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Wilson v. Obaisi

United States District Court, N.D. Illinois

June 13, 2018

GREGORY SCOTT WILSON, Plaintiff,
v.
SALEH OBAISI, M.D., et al., Defendants.

          Joseph J. Lombardo One of the Attorneys for Defendants, WEXFORD HEALTH SOURCES, INC., LA TANYA WILLIAMS, P.A., and DEFENDANT, GHALIAH OBAISI, as Independent Executor of the Estate of SALEH OBAISI, M.D., Deceased.

          DEFENDANTS' FED. R. CIV. P. 50 MOTION FOR JUDGMENT AS A MATTER OF LAW IN A JURY TRIAL

          SHARON JOHNSON COLEMAN JUDGE.

         NOW COME Defendants, WEXFORD HEALTH SOURCES, INC. (“Wexford”), LA TANYA WILLIAMS, P.A. (“Williams”), and DEFENDANT, GHALIAH OBAISI, as Independent Executor of the Estate of SALEH OBAISI, M.D. (“Dr. Obaisi”), Deceased, by and through their attorneys, Matthew H. Weller and Joseph J. Lombardo of CASSIDAY SCHADE LLP, and for their Fed.R.Civ.P. 50 Motion for Judgment as a Matter of Law in a Jury Trial, hereby state as follows:

         A. Plaintiff Did Not Come Forth with Sufficient Evidence to Support a Monell Claim Against Wexford

         In Monell v. Dep't of Soc. Servs., 436 U.S. 658 (1978), the Supreme Court established that a municipality may face liability for money damages under § 1983 only if the unconstitutional act about which the plaintiff complains was caused by (1) an official policy adopted and promulgated by its officers; (2) a governmental practice or custom that, although not officially authorized, is widespread and well settled; or (3) an official with final policy-making authority. Thomas v. Cook Cnty. Sheriff's Dep't, 604 F.3d 293, 303 (7th Cir. 2010) (citing Monell, 436 U.S. at 690). Wexford, a private corporation contracted by IDOC, is subject to a Monell claim just like any municipality would be. See, e.g., Minix v. Canarecci, 597 F.3d 824, 832 (7th Cir. 2010). "To establish municipal liability, a plaintiff must show the existence of an 'official policy' or other governmental custom that not only causes but is the "moving force" behind the deprivation of constitutional rights." Teesdale v. City of Chicago, 690 F.3d 829, 833-34 (7th Cir. 2012). Thus, to prevail on his Monell claim against Wexford, Plaintiff must show that "his injury was caused by a Wexford policy, custom, or practice of deliberate indifference to medical needs, or a series of bad acts that together raise the inference of such a policy." Shields v. Ill. Dep't of Corr., 746 F.3d 782, 796 (7th Cir. 2014).

         1. Wexford's Policies and Practices Were Not the “Motivating Force” Behind the Alleged Deprivation of Plaintiff's Constitutional Rights

         Here, Plaintiff has not met the extremely high burden of proving Wexford's policies and procedures were the “motivating force” behind his alleged constitutional claim[1]. To this end, Plaintiff's primary argument in support of his claim against Wexford is based upon its written guidelines, which were presented to the jury on several occasions. However, this argument is misguided on several levels. First, Wexford's written Medical Policies and Procedures do not state that patients with manually reducible inguinal hernias are not candidates for surgical consultation. (See “Exhibit 1”- Plaintiff's Trial Exhibit 6.1: Wexford's Guidelines regard the Repair of Abdominal Wall/Inguinal Hernias). Instead, they state “patients with stable abdominal wall hernias are not, in general, candidates for herniorrhaphy and will be monitored and treated with appropriate non-surgical therapy.” Id. [emphasis added]. Here, Plaintiff's alleged medical condition is a very small manually reducible inguinal hernia. As such, despite Plaintiff's contention to the contrary, Wexford does not have an express written policy that states patients presenting with manually reducible inguinal hernias, such as Wilson, are not candidates for surgery.

         Moreover, the decision to treat Plaintiff conservatively before referring him for a general surgery evaluation was not the result of Wexford's policies or practices. Instead, the uncontroverted evidentiary record reveals the course of treatment provided to Wilson for his hernia was based solely upon the medical judgment of Plaintiff's treating physicians. This is not surprising, as Wexford's Medical Policies and Procedures regarding treatment of hernias explicitly state that “[d]ecisions regarding patient suitability for consideration of abdominal wall herniorrhaphy must be made on a case-by-case basis. These recommendations are intended only as a guide for the site physicians are not intended to replace hands-on clinical judgment.” Id.

         The testimonial evidence in this case further supports the conclusion that Wexford's written guidelines had no bearing on the treatment of Plaintiff's hernia. To this end, it is undisputed that as Medical Director, Dr. Obaisi was the individual that was charged with making the decision as to whether Plaintiff would be evaluated for surgery. Upon being questioned regarding the role Wexford's written guidelines played in his decision regarding the management of Wilson's hernia, Dr. Obaisi testified as follows:

“Q: How often do you, if you do, review the policies and procedures of Wexford?
A: Not very often.
Q: Can you tell me since you've been Medical Director whether you read the policies and procedures regarding the repair of abdominal wall and inguinal hernias?
A: No, I have not read.
Q: Isn't it part of your responsibilities to be familiar with the substance of those policies and procedures?
A: Basically, I am a surgeon, I fixed a lot of hernias so I know the rules and I know when to send the patient. I take it as my own personal ...

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