United States District Court, S.D. Illinois
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
J. ROSENSTENGEL, Chief U.S. District Judge.
Morris is an inmate in the Illinois Department of Corrections
(“IDOC”) who brings this action under 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983 for excessive force and deliberate indifference
(Doc. 107). Morris alleges he fractured his hand during a
physical altercation in March 2016 while he was incarcerated
at Pinckneyville Correctional Center
(“Pinckneyville”) (Id. at p. 3).
According to Morris, Defendants Jacqueline Lashbrook, C/O
Ebers, and Dr. Michael Scott- the Warden of Menard, a
correctional officer at Menard, and a physician at Menard,
respectively-were aware of his injury but failed to timely
provide him medical assistance (Id. at pp. 8-11).
Morris alleges that Defendants Michael Clark, Charles Pearce,
Dalton Porter, Bobby Johnson, Mark Moore, Brian Fagerland,
Gary Pruitt, C/O Ebers, and Chad Wall, who were all
correctional officers at Pinckneyville at the relevant times,
repeatedly forced Morris to wear handcuffs despite knowing
his hand was broken and he was in severe pain (Id.
at p. 11).
31, 2018, Defendant Scott filed a motion for summary judgment
(Doc. 116), and on August 14, 2018, Defendants Clark,
Fagerland, Johnson, Lashbrook, Moore, Pearce, Porter, Pruitt,
and Wall (“the IDOC Defendants”) filed a motion
for summary judgment (Doc. 119). Defendants argue
Morris’s claims fail on the merits because no
reasonable jury could find they were deliberately indifferent
to his hand injury or used excessive force against him. The
motions were referred to United States Magistrate Judge
Gilbert C. Sison, who issued a Report and Recommendation on
September 6, 2019 (Doc. 137). He recommends granting Dr.
Scott’s motion for summary judgment and granting the
IDOC Defendants’ motion for summary judgment as to
Lashbrook only (Id.). Objections to the Report and
Recommendation were due on or before September 20, 2019
following facts are not disputed. Morris was involved in a
physical altercation with another inmate at Pinckneyville on
March 18, 2016, around 12:00 p.m. (Doc. 117, Ex. 2, pp.
29-31). Defendant Ebers arrived a few minutes later and saw
that Morris’s hand was swollen and that he was in pain,
but Ebers did nothing to help him (Id. at p. 28).
Around 3:00 p.m., Defendant Clark, who was aware of
Morris’s hand injury, handcuffed Morris and escorted
him to the office for questioning (Id. at pp. 28,
30-31). Afterwards, Clark handcuffed Morris for a second a
time and escorted him to the healthcare unit for medical care
(Id. at pp. 24-25).
saw Dr. Scott at the healthcare unit that same day and was
diagnosed with a boxer’s break (Id. at pp. 11,
13). Dr. Scott told Morris he would need a cast from an
outside orthopedist after his hand was x-rayed, but the x-ray
technician would not be available for a few days
(Id.). Morris stayed in the infirmary over the
weekend and was given twenty-four ibuprofen pain pills for
the pain (Id. at pp. 11-13). On March 21, 2016,
Defendant Wall escorted Morris to the x-ray technician and
handcuffed him despite knowing that Morris had an injury
(Id. at pp. 12-13, 24-25). Morris received an x-ray
on March 21, 2016; Dr. Scott reviewed the image and diagnosed
Morris with a fractured third metacarpal (Doc. 117, Ex. 1, p.
7). Dr. Scott placed Morris’s hand in an ortho-glass
splint and told him he would be sent to an orthopedist
(Id.). Dr. Scott testified that, in his medical
opinion, Morris’s fracture was not urgent because of
the minimal angulation, the closed nature of the fracture,
and the absence of neurological symptoms (Id.). At
the conclusion of the appointment, Wall handcuffed Morris
behind his back and transported him from the healthcare unit
to the segregation unit (Id. at p. 25). Defendant
Pearce strip-searched Morris and handcuffed Morris’s
hands behind his back to transport him to the shower, even
though Morris told Pearce about his injury (Id.).
Morris testified he was not receiving pain medication from
March 21 through March 28, 2016 (Id. at p. 14). On
March 28, he submitted a sick call request and received
medication and a referral to see Dr. Scott (Id. at
pp. 14-15; Doc. 117, Ex. 1, p. 20).
treated with Gretchen Mason, a physician’s assistant at
the Orthopedic Institute of Southern Illinois, on April 5,
2016 (Doc. 117, Ex. 3, p. 6). She determined Morris had a
clean fracture that was starting to heal and did not require
surgery (Id. at p. 7). She taught Morris hand
exercises to strengthen his hand (Id. at pp. 7-8).
