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Palmer v. Franz

United States Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit

June 26, 2019

LeRoy Palmer, Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
Craig P. Franz, RN, Defendant-Appellee.

          Argued January 16, 2019

          Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division. No. 13 C 01698 - Thomas M. Durkin, Judge.

          Before Bauer, Rovner, and Hamilton, Circuit Judges.

          BAUER, CIRCUIT JUDGE.

         LeRoy Palmer ("Palmer") is an inmate in the custody of the Illinois Department of Corrections ("IDOC"). In lieu of a left-hand, Palmer has a nub which terminates at the wrist and does not have any functional fingers.

         Prior to his residency at the Northern Reception and Classification Center (the "NRC"), Palmer was a resident of the Shawnee Correctional Center ("Shawnee"). While at Shawnee, the medical director issued Palmer a low bunk pass for an indefinite duration.

         In preparation for a court appearance in Cook County, Palmer was transferred to the NRC on January 11, 2012. When he arrived defendant Craig P. Franz ("Franz"), an employee of Wexford Health Services, Inc. ("Wexford"), conducted a routine intake screening. A transferred inmate is accompanied by a transfer summary completed by the originating institution. The top half of Palmer's intake form had been completed by a nurse at Shawnee and noted Palmer's missing hand. Franz noted the deformity but ignored Palmer's explicit request for a low bunk permit. Franz took no other steps in conjunction with Palmer's deformity or his request for an accommodation: he did not issue a permit, notify any other member of the medical staff, or put Palmer in queue to see a doctor.

         When Palmer was escorted to his assigned cell the bottom bunk was occupied. Palmer informed the guard that he had a low bunk pass at Shawnee but was told that without a pass for the NRC, the guard could not do anything. Palmer was forced to use the top bunk.

         Over the next eleven days Palmer made two requests to see a doctor to get a low bunk pass; neither request was acknowledged. On the morning of January 22, 2012, Palmer fell while attempting to climb down from the upper bunk. He landed on his knee and suffered a severe injury Following his fall from the top bunk, Palmer was issued a low bunk permit and assigned to a low bunk.

         From February 2, 2012, through July 11, 2012, Palmer was transferred throughout the Illinois correctional system. He was transferred from the NRC to the Cook County Jail, back to the NRC, and back to Shawnee before he was again transferred to the NRC. In April and August of 2012, Palmer filed grievances with IDOC because he was unable to secure a low bunk permit and as a result he was injured.

         On September 12, 2012, after not receiving a response to his grievances, Palmer appealed the apparent denials to the Administrative Review Board, which also went unanswered.

         On March 5, 2013, Palmer filed a complaint in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. On March 11, 2013, the district court granted Palmer's motions to proceed in forma pauperis and for the appointment of counsel pursuant to the local rule. Finally, the operative complaint (Fourth Amended Complaint) was filed.

         This Complaint alleged, inter alia, that Franz was deliberately indifferent to Palmer's serious medical need when he refused to issue a low bunk permit and that this constituted a violation of the Eighth Amendment.

         Following the close of discovery, Franz filed a motion for summary judgment arguing that: Palmer's deformity did not constitute a serious medical need; Palmer failed to show Franz was subjectively aware of the alleged medical need; and that Palmer ...


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