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Palmer v. Baldwin

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

July 15, 2019

BILLY PALMER, #A10002, Plaintiff,
v.
JOHN R. BALDWIN, WEXFORD HEALTH SOURCES, INCORPORATED, JOHN R. TROST, JOHN COE, [1] GARY M. REAGAN Y DUNCAN, DOCTOR RITZ, and FAIYAZ AHMED, [2] Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          NANCY J. ROSENSTENGEL, CHIEF U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE

         Plaintiff Billy Palmer, an inmate of the Illinois Department of Corrections (“IDOC”) currently incarcerated at Lawrence Correctional Center (“Lawrence”), brings this action for deprivations of his constitutional rights pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff asserts a deliberate indifference claim under the Eighth Amendment against Defendants for failing to properly treat his prostate cancer. He seeks monetary damages.

         This case is now before the Court for preliminary review of the Complaint[3] pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. Under Section 1915A, the Court is required to screen prisoner complaints to filter out non-meritorious claims. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). Any portion of a complaint that is legally frivolous, malicious, fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or asks for money damages from a defendant who by law is immune from such relief must be dismissed. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b).

         The Complaint

         In his Complaint, Plaintiff makes the following allegations: From January 2014 to December 2015, Plaintiff had seven elevated prostate-specific antigen (PSA) levels. (Doc. 1-2, p. 4; Doc. 1, p. 14). During that time, he was treated by Dr. Trost, Menard Correctional Center's on-site physician. (Doc. 1-2, p. 5; Doc. 1, pp. 19, 21, 22, 23, 24). Dr. Ritz was also involved in Plaintiff's treatment and/or referral decisions. (Doc. 1, p. 13). Plaintiff was prescribed Flomax and Hytrin for his elevated PSA and enlarged prostate. (Doc. 1-2, p. 5). Plaintiff did not receive any additional diagnostic testing or treatment for prostate cancer while at Menard. (Doc. 1-2, pp. 18-20).

         Following transfer to Lawrence in January 2016, Dr. Ritz and Dr. Coe reviewed Plaintiff's medical chart regarding the need for an oncology consult. At that time, Dr. Ritz noted that, per the records, Plaintiff had a history of elevated PSA and benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) but had not had a prostate biopsy and was not diagnosed with prostate cancer. (Doc. 1-2, pp. 5-6; Doc. 1, p. 25). Dr. Coe made a referral to Dr. Gary Reagan, Crossroads Urology and Women's Health. (Doc. 1-2, p. 6; Doc. 1, pp. 26, 27, 28). Dr. Reagan noted Plaintiff had a history of BPH and elevated PSA and recommended an ultrasound guided prostate needle biopsy. Id. Dr. Coe made the referral for the procedure and it was approved by Wexford.[4] (Doc. 1-2, p. 8; Doc. 1, pp. 33, 34).

         In April 2016, the biopsy was performed, and the pathology report noted a “prostatic adenocarcinoma.” (Doc. 1-2, p. 8; Doc. 1, pp. 35, 37). Dr. Reagan ordered a whole-body nuclear medicine bone scan based on the diagnosis of primary malignant neoplasm of prostate. (Doc. 1-2, p. 9; Doc. 1-1, p. 1). Dr. Coe made the referral for the whole-body scan and it was approved by Wexford based on the new diagnosis of prostate cancer by biopsy. (Doc. 1-2, p. 9; Doc. 1-1, pp. 5-6). Dr. Coe referred Plaintiff back to Dr. Reagan based on the prostate cancer, which was approved by Wexford. (Doc. 1-2, p. 9; Doc. 1-1, p. 7). Plaintiff saw Dr. Reagan on July 11, 2016; he recommended follow-up regarding the prostate cancer but did not offer or provide treatment at that time. (Doc. 1-2, p. 10; Doc. 1-1 p. 8). Based on another referral approved by Wexford, Plaintiff saw Dr. Reagan in December 2016. (Doc. 1-2, p. 11; Doc. 1-2 pp. 10-11). Plaintiff expressed his concerns regarding his prostate cancer, and Dr. Reagan told him it is very common in his age group to have a small area of low-grade prostate cancer. (Doc. 1-2, p. 11; Doc. 1-1 p. 12-15). They discussed a repeat ultrasound biopsy as part of an observation protocol. Id.

         In March 2017, Wexford physicians Dr. Ritz and Dr. Shah approved a request for a urology follow-up and repeat ultrasound-guided prostate needle biopsy. (Doc. 1-2, p. 12; Doc. 1-1, p. 20). Plaintiff saw Dr. Reagan and the repeat biopsy, approved by Wexford, was performed in August 2017. (Doc. 1-1, pp. 22, 26; Doc. 1-2, p. 12). The pathology from the procedure reported an “adenocarcinoma.” (Doc. 1-1, p. 27). In September 2017, Dr. Reagan advised Plaintiff of the results and the available treatment options including an observation protocol versus radical prostatectomy versus radiation therapy. (Doc. 1-2, p. 13; Doc. 1-1, pp. 29-30). Plaintiff chose radiation therapy. Id.

         In October 2017, Dr. Duncan recommended a CT abdomen and pelvis to rule out adenopathy and metastatic disease, a bone scan to rule out bone mets, and marker (polymark) placement with Dr. Reagan. (Doc. 1-2, p. 14; Doc. 1-1, pp. 34, 37). All were approved by Wexford. (Doc. 1-2, p. 15; Doc. 1-1, p. 38). An ultrasound-guided prostate needle marker placement was performed in January 2018. (Doc. 1-2, p. 15; Doc. 1-1, p. 39). This procedure caused Plaintiff severe discomfort and pain and his “blood was infected by the improper placement of the polymarker.” (Doc. 1-2, p. 15).

         In February 2018, Dr. Ahmed referred Plaintiff for radiation therapy, which was approved by Wexford. (Doc. 1-2, p. 16; Doc. 1-1, pp. 40-41). On February 20, 2018, Dr. Duncan noted Plaintiff was tolerating radiation therapy well. (Doc. 1-2, p. 16; Doc. 1-1, p. 42). Plaintiff completed radiation therapy in early 2018. (Doc. 1-2, p. 17).

         Plaintiff continues to have blood in his urine and pain when he urinates. Id. He placed sick call requests for these issues in December 2018 and January and February 2019. Id. He was told to wait until he sees Dr. Reagan in March 2019. Id.

         Based on the allegations of the Complaint, the Court finds it convenient to designate the following counts:

Count 1: Eighth and/or Fourteenth Amendment claim against Defendants Trost, Ritz, Baldwin, and Wexford for deliberate indifference from January 2014 to December 2015 relating to Plaintiff's prostate cancer.
Count 2: Eighth and/or Fourteenth Amendment claim against Defendants Coe, Reagan, Duncan, Ahmed, Baldwin, and Wexford for deliberate indifference from January 2016 to February 2018 relating to Plaintiff's prostate cancer.

         The parties and the Court will use these designations in all future pleadings and orders, unless otherwise directed by a judicial officer of this Court. The designations do not constitute an opinion regarding their merit. Any other claim that is mentioned in the Complaint but not addressed in this Order should be considered dismissed without prejudice as inadequately pled under the Twombly pleading standard.[5]

         Discussion

         Coun ...


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