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Crawford v. Davis-Huntley

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

July 31, 2018



          Honorable Edmond E. Chang United States District Judge.

         Plaintiff Deandre Crawford is a prisoner at Stateville Correctional Center. Since 2013, Crawford has suffered from severe abdominal and testicular pain, and he alleges that he has not received adequate medical treatment for those conditions.[1] R. 38, Am. Compl.[2] Crawford contends that one of his treating physicians, Dr. Davis, is liable for her failure to treat him, and that Wexford Health Sources, which provides medical care for Stateville, is liable because its practices caused lengthy delays in his treatment. Id. ¶¶ 26-44. After a long and contentious discovery period, Davis and Wexford moved for summary judgment. R. 150, Mot. Summ. J. For the reasons explained below, summary judgment is denied on the claim against Davis, and denied in part on the claim against Wexford.

         I. Background

         In deciding Crawford's motion for summary judgment, the Court views the evidence in the light most favorable to Crawford, because he is the non-moving party. Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986). Crawford is imprisoned in Stateville Correctional Center. DSOF ¶ 1.[3] The process of obtaining medical care at Stateville is known as “sick call.” Id. ¶ 8. Inmates request medical treatment by filling out a sick-call request form and placing the form in the bars of their cells to be picked up. Id.[4] Until December 2013, sick-call requests were screened by certified medical technicians (called CMTs). Pl. Resp. DSOF ¶ 11. The CMT could then refer the inmate to “MD sick call.” Id. Despite the name, “MD sick call” actually refers to medical care provided not only by physicians, but also mid-level providers (such as physician's assistants and nurse practitioners). DSOF Exh. E, Funk Dep. 48:4-19; DSOF ¶ 10. Starting around December 2013, inmates would first see a nurse as part of “nurse sick call” and then be referred by the nurse to MD sick call. Pl. Resp. DSOF ¶ 11.

         In addition to regular MD sick call, Stateville physicians saw patients with certain chronic conditions-hypertension, diabetes, asthma, and seizures-at daily “chronic care clinics.” DSOF Exh. C, Davis Dep. 21:8-11, 26:19-27:11. Inmates sometimes complained about other conditions at the chronic care clinics, but they were discouraged from doing so. Id. 28:21-29:12, 128:1-23. Inmates who raised non-emergency concerns during a chronic care clinic were told to use the ordinary sick-call procedure to seek treatment. Id. 29:2-12.

         A. March 2013-June 2013

         On March 30, 2013, a CMT received a note from Crawford stating that Crawford was experiencing testicular and abdominal pain and requesting to be placed on sick call for evaluation. DSOF ¶ 26. Crawford's medical records state that he was referred to MD sick call for evaluation and treatment. Id. But Crawford was not promptly seen at sick call; instead, it took about three months (until late June 2013) for Crawford to get treatment. See id. ¶ 37. The parties dispute the reasons for the delay. See Pl. Resp. DSOF ¶¶ 27-30. The Defendants point out that Crawford missed several other medical and mental health appointments during the time gap. R. 151, Def. Mem. at 1; DSOF ¶¶ 27-30. But Crawford responds that there is no evidence about why he missed these other appointments, and avers that he would not have refused to go to sick call. See Pl. Resp. DSOF ¶¶27-31.; see also PSOF Tab 1, Crawford Aff. ¶ 2.

         After several missed appointments, Crawford presented to Dr. Davis at the chronic care clinics for hypertension and seizure on May 14, 2013. DSOF ¶ 31. Crawford says that he complained to Davis about his abdominal and testicular pain at this appointment. PSOF ¶ 65, Pl. Resp. DSOF ¶ 31. Davis, however, did not note any complaints about abdominal or testicular pain in Crawford's medical records, and did not provide any treatment for those conditions. DSOF ¶ 31, DSOF Exh. F at 24-28 (sealed).

         Crawford finally got treatment for his abdominal and testicular pain in late June 2013, when he saw physician's assistant La Tanya Williams. DSOF ¶ 37. At this appointment, Williams diagnosed Crawford with an enlarged prostate, ordered various tests, and prescribed Hytrin, a drug often used to treat the symptoms of an enlarged prostate. Id; Pl. Resp. DSOF ¶ 37. Williams followed up with Crawford around six weeks later. DSOF ¶ 39, DSOF Exh. F at 34 (sealed). She noted that Crawford's symptoms were only slightly improved and increased his Hytrin dose. Id.

         B. August 2013-May 2014

         On August 17, 2013, Crawford saw Davis at the seizure chronic clinic. Once again, Crawford asserts that he complained of testicular and abdominal pain to Davis, but Davis did not record those complaints. DSOF ¶ 41; PSOF ¶ 65. There is no record of Davis providing treatment to Crawford for abdominal or testicular pain during this encounter. DSOF Exh. F at 37-38 (sealed).

