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Boykin v. Fischer

United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Western Division

November 18, 2019

Marshaun Boykin (#R-54017), Plaintiff,
Drs. Mark f and Ramon Marquez, Defendants.


          Honorable Thomas M. Durkin United States District Judge

         I. Introduction

         Plaintiff Marshaun Boykin, an inmate in the custody of the Illinois Department of Corrections (“IDOC”), has brought this currently pro se prisoner civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff claims that Defendants, two psychiatrists at the Dixon Correctional Center, have violated his constitutional rights by acting with deliberate indifference to his mental health needs. [All other Defendants have been dismissed on threshold screening, by amendment, pursuant to voluntary dismissal, or through settlement.] Plaintiff principally challenges his placement in Dixon's Psychiatric Unit.

         Currently before the Court is Defendants' motion for summary judgment. Although advised of his opportunity to respond to the motion, see R. 166, briefing schedule entered August 14, 2019; R. 168, Order of September 13, 2019, Plaintiff has declined to file an opposing brief. For the reasons discussed in this order, Defendants' uncontested motion for summary judgment is granted.

         II. Plaintiff's Pro Se Status

         The Court is compelled to note at the outset that it normally would have recruited counsel in a prisoner civil rights action involving mental health treatment. To be sure, pro bono counsel represented Plaintiff for the first two years this case was pending, marshalling the evidence and expending close to half a million dollars in doing so. R. 105, Motion to Withdraw, at p. 1.

         However, as occurred in many of Plaintiff's lawsuits in this district, the Court ultimately allowed counsel to withdraw from this case after Plaintiff clashed with his pro bono attorneys and their support staff. See R. 112, Minute Entry of July 17, 2018 (Johnston, J.). The magistrate judge previously assigned to this case declined to recruit new counsel. Id. The district judge who presided over this case prior to his retirement likewise refused to enlist another attorney. R. 114, Order of August 6, 2018 (Kapala, J.). Given Plaintiff's “inexcusable and unfounded conflict” with counsel, his defamatory aspersions against them, his warnings that he intended to report them to the State Bar's disciplinary commission-and even threats of bodily harm-the Court concluded that Plaintiff seemed “incapable of working with an attorney.” Id. at p. 2. The Court additionally observed, based in part on Plaintiff's ability to bring [at that time] 37 lawsuits in this district alone since 2012, that he appeared to have the wherewithal to litigate this matter without the assistance of an attorney.

         The undersigned judge, too, decided against recruiting new counsel. See R. 162, Order of June 25. 2019 (Durkin, J.). The Court noted that in all four of Plaintiff's then-pending cases, he had either fired pro bono counsel or they were relieved from assignment due to discord with Plaintiff. Id. at p. 2. And the Court cited additional, earlier cases where “Plaintiff's counsel admirably fulfilled their professional duties and Plaintiff incorrectly and unreasonably believed otherwise, ” or where he otherwise engaged in “unreasonable conduct toward recruited counsel. Id. The age of this case also militated against generating any more delays. Id. at p. 3.

         Moreover, the Court was, and remains, satisfied that Plaintiff was capable of navigating this matter on his own, notwithstanding his mental illness. Id., at p. 3 (citing Romanelli v. Suliene, 615 F.3d at 847, 849 (7th Cir. 2010) (quoting with approval the district court's assessment that the “whole point” of psychotropic drugs is to allow the person taking the medication to think and act rationally)); see also Boykin v. KSB Hospital, Case No. 18 CV 50371, R. 4, Order of December 10, 2018, at P. 3 (Kapala, J.) (commenting that Plaintiff alluded to his mental health issues only when it seemed to suit him). Plaintiff has shown himself to be a highly intelligent individual and a savvy litigator. He managed to file numerous lawsuits over the course of several years without “striking out” under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(g) until 2017, and he achieved settlements in at least ten of his cases. Plaintiff also expressly demanded to proceed in this case pro se at one point.

