March 28, 2019
from the United States District Court for the Southern
District of Illinois No. 15-cv-01415 - J. Phil Gilbert,
Ripple, Manion, and Sykes, Circuit Judges.
Manion, Circuit Judge.
serving a prison sentence at the Lawrence Correctional Center
in Illinois, Tyrone Gabb experienced severe back pain
whenever he stood too long (15 to 20 minutes). After
treatments he received did not relieve his pain, Gabb sued
two members of the medical staff at Lawrence, Dr. John Coe
and Nurse Tammy Kimmel, alleging they were deliberately
indifferent to his back pain in violation of his
constitutional right to be free from cruel and unusual
punishments. Gabb also sued Wexford Health Sources, Inc., the
private company that provided medical services at Lawrence.
The district court granted summary judgment to all
defendants, and Gabb appeals. Because Gabb has not presented
any evidence showing the defendants caused him any harm, we
case comes to us on appeal from the grant of summary
judgment, so we present the facts "in the light most
favorable to [Gabb] and draw all inferences in [Gabb's]
favor." Estate of Simpson v. Gorbett, 863 F.3d
740, 745 (7th Cir. 2017).
was the medical director at Lawrence. He first saw Gabb for
back pain in January 2014. Coe performed an x-ray, but he did
not prescribe medication. When he saw Gabb a month later, Coe
confirmed Gabb had pain in his lower back, but he again did
not prescribe medication.
September 2014, Gabb underwent another x-ray. This time, Coe
diagnosed Gabb with chronic back pain and prescribed the
painkiller Motrin and the muscle-relaxer Robaxin. When Gabb
saw Coe again a month later, he told Coe the medications did
little. Coe ordered Gabb a back support and changed
Gabb's painkiller prescription from Motrin to Naproxen.
Later that month, Gabb complained to a nurse the back support
and the painkillers were not providing relief. In February
2015, a physician's assistant discontinued Gabb's
Naproxen and prescribed Tylenol instead.
March 2015, Gabb reported to the infirmary with abdominal
pain and encountered Nurse Kimmel. Gabb told Kimmel he had
osteoarthritis in his lower back and he believed the Tylenol
was causing his stomach pain. He requested a referral to a
doctor so he could get a different medication. Because
Gabb's reason for seeking treatment was abdominal pain,
the only medication Kimmel could have administered pursuant
to protocol was an antacid. Kimmel did not refer Gabb to a
doctor or give him an antacid, but instead told him "to
(1) lower his dose of Tylenol; (2) drink plenty of fluids and
eat properly; (3) plan on attending his follow-up appointment
with the physician's assistant in June; and (4) come back
to the infirmary if his symptoms worsened."
early April 2015, Gabb reported to the infirmary again
complaining of abdominal pain he believed was caused by the
Tylenol. Gabb testified in his deposition that as he came to
the room, Kimmel "immediately notified [him] that she
was not going to refer [him] to any physician because [he]
was not in pain." Gabb says he tried to tell Kimmel
about his back pain, but "she verbally abused" and
swore at him. She did not refer Gabb to a physician or
consult with one concerning an appropriate course of
end of April, Gabb reported to the infirmary for abdominal
pain a third time. On this occasion, because he had reported
more than twice with the same complaint, he received a
referral to Dr. Coe. When he saw Coe a week later, Coe
re-prescribed Naproxen, prescribed Vitamin D (which Coe
believed could help with muscle spasms and tightness), and
tightened Gabb's back support. Coe told Gabb better
treatment was available, but Wexford would not pay for it.
Gabb again in the summer of 2015. Gabb complained the
Naproxen was not working. Coe tightened Gabb's back
brace, demonstrated therapy exercises that could reduce the
pain, and suggested Gabb exercise.
August 2015, a physician's assistant saw Gabb. The
physician's assistant reported Gabb's pain was
increasing and he suffered from a decreased range of motion.
Gabb also had a slower gait and reported tingling in his