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Smith v. Wexford Health Source Inc.

United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division

April 17, 2018

Rogelio Smith R-52162, Plaintiff,
v.
Wexford Health Sources, Inc., et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          AMY J. ST. EVE, DISTRICT COURT JUDGE:

         Plaintiff Rogelio Smith, an Illinois prisoner, brought this action pro se pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging that Wexford Health Sources, Inc., (the entity that furnishes medical care at Illinois prisons), Dr. Saleh Obaisi, and Dr. Jason Dunn provided purportedly deficient medical care for Plaintiff's deteriorating vision. Before the Court are Defendants Dr. Obaisi and Wexford's motion for summary judgment and Defendant Dr. Jason Dunn's motion for summary judgment. For the reasons set forth below, the Court grants Defendants' summary judgment motions in their entirety.

         BACKGROUND

         Local Rule 56.1 sets out a procedure for presenting facts pertinent to a party's request for summary judgment pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 56. Specifically, Local Rule 56.1(a)(3) requires the moving party to submit “a statement of material facts as to which the moving party contends there is no genuine issue and that entitle the moving party to judgment as a matter of law.” Petty v. City of Chicago, 754 F.3d 416, 420 (7th Cir. 2014). Each paragraph of the movant's statement of facts must include “specific references to the affidavits, parts of the record, and other supporting materials relied upon to support the facts set forth in that paragraph.” L.R. 56.1(a). The opposing party must file a response to each numbered paragraph in the moving party's statement, “including, in the case of any disagreement, specific references to the affidavits, parts of the record, and other supporting materials relied upon.” L.R. 56.1(b)(3)(B). “All material facts set forth in the statement required of the moving party will be deemed to be admitted unless controverted by the statement of the opposing party.” L.R. 56.1(b)(3)(C). The nonmoving party may also present a separate statement of additional facts “consisting of short numbered paragraphs, of any additional facts that require the denial of summary judgment, including references to the affidavits, parts of the record, and other supporting materials relied upon.” L.R. 56.1(b)(3)(C).

         “[A] district court is entitled to decide [a summary judgment] motion based on the factual record outlined in the [Local Rule 56.1] statements.” Koszola v. Bd. of Educ. of Chi., 385 F.3d 1104, 1109 (7th Cir. 2004) (third alteration in original) (internal quotation marks omitted); Stevo v. Frasor, 662 F.3d 880, 886-87 (7th Cir. 2011) (“Because of the high volume of summary judgment motions and the benefits of clear presentation of relevant evidence and law, we have repeatedly held that district judges are entitled to insist on strict compliance with local rules designed to promote the clarity of summary judgment filings.”). Plaintiff's status as a pro se litigant does not excuse him from complying with Local Rule 56.1. See McNeil v. United States, 508 U.S. 106, 113 (1993) (“[W]e have never suggested that procedural rules in ordinary civil litigation should be interpreted so as to excuse mistakes by those who proceed without counsel.”); Coleman v. Goodwill Indus. of Se. Wis., Inc., 423 Fed.Appx. 642, 643 (7th Cir. 2011) (“Though courts are solicitous of pro se litigants, they may nonetheless require strict compliance with local rules.”).

         Because Plaintiff is proceeding pro se, each Defendant served him with a “Notice to Pro Se Litigant Opposing Motion for Summary Judgment” as required by Local Rule 56.2. (Dkt. 83 and 84.) The notices explained how to respond to Defendants' summary judgment motions and Rule 56.1 Statements and cautioned Plaintiff that the Court would deem Defendants' factual contentions admitted if he failed to follow the procedures delineated in Local Rule 56.1. (Id. at 2.)

         Plaintiff failed to respond to Defendants' undisputed facts. Instead, Plaintiff submitted a motion consisting of three affidavits, containing no reference to the record. (Dkt. 91.) Plaintiff's response, while written in Spanish, was translated by Defendants and submitted to the Court with a declaration of accuracy, signed by the interpreter. (Id. at p. 1.) The Court thus considers Defendants' statements of fact to which Plaintiff did not properly respond, as admitted. Although Plaintiff's facts (affidavits) were not submitted in accordance with the Court's local rules and need not be considered, Plaintiff may be able to testify about some of those facts and the Court acknowledges that he is proceeding pro se. To the extent Plaintiff's facts are supported by the record, the Court may consider them. Modrowski v. Pigatto, 712 F.3d 1166, 1169 (7th Cir. 2013) (the court has discretion as to how to enforce its local rules, so long as it does so fairly and equally between the parties). With these guidelines in mind, the following facts are undisputed.

         BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff, Rogelio Smith (“Plaintiff” or “Smith”) has been incarcerated at Stateville Correctional Center (“Stateville”) since 2006. (Dkt. 65, OWSOF[1], ¶ 1.) Defendant, Saleh Obaisi, M.D. (“Dr. Obaisi”), deceased, was a physician licensed to practice medicine in the State of Illinois who served as the Medical Director of Stateville during the relevant time period. (Id. at ¶ 2.) Defendant, Wexford Health Sources, Inc. (“Wexford”), is a private corporation that has contracted with the IDOC to provide medical services to inmates at various correctional facilities, including Stateville. (Id. at ¶ 3.)

         Defendant Jason Dunn, O.D. is licensed to practice optometry in the State of Illinois. (Dkt. 68, DSOF[2], ¶ 4.) Dr. Dunn provided optometric services to inmates at Stateville from November of 2011 through November of 2014. (Id.) Dr. Dunn saw Plaintiff on May 7, 2014, when Plaintiff broke his glasses. (Id. at ¶ 11, and Dkt. 97-1, Pl. transcribed resp. p. 3.) At that time, Dr. Dunn provided Plaintiff with a pair of replacement glasses during his visit. (Id. at ¶ 12, and Id.)

