United States District Court, S.D. Illinois
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
M. YANDLE UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Dennis Clark, 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 Lawrence Correctional Center (“Lawrence”).
Specifically, Plaintiff alleges that Defendants were
deliberately indifferent to his hypokalemia. Following
screening, Plaintiff proceeds on his claim that Defendants
were deliberately indifferent to his serious medical needs in
violation of the Eighth Amendment (Doc. 8).
matter is currently before the Court on Defendants'
Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. 60). Plaintiff filed a
Response to Defendants' Joint Statement of Undisputed
Facts (Doc. 81) and Plaintiff's Opposition to
Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. 80);
Defendants filed a Reply (Doc. 82). For the following
reasons, Defendants' motion is GRANTED.
following facts have been taken from Plaintiff's
deposition, with supplemental information from
Plaintiff's medical records where noted. On or about June
26, 2015, Plaintiff Dennis Clark arrived at Lawrence from
Stateville Correctional Center (Doc. 61-2 at 7). At the time
he arrived at Lawrence, Clark was taking a potassium
supplement (KTabs), 40 milliequivalents, twice per day
(Id. at 7-8). Clark had been hospitalized due to
symptoms of hypokalemia (low potassium) multiple times
(Id. at 4).
ordered the same dosage of potassium supplement for Clark
upon his arrival at Lawrence which he received on June 27,
2015 (Id. at 8). On July 23, 2015, Clark was seen by
Physician Assistant James and self-reported his history of
hypokalemia; James referred him to see a nephrologist via
telemedicine (Id. at 8-9). Clark had a telemedicine
visit with the nephrologist on August 6, 2015 - she made no
change to his dose of supplemental potassium (he remained on
a dose of 40 meq twice per day) (Id., Doc. 61-1 at
August 17, 2015, Clark was examined by Dr. Coe for chest pain
at which time he informed Dr. Coe of his history of low
potassium since age 11 (Doc. 62-2 at 12, Doc. 61-1 at 12).
Clark also reported that he was able to participate in
athletic activities such as basketball without problems
(Id.). Dr. Coe ordered an EKG which was conducted on
August 21, 2015 (Doc. 61-1 at 13).
days later, Clark was seen by a physician assistant who
enrolled him in the General Medicine Clinic to be seen every
six months to monitor his history of low potassium syndrome,
and ordered lab testing to be done in October 2015 (prior to
the next clinic date) (Id.). Clark had no symptoms
of low potassium during his time at Stateville or Lawrence
prior to September 28, 2015 (Doc. 61-2 at 15).
approximately 12:48 a.m. on September 28, 2015, Clark woke up
and could not move (Id. at 15-16). He called out for
his cellmate, Corey Lee, and asked him to press the emergency
button because his potassium was low and he could not get out
of bed (Id. at 15-16). Lee lifted him out of the top
bunk, brought him to the bottom bunk and put his head over
the toilet so that he could vomit (Id. at 16). Lee
then pressed the emergency button and C/O Buchannan responded
(Id.). Lee told Buchannan that Clark needed medical
attention and Buchannan said he would call the nurse
(Id.). Buchannan came back to the cell approximately
15 minutes later and said the nurse would be over when she
got a chance (Id.). Clark continued to vomit while
he was waiting on the nurse (Id.). He felt pressure
on his spine and was getting stiff from being slumped over
vomiting (Id. at 17).
Powell and Kevin Blevins arrived at Clark's cell to find
him slumped over in his cellmate's bed vomiting
(Id.). Powell asked Clark what he had eaten recently
(Id.). He told her that he knew what was wrong with
him…that his potassium was low because he had episodes
like this before (Id.). Powell told the C/O to put
Clark in a wheelchair and take him to HCU to take his vitals
(Id.). Clark requested to be sent to an outside
hospital because he could not move and his vision was going
in and out (Id. at 18). Powell told him it was
likely that he had eaten something that had made him sick
(Id.). Clark alleges that Powell repeatedly cursed
at him while she was assessing him (Id.).
Clark was in the HCU, Powell took his vitals and called Dr.
Coe (Id.). Powell told Clark that Coe's order
was just to see what was wrong with him (Id., Doc.
61-1 at 18). He asked Powell to call Dr. Coe a second time
and explain to him that he was vomiting, that he could not
breathe, and that heart was not beating right (Doc. 61-2 at
18). Clark heard Powell call Dr. Coe back, but she did not
explain any of his symptoms and did not relay any information
regarding Clark's condition worsening (Id.).
Powell then told Clark he would be seen by Dr. Coe in the
morning and that he was to be escorted back to his cell in
the meantime (Id.). The C/Os transferred Clark back
to his cell and put him back on the bottom bunk (Id.
continued to vomit and after approximately an hour, his
cellmate pressed the emergency button again (Id.).
Powell was called back to the cell and had the C/Os put Clark
a wheelchair and transfer him to HCU (Id. at 20).
Powell again called Dr. Coe when Clark arrived back in HCU
(Id.). The medical records indicate that an EKG was
performed and the results were read to Dr. Coe over the
phone. However, Clark disputes that an EKG was conducted at
that time (Id. at 23). After speaking to Dr. Coe
over the phone, Powell asked the C/O to see if a bed was
available in the infirmary (Id. at 20). The C/O
checked the infirmary and reported back that there was no bed
alleges he was then transferred back to his cell
(Id.). The medical records indicate that Clark was
transferred to HCU just twice that night, but Clark recalls
being transferred three times (Id. at 23). According
to the RN Note, after the second transfer to the HCU, Dr. Coe
ordered that Clark be held in the HCU until he was seen by
him that day (Doc. 61-1 at 20).
30-40 minutes after being back in his cell, Clark was still
vomiting, so the C/O and nurse were called back to his cell a
third time (Id. at 21). He was again transferred to
HCU and was placed in a Geri-chair in the HCU bullpen until
the doctor arrived (Id. at 22-23). Powell put a pail
on the floor for him to vomit in (I ...