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Navarro v. Wexford Health Source, Inc.

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

February 14, 2018

ANGEL NAVARRO, #R-09328, Plaintiff,


          J. Phil Gilbert United States District Judge

         Plaintiff Angel Navarro, an inmate in Menard Correctional Center, brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for deprivations of his constitutional rights. In his Complaint, Plaintiff claims the defendants have been deliberately indifferent to his serious medical issues in violation of the Eighth Amendment and Illinois law. (Doc. 1). This case is now before the Court for a preliminary review of the Complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, which provides:

(a) Screening - The court shall review, before docketing, if feasible or, in any event, as soon as practicable after docketing, a complaint in a civil action in which a prisoner seeks redress from a governmental entity or officer or employee of a governmental entity.
(b) Grounds for Dismissal - On review, the court shall identify cognizable claims or dismiss the complaint, or any portion of the complaint, if the complaint-
(1) is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted; or
(2) seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief.

         An action or claim is frivolous if “it lacks an arguable basis either in law or in fact.” Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325 (1989). Frivolousness is an objective standard that refers to a claim that any reasonable person would find meritless. Lee v. Clinton, 209 F.3d 1025, 1026-27 (7th Cir. 2000). An action fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted if it does not plead “enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). The claim of entitlement to relief must cross “the line between possibility and plausibility.” Id. at 557. At this juncture, the factual allegations of the complaint are to be liberally construed. See Rodriguez v. Plymouth Ambulance Serv., 577 F.3d 816, 821 (7th Cir. 2009).

         Upon careful review of the Complaint and any supporting exhibits, the Court finds it appropriate to allow this case to proceed past the threshold stage.

         The Complaint

         In his Complaint (Doc. 1), Plaintiff makes the following allegations: Wexford Health Sources, Inc. (“Wexford”) “utilize[s] a system in which its employed or contracted physicians could not directly make a referral of an inmate for specialty care services including certain diagnostic procedures or surgical consultation without the permission of Wexford through a review process known as ‘collegial review.'” (Doc. 1, p. 3).

         On or around December 13, 2016, while Plaintiff was playing basketball at Menard, he “suffered an acute injury to his left ankle.” Id. On or around December 15, 2016, Plaintiff was first seen at Menard health center. Id. Plaintiff had no feeling in his foot, there was extensive bruising on his left heel, he had “pain with palpation over his left Achilles tendon, ” and he “was described as being unable to flex his foot.” Id. “The provider's assessment was a possible Achilles tendon rupture” and an “x-ray of the ankle was ordered and the Plaintiff was recommended for a referral outside the prison for an MRI of the injured lower extremity.” Id.

         Plaintiff was not seen by a physician and was instead seen by a nurse. He “was not provided crutches or any type of splint or immobilization boot to stabilize his left lower leg and ankle.” Id. He has to walk on his injured left ankle, with the ruptured Achilles tendon. Id.

         During this time, Wexford “had a written policy pertaining to treatment of patients with a ruptured Achilles tendon, requiring urgent referral of the patient to an orthopedic specialist, splinting, and crutches.” (Doc. 1, p. 4). On or about December 16, “the x-ray report indicated that Plaintiff was to be evaluated for an Achilles tear. A follow up MRI of the ankle was advised by the radiologist to further evaluate the Achilles tendon.” Id. Around December 20, 2016, Trost presented Plaintiff for collegial review, seeking approval from Wexford for the MRI. Id. Wexford denied the request, and an ultrasound of the left Achilles was proposed as an alternative. Id. “A medical furlough note indicated Plaintiff was supposed to have a splint to keep the Achilles immobile and for him to remain non-weight bearing.” Id. Plaintiff was never provided a splint or crutches. Id. He instead was “forced to walk on his injured left ankle and the ruptured Achilles tendon since the injury occurred.” Id.

         On or about December 22, 2016, Plaintiff was evaluated by Mohammed Siddiqui. Id. Siddiqui found Plaintiff's range of motion in his left ankle to be restricted. Id. He had pain, swelling, and bruising in his left foot. Id. “Plaintiff was unable to move his foot up and down, or sideways.” Id. The note, which indicates that the request for an MRI was rejected at “collegial review” by Wexford, did not provide the basis of the rejection. Id. Plaintiff still awaited the ultrasound and had not been provided or placed on crutches, given a splint, or had his ankle immobilized. Id. Plaintiff was “forced to continue to walk” on the injury. Id.

         On or around January 17, 2017, Plaintiff was seen by a physician at Menard. Id. Plaintiff was walking with a limp and had pain in his ankle. Id. “They were still awaiting the ultrasound of the Achilles tendon.” (Doc. 1, pp. 4-5). A follow-up was planned two weeks from then, and Plaintiff was not provided with or placed on crutches or a splint. (Doc. 1, p. 5). As of January 19, 2017, Plaintiff had not received an ultrasound of his Achilles tendon injury. Id. “A repeat x-ray of the left ankle was ordered. There was a history of chronic pain. The x-ray report, dated Jan. 23, showed little change noted in the x-rays since the prior x-ray of 12/16.” Id. On January 30, 2017, Plaintiff was seen by Dr. Siddiqui. Id. “He was found to have restricted range of motion at the left ankle.” Id. Plaintiff had still not received an ultrasound. Id. “The note indicated ‘Achilles tendon injury' had occurred 6 weeks earlier.” Id. Plaintiff was not provided with crutches or a splint and was forced to continue to walk on his ruptured Achilles tendon. Id.

         On February 16, 2017, the ultrasound on Plaintiff's left Achilles tendon was performed. Id. The ultrasound showed a complete rupture of the Achilles tendon, with retracted proximal stumps. Id. “There was marked thickening of the retracted proximal and distal stumps, consistent with severe underlying tendinosis. A complete rupture of the Achilles tendon was noted at approximately 4.6 cm above the calcaneal insertion. A prominent gap was noted due to the rupture with a contour deformity.” Id. Despite this, Plaintiff was not provided with crutches or a splint. He was forced to continue to walk on the injured extremity. Id.

         On or about February 22, 2017, Dr. Trost ordered an orthopedic consult. (Doc. 1, p. 6). Another collegial review was scheduled for March 1, for the purpose of determining whether an orthopedic consult was warranted. Id. The note indicated Dr. Ritz was to review the request for referral and make a decision. Id. Around March 7, 2017, Plaintiff was scheduled for an orthopedic consult on March 16, 2017. Id. On March 9, 2017, Plaintiff filed a grievance complaining that he had not been receiving adequate healthcare. Id. He complained of pain and an inability to perform normal activities and tasks. Id. He could not walk normally or jog. Id. “He complained they had failed to appropriately follow-up on his left Achilles injury.” Id.

         Around March 16, 2017, Plaintiff was evaluated by the office of orthopedic surgeon, John Wood. Id. He “was identified as having an Achilles tendon rupture. He had left ankle pain with weakness on his left side with aching. He was noted to have pain with dorsiflexion, as well as weakness. Physical therapy was recommended.” Id. Around March 20, 2017, Dr. Siddiqui ordered physical therapy, as recommended by Dr. Wood, and ordered an orthopedic follow-up. Id. On March 29, 2017, Plaintiff wrote a letter to Ms. Allsup seeking information on ...

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