         III. Legal Standards on a Motion for Summary Judgment

         “The court shall grant summary judgment if the movant shows that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a); Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986); Hanover Ins. Co. v. Northern Bldg. Co., 751 F.3d 788, 791 (7th Cir. 2014). In determining whether factual issues exist, the Court must view all the evidence and draw all reasonable inferences in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. Weber v. Univ. Research Assoc., Inc., 621 F.3d 589, 592 (7th Cir. 2010). The Court does not “judge the credibility of the witnesses, evaluate the weight of the evidence, or determine the truth of the matter. The only question is whether there is a genuine issue of fact.” Gonzalez v. City of Elgin, 578 F.3d 526, 529 (7th Cir. 2009) (citing Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, 477 U.S. 242, 249-50 (1986)).

         To survive summary judgment, the nonmoving party must make a sufficient showing of evidence for each essential element of his case on which he bears the burden at trial. Blow v. Bijora, Inc., 855 F.3d 793, 797-98 (7th Cir. 2017) (citing Celotex, 477 U.S. at 322-23). “Where the record taken as a whole could not lead a rational trier of fact to find for the non-moving party, there is no genuine issue for trial.” Blythe Holdings, Inc. v. DeAngelis, 750 F.3d 653, 656 (7th Cir. 2014) (citations omitted). “A genuine issue of material fact arises only if sufficient evidence favoring the nonmoving party exists to permit a jury to return a verdict for that party.” Johnson v. Manitowoc Cty., 635 F.3d 331, 334 (7th Cir. 2011) (quoting Faas v. Sears, Roebuck & Co., 532 F.3d 633, 640-41 (7th Cir. 2008)).

         IV. Northern District of Illinois Local Rule 56.1

         Local Rule 56.1 (N.D. Ill.) governs the procedures for filing and responding to motions for summary judgment in this judicial district. “Under the Local Rules of the Northern District of Illinois, a party filing a motion for summary judgment under Fed.R.Civ.P. 56 must serve and file ‘a statement of material facts as to which the moving party contends there is no genuine issue and that entitle the moving party to a judgment as a matter of law.'” Judson Atkinson Candies, Inc. v. Latini-Hohberger Dhimantec, 529 F.3d 371, 382 (7th Cir. 2008) (citation omitted). The opposing party must then file “‘a response to each numbered paragraph in the moving party's statement, including, in the case of any disagreement, specific references to the affidavits, parts of the record, and other supporting materials relied upon.'” Cracco v. Vitran Exp., Inc., 559 F.3d 625, 632 (7th Cir. 2009) (citing N.D.Ill. R. 56.1(b)(3)(B)); Fabiyi v. McDonald's Corp., No. 11 CV 8085, 2014 WL 985415, at *1 (N.D. Ill. Mar. 13, 2014) (aff'd 595 Fed.Appx. 621 (7th Cir. 2014)). The opposing party may also present a separate statement of additional facts that require the denial of summary judgment. See Ciomber v. Coop. Plus, Inc., 527 F.3d 635, 643-44 (7th Cir. 2008).

         If a party fails to respond to a L.R. 56.1 statement of uncontested facts, then those facts are deemed admitted to the extent they are supported by the evidence in the record. Keeton v. Morningstar, Inc., 667 F.3d 877, 880 (7th Cir. 2012); Parra v. Neal, 614 F.3d 635, 636 (7th Cir. 2010); L.R. 56.1(b)(3)(C) (N.D. Ill.) (“All material facts set forth in the statement required of the moving party will be deemed to be admitted unless controverted by the statement of the opposing party.”). A plaintiff's pro se status does not excuse him from complying with these rules. Morrow v. Donahoe, 564 Fed.Appx. 859, 860 (7th Cir. 2014) (unpublished opinion) (citing Pearle Vision, Inc. v. Romm, 541 F.3d 751, 758 (7th Cir. 2008) (inter alia)).