Mason does not believe that the two-week interval between
Morris’s injury and her appointment with him had any
impact on the outcome of his injury (Id. at p. 8).
Scott saw Morris on April 8, 2016 for a follow-up appointment
and prescribed Motrin for pain (Doc. 117, Ex. 1, p.25). On
May 3, 2016, Morris requested more pain medication and Dr.
Scott prescribed Tylenol (Id. at p. 33). Morris
attended a follow-up appointment with Mason on May 4, 2016;
Mason determined Morris’s hand was healed and she
released him (Doc. 117, Ex. 3, p. 9). On May 27, 2016, Dr.
Scott saw Morris for an appointment and Dr. Scott noted that
Morris completed six weeks in a splint and showed healing
without malalignment (Id. at p. 39). Morris
complained of pain and Scott prescribed him Motrin and
Tylenol, along with physical therapy (Id.).
Report and Recommendation
Sison concluded that Defendant Lashbrook is entitled to
summary judgment because her only role in the alleged
deliberate indifference was her receipt of a grievance from
Morris that she deemed a non-emergency. Morris concedes that
his claim against Lashbrook should not survive summary
regard to Dr. Scott, Judge Sison explained that Morris
alleges Dr. Scott was deliberately indifferent for two
reasons: (1) Dr. Scott waited two weeks after the x-ray of
Morris’s hand to request an outside orthopedic
appointment for Morris and (2) Morris did not receive pain
medication for a period of time and Dr. Scott was responsible
for the distribution of Morris’s medicine.
Sison noted that to succeed on a claim that a prison official
delayed, rather than denied medical assistance, Morris must
provide verifying medical evidence that the delay, and not
his underlying condition, caused some degree of harm.
Williams v. Liefer, 491 F.3d 710, 715-16 (7th Cir.
2007). Morris “must offer medical evidence that tends
to confirm or corroborate a claim that the delay was
detrimental.” Id. Judge Sison concluded that
there is no such evidence in this case. To the contrary,
Gretchen Mason testified that the two-week period between
Morris’s injury and her appointment with Morris had no
impact on his condition. Additionally, Judge Sison concluded
that there is no evidence Dr. Scott knew Morris was not
receiving his pain medication as prescribed or that he
ignored Morris’s complaints of pain. Accordingly, Judge
Sison recommends granting Dr. Scott’s motion for
Defendants Clark, Fagerland, Johnson, Moore, Pearce, Porter,
Pruitt, and Wall, Judge Sison recommends denying their motion
for summary judgment. Morris alleges these Defendants used
excessive force against him when they put him in handcuffs.
Judge Sison noted that to succeed on these claims, Morris
must show unnecessary and wanton infliction of pain. See
Rice ex. Rel. Rice v. Correctional Medical Servs., 675
F.3d 650, 667 (7th Cir. 2012). The ultimate inquiry is
“whether force was applied in a good-faith effort to
maintain or restore discipline, or maliciously and
sadistically to cause harm.” Hudson v.
McMillian, 503 U.S. 1, 7 (1992). In this case,
Defendants argue they are entitled to summary judgment
because they did not apply the handcuffs to Morris in an
abnormal manner. Instead, they handcuffed Morris according to
the procedure for cuffing inmates after an altercation with
another inmate. But Judge Sison recognized that officials are
obligated to consider all relevant circumstances when
determining whether handcuffing an inmate is appropriate.
See Rabin v. Flynn, 725 F.3d 628, 636 (7th Cir.
2013). And in this circumstance, Defendants were required to
consider Morris’s injury before handcuffing him. The
evidence indicates Morris told Defendants about his injuries
and told them he was experiencing pain. Thus, a reasonable
juror could conclude Defendants lacked a good-faith basis in
their decision to handcuff Morris. Accordingly, Judge Sison
concluded Defendants are not entitled to summary judgment
just because they followed procedures for handcuffing an
Fagerland, Johnson, Moore, Pearce, Porter, Pruitt, and Wall
also argue they are entitled to qualified immunity, which
shields “government officials from liability for civil
damages insofar as their conduct does not violate clearly
established statutory or constitutional rights of which a
reasonable person would have known.” Pearson v.
Callahan, 555 U.S. 223, 231 (2009). The qualified
immunity inquiry has two prongs: (1) whether the facts shown,
taken in the light most favorable to the party asserting the
injury, demonstrate the official’s conduct violated a
constitutional right and (2) whether that right was clearly
established at the time. See Id . at 232. Judge
Sison explained that courts recognize constitutional
violations when officials cause unnecessary pain when