United States District Court, S.D. Illinois
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
J. ROSENSTENGEL CHIEF U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE
Keon Corley alleges that, after he broke his finger while he
was incarcerated at Menard Correctional Center in March 2015,
Defendants Wexford Health Sources Inc., John Trost, Fe
Fuentes, and Stephen Ritz were deliberately indifferent to
his serious medical needs in violation of his Eighth
Amendment rights. Before the Court is a motion for summary
judgment filed by Defendants (Doc. 92). For the reasons
explained below, the Court grants in part and denies in part
claims from Corley’s Complaint, as identified in the
Court’s threshold order (Doc. 7), remain pending:
Count 5: Eighth Amendment deliberate indifference to serious
medical need claim against Defendant Wexford Health Sources,
Inc. for maintaining a policy that led to inadequate medical
care, delayed medical care, improperly trained medical staff,
lack of follow up care, and refusal of pain medication, with
the objective of saving money;
Count 10: Eighth Amendment deliberate indifference claim
against Defendant John Trost and Defendant Fe Fuentes, both
doctors, for denying pain medication stronger than Motrin to
treat Corley’s injured hand; and
Count 12: Eighth Amendment deliberate indifference claim
against Defendant Stephen Ritz, a doctor, for failing to
allow adequate access to physical therapy via a cuff pass and
for denying ongoing care recommended by an external provider.
the facts underlying Corley’s claims in this action are
undisputed by the parties.
has been an inmate in the custody of the Illinois Department
of Corrections since 2005. At all times relevant to this
action, he was incarcerated at Menard Correctional Center.
Defendant Fe Fuentes worked as a physician at Menard
Correctional Center from June 2008 through July 2015; she was
an employee of Defendant Wexford Health Sources, Inc.
Defendant John Trost was a physician employed by Wexford and
worked as the Medical Director at Menard from November 2013
through March 2017. Defendant Stephen Ritz, a doctor, has
been employed by Wexford as the Corporate Utilization
Management Medical Director since September 2014.
March 2, 2015, Corley visited the healthcare unit at Menard
on a nurse sick call and was evaluated by Martha Oakley, a
licensed practical nurse (“LPN”). He complained
about right finger pain. On Corley’s medical records,
Oakley circled “MD referral.” Defendants
interpret this referral as one to a nurse practitioner or a
medical doctor, but Corley maintains that he should have been
referred to a medical doctor for evaluation. (Doc. 93, p. 3
at ¶ 6; Doc. 98, p. 2 at ¶ 6).
was evaluated by a nurse practitioner on March 3, 2015, and
he continued to complain of pain in his right ring finger.
The nurse practitioner noted that Corley was alert and
oriented, that he did not display apparent distress, and that
he had swelling and limited range of motion to the third,
fourth, and fifth digits of his right hand. The nurse
practitioner ordered an x-ray of Corley’s right hand to
rule out a fracture. The x-ray revealed a displaced fracture
of the fourth proximal phalanx with associated soft tissue
the x-ray, the nurse practitioner admitted Corley to the
healthcare unit, prescribed Motrin for his pain, and
submitted an urgent request for collegial review, seeking to
refer Corley for an orthopedic evaluation. The parties
disagree as to the purpose of collegial review. Defendants
describe it as a conference between physicians to evaluate
treatment and recommendations, but Corley cites to Defendant
Ritz’s deposition to support his position that it is an
opportunity to discuss cases with clinical staff at the
facilities and to look at the medical necessity and general
management of care that may have to be provided off-site.
(Doc. 93, p. 4 at ¶ 9; Doc. 98., p. 2 at ¶ 9; Doc.
98-2). Dr. Ritz approved the nurse practitioner’s
request, and Corley was scheduled for an orthopedic
evaluation on March 4, 2015.
weather, Corley’s evaluation was rescheduled to March
6, 2015, at the request of the orthopedic specialist, but he
was seen by Defendant Fuentes that day before the appointment
was canceled. She noted that his splint was intact and that
he had good circulation to this injured finger. She examined
him again on March 5, and Corley reported ongoing pain.
Fuentes recommended that he continue his current plan of
care. At 8:30 a.m. that day, Corley saw a nurse and told her
that his hand hurt but that the Motrin helped. At 3:05 a.m.
on March 6, 2015, Corley reported that he was in pain to a
nurse and asked specifically for Motrin, stating, “I
would like some Motrin please.” (Doc. 93-1, p. 12).
Bret Miller at the Orthopaedic Institute of Southern Illinois
evaluated Corley’s injury on March 6, 2015. He
determined that Corley had a right ring finger proximal
phalanx fracture. Dr. Miller recommended a closed reduction
and percutaneous pinning of Corley’s ring finger.
returned to Menard after the appointment and was evaluated by
a nurse. The nurse spoke with Defendant Trost about Dr.
Miller’s report. As the report did not contain any pain
medication recommendations, Dr. Trost ordered that Corley
continue with Motrin for pain, as previously prescribed. Dr.
Ritz approved the surgery recommended by Dr. Miller on March
6, 2015. Corley was scheduled for surgery on March 9, 2015.
In accordance with Dr. Miller’s pre-surgical
instructions, Dr. Trost ordered that Corley’s Motrin be
held for 72 hours prior to surgery.
Miller performed the surgery on Corley’s finger on
March 9, 2015. Corley returned to Menard after surgery and
was evaluated by a nurse. The nurse reported on
Corley’s condition to Dr. Trost, who put in a telephone
order for a Motrin prescription with instructions to schedule
Corley for an evaluation with a doctor the following morning.
Dr. Trost testified at this deposition that, in cases like
Corley’s, he would start out prescribing a non-narcotic
pain medication, like Motrin, and see how a patient does. If
the non-narcotic didn’t work, then he would prescribe a
stronger pain medication, like a narcotic, to attempt to
deposition Dr. Fuentes testified that she would have
prescribed Tramadol instead of Motrin had she seen Corley
when he returned from his surgery because of the amount of
pain caused by the surgery. (Doc. 98-5, p. 12). Dr. Fuentes
evaluated Corley on the morning of March 10, 2015, and he
complained of continued right-hand pain. She examined his
hand and prescribed Tramadol, an opiate, for two days. Dr.
Fuentes chose to limit the prescription to 48 hours because
the pain and swelling lessens after the first postoperative
day. When the healthcare unit sees an inmate daily after
surgery, the prescription can be extended, if needed, she
explained. (Doc. 98-5, p. 12).
Fuentes saw Corley again on March 11, 2015, and recommended
that he continue with the current course of treatment. Dr.
Trost also submitted a request for collegial review that day,
and Corley was approved for a post-operative follow-up with
Dr. Miller, which was scheduled for March 19, 2015. Dr.
Fuentes examined Corley again on March 12, 2015. She ordered
that his status be changed to “chronic” so that
he would not be charged further for pain medication. She
renewed Corley’s Motrin prescription on March 13, 2015,
and evaluated him again on March 18, 2015. Corley reported no
complaints during that visit, and Dr. Fuentes recommended