent stool testing (Doc. 101-2 at ¶ 28; see Doc. 101-1 at 26). He complained of stomach pain, acid reflux type symptoms, and diarrhea after meals (Id.). Dr. Shah determined that Johnson was suffering from gastroesophageal reflux disease (“GERD”) (Id.). Based on this assessment, Dr. Shah prescribed Zantac (heartburn relief medication), and ordered additional laboratory work, including another H. Pylori screening (Id.). The laboratory testing was completed on December 26, 2013, and revealed an H. Pylori exposure value of 7.9 (Doc. 101-2 at ¶ 29; see Doc. 101-1 at 27).

         Johnson saw Dr. Shah on December 31, 2013 for another follow-up examination, and reported complaints of diarrhea and constipation (Doc. 101-2 at ¶ 30; see Doc. 101-1 at 28). Dr. Shah performed a physical examination that was unremarkable (Id.). He noted that although Johnson's blood testing indicated a positive result for H. Pylori, there was a decrease in the exposure value (Id.). ...


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