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Holmess v. Shah

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

March 27, 2018



          WILLIAMS, Magistrate Judge:

         I. Introduction

         Pro se Plaintiff Montrell Holmes brought the present lawsuit pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 alleging violations of his constitutional rights. Plaintiff, an inmate incarcerated by the Illinois Department of Corrections, alleges Defendants violated his Eighth Amendment rights by being deliberately indifferent to a serious medical need posed by shoulder pain Plaintiff suffered while an inmate at Pinckneyville Correctional Center. This matter is before the Court on Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. 66). Plaintiff has filed a response, and the Motion is ripe for disposition. Since no reasonable juror could find that Defendants were deliberately indifferent to Plaintiff's serious medical needs, Defendants' Motion is GRANTED.

         II. Background

         Plaintiff Holmes injured his left shoulder in mid-July 2014. (Doc. 67-1, p. 17). After being seen for unrelated right arm pain in July 2014, Plaintiff next returned to the healthcare unit on September 27, 2014 complaining of left shoulder pain. (Doc. 67-2, p. 1, 3). He was seen by Defendant Barron, a nurse, and after describing his pain as a seven or eight out of ten, he was provided acetaminophen. (Id. at 3). According to Plaintiff, Nurse Barron refused to refer him to a physician, stating that she could not according to her protocols. (Doc. 70, p. 1). After this visit, Plaintiff wrote a grievance, and a response was provided by Healthcare Unit Administrator Brown (“HCUA”). HCUA Brown stated that Plaintiff “could be referred at the first clinic if medically indicated. The nurse was telling [him] this was not something new and he should try Tylenol first to see if it helps. The nurse can't give him anything stronger….If he is still having problems then he will need to go back through NSC.” (Doc. 70-1, p. 1). Apparently unsatisfied with this response, on October 5, 2014, Plaintiff wrote a letter to Director of Nursing, Defendant Shipley. Plaintiff complained about his visit with Nurse Barron and indicated he was beginning to experience slight paralysis in his shoulder that his pain was intensifying. (Id. at 26 - 27).

         Plaintiff was next seen by a non-party nurse on October 29, 2014 due to complaints of his shoulder hurting often. (Doc. 67-2, p. 5). He also complained of his shoulder “freezing up” at certain positions and was provided Motrin and alternating cold and hot packs. (Id.). After refusing to be seen or not being present in his cell for a November 5, 2014 sick call, he was seen by another non-party nurse on November 10th. (Id. at 7, 9, 11). Plaintiff was referred to a physician. (Id. at 11).

         Plaintiff was seen by Defendant Dr. Shah on November 13, 2014 for complaints of his shoulder freezing in certain positions. (Doc. 67-4, p. 2). Dr. Shah ordered x-rays, prescribed Naproxen, and ordered a follow-up visit in two weeks. (Id. at 2 - 3). Plaintiff's x-rays were taken on November 21, 2014 and they showed no acute bony abnormality. (Doc. 67-4, p. 3; Doc. 67-2, p. 15).

         On November 16, 2014, Plaintiff sent another letter to Defendant Shipley which was nearly identical to the first letter. (Doc. 70-1, p. 24 - 25). He sent a third letter on December 10, 2014, stating that he was still in pain and was waiting on his x-ray results. (Id. at 28). Plaintiff sought assistance in obtaining proper and adequate care from Dr. Shah. (Id.). He sent a final letter to Defendant Shipley on January 5, 2015. In this letter Plaintiff indicated that he was still in pain and had yet to receive the results from his x-ray. (Id. at 29). Though he stated that he had signed up for sick call and had seen Dr. Shah, he does not mention attempting to sign up for sick call after his visit with Dr. Shah. (Id.). Plaintiff asked Defendant Shipley to “talk to Dr. V. Shah about the course of [illegible] he's giving me and if possible receive treatment that will stop pain I'm having.” (Id.).

         On January 14, 2015, Plaintiff was transferred to Illinois River Correctional Center (“Illinois River”). (Doc. 67-4, p. 3). Prior to being transferred, Plaintiff did not follow-up with Dr. Shah and did not find out the results of his x-ray. (Id; Doc. 70, p. 1). Dr. Shah, however, is not responsible for the scheduling of patient appointments, and if Plaintiff was not called to the healthcare unit for his follow-up, according to Dr. Shah, he should have filed a sick call request. (Doc. 67-4, p. 3). After Plaintiff was transferred, he received further treatment, including Toradol injections. (See Doc. 67-3).

         III. Summary Judgment Standard

         Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure governs summary judgment motions. The rule states that summary judgment is appropriate only if the admissible evidence considered as a whole shows there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Archdiocese of Milwaukee v. Doe, 743 F.3d 1101, 1105 (7th Cir. 2014) (citing Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a)). The party seeking summary judgment bears the initial burden of demonstrating - based on the pleadings, affidavits and/or information obtained via discovery - the lack of any genuine issue of material fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). A genuine issue of material fact remains “if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party.” Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). Accord Bunn v. Khoury Enterpr. Inc., 753 F.3d 676 (7th Cir. 2014).

         In assessing a summary judgment motion, the district court views the facts in the light most favorable to, and draws all reasonable inferences in favor of, the nonmoving party. Anderson v. Donahoe, 699 F.3d 989, 994 (7th Cir. 2012); Righi v. SMC Corp. , 632 F.3d 404, 408 (7th Cir. 2011); Delapaz v. Richardson, 634 F.3d 895, 899 (7th Cir. 2011). As the Seventh Circuit has explained, as required by Rule 56(a), “we set forth the facts by examining the evidence in the light reasonably most favorable to the non-moving party, giving [him] the benefit of reasonable, favorable inferences and resolving conflicts in the evidence in [his] favor.” Spaine v. Community Contacts, Inc., 756 F.3d 542 (7th Cir. 2014).


         Plaintiff's claims against all three defendants arise under the Eighth Amendment. Prison officials violate the Eighth Amendment's proscription against “cruel and unusual punishments” if they display deliberate indifference to an inmate's serious medical needs. Greeno v. Daley, 414 F.3d 645, 652-53 (7th Cir. 2005) (quoting Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 104 (1976) (internal quotation marks omitted)). Accord Rodriguez v. Plymouth Ambulance Serv., 577 F.3d 816, 828 (7th Cir. 2009) (“Deliberate indifference to serious medical needs of a prisoner constitutes the unnecessary and wanton infliction of pain forbidden by the Constitution.”). A prisoner is entitled to reasonable measures to meet a substantial risk of serious harm - not to demand specific care. Holloway v. Delaware Cnty. Sheriff, 700 F.3d 1063, 1074 (7th Cir. 2012) (stating that a prison doctor “is free to make his own, independent medical determination as to the necessity of certain treatments or medications, so long as the determination is based on the physician's professional judgment and does not go against accepted professional standards”); Forbes v. Edgar, 112 F.3d 262, 267 (7th Cir. 1997). Although a prison official may not continue a course of ...

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