         However, a non-movant's failure to respond to a summary judgment motion, or failure to comply with L.R. 56.1, does not automatically result in judgment for the movant. Keeton, 667 F.3d at 884; Love v. Rockford Illinois Mun. Police Dep't, No. 08 CV 50254, 2013 WL 159246, at *1 (N.D. Ill. Jan. 15, 2013). The movant must still demonstrate that it is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Keeton, 667 F.3d at 884; Love, 2013 WL 159246, at *1. And the Court still views all the facts asserted by the moving party in the light most favorable to the non-moving party, drawing all reasonable inferences in the non-movant's favor. Keeton, 667 F.3d at 884; Love, 2013 WL 159246, at *1.

         Consistent with the Local Rules, Defendants filed a Statement of Material Facts along with their motion for summary judgment. (R. 173, Defendants' Local Rule 56.1(a) Statement.) Each substantive assertion of fact in Defendants' Local Rule 56.1(a)(3) Statement is supported by evidentiary material in the record. Also in accordance with the Local Rules, Defendants filed and served on Plaintiff a Local Rule 56.2 Notice, which explained in detail the requirements of Local Rule 56.1. (R. 176, “Notice to Pro Se Litigant Opposing Motion for Summary Judgment.”) The notice warned Plaintiff that a party's failure to controvert the facts as set forth in the moving party's statement results in those facts being deemed admitted. See also Apex Digital, Inc. v. Sears, Roebuck & Co., 735 F.3d 962, 965 (7th Cir. 2013); Smith v. Lamz, 321 F.3d 680, 683 (7th Cir. 2003).

         V. Uncontested Facts

         In view of Plaintiff's failure to respond to Defendants' motion for summary judgment, the Court finds that the following facts, all supported by the record, are undisputed for purposes of the summary judgment motion:

         Plaintiff Marshaun Boykin (incarcerated under the surname “Boykins”) is an Illinois state prisoner. (R. 173, Defendants' Local Rule 56.1(a) Statement of Material Facts, ¶ 1.)

         Defendants Mark Fischer and Ramon Marquez are psychiatrists employed at the Dixon Correctional Center. (Id., ¶¶ 2, 3.) In their position as staff psychiatrists, Defendants provide mental health treatment for inmates. (Id.)

         Plaintiff has been diagnosed as seriously mentally ill. (Id.) He suffers from various psychiatric conditions, including mood disorder, bipolar disorder, depression, impulse control disorder, and antisocial personality disorder. (Id.)

         Prior to the initiation of this lawsuit, Plaintiff's mental health care providers at the Pontiac Correctional Center determined that a residential treatment center would be a better home for him than a regular prison. (Id., ¶ 4.) Residential treatment units-essentially a secure hospital setting-are specifically equipped to handle seriously mentally ill prisoners by providing programs and access to staff not available at regular prisons. (Id.) Defendant Fischer agreed with the assessment of Pontiac psychiatrists that it was “medically appropriate” for Plaintiff to be housed in a residential treatment unit setting due to his various mental health issues. (Id.)

         Before inmates are admitted to a residential treatment unit, they are afforded an opportunity for a placement hearing if they wish. (Id., ¶ 5.) In addition, an inmate may, at any time, request a review of his or her placement by submitting a request in writing to the prison administration, submitting a grievance, or asking a mental health care provider for a review. (Id.) And with or without a request, all inmates housed in a residential treatment unit undergo placement review at least every six months. (Id.)

         The Dixon Correctional Center has two residential treatment units, the Special Treatment Center and the Dixon Psychiatric Unit. (Id., ¶ 6.) The Special Treatment Center houses inmates with minimum and medium security classifications. (Id.) The Dixon Psychiatric Unit houses maximum security inmates. (Id.)