         On July 11, 2014, Plaintiff was involved in an altercation with his cellmate at Stateville while he was preparing to undergo dialysis treatment. (Dkt. 65, OWSOF, at ¶ 5.) After the assault, Plaintiff was transported to the Health Care Unit and treated by Virginia Garcia, RN who noted that Plaintiff had “a ½ inch laceration and contusion above his left eyebrow, ” as well as a “1/2 [inch] laceration between his eyes” and “2 abrasions to his left upper eyelid.” (Id.) Nurse Garcia treated Plaintiff's wounds and instructed him to follow up during Urgent Care Sick Call. (Id.) On July 28, 2014, Plaintiff had an appointment with Dr. Obaisi in connection with, among other things, blurred vision that reportedly had begun after the July 11th altercation. (Id. at ¶ 6.) After examining Plaintiff, Dr. Obaisi noted that there were no acute findings. (Id.) Nonetheless, Dr. Obaisi still referred Plaintiff to the eye clinic at Stateville for an evaluation by an optometrist. (Id.)

         The next day, on July 29, 2014, Plaintiff reported to RN Sick Call that he was seeing “dark spots.” (Id. at ¶ 7.) In response to Plaintiff's complaints, the on-call nurse noted that Plaintiff had seen Dr. Obaisi on the previous day for his complaints of blurred vision and that Dr. Obaisi had referred Plaintiff to the eye doctor on-site. (Id.) In light of the foregoing, the nurse reminded Plaintiff of his pending referral and instructed Plaintiff to notify medical providers at Stateville if he is not seen by the eye doctor or if his symptoms worsen. (Id.)

         On September 5, 2014, Plaintiff had an optometry examination with Dr. Dunn in connection with vision complaints. (Id. at ¶ 8, Dkt. 68, DSOF, ¶¶ 17-18, and Dkt. 97-1, at pp. 3-4.) Upon examination, Dr. Dunn noted that Plaintiff had a cataract in his left eye but opined that the cataract was not a traumatic cataract as Plaintiff's vision was abnormal in both of his eyes. (Id. at ¶ 8, and ¶¶ 29-30.) Further, Dr. Dunn noted that Plaintiff self-reported that his vision was fine until he was attacked on July 11, 2014. (Id. at ¶ 8, and ¶ 28.) In response to Plaintiff's complaints, Dr. Dunn provided Plaintiff with glasses, “Solar-Rolz” and recommended that Plaintiff return for a follow-up consultation in six months. (Id. at ¶ 8, and ¶¶ 18, 33, and Dkt. 97-1, at pp. 3-4.) Moreover, Dr. Dunn noted that Plaintiff's Snellen bilateral visual acuity was better than 20/40. (Id. at ¶ 8, and ¶ 26.)

         Although Plaintiff was not scheduled for a full exam and Dr. Dunn did not have Plaintiff's prior optometric records to review, Dr. Dunn examined Plaintiff's eyes based on Plaintiff's report that he was having vision issues. (Dkt. 68, DSOF, ¶¶ 20-23.) At the time of the examination, Dr. Dunn did not think Plaintiff's vision issues were traumatic because Plaintiff reported only being hit in one eye. (Id. at ¶ 30.) Dr. Dunn noted that Plaintiff's vision was reduced in both eyes due to cataracts. (Id. at ¶ 29.) Plaintiff did not report having difficulty with activities of daily living, and Dr. Dunn scheduled Plaintiff for a follow-up appointment in six months. (Id. at ¶¶ 32-33.) Dr. Dunn considered the effect on activities of daily living in determining whether to recommend an ophthalmology consultation for cataracts and if he felt the condition was compromising the person's ability to accomplish daily tasks safely he would recommend such a referral. (Id. at ¶¶ 44-45.) In treating Plaintiff, Dr. Dunn applied the same standard he would have used in the private sector for determining whether to recommend an ophthalmology consultation for Plaintiff's cataracts. (Id. at ¶ 41.)

         On January 15, 2015, Dr. Obaisi evaluated Plaintiff in connection with complaints that the vision in his left eye was impaired. (Dkt. 65, OWSOF, ¶ 9.) On this occasion, Dr. Obaisi referred Plaintiff to an off-site ophthalmologist. (Id.) On February 7, 2015, Dr. Obaisi conducted a physical examination of Plaintiff. (Id. at ¶ 10.) At that time, Dr. Obaisi referred Plaintiff to the eye clinic at Stateville for an evaluation. (Id.) On March 12, 2015, Plaintiff reported concerns to Dr. Obaisi about his left-eye cataract. (Id. at ¶ 11.) In response, Dr. Obaisi provided Plaintiff with a second referral to the see the optometrist at Stateville. (Id.)

         On April 10, 2015, Plaintiff went to the Stateville Optometric Clinic for an optometry evaluation by George Nista, O.D. (“Dr. Nista”). (Id. at ¶ 12.) Upon examination, Dr. Nista noted that Plaintiff's corrected visual acuity was 20/40 in his right eye but did not evaluate Plaintiff's left eye. (Id.) Dr. Nista also recommended that Plaintiff be referred for an evaluation to discuss extracting the cataract from his left eye. (Id.) Moreover, Dr. Nista noted that Plaintiff exhibited signs of glaucoma suspect in his ...


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