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Turner v. Wexford Health Sources, Inc.

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

June 5, 2018

LAMPTON J. TURNER, Plaintiffs,




         Pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, pro se Plaintiff filed his complaint against Defendants alleging that they were deliberately indifferent to his serious medical needs including hand and wrist pain and an abnormal BUN/CREAT ratio. This matter is before the Court on Wexford Health Sources, Inc.'s (hereinafter “Wexford”) motion for summary judgment on the basis of failure to exhaust administrative remedies (Docs. 63 and 64). Plaintiff has filed a response (Doc. 77) in opposition to that motion. Wexford has filed a reply (Doc. 84) and Plaintiff has filed a response (Doc. 90) to that reply. In addition to the summary judgment motion from Wexford, Defendants Lisa Krebs, Lisa Prather, and Steve Meeks have also filed a motion for summary judgment on the basis of failure to exhaust administrative remedies (Docs. 74 and 75). Plaintiff has also filed a response (Doc. 91) to that motion. Plaintiff has recently filed a motion to present relevant evidence which includes a copy of his cumulative counseling summary (Doc. 113) which the undersigned has granted (Doc. 115) and will consider along with Plaintiff's other filings.

         The matter has been referred to United States Magistrate Judge Stephen C. Williams by United States District Judge Michael J. Reagan pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 636(b)(1)(B) and (c), Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 72(b), and Local Rule 72.1(a). The undersigned held a hearing on May 30, 2018. Based on the following, it is RECOMMENDED that the Court DENY the summary judgment filed by Defendant Wexford and GRANT IN PART AND DENY IN PART the motion for summary judgment filed by Lisa Krebs, Lisa Prather, and Steve Meeks.

         Factual Background

         A. Procedural Background

         Plaintiff's complaint, as narrowed by the Court's threshold order (Doc. 8), alleges that Defendants have been deliberately indifferent to his hand and wrist pain and to the results of a blood test, indicating a low BUN/CREAT ratio. Plaintiff alleges that he injured his hands and wrists when he fell on June 27, 2016 (Doc. 8, p. 2). He was seen by Dr. Garcia on July 27, 2016 (Id.). At that time, Plaintiff complained of numbness, tingling, aching, and swelling in his hands and wrists (Id.). Dr. Garcia diagnosed Plaintiff with inflammation and prescribed Prednisone (a steroid) and Robaxin (a muscle relaxer) (Id.). Plaintiff had a follow-up with Garcia on October 26, 2016 where Plaintiff again complained of pain, and his prescriptions were renewed (Id.). Plaintiff sought an additional follow-up on November 2, 2016 as his prescriptions were not renewed when they ran out, but he was informed that he would have to pay a $5 co-pay for the visit (Doc. 8, p. 2). Plaintiff refused the appointment.

         On November 10, 2016, Plaintiff began experiencing dizziness, tingling, skin crawling, and headaches, as well as the pain in his hands and wrists (Doc. 8, p. 2). He requested pain medication, but the nurse on duty refused, instead placing him on a list to see the doctor (Id.). Plaintiff was seen by Dr. Santos on November 12, 2016 and was told his symptoms might be a side effect of the prednisone or allergies (Id.). Santos ordered a blood test but refused any pain medication or an x-ray (Id.).

         Plaintiff saw Santos again on November 17, 2016 to go over Plaintiff's blood test (Doc. 8, p. 3). Plaintiff indicated he was still experiencing problems with his hands and asked for an x-ray (Id.). Santos denied Plaintiff an x-ray. On November 25, 2016, Plaintiff indicated that he began hearing crunching sounds in his hands and experienced pain between his thumb and index finger, as well as cramping while writing and brushing his teeth (Id.). He also continued to experience back pain, neck pain, and dizziness (Id.).

         On December 21, 2016, Plaintiff received his medical records and noted that his BUN/CREAT ratio was out of range (Doc. 8, p. 3; Doc. 2, p. 8). Plaintiff believed that the ratio was dangerously low because his godmother is a nurse and told his mother as much (Id. at p. 3-4). Plaintiff inquired of his ratio and requested a blood pressure check, but was told in a response to his grievance that the ratio, although “out of range”, was not at “panic level” (Id. at p. 4; Doc. 1-1. P. 15).

         On December 22, 2016, Plaintiff was referred to the doctor for continued pain in his arms and the crunching sound in his wrists (Doc. 8, p. 4). Plaintiff was seen by Santos and at that time Plaintiff complained about symptoms in his right hand (Id.). Santos ordered an x-ray and Ibuprofen (Id.). Plaintiff experienced dizziness and passed out on January 15, 2017 (Id. at p. 5). Plaintiff also indicated that he was experiencing frequent urination, pain in his kidneys, and shaking (Id.). He saw Santos, who informed Plaintiff that his right ear was full of wax which had caused the fainting (Id.). Plaintiff was provided with ear drops to remove the wax (Id. at p. 5). Plaintiff experienced dizziness again on January 18, 2017 and asked to speak to the doctor (Id.). Plaintiff had an ear flush on January 21, 2017, which removed a ball of wax the size of a penny (Id.). He was seen again on February 11, 2017, but the nurse could not release any more wax in his right ear, and informed him that he also had wax in his left ear that would need scraped out (Id.). However, Santos later denied Plaintiff had any wax in his left ear (Id.).