         Inmates housed in the Special Treatment Center share a cell with a fellow prisoner. (Id.). Inmates in the Dixon Psychiatric Unit occupy single-person cells. (Id.) Otherwise, inmates in the Special Treatment Center and the Dixon Psychiatric Unit are both provided the same level of access to mental health providers, therapeutic programs, and medical treatment. (Id., ¶ 8.) Both the Special Treatment Center and the Dixon Psychiatric Unit offer the same basic mental health treatment programs, including at least 10 hours per week of “structured” out-of-cell-time. (Id.) Structured out-of-cell time can include one-on-one or group therapy with a counselor. (Id.) Residents in both the Special Treatment Center and the Dixon Psychiatric Unit are also afforded at least 10 hours per week of unstructured out-of-cell time. (Id.) Unstructured activities include access to the prison yard, gym, and law library, as well as access to psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers, and other mental health professionals. (Id.)

         Security classifications are based at least in part on the length of an inmate's sentence. (Id., ¶ 7.) Under prison guidelines, inmates with more than 25 years until their mandatory supervised release date are automatically designated as maximum security inmates. (Id.) Ultimately, the prison administration, and not the mental health care staff, determines an inmate's housing placement. (Id.)

         When Plaintiff first arrived at Dixon, he was housed in the Special Treatment Center and remained there for several years. (Id., ¶ 9.) At that time, he was serving a 14-year sentence for residential burglary. (Id., ¶ 1.) However, in early 2015, Plaintiff was sentenced to two additional, consecutive 35-year terms for predatory criminal sexual assault of a child. (Id., ¶¶ 1, 9.) Plaintiff's projected mandatory release date was accordingly pushed back to November 2077. (Id., ¶ 9.) Due to his 70-year sentence, Plaintiff was reclassified as a maximum security inmate pursuant to IDOC policy. (Id.) Consequently, he was transferred from the Special Treatment Center (minimum/medium security) to the Dixon Psychiatric Unit, a maximum security facility. (Id.)

         Defendant Fischer was not involved in the decision to categorize Plaintiff as a maximum security prisoner. (Id.) However, based on Dr. Fischer's familiarity with Plaintiff-and after reviewing his mental health records and discussing the matter with other staff members-Fischer did agree, when asked, that it was “medically appropriate” for Plaintiff to be placed in a residential treatment unit. (Id., ¶ 10.)

         Plaintiff moved to the Dixon Psychiatric Unit on or about April 13, 2015. (Id.) Dr. Fischer met with Plaintiff on the day of his arrival. (Id., ¶ 11.) Plaintiff, demonstrating a keen knowledge of pharmaceuticals, requested that he receive Prozac (generic name fluoxetine, an antidepressant), Depakote (or divalproex sodium, a mood stabilizer aimed at controlling manic episodes caused by bipolar disorder, Haldol (haloperidol, an antipsychotic medication), Cogentin (benztropine, a drug used to combat spasms and involuntary movements), Trazodone (a sedative and antidepressant), and Lorazepam (brand name Ativan, a calming and anti-anxiety agent). (Id.) Plaintiff confided to Fischer that he was fixated on his 70-year sentence and was having thoughts about hanging himself. (Id.)

         Because Plaintiff expressed statements of self-harm, Dr. Fischer placed him on a 10-minute suicide watch. (Id.) Dr. Fischer also prescribed all of the psychotropic medications Plaintiff had requested. (Id.) Dr. Fischer hoped that the medications would help steady Plaintiff's mental health conditions. (Id.)

         Fischer saw Plaintiff again the next day. (Id., ¶ 13.) Plaintiff was by that time preoccupied with obtaining a transfer back to the Special Treatment Center. (Id.) Plaintiff reported that he was feeling better, and that he was no longer experiencing any suicidal ideations. (Id.) Dr. Fischer adjusted Plaintiff's status to a 30-minute suicide watch and continued his various mental health medications. (Id.)

         Fischer had a follow-up appointment with Plaintiff a week later. (Id., ¶ 14.) At that time, Plaintiff stated that he did not believe his medications were helping. (Id.) He requested an increased dosage of Haldol. (Id.) He disclosed that he had not taken his medications for several days in order to create a reason for Dr. Fischer to see him. (Id.) Nevertheless, Plaintiff said that he was doing better and did not have any suicidal thoughts. (Id.) Dr. Fischer increased Plaintiff's Haldol per his request and continued the other mental health medications. (Id.)

