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Clark v. Simmons

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

August 21, 2019

TOMMY CLARK, Plaintiff,



         This matter is before the Court on the Report and Recommendation (“Report”) of United States Magistrate Judge Reona J. Daly (Doc. 66), recommending that the motion for summary judgment filed by Defendants Simmons, Stueve, and Walls (Doc. 53) be granted. Plaintiff Tommy Clark filed a timely objection (Doc. 69). For the following reasons, Judge Daly's Report is ADOPTED in part.


          Tommy Clark filed an Amended Complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging that Defendants were deliberately indifferent to his medical needs (Count 1) and retaliated against him for filing grievances (Count 2) while he was incarcerated at Menard Correctional Center in 2013, in violation of the Eighth Amendment (Doc. 31). Defendants moved for summary judgment on both claims (Doc. 53) but only addressed Clark's deliberate indifference to medical needs claim in their Memorandum of Law (Doc. 57). Clark filed a response as to the deliberate indifference claim only (Docs. 64 and 65).

         Judge Daly issued a Report setting forth the applicable law and her conclusions (Doc. 66). She concluded that Defendants Simmons, Stueve, and Walls are entitled to summary judgment on Count 1 because the record does not support a finding of deliberate indifference. Specifically, Judge Daly found that Stueve and Simmons were non-medical prison personnel who were entitled to rely on the care that Clark received from medical personnel, and that Walls was not personally involved in any deprivation because she only became aware of Clark's condition months after he had been treated. As a result, Judge Daly recommends that the motion for summary judgment be granted, that Clark's claims be dismissed with prejudice, and that judgment be entered in favor of Defendants and against Plaintiff.

         Legal Standard

         Since Clark filed an objection, this Court must undertake a de novo review of Judge Daly's findings and recommendations. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B), (C); FED. R. CIV. P. 72(b); SDIL-LR 73.1(b); see also Govas v. Chalmers, 965 F.2d 298, 301 (7th Cir. 1992). De novo review requires the district judge to “give fresh consideration to those issues to which specific objections have been made” and make a decision “based on an independent review of the evidence and arguments without giving any presumptive weight to the magistrate judge's conclusion.” Mendez v. Republic Bank, 725 F.3d 651, 661 (7th Cir. 2013). The Court “may accept, reject or modify the magistrate judge's recommended decision.” Id. Consistent with these standards, the Court has reviewed Judge Daly's Report de novo.

         Summary judgment is appropriate only if the moving party can demonstrate “that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” FED. R. CIV. P. 56(a); Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322(1986); see also Ruffin-Thompkins v. Experian Information Solutions, Inc., 422 F.3d 603, 607 (7th Cir. 2005). The moving party bears the initial burden of demonstrating the lack of any genuine issue of material fact. Celotex, 477 U.S. at 323. Once a properly supported motion for summary judgment is filed, the adverse party “must set forth specific facts showing there is a genuine issue for trial.” Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 250 (1986).

         A genuine issue of material fact exists when “the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party.” Estate of Simpson v. Gorbett, 863 F.3d 740, 745 (7th Cir. 2017) (quoting Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248). When deciding a summary judgment motion, the Court views the facts in the light most favorable to, and draws all reasonable inferences in favor of, the nonmoving party. Apex Digital, Inc. v. Sears, Roebuck & Co., 735 F.3d 962, 965 (7th Cir. 2013) (citation omitted). Summary judgment will be denied where a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the non-moving party. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248; Hedberg v. Indiana Bell Tel. Co., 47 F.3d 928, 931 (7th Cir.1995).

         Factual Background

         The parties do not dispute the facts set forth in the Report. The following facts, presented in a light most favorable to Clark, are relevant to the limited objections made by Clark: Clark noticed one spider bite on his left forearm on April 5, 2013 and two additional bites on his right buttock the following day. While Stueve was doing his rounds on April 6, 2013, Clark told him about the bites but did not know exactly what had bitten him. Stueve told him he would get help and returned with Simmons. Simmons looked at the spider bite and told him that he needed to see a doctor (Doc. 65-1, p. 4). She then left to talk to the lieutenant or major. She returned and told Clark they told her that he could not go to the Healthcare Unit because the institution was on a Level 1 lockdown (Id.). She instructed him to fill out a request slip for healthcare so she could put it in the appropriate box (Id.). Clark filled out the slip.

         When Simmons returned to Clark's cell, she was accompanied by Nurse Oakley (Doc. 65-7, p. 1). Nurse Oakley examined Clark and told him he had a brown recluse spider bite and needed to go to the healthcare unit and see a doctor immediately. Nevertheless, she told Clark that a doctor was not available until two days later. This interaction was in Simmons' presence. A CMT who saw Clark later that evening put Clark on the doctor call list for April 8, 2013.

         Clark was again seen by Nurse Oakley on April 7, 2013 and given pain medication. Clark testified that both Simmons and Oakley told him he needed to go to the healthcare unit but that there was nothing they could do given the lockdown and the lack of a doctor on site (Id. 5).

         Clark was seen by Dr. Nwaobasi on April 8, 2013 and prescribed antibiotics. Although antibiotics are typically handed out to inmates by nurses the same day they are prescribed, Clark did not receive the antibiotics until he was admitted to the ...

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