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Thompson v. Wexford Health Sources, Inc.

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

August 6, 2019

DENNIS THOMPSON, # B67474, Plaintiff,



         Plaintiff Dennis Thompson, an inmate of the Illinois Department of Corrections (“IDOC”) currently incarcerated at Menard Correctional Center (“Menard”), brings this action for alleged deprivations of his constitutional rights pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff asserts that he has not received adequate medical care for his severe obesity and accompanying chronic pain conditions. He seeks monetary damages and equitable relief.

         This case is now before the Court for preliminary review of the Complaint 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

         Plaintiff makes the following allegations in the Complaint: Plaintiff is morbidly obese, weighing 350 pounds (Doc. 1, p. 6). His weight causes him pain and DJD[1] in his knees, shoulders, hips, cervical, thoracic, and lumbar spine, as well as acetabular dysplasia in his right hip (Id.). His deteriorating medical condition has led to stabbing pain in his back that radiates into his legs as he walks. As a result, he walks hunched over and has a reduced range of motion (Id.). He also suffers from spasms in his pelvis that cause incontinence (Id.).

         Plaintiff has been forced to walk without an assistive walking device which has severely exacerbated his condition for over two years and accelerated his physical deterioration (Id. at 7). Although he was allowed to use a walker in physical therapy, Defendants Dr. Siddiqui and Crain repeatedly denied his requests for medical permits that would allow him to have a walker at all times (Id.). Plaintiff needed a walker as early as 2016, but, despite his ongoing severe pain, Dr. Siddiqui did not authorize a walker until September 27, 2018 (Id. at 7-8). That permit was temporary, and he did not get a permit for a walker until December 4, 2018 (Id. at 8). Plaintiff informed Lashbrook that Dr. Siddiqui and Crain were not giving him needed accommodations and were not treating his needs as ADA qualifying. She responded that he could not reasonably expect all of the medical requests he made to be fulfilled (Id. at 8-9).

         Plaintiff suffered severe shoulder and spinal pain for nearly two years, during which time Dr. Siddiqui ignored his complaints that medication did not alleviate the pain (Id. at 9-10). Plaintiff also informed Dr. Siddiqui that he was having trouble performing routine personal care tasks such as cleaning his own body (Id.). Dr. Siddiqui refused to order updated x-rays to monitor the progression of Plaintiff's DJD because he disliked Plaintiff's ongoing medical grievances and litigation (Id. at 10). Dr. Siddiqui told him he had no time to render care because all of his time was spent responding to the grievances (Id. at 10-11).

         Dr. Siddiqui finally ordered an updated x-ray in September 2018 after Plaintiff received a favorable decision in another lawsuit (No. 15-CV-850-NJR) (Id. at 11). The x-ray revealed further degeneration of his joints, but Dr. Siddiqui misrepresented the results, stating they were normal (Id.). When Plaintiff confronted Dr. Siddiqui about the results, he reluctantly ordered an MRI, but the order was denied by the Corporate Director of Wexford (Id. at 11-12). In lieu of an MRI, the Director ordered an initial course of 8 to 12 weeks of physical therapy (Id.). As of the filing of Plaintiff's Complaint on March 10, 2019, the therapy had not commenced (Id.).

         As a result of the degeneration over time, Plaintiff has experienced increased difficulty completing basic tasks of daily life including walking or standing up straight (Id. at 12). Because he has not received adequate medical care, he has suffered prolonged severe pain and physical degeneration (Id. at 17-18). Additionally, Wexford and Dr. Siddiqui failed to retain a diet specialist or to send Plaintiff to an outside provider to get treatment for his food addiction (Id. at 18-19). This contributed to his DJD and severe pain (Id.). The denial of a walker also contributed to the conditions of obesity and DJD because it prevented Plaintiff from getting any exercise for a prolonged period of time (Id.).

         Plaintiff has filed many grievances since Dr. Siddiqui became the lead medical doctor at Menard (Id. at 12-16). Because of these grievances, Dr. Siddiqui and Lashbrook have engaged in retaliatory conduct (Id.). They have both told him that he grieves too many issues, that they spend copious amounts of time responding to his lawsuits, and that he should be thankful for whatever type of care they provide him (Id.).

         Wexford is liable via respondeat superior for Dr. Siddiqui's failure to meet the basic standard of reasonable care because it can or should control Dr. Siddiqui (Id. at 16-17). Additionally, Wexford is liable for Dr. Siddiqui's conduct and the prior medical director's conduct because it has a duty to provide adequate care to inmates (Id. at 17-18).

         Based on the allegations in the Complaint, the Court finds it convenient to divide this action into the following Counts:

Count 1: Defendants Lashbrook, Dr. Siddiqui, and Crain violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) by delaying or denying his access to an assisted walking device and appropriate housing.
Count 2: Eighth Amendment deliberate indifference to Plaintiff's shoulder and spine problems for continuing treatment known to be ineffective against Lashbrook and Dr. Siddiqui.
Count 3: First Amendment retaliation by Lashbrook and Dr. Siddiqui for Plaintiff's repeat medical litigation and grievances.
Count 4: Violation of Illinois tort laws (735 ILCS ยง 5/2-622) via medical malpractice and negligence by Dr. ...

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