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Trimble v. Grounds

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

March 23, 2018



          STACI M. YANDLE United States District Judge

         Plaintiff Vincent Trimble, 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 Eighth Amendment constitutional right to adequate medical care was denied while he was incarcerated at Robinson Correctional Center (“Robinson”). Specifically, Trimble alleges that he suffered from a serious lumbar spine injury and was denied access to the medical gym by Defendants Randy Grounds, Dana Tylka, Dee Dee Brookhart, Susan Kerr, Dr. Janssen Williams, and Dr. Vipin Shah. He also alleges that Dr. Williams and Dr. Shah failed to prescribe adequate pain medication following his January 17, 2014 lumbar surgery.

         Before the Court are Defendants Dr. Williams and Dr. Shah's (“the Wexford Defendants”) Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. 86) and Defendants Brookhart, Grounds, Kerr, and Tylka's (“the IDOC Defendants”) Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. 91). Trimble filed Responses to both motions (Docs. 90 and 93). For the following reasons, Defendants Williams and Shah's Motion is GRANTED in part and DENIED in part, and Defendants Brookhart, Grounds, Kerr, and Tylka's Motion is DENIED.

         Factual Background

         Trimble's claims arise from his incarceration at Robinson from August 2012 to November 2014 (Deposition of Vincent Trimble, Doc. 92-1, p. 9). Trimble, who has suffered from back injuries since 1993, underwent an MRI of his lumbar spine on March 15, 2013 (Id. at 4; see Doc. 87-10 at 1). The MRI revealed that Trimble suffered from a herniated disc at the L3-4 level (Deposition of Dr. Vipin Shah, Doc. 90-1 at 2; see Doc. 87-10 at 1). Following this diagnosis, Trimble was in the care of Dr. James Harms, a physician with the Carle Foundation Hospital (See Doc. 90-6).

         Dr. Harms regularly saw Trimble from May 2013 to June 2014 to address his back condition (See id.). On January 17, 2014, Dr. Harms performed a laminectomy at the L3-4 level (Doc. 92-1 at 4; see Doc. 90-6 at 25-26). Both before and after surgery, Dr. Harms recommended that Trimble engage in a regular exercise program that would “do something for his flexibility, something for his abdominal and back muscles, and something for his cardiovascular fitness” (Id. at 36; Doc. 92-1 at 11, 23). Dr. Harms provided Trimble with a “back owner's manual” that recommended he complete various stretching exercises (Id. at 11; see Doc. 92-8). In order to complete his exercises, Trimble attempted to access the medical gym, but was often denied access (Doc. 92-1 at 6). Trimble's claims of deliberate indifference relate to the denial of access to the medical gym and denial of certain pain medications prescribed by Dr. Harms following his surgery.

         On January 18, 2014, Defendant Dr. Shah approved an order for Vistaril (an anti-anxiety medication) and Robaxin (a muscle relaxant), medications that were prescribed by Dr. Harms (Doc. 87-2 at 10; see Doc. 87-10 at 6 and Doc. 90-6 at 28-29). Dr. Shah did not, however, provide an order for Trimble to receive acetaminophen with codeine, which was also prescribed by Dr. Harms (Doc. 92-1 at 6; see Doc. 87-10 at 6 and Doc. 90-6 at 29). At some point following his surgery, Trimble asked Dr. Shah for Tylenol with codeine, but was told that the medication was not allowed at the institution (Doc. 92-1 at 6).

         On January 31, 2014, Trimble saw Defendant Dr. Williams for a surgical follow-up examination (Doc. 87-5 at 13; see Doc. 87-10 at 8). Dr. Williams prescribed Flexeril (a muscle relaxant) and Lortab (Tylenol with oxycodone) (Doc. 87-5 at 12-13; see Doc. 87-10 at 8). Although not documented in his medical records, Trimble testified that he saw Dr. Williams on February 5, 2014, and they discussed his pain medication (Doc. 92-1 at 8). After a review of Dr. Harms' orders, Dr. Williams indicated that Trimble had not been prescribed the amount of medication ordered by Dr. Harms and he would write him a new prescription order; however, Trimble never received the prescribed medication (Id.).

         At a subsequent follow-up visit on February 19, 2014, Dr. Williams conducted a physical exam and noted there was no pain or tenderness in Trimble's back (Doc. 87-5 at 14). However, Dr. Williams determined Trimble was experiencing neurological pain due to nerve compression, and prescribed Elavil, an anti-depressant used to treat nerve pain (neuropathy) (Id. at 14-15; see Doc. 87-10 at 10).

         Dr. Williams discontinued the Elavil during his March 14, 2014 examination because Trimble was not taking it (Doc. 87-5 at 19; see Doc. 87-10 at 17). He last saw Trimble (in relation to the claims in this lawsuit) on April 18, 2014, at which time Trimble requested a renewal of his Flexeril prescription (Doc. 87-5 at 20; see Doc. 87-10 at 22). Because Trimble had been taking Flexeril for three weeks and it is not recommended for more than seven days, Dr. Williams denied Trimble's request and prescribed Tylenol for six months instead (Doc. 87-5 at 20; see Doc. 87-10 at 22). During one of these follow-up examinations, Trimble asked Dr. Williams for Tylenol with codeine and any other medications prescribed by Dr. Harms that were not dispensed, but Dr. Williams denied his request and told him that “the institution had the right to deny any orders from outside doctors” (Doc. 92-1 at 8).

         Prior to his back surgery, Trimble was issued a pass for the medical gym from August 16, 2013 to November 16, 2013 (Deposition of Dr. Janssen Williams, Doc. 90-2, p. 2). On November 14, 2013, Trimble submitted a request to extend his medical gym pass, but his request was denied by Dr. Williams (Doc. 87-5 at 10; see Doc. 87-3 at 5). Dr. Williams was not able to renew Trimble's gym pass without first conducting a physical examination (Doc. 87-5 at 10).

         On November 20, 2013, Dr. Lochard, a non-defendant physician, renewed Trimble's pass for the medical gym after conducting a physical examination (Doc. 92-1 at 4; see Doc. 87-3 at 4 and Doc. 87-10 at 4). This pass was valid at all times relevant to this lawsuit (Id.).

         The medical gym at Robinson is held six days per week, one hour per day (Doc. 92-1 at 10). It is held in the standard gym, but is limited to inmates with ADA disabilities or handicaps that impede their ability to use the facilities during standard gym time (Id.). The gym includes equipment such as stretch bands, mats, and medicine balls (Id.). It is unknown whether all of the equipment available during medical gym is available for the regular gym, but it is held in the same space as there is only one gym unit at Robinson (Id.). Trimble never attempted to go to the regular gym because he would not have been able to compete for the equipment and was often using a wheelchair to ambulate (Id. at 22-23, 27).

         Despite having a valid medical gym pass, Trimble was routinely denied access because he was not on the list. Trimble asked Dr. Shah and Dr. Williams to allow him access to the medical gym, both before and after his January 17, 2014 surgery, but they failed to take any action (Id. at 5, 7). He spoke with Dr. Williams on one or two occasions, and spoke with Dr. Shah two or three times about this issue before giving up and writing a grievance complaining about the same on May 1, 2014 (Id. at 7-8; see Doc. 87-3 at 11). ...

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