         Plaintiff again saw Santos on February 6, 2017 for pain in his kidneys (Doc. 8, p. 5). Santos told him all of his labs were normal (Id.). He also informed Plaintiff that he thought he was faking his pain because Santos pushed on his muscle and not his kidney, when palpitating the area (Id.). Plaintiff asked about his BUN/CREAT ratio and asked for an MRI but Santos denied the MRI (Id. at p. 5-6). Plaintiff again saw Santos on February 14, 2017, asking for a CAT scan and an assessment of his BUN/CREAT ratio (Id. at p. 6). Santos denied the CAT scan (Id.).

         Plaintiff's complaint also alleges that Wexford Health Sources, Inc. has multiple unconstitutional policies which violated his constitutional rights. Those policies include: prescribing over-the-counter painkillers only, requiring certain conditions to reach a “panic” level prior to providing preventative care, only providing ear drops for dizziness and wax build-up, refusing to refer patients to an outside specialist, and refusing to provide special diets when blood results are out of range (Doc. 8, p. 7).

         1. November 2, 2016 Grievance

         Plaintiff submitted several grievances regarding his medical conditions. His first grievance, dated November 2, 2016, alleged that he believed that he suffers from rheumatoid arthritis and that he was prescribed prednisone and Robaxin (Doc. 64-1, p. 25). Plaintiff argued that he was only given a prescription for six days when he suffers from a continuing problem and needed more pills than what was prescribed. He also took issue with the nurse charging him another co-pay for his chronic condition (Id.). The grievance was received by Plaintiff's counselor on November 7, 2016 and the counselor responded on November 8, 2016, noting that per the healthcare administrator, the doctor had not added Plaintiff to the chronic clinic and he would be required to pay a co-pay for requests to the healthcare unit (Id.). Plaintiff submitted the grievance to the grievance officer, who received the grievance on November 21, 2016. The grievance was denied on November 22, 2016 and the chief administrative officer concurred on November 28, 2016 (Id. at p. 24). Plaintiff appealed the grievance to the ARB where it was received on December 7, 2016 and denied on April 13, 2017 (Doc. 64-1, p. 23).

         2. November 17, 22, 28, and 29, 2016 Grievances

         Plaintiff submitted grievances dated November 17, 2016, November 22, 2016, November 28, 2016, and November 29, 2016 to the ARB with an affidavit that stated his grievances were not properly responded to (Doc. 75-2, p. 12). The affidavit indicated that he received only copies back of the grievances and that the grievances were viewed in their totality rather than individually (Id.). The affidavit also stated that the healthcare administrator, Lisa Krebs, failed to make a new statement as the statement in response to the grievance was the same as the response to another grievance. All four grievances were received by the ARB on January 23, 2017 (Doc. 64-1, p. 12).

         Plaintiff's November 17, 2016 grievance grieves his blood work and hands. His grievance stated that he received blood work on November 16, 2016 and that he then saw Dr. Garcia for the results on November 17, 2016 (Doc. 64-1, p. 15). The grievance stated that Garcia told him the results were fine but that Plaintiff told him he was still having problems with numbness, tingling, and swelling in his hands at night (Id.). Garcia told him there was nothing wrong with him (Id. at p. 16). He asked for an x-ray for his hands but Garcia told him that he did not want to expose Plaintiff to radiation (Id.). Plaintiff noted that Dr. Garcia had Dr. Santos' name tag on at the time of his visit (Id.). Plaintiff stated that Garcia yelled at him and failed to treat him with consideration and dignity (Id.). He also stated that Garcia told him the medication Dr. Santos prescribed had side-effects which could cause more inflammation but Garcia failed to treat the issue (Id.). The counselor responded to the grievance on December 15, 2016 indicating that Plaintiff was evaluated and treated by Dr. Garcia and Dr. Santos and neither deemed further testing necessary (Id. at p. 15).

         Another grievance in the packet sent to the ARB is dated November 22, 2016 (Doc. 64-1, p. 17). This grievance indicated that he received the same medication twice to treat his arthritis and that the medicine actually made his arthritis worse (Id.). Plaintiff's grievance also indicated that the warden did not inform the healthcare administrator of Plaintiff's issues when the warden was in the position to do so. He also stated that the doctors, healthcare administrator, and the warden were allowing him to suffer from chronic pain and doing nothing to alleviate his problems (Id. at p. 18). The grievance was received by the counselor on December 8, 2016, who noted that no further requests from Plaintiff were submitted to the healthcare unit and Plaintiff had already been evaluated and treated by Dr. Garcia and Dr. Santos (Id. at p. 17).

         Plaintiff's November 28, 2016 grievance indicated that Plaintiff was still in pain and that neither Dr. Santos, Dr. Garcia, or the nurses did anything to care for Plaintiff. He complained that the medication Dr. Santos prescribed caused him more inflammation and Dr. Garcia informed Plaintiff that the medication had such a side-effect (Doc. 64-1, p. 19). Dr. Garcia admitted that Dr. Santos gave Plaintiff an “adverse medication” but failed to treat Plaintiff and refused Plaintiff an x-ray (Id. at p. 20). Plaintiff alleged that he kept paying the healthcare unit just to tell him there was nothing wrong with him, when he believes that he has ...

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