         The next day (April 23, 2015), Plaintiff told Dr. Fischer that he continued to feel better, but that he was hearing voices. (Id., ¶ 15.) Despite feeling sleepy and tired, Plaintiff said that his mood was good and that he did not have any suicidal ideations. (Id.) Dr. Fischer continued Plaintiff's medications, deeming them appropriate for the inmate's mental health needs. (Id.)

         At an appointment the following day, Plaintiff reported that he had been moved to the Dixon Psychiatric Unit's A-Wing. (Id., ¶ 16.) [The Court gathers from Defendants' Statement of Facts in its entirety that the A-Wing unit offers the most freedom and privileges, that B-Wing may or may not be a step down, and that C-Wing is a disciplinary and observation unit.] Plaintiff said that he was not feeling suicidal, that he had been to the yard, and that he intended to go the gym as soon as he was able to do so. (Id.)

         When Plaintiff met with Dr. Fischer on April 30, 2019, he requested permission to stop taking Haldol. (Id., ¶ 17.) Plaintiff said that he did not think the Haldol was effective. (Id.) Accordingly, Dr. Fischer decreased Plaintiff's dosages of Haldol and Cogentin, but increased his dosage of Lorazepam. (Id.)

         On May 8, 2015, Plaintiff told Dr. Fischer that he wanted to be in group therapy and reiterated that he wanted to return to the Special Treatment Center. (Id., ¶ 23.) Plaintiff was frustrated and angry at that time, but he did not convey any suicidal ideations. (Id.) After examining Plaintiff and discussing his course of treatment, Dr. Fischer discontinued his Haldol and Cogentin, increased his Lorazepam, and prescribed Bupropion (brand name Wellbutrin, an antidepressant often prescribed to those with obsessive-compulsive disorder) and Gabapentin (Neurontin, a drug used to control neuropathic pain), with orders to stop Depakote once the Gabapentin started. (Id.) Dr. Fischer also continued Plaintiff's Prozac and Trazodone. (Id.) Wellbutrin, Gabapentin, Prozac, and Trazodone are all used to treat depression. (Id.) Lorazepam is used to calm patients who suffer from impulsivity and anxiety. (Id., ¶ 24.)

         On May 11, 2015, Dr. Fischer discontinued Plaintiff's Depakote and adjusted his Gabapentin dosage. (Id., ¶ 25.) In addition, Dr. Fischer ordered that Plaintiff receive his Wellbutrin in crushed form. (Id.) Dr. Fischer did so because Plaintiff had a history of “cheeking” and hoarding his medications-that is, pretending to take his medications but instead keeping them for later use. (Id.) Hoarding medications presents a danger to inmates of overdosing. (Id.) Wellbutrin in particular is known to be abused to obtain a recreational high, which Dr. Fischer says can harm a patient. (Id.)

         On May 12, 2015, Dr. Fischer explained to Plaintiff that his Gabapentin and Wellbutrin were approved through a non-formulary process (presumably meaning that neither was on the list of drugs generally made available to IDOC inmates). (Id., ¶ 26.) Plaintiff reported that he did not want his medications to be crushed because he did not like how they tasted. (Id.) Other than complaining about the taste of his crushed medicines, Plaintiff was calm and did not have any “particular issues.” (Id.) Dr. Fischer continued Plaintiff's multiple prescriptions.

         On May 28, 2015, Plaintiff asked for an increase in his Gabapentin. (Id., ¶ 27.) Plaintiff reported that he spent a large portion of the day sleeping, but said that he was otherwise doing well. (Id.) Plaintiff did not express any suicidal ideations. (Id.) However, when Dr. Fischer reviewed Plaintiff's medication records, he discovered that Plaintiff had been non-compliant with his drug therapy and missed some recent doses. (Id.) Dr. ...

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