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Thomas v. Winnebago Co. Jail

United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Western Division

August 12, 2019

TRACY A. THOMAS, Plaintiff,


          John Z. Lee, United States District Judge.

         Plaintiff Tracy Thomas, an inmate in the Illinois Department of Corrections, has sued Defendants Winnebago County Jail, Dr. Kenton Lee, Dr. Steven Milos, and Swedish American Hospital, alleging unconstitutionally inadequate care for knee pain he suffered while in the Winnebago County Jail. Dr. Lee, the only remaining Defendant[1], moves for summary judgment. For the reasons stated herein, Dr. Lee's motion [53] is granted. Civil case terminated.

         Factual Background[2]

         Thomas was detained in the Winnebago County Jail from April 15, 2016, to June 16, 2017, when he was transferred to the Illinois Department of Corrections. Def.'s LR 56.1(a) Stmt. Facts (“Def.'s SOF”) ¶ 1, ECF No. 54. While at the Winnebago County Jail, he sought treatment for knee pain from Dr. Lee, the jail's Medical Director. Id. ¶¶ 3-4, 8. Dr. Lee is a licensed family practitioner who does not specialize in surgery. Id. ¶ 3.

         Thomas first saw Dr. Lee on April 29, 2016. Id. ¶ 4. At that visit, Thomas informed Dr. Lee that, before his detention, he had been scheduled for a knee replacement for his left knee. Id. ¶ 8. He described his pain as being constant and explained that he previously had received an MRI. Id.; see Def.'s Ex. B, Lee Decl., Ex. 1, Jail Medical Records at 64, ECF No. 55-3.[3] Dr. Lee noted that he would obtain the records from Thomas's October 2015 MRI, and prescribed Ibuprofen and Tylenol. Jail Medical Records at 65.

         The MRI records showed a “complex tear” in Thomas's medial and lateral meniscuses, as well as a “full-thickness tear” in his ACL. Id. at 66-67. The records further indicated that, following the MRI, Thomas was referred to an orthopedic doctor. Def.'s SOF ¶ 10. But Thomas did not seek out an orthopedic doctor at that time due to insurance problems. Id.

         Thomas saw Dr. Lee again on May 27, 2016. Id. ¶ 4. At that visit, Dr. Lee noted Thomas's complaint that his pain medications were “not doing anything.” Jail Medical Records at 76. Dr. Lee referred Thomas to an orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Milos, for a consultation. Def.'s SOF ¶ 12; Jail Medical Records at 77. Dr. Lee also switched Thomas's medication to Ultram. Jail Medical Records at 77.

         Thomas then saw Dr. Lee on July 1, 2016. Def.'s SOF ¶ 4. Dr. Lee noted that Thomas had a brace, which he had kept since his arrival in the jail. Jail Medical Records at 81. Dr. Lee prescribed Thomas a walker “until seen by orthop [sic] who will provide immobilizer.” Id. at 82; see Def.'s SOF ¶ 30. Dr. Lee also prescribed Thomas an “ACE wrap.” Def.'s SOF ¶ 35; Jail Medical Records at 82.

         Dr. Milos evaluated Thomas on July 11, 2016. Def.'s SOF ¶ 13. Thomas told Dr. Milos that he had injured his left knee a year earlier while playing basketball. Id. Dr. Milos reviewed the October 2015 MRI and conducted a physical examination. Id. ¶¶ 14-15. Dr. Milos concluded that another MRI was not necessary, because Thomas had not reported any new injuries since October 2015. Id. ¶ 16. Dr. Milos diagnosed Thomas with a left ACL tear, left medial meniscus tear, and tear of the lateral meniscus of the left knee. Id. ¶ 17. Dr. Milos spoke with Thomas about conservative treatment options such as rest, activity modifications, a knee brace, and anti-inflammatory medication, but Thomas wanted to have surgery. Id. ¶¶ 18-19. Accordingly, Dr. Milos's handwritten report to the jail stated: “Orders/recommendations: Recommend surgery for ACL meniscus tears *Needs 3 months of post-op PT. Rx for brace given.” Id. ¶ 20.

         Jail medical staff received calls from Dr. Milos's office on July 14 and July 18, 2016, informing them that Dr. Milos recommended that Thomas have ACL surgery. Def.'s LR 56.1(b)(3)(B) Resp. Pl.'s SOAF ¶ 10, ECF No. 96; see Jail Medical Records at 85; Def.'s Ex. C, Milos Decl., Ex. 1, Consultation Records at 6.[4] Dr. Lee, in response, wrote that he would wait to receive records from the orthopedic visit before scheduling surgery. Jail Medical Records at 85.

         Dr. Milos's typed consult report, faxed to the jail on August 3, 2016, stated:

[Thomas] has a left knee ACL and meniscus tears with instability and mechanical symptoms. We discussed conservative options but he wishes to proceed with surgery. . . . We will proceed with left knee ACL reconstruction (patellar allograft) with partial medial and lateral menisectomies.

         Def.'s SOF ¶ 21. After receiving Dr. Milos's report, Dr. Lee asked jail medical staff to check with Dr. Milos to see if the surgery was elective, noting that the “jail usually defers elective procedure[s].” Id. ¶ 22; Jail Medical Records at 97.

         Several days later, on August 12, 2016, Thomas received a knee brace. Pl.'s LR 56.1(b)(3)(C) Stmt. Add'l Facts (“Pl.'s SOAF”) ¶ 14, ECF No. 95. Dr. Lee then discontinued Thomas's prescription for a walker. Id. ¶ 15; see Jail Medical Records at 97-98. Once Thomas received the knee brace, however, a correctional officer confiscated the metal supports from the brace. See Pl.'s SOAF ¶ 16; Pl.'s LR 56.1(b)(3)(B) Resp. Def.'s SOF ¶ 40, ECF No. 93. Dr. Lee noted this removal in a note on August 16, 2016. Pl.'s SOAF ¶ 16; see Jail Medical Records at 97. He wrote: “pt brace has metal-theref[ore] security risk, ask pt if want brace but would need to be in seg vs. walker able to be in GP.” Jail Medical Records at 97.

         On August 23, 2016, jail medical staff received a call from a nurse at Dr. Milos's office. Pl.'s SOAF ¶ 17. The nurse explained that Thomas “will need surgery at some point, ” but stated that “ACL surgery is consider[ed] elective surgery” and Thomas had “request[ed] that surgery be done now instead of other options.” Id.; Jail Medical Records at 99. Furthermore, the nurse explained, Thomas would need physical therapy starting two days after surgery. Jail Medical Records at 99.

         Thomas saw Dr. Lee again on September 2, 2016. Def.'s SOF ¶ 4. At that visit, Dr. Lee again noted that the metal supports had been taken out of Thomas's brace, and that Thomas had been given the option of getting them back by going to “seg.” Jail Medical Records at 101. Dr. Lee noted that he would check with the orthopedic surgeon to confirm that surgery was ...

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