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Montanezz v. Trost

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

May 21, 2019




         Plaintiff Carlos Montanez, an inmate at Pontiac Correction Center (“Pontiac”) in Pontiac, Illinois, brought this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for alleged violations of his constitutional rights. More specifically, he alleges that, while he was incarcerated at Menard Correctional Center (“Menard”), Defendants were deliberately indifferent to his serious medical needs when they denied and/or delayed providing treatment for his orbital bone fracture and diplopia.

         The matter has been referred to United States Magistrate Judge Mark A. Beatty by United States District Judge Nancy J. Rosenstengel pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B), Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 72(b), and SDIL-LR 72.1(a) for a Report and Recommendation on a motion for summary judgment (Doc. 174). It is recommended the District Court adopt the following findings of fact and conclusions of law, and the motion for summary judgment (Doc. 174) be GRANTED IN PART, DENIED IN PART.

         I. Findings of Fact

         Following the Court's threshold review of Plaintiff's complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, Plaintiff was permitted to proceed on an Eighth Amendment claim for deliberate indifference against Defendants Trost, Walls, Brooks, and Butler (Doc. 38). Defendants Ritz and Wexford filed a motion for summary judgment on April 8, 2019 (Doc. 174). Plaintiff filed a response in opposition to the motion (Doc. 189). Defendants Ritz and Wexford then filed a reply to Plaintiff's response in opposition (Doc. 198).

         Construed in the light most favorable to Plaintiff, the evidence and the reasonable inferences that can be drawn from it establish the following relevant facts for purposes of the instant summary judgment motion.

         On October 7, 2015, while Plaintiff was incarcerated at Menard when he was assaulted by a fellow inmate (Doc. 1) and then taken to a local hospital until being transferred to Barnes-Jewish Hospital (“Barnes”). While at Barnes, medical personnel diagnosed Plaintiff with multiple facial fractures to the right side (Doc. 145-5, p. 9). Plaintiff was discharged from Barnes on October 8 with a recommendation to consult Ophthalmology for “possible blunt trauma to the globe.” (Doc. 140-1, p. 2). He also received instructions to have a CT scan to diagnose further injuries and make follow-up appointments to be seen by Barnes's Ophthalmology Clinic within 2-3 weeks and by Barnes's Plastic Surgery Clinic within one week. (Doc. 145-5, p. 15).

         Following his discharge, Plaintiff was transferred to Menard's Health Care Unit (“HCU”), where Dr. Trost assumed responsibility of Plaintiff's medical care (Doc. 145-3, p. 8). On October 14, Dr. Hager, a medical professional at Menard, evaluated Plaintiff and agreed with Barnes's recommendation that Plaintiff needs to follow-up as scheduled (Id. at p. 15). Plaintiff also reported experiencing blurry vision, pain, nausea, difficulty with eye movement and double and quadruple vision (diplopia). (Docs. 140-2, 140-3, 140-5). Dr. Trost then recommended that Plaintiff be seen by an ophthalmologist and Dr. Ritz, a physician working for Wexford Health Sources, Inc. (“Wexford”) (the private company that contracts with Illinois to provide medical care to prisoners), approved the recommendation (Docs. 140-2, 140-3, 140-4). Wexford's approval is required whenever an inmate needs outside medical care. On November 5, 2015, Menard personnel scheduled an appointment for Plaintiff to been seen by Dr. Mark Nekola, an ophthalmologist with Quantum Vision on November 24, 2015 (Doc. 140-2). Dr. Nekola evaluated Plaintiff on November 25 and provided the following assessment: “Mr. Montanez gives conflicting symptoms but I do think he has an orbital floor fracture on the left side. There is no restriction to movement on exam. That said I would have an ENT take a look at XRays/Scans to decide if needs repair.” (Id. at p. 13).

         On November 25, in accordance with Dr. Nekola's recommendation, Dr. Trost wrote a request to Dr. Ritz, which he approved, for Plaintiff to been seen by an ENT (Doc. 140-2). However, the ENT declined to see Plaintiff and recommended Plaintiff instead be seen by a plastic surgeon (Doc. 140-3, 140-5). On December 7, Menard medical personnel scheduled an appointment with Plastic Surgery Consultants for Plaintiff to be evaluated on December 17. (Doc. 140-2). Dr. Richard Hehmann, a plastic surgeon employed at Plastic Surgery Consultants, evaluated Plaintiff and recommended that Plaintiff be seen by an oculoplastic surgeon to determine if Plaintiff's double vision would “benefit from surgery.” (Doc. 140-7). Dr. Trost then requested a referral for an outside specialist, which Dr. Ritz approved on January 6, 2016. (Doc. 140-2). Menard's scheduling office had difficulty scheduling the appointment because outside providers refused to serve Plaintiff (Id.). Dr. Trost again requested a referral for an outside specialist which Dr. Ritz approved on January 15, and then the Menard scheduling office made an appointment for Plaintiff to be seen by an ophthalmologist (Id.).

         On February 1, an ophthalmologist evaluated Plaintiff, noted that he was experiencing diplopia in all directions except with his straight forward gaze, and suggested that he “would not pursue surgical correction.” (Id. at p. 29). In accordance with the ophthalmologist's recommendation, Dr. Couch, an oculoplastic surgeon, evaluated Plaintiff on March 17, 2016 and concluded, in part, that Plaintiff has “no limitation in eye movement in eye movement in the medial and lateral . . . I do not see signs or symptoms to suggest that the diplopia has been caused by fracture.” (Id. at p. 30). Dr. Couch then recommended a “repeat of a CT scan of his orbits and return to discuss this further in the future.” (Doc. 145-7, p. 3).

         In April 2016, Plaintiff fell as he climbed down from his top bunk and alleges that it was due to his double vision (Doc. 145-7). Because of his fall, Menard medical personnel evaluated Plaintiff for his shoulder pain and provided him with pain medication (Doc. 140-2). On May 26, 2016, Dr. Trost evaluated Plaintiff and recommended physical therapy (Id.). Dr. Ritz approved physical therapy for Plaintiff and, in July 2016, medical personnel from Southern Illinois Health Care Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago treated Plaintiff (Id.). In August 2016, Plaintiff began refusing physical therapy sessions because he believed it was not benefiting his shoulder (Id.). On October 13, Plaintiff met with an optometrist to obtain new glasses to help address his vision issues, but the optometrist noted in his report that Plaintiff “refuses new gls litigation @ menard . . .” (Doc. 140-8).


         Conclusions of Law

         A. Summary ...

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