United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION & ORDER
M. Durkin, Judge
Ronald Steele has sued defendants Ghaliah Obaisi (as
independent executor of the estate of Dr. Saleh Obaisi
(“Obaisi”)), Randy Pfister, and Don Mills in
their individual capacities, along with Wexford Health
Sources, Inc. (“Wexford”), in a single count
complaint for deliberate indifference to Steele's medical
needs. Currently before the Court are two motions to dismiss:
(1) defendants Mills and Pfister's motion (R. 28); and
(2) defendant Wexford's motion (R. 31). For the reasons
explained below, the Court denies both motions.
complaint must provide “a short plain statement of the
claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.”
Fed. Civ. P. 8(a)(2). Through this statement, defendants must
be provided with “fair notice” of the claim and
the basis for it. Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550
U.S. 544, 555 (2007). This means the complaint must
“contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true,
to ‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on its
face.'” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662,
678 (2009) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570).
“‘A claim has facial plausibility when the
plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to
draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable
for the misconduct alleged.'” Mann, 707
F.3d at 877 (quoting Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678). In
applying this standard, the Court accepts all well-pleaded
facts as true and draws all reasonable inferences in favor of
the non-moving party. Mann, 707 F.3d at 877.
at least early 2014, Steele has experienced a spinal
condition resulting in severe and chronic pain in his neck,
numbness in his shoulders, arms, and hands, and a limited
range of cervical motion. R. 21 ¶ 15. As a result,
Steele has been unable to sleep through the night or engage
in fitness activities. Id. ¶ 16.
point in 2014, while housed at Stateville Correctional Center
in the custody of the Illinois Department of Corrections
(“IDOC”), Steele began seeking treatment for his
spinal condition from the Stateville medical unit.
Id. ¶ 17. Initially, policies set by Wexford
and IDOC resulted in Steele being treated by registered
nurses instead of a licensed physician. Id.
¶¶ 18-19. The registered nurses prescribed Steele
only over-the-counter pain medication, which did not improve
his condition, and they did not refer Steele to a licensed
physician. Id. ¶¶ 20-21. Steele tried to
seek follow-up treatment from a licensed physician, but was
denied treatment numerous times due to inadequate staffing.
Id. ¶ 22.
April 2015, Steele received authorization to see a licensed
physician, and now-deceased defendant Obaisi-then-medical
director at Stateville and an employee of Wexford-began to
treat Steele. Id. ¶¶ 23, 44-45. From April
2015 through 2016, Obaisi prescribed Steele over-the-counter
pain medication, including aspirin and naproxen, which did
not alleviate Steele's pain. Id. ¶¶
April or early May 2016, Obaisi and Wexford authorized an
x-ray, which Steele received on May 2, 2016. Id.
¶¶ 26-27. Based on the x-ray results, Stateville
medical staff recommended that Steele obtain an MRI from an
outside specialist. Id. ¶ 28. But Obaisi and
Wexford did not authorize Steele to see an outside specialist
until early 2017. Id. ¶ 29.
February 2017, Steele began to see outside specialists at the
University of Illinois-Chicago Medical Center
(“UIC”). Id. ¶ 30. An MRI of
Steele's cervical spine conducted at UIC on March 27,
2017 revealed that Steele suffered from “degenerative
and severe spinal canal stenosis at the C3-C6 vertebrae, with
mylemalacia at ¶ 3-C4 and C4-C5 with multilevel
moderate-to-severe neuroforaminal narrowing.”
Id. ¶¶ 31-32. The MRI also revealed cord
signal changes. Id. ¶ 32.
result of the MRI, Steele's physicians at UIC recommended
that he undergo an Anterior Cervical Discectomy and Fusion
surgical procedure at the C3-C6 vertebrae. Id.
¶ 34. Steele's physicians at UIC transmitted an
order to Obaisi and Wexford instructing that Steele should
not take aspirin or naproxen for at least one week prior to
his scheduled surgery on May 30, 2017 because of risks of
severe bleeding. Id. ¶¶ 35-36. But Obaisi
and Wexford did not communicate this to Steele. Id.
¶ 37. Because Steele continued to take aspirin and
naproxen up to the scheduled surgery date, his surgery was
cancelled. Id. ¶ 38. Obaisi, Mills, and Wexford
did not provide the necessary approvals to reschedule
Steele's surgery until several months later. Id.
April 3, 2017, Steele approached Pfister, the warden at
Stateville, and complained about his medical condition and
Obaisi's failure to appropriately treat it. Id.
¶ 63. Steele reiterated those complaints to Pfister on
June 3, 2017. Id. ¶ 64. Pfister responded that
he would discuss the issues with Obaisi and help Steele get
appropriate treatment, but Steele believes those discussions
never took place. Id. ¶¶ 65-66. Steele
followed up with a letter to Pfister on July 1, 2017, to
which Pfister never responded. Id. ¶ 67.
April 17, 2017, Steele informed Mills, the healthcare
administrator at Stateville, of Obaisi's failure to
provide him with appropriate medical treatment, and
reiterated his complaints on June 1, 2017, July 11, 2017, and
September 20, 2017. Id. ¶¶ 58, 60. In
Steele's July 11, 2017 letter to Mills, Steele documented
his efforts to obtain medical treatment and Obaisi's
failure to provide it. Id. ¶ 60. Mills
allegedly dismissed or ignored all of Steele's complaints
and instructed Steele to discuss his complaints with Obaisi.
Id. ¶ 59. Steele informed Mills that Obaisi had
instructed him to discuss the complaints with Mills.
Id. Mills then said he would talk to Obaisi, but
Steele believes those discussions never occurred.
filed written grievances with Stateville on June 28, 2016,
January 5, 2017, March 2, 2017, and April 14, 2017 about his
pain, inappropriate treatment, and delayed treatment.
Id. ¶ 42. All of these grievances were denied.
filed this lawsuit on September 14, 2017. R. 1. At the time
the original complaint was filed, Steele still had not
undergone surgery. See R. 21 ¶ 40. This Court
conducted a Section 1915 merit review and appointed counsel
for Steele on October 10, 2017. R. 5.
finally underwent surgery on November 3, 2017. R. 21 ¶
40. During this time, Steele was not timely prescribed a
lower bunk permit, double mattress, or cervical ...