         From late August to sometime in September 2013, Stateville entered an extended lockdown. PSOF ¶ 66.[5] During the lockdown, sick call was suspended. Id. Eventually, Wexford began sending nurses to see patients in the cell houses, but MD sick call did not take place. Def. Resp. PSOF ¶ 66; DSOF Exh. C, Davis Dep. 165:11-22. Around this time, Crawford began to complain frequently of testicular and abdominal pain. Specifically, between September 17, 2013 and January 5, 2014, Crawford submitted 14 sick-call requests about the pain. PSOF ¶ 68; PSOF Tab 2.[6]Despite his many requests, Crawford was not seen in connection with his testicular and abdominal pain until January 13, 2014-almost three months after the September 17 sick-call request. DSOF ¶ 43. The January 13 appointment was with a nurse or CMT, not a physician or physician's assistant. DSOF Exh. F at 43 (sealed). At this appointment, Crawford reported pain that rated “10/10” on the pain scale, and also reported that it “[f]eels like someone is squeezing it.” Id. Under the “plans” section of the pertinent medical record, the staff member wrote “MD PA referral, ” but Crawford did not see a doctor or physician's assistant for several weeks after that. See id.; DSOF ¶¶ 43-46.

         Even when Crawford did see a physician, he did not get treatment for the abdominal and testicular pain. On January 24, 2014, Crawford saw Davis at the seizure and hypertension clinics. DSOF ¶ 46. Crawford complained to Davis about the pain, but Davis did not record these complaints or provide any treatment. PSOF ¶ 65; DSOF ¶ 46; DSOF Exh. F at 46-49 (sealed); PSOF Tab 3, 1/26/14 Grievance. Two days later, Crawford filed a grievance complaining about the continuing lack of treatment for the abdominal and testicular pain and stating that Davis had refused to acknowledge the issue. PSOF Tab 3, 1/26/14 Grievance.

         Despite his requests for help, Crawford still did not receive treatment for his pain. He continued to complain about the ongoing abdominal and scrotal pain at nurse sick call over the next five months, see DSOF ¶ 48, 51; PSOF ¶ 71, but apparently got no help for the conditions. At one of these appointments, Crawford reported “grabbing, squeezing pain [through] my whole body.” DSOF Exh. F at 55 (sealed); PSOF ¶ 70. The nurse noted that Crawford should follow up at urgent care “as scheduled, ” but there is no evidence that he was seen at urgent care. PSOF ¶ 70. The Defendants point out that Crawford missed several medical appointments during this time period, but again, it is not clear why. See Pl. Resp. DSOF ¶ 50, 52, 55, 57.

         At long last, on May 13, 2014, Crawford saw physician's assistant Williams for his scrotal pain. DSOF ¶ 58. Williams diagnosed Crawford with epididymitis, which is an inflammation of the coiled tube (epididymis) at the back of the testicle. PSOF ¶ 72. Williams prescribed Cipro, an antibiotic. Id. When Crawford followed up with Williams in June 2014, he reported that the pain had improved. Id. ¶ 73. Williams continued Cipro and prescribed Naproxen. DSOF ¶ 59. Williams ordered a follow-up in six weeks. Pl. Resp. DSOF ¶ 59.

         C. June 2014-January 2015

         In July 2014, Crawford saw a Wexford physician's assistant and reported abdominal pain that radiated to his rectum. PSOF ¶ 74. Noting Crawford's “longstanding abdominal pain, ” the physician's assistant referred Crawford to Stateville's medical director for evaluation. Id. The notation “8/19/14” was made in Crawford's medical records next to the referral plan. Id. Crawford saw Stateville's then-medical director, Dr. Obaisi, on August 19, 2014. Id. ¶ 75. There is no evidence that Obaisi treated Crawford for abdominal or testicular pain during this appointment, but also no evidence that Crawford complained to Obaisi of abdominal or testicular pain. Id.; see DSOF Exh. F at 84 (sealed).

         It does not appear that Crawford complained of abdominal or testicular pain for the next several months (though he was seen by multiple providers, including physicians, for other issues during that time). See DSOF Exh. F at 85-95. Then, on January 10, 2015, Crawford presented at nurse sick call with abdominal pain that radiated to his testicles and rectum. PSOF ¶ 76. The nurse noted that an appointment with a physician was already scheduled for January 28, 2015. Id. Sure enough, on January 28, Crawford was seen by Obaisi for his abdominal pain. Id. ¶ 77. Obaisi diagnosed Crawford with prostatitis, and prescribed Bactrim, an antibiotic. Id., DSOF Exh. F at 97 (sealed). After that, Crawford did not complain of abdominal pain for about a year. See PSOF ¶ 78.

         II. Legal Standard

         Summary judgment must be granted “if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). A genuine issue of material fact exists if “the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party.” Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). In evaluating summary judgment motions, courts must view the facts and draw reasonable inferences in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. Scott v. Harris, 550 U.S. 372, 378 (2007). The Court may not weigh conflicting evidence or make credibility determinations, Omnicare, Inc. v. UnitedHealth Grp., Inc., 629 F.3d 697, 704 (7th Cir. 2011), and must consider only evidence that can “be presented in a form that would be admissible in evidence.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(2). The party seeking summary judgment has the initial burden of showing that there is no genuine dispute and that they are entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Carmichael v. Village of Palatine, 605 F.3d 451, 460 (7th Cir. 2010); see also Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986); Wheeler v. Lawson, 539 F.3d 629, 634 (7th Cir. 2008). If this burden is met, the adverse party must then “set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial.” Anderson, 477 U.S. at 256.

         III. Analysis

         The Eighth Amendment requires prisons to provide humane conditions of confinement, including adequate medical care. Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 832 (1994). Deliberate indifference to a prisoner's serious medical needs violates the Eighth Amendment (which is incorporated against state officials through the Fourteenth Amendment's due process clause). Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 104-06 (1976). To determine whether the Eighth Amendment has been violated, the Court asks whether the plaintiff suffered from an objectively serious ...

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