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Leach v. Ritz

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

September 9, 2019

JAVARUS LEACH, SR., Plaintiff,


          Hon. Reona J. Daly, United States Magistrate Judge

         The matter has been referred to United States Magistrate Judge Reona J. Daly by United States District Judge Nancy J. Rosenstengel pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B), Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 72(b), and SDIL-LR 72.1(a) for a Report and Recommendation on Defendants' Motions for Summary Judgment. It is RECOMMENDED the District Court ADOPT the following findings of fact and conclusions of law, the Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. 53) filed by Defendant Ritz be GRANTED, and the Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. 68) filed by Defendant Lawrence[1] be GRANTED.

         Findings of Fact

         Plaintiff Javarus Leach, Sr., an inmate in the Illinois Department of Corrections (“IDOC”), filed this lawsuit pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging that his constitutional rights were violated while he was incarcerated at Menard Correctional Center (“Menard”). Plaintiff is proceeding on the following claim:

Count 1: Eighth Amendment deliberate indifference claim against Dr. Ritz, for denying Plaintiff's referral for possible surgery to remove his painful keloids;

         The Warden of Menard was added in his official capacity for purposes of injunctive relief.

         At all times relevant to this cause of action, Plaintiff was housed at Menard (Doc. 1). On July 24, 2017, Plaintiff was seen at nurse sick call for complaints of intermittent “burning/stinging/itching” on the ride side/front of his neck (Doc. 54-1 at 67). Plaintiff was referred to the physician and was seen by Dr. Siddiqui on August 8, 2017 (Id. at 69). Dr. Siddiqui noted two lesions on Plaintiff's neck that appeared to be keloids (Id.). Siddiqui found no signs of active folliculitis (Id.). Siddiqui documented that Plaintiff desired to have the keloids surgically removed and referred Plaintiff for collegial review (Id.).

         On August 17, 2017, Dr. Ritz, the Corporate Utilization Management Medical Director, reviewed the referral for surgery on Plaintiff's “fibrous nodules” and denied it (Doc. 54-1 at 71). In his review, Dr. Ritz noted the two nodules on the anterior neck appeared to be keloids, had been present for 12-18 months, and that Plaintiff reported intermittent burning, stinging, and itching for 1-2 months (Id. at 73). Ritz stated removal would be cosmetic and did not meet guidelines for surgery (Id.). Ritz further indicated symptoms were to be treated onsite and patient should be encouraged not to manipulate nodules (Id.).

         On December 1, 2017, Plaintiff returned to the health care unit regarding the keloids (Doc. 54-1 at 79). The nurse documented there were no signs of drainage or redness and Plaintiff was advised not to squeeze or pick at the keloids and not to shave with dull razors (Id.). Plaintiff reported that at the site of the keloids he experienced constant stabbing pain rated 6 out of 10 (Id.). On December 8, 2017, Plaintiff was seen by Nurse Practitioner Zimmer regarding his keloids (Id. at 81). Zimmer advised she would attempt a small trial of an antibiotic and prescribed Bactrim DS (Id.). On December 22, 2017, Plaintiff was seen for a follow-up with Zimmer who noted no results with Bactrim (Id. at 82). Zimmer also found there was no redness or drainage (Id.). Zimmer prescribed a hydrocortisone cream to be applied daily for two weeks (Id.).

         On January 12, 2018, Dr. Siddiqui saw Plaintiff regarding the keloids on his neck and reassured Plaintiff that there was no need for surgery or ultrasound (Doc. 54-1 at 83). On April 7, 2018, Plaintiff returned to nurse sick call regarding the keloids on his neck (Id. at 87). There were no signs of infection (Id.). On April 12, 2018, Plaintiff was seen by Zimmer and requested steroid injections for the keloids (Id. at 93). Zimmer noted no signs of infection and no increase in growth and referred Plaintiff to Siddiqui (Id.). On April 16, 2018, Siddiqui saw Plaintiff and noted he was demanding steroid injections and referral to a dermatologist for treatment of his keloids (Id. at 94). Siddiqui documented there was no evidence of a need for steroid injections; however, he referred Plaintiff to collegial review (Id.). Siddiqui also noted Plaintiff was threatening lawsuits (Id.).

         On April 19, 2018, Dr. Ritz reviewed the request for a dermatology referral and requested pictures of the keloids (Doc. 54-1 at 96). It was noted there were no signs of infection (Id.). On May 1, 2018, photos of Plaintiff's keloids were taken and sent to Ritz for review (Id. at 98). Ritz denied the request for a dermatology referral and determined steroid injections were not medically indicated (Id. at 99). Ritz directed Plaintiff be monitored on-site and treated conservatively (Id.). Based on a review of the medical records, Plaintiff did not return to the health care unit following the denial.

         Plaintiff testified regarding the pain of his keloids, “It's like a sharp pain. At times they're sensitive. Like when I lay down, I can't lay on them. And it will be, like, a burning sensation at times also” (Doc. 69-1 at 22). Plaintiff further testified that there is no time when the keloids do not hurt and that he last sought treatment last year (Id.). When questioned how the keloids affect his daily activities, Plaintiff testified they constantly itch and are sore and that he cannot touch them too much (Id. at 45). Plaintiff also testified he did not want to be around other inmates because he is afraid involvement in a fight could cause further harm (Id.).

         Legal Standard

         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 made, 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). In ...

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