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Rogerss v. Martin

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

September 25, 2019



          NANCY J. ROSENSTENGEL, Chief U.S. District Judge.

         Plaintiff Marcus Rogers, an inmate in the custody of the Illinois Department of Corrections, alleges that Defendants Phil Martin and Vipin Shah were deliberately indifferent to his neck and shoulder pain while he was incarcerated at Robinson Correctional Center in 2016. Before the Court are Defendants’ motions for summary judgment on the merits of this claim. (Docs. 51, 59). For the reasons delineated below, the Court grants Defendant Phil Martin’s motion and denies the motion for summary judgment filed by Defendant Vipin Shah.

         Factual Background

          Plaintiff Marcus Rogers, an inmate in the Illinois Department of Corrections since 2015, arrived at Robinson Correctional Center on January 22, 2016. He began complaining of pain in his neck and right shoulder in February 2016. On February 8, 2016, Rogers was seen by a nurse in the healthcare unit. His medical records reflect that he described his pain as sharp and continuous. The nurse gave him 200 mg of Ibuprofen to take three times per day for his pain, and she noted that he should return to the healthcare unit if his symptoms worsened or interfered with daily functioning. (Doc. 60-1, p. 2).

         Rogers saw a nurse again on March 1, 2016. He reported sharp, continuous neck and shoulder pain reaching down to his right hand, and, according to his medical records, told the nurse that the Ibuprofen helped “some.” (Doc. 60-1, p. 3). The nurse referred him to a doctor. Defendant Vipin Shah, a doctor, saw Rogers on March 3, 2016. Dr. Shah examined Rogers and noted a normal range of motion for his right arm and a questionable contusion or bruised muscle on his right neck and shoulder. He recommended that Rogers take long, hot showers, as needed, and he prescribed 600 mg of Ibuprofen to be taken three times per day for thirty days. (Doc. 60-1, p. 4).

         Rogers returned to the healthcare unit on March 16, 2016, and was seen by a nurse. He reported that he had neck pain that went across his shoulders and down to his thumb and that he was experiencing numbness. The nurse referred him to a physician, and Rogers saw Dr. Shah on March 18, 2016. Rogers told Dr. Shah that he woke up like he was shot with pain from his neck to his thumb. He explained that he had been lifting weights in excess of 200 pounds the day before his pain started and that the pain medication was not helping, though he continued to take it. Rogers also told Dr. Shah that he could not lie down on his right side. Dr. Shah noted that Rogers’s thumb was swollen due to possible alcoholism or gout, and he ordered an x-ray. Dr. Shah also ordered blood work to determine whether Rogers had arthritis. (Doc. 60-1, p. 5-6).

         Rogers had an x-ray of his right shoulder and cervical spine on March 21, 2016. The x-ray of his shoulder showed no acute bony injury and mild degenerative changes at the right acromioclavicular joint. The x-ray of his cervical spine showed mild spondylitic changes (i.e., mild degenerative changes or arthritis).

         Dr. Shah saw Rogers for a follow-up appointment on April 1, 2016. Rogers reported that his pain medications were not helping. Dr. Shah noted that Rogers’s neck movement was okay and that his right arm was questionably numb. He also noted that his x-ray showed degenerative changes and that his bloodwork showed high blood urea nitrogen (“BUN”), a measurement of kidney and liver function, and low high-density lipoprotein (“HDL”) cholesterol, the “good” cholesterol. Dr. Shah noted the risk for heart disease or stroke and instructed Rogers to lose weight, to exercise, and to return to the healthcare unit, as needed. He also prescribed Rogers Naproxen for his pain instead of Ibuprofen, and he granted him a low-bunk permit. (Doc. 60-1, p. 7-8).

         On April 11, 2016, Rogers reported to a nurse at sick call that the Naproxen he had been taking was not working, and he was referred to a physician. On April 18, 2016, Dr. Shah examined Rogers again and noted that Rogers had gained five pounds. Rogers told Shah that the pain medications were not strong enough, but Dr. Shah did not adjust his pain medication. Dr. Shah noted that Rogers was extremely obese with degenerative arthritis in his cervical spine. After reviewing his bloodwork, Dr. Shah ordered an EKG to determine the health of Rogers’s heart. The EKG, performed on May 4, 2016, was normal. (Doc. 60-1, p. 9-11). After the EKG, Rogers did not seek further medical treatment at Robinson before he transferred to East Moline Correctional Center in October 2016.

         At all times relevant to Rogers’s complaint, Defendant Phil Martin was the Health Care Unit Administrator (“HCUA”) at Robinson. His background is in nursing, and, according to Martin, only physicians and physician’s assistants have the authority to prescribe medication or a course of treatment for a patient. As a nurse and the HCUA, Martin lacks the authority to diagnose conditions, to recommend or order treatments or tests, or to make medical referrals on behalf of inmates. He also was not responsible for scheduling appointments for inmates. That was handled by Wexford medical records staff. According to Martin, he never provided Rogers with medical treatment or tests, nor did he prescribe him any medications. (Doc. 52-1). Martin did respond, however, to two grievances filed by Rogers about his pain issues on behalf of the healthcare unit.

         Legal Standards

         I. Summary Judgment Standard

          Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56 governs motions for summary judgment. Summary judgment is appropriate if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and that the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Archdiocese of Milwaukee v. Doe, 743 F.3d 1101, 1105 (7th Cir. 2014), citing Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(a). Accord Anderson v. Donahoe, 699 F.3d 989, 994 (7th Cir. 2012). A genuine issue of material fact remains “if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party.” Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). Accord Bunn v. Khoury Enterpr., Inc., 753 F.3d 676, 681-82 (7th Cir. 2014).

         In assessing a summary judgment motion, the district court views the facts in the light most favorable to, and draws all reasonable inferences in favor of, the nonmoving party. Anderson v. Donahoe, 699 F.3d 989, 994 (7th Cir. 2012); Delapaz v. Richardson, 634 F.3d 895, 899 (7th Cir. 2011). As the Seventh Circuit has explained, as required by Rule 56(a), “we set forth the facts by examining the evidence in the light reasonably most favorable to the non-moving party, giving [him] the benefit of reasonable, ...

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