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Parisi v. Wexford Health Sources, Inc.

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

January 16, 2020

PAUL MATTHEW PARISI, Plaintiff,
v.
WEXFORD HEALTH SOURCES, INC., DR. ALMA MARTIJA, DR. ANN HUNDLEY-DAVIS, CLAUDE OWIKOTI, TARRY WILLIAMS, MICHAEL LEMKE, GHALIAH OBAISI, independent executor of the estate of DR. SALEH OBAISI, ANNA MCBEE, SALVADOR GODINEZ, DONALD STOLWORTHY, and JOHN BALDWIN, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          MATTHEW F. KENNELLY UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Paul Matthew Parisi, a former inmate at Stateville Correctional Center, has sued members of the prison's medical staff, employees of the Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC), and the corporation providing healthcare services to the prison under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging they violated his Eighth Amendment rights. The defendants have moved for summary judgment. For the reasons stated below, the Court grants the defendants' motions.[1]

         Background

         The following facts are undisputed except where otherwise noted. Parisi was an inmate at Stateville between August 2012 and June 2015. During that time, he experienced health issues relating to hypertension, or high blood pressure; hyperlipidemia, or high cholesterol; and diabetes. It is undisputed that Parisi did not receive two prescribed medications between mid-February through April 18, 2013. He also contends that he did not receive medications between around April 22, 2013 and March 10, 2014 and from around December 2014 through at least February 3, 2015.

         Wexford Health Sources Inc. is a private corporation that provides healthcare services to inmates at IDOC prisons pursuant to a contract with the State of Illinois. Wexford employs the doctors, nurses, and physician's assistants who work in the healthcare unit at Stateville. A vendor, Boswell Pharmacy, provides pharmacy services to inmates at Stateville. The IDOC employs the prison's wardens, correctional counselors, and grievance officers.

         Starting as early as August 21, 2012, Parisi saw medical clinicians at Stateville's health center to discuss and monitor his high blood pressure and cholesterol. On that date, a clinician prescribed Parisi with a six-month supply of a prescription medication, Lopid, and a vitamin supplement, niacin, to treat his cholesterol.

         On November 29, 2012, Parisi had an appointment with Dr. Aguinaldo, an employee of Wexford who is not an individual defendant in this case.[2] Dr. Aguinaldo ordered Lopid and niacin for Parisi, but, on the order form, he did not indicate the duration for which he was prescribing the medications. Without the duration, the prescription order was invalid, and Boswell Pharmacy did not fill it. It is unclear whether any employees of Wexford or the IDOC knew the order was invalid; there is no evidence showing that any of the individual defendants did.

         In February 2013, Parisi stopped receiving his Lopid medications and niacin supplements because the initial prescription from August 2012 had expired. Although the November 2012 prescription from Dr. Aguinaldo should have been in effect, Parisi never got medications from that prescription order because of its invalidity. On April 9, 2013, Parisi filed an emergency grievance stating that he had not received his medications since February.

         While the grievance was pending, on April 18, 2013, Parisi had an appointment with Dr. Ann Davis, a defendant in this case and an employee of Wexford.[3] It is undisputed that Parisi had not been receiving his medications since mid-February. Dr. Davis did not know why Parisi had stopped receiving his medications, but she restarted his orders for Lopid and niacin and issued additional orders for baby aspirin and fish oil. She found that Parisi's blood pressure was mildly elevated and that his triglyceride level was 448. Triglycerides and cholesterol are lipids, or fatty substances, found in a person's blood. High triglyceride and high cholesterol levels may increase a person's risk of a heart attack, stroke, or other serious medical conditions. The parties dispute whether a triglyceride level of 448 is so high as to require treatment.

         That day, Parisi filed another emergency grievance asking to receive his medication as prescribed. The prison's then-warden, Michael Lemke, did not personally review Parisi's April 9, 2013 or April 18, 2013 grievances. Parisi resubmitted the grievances to Anna McBee, a correctional counselor and grievance officer at Stateville, who forwarded them to the health care unit for review. McBee issued reports recommending that the IDOC take no action on the grievances because Parisi appeared to be receiving appropriate medical care, and she included responses from a health care unit administrator in one report and from a nurse in the other. Parisi appealed the denials, and the IDOC's Administrative Review Board denied the appeals. It is undisputed that the IDOC's then-Director Salvador Godinez did not review the grievances and had no personal knowledge of them.

         On July 23, 2013, Parisi had another appointment with Dr. Davis. She noted that his blood pressure and cholesterol levels were lower, and his triglyceride level had fallen to 171. She increased the amount of Lopid prescribed to Parisi. The parties dispute whether Dr. Davis issued an order for Parisi to undergo a A1C test, used to measure blood glucose levels in order to diagnose and monitor diabetes, and whether he underwent that test. Parisi had another appointment with Dr. Davis on December 20, 2013, at which she increased the dosages for his niacin supplement and his prescription for fiber lax, a laxative.

         On March 28, 2014, Parisi filed a grievance stating that he had not received his medications between March 10 and March 19, 2014 and that he was still not receiving his prescribed fish oil. Wexford asserts that, according to the medical records, Parisi received his medications during this timeframe. Unlike the two previous grievances, Parisi did not file this one as an emergency. The warden at the time, Tarry Williams, did not personally review the grievance. McBee again forwarded the grievance to the health care unit, issued a report recommending that the IDOC take no action because Parisi appeared to be receiving appropriate medical care, and included the health care unit's response in her report. Parisi appealed the grievance denial, and the IDOC's Administrative Review Board denied the appeal. It is undisputed that the IDOC's then-acting Director Donald Stolworthy did not personally review the grievance and had no personal knowledge of it.

         On April 8, 2014, Parisi had an appointment with Claude Owikoti, who is a physician's assistant, a defendant in this case, and an employee of Wexford. Owikoti found that Parisi's blood pressure was in a normal range and his triglyceride level was 181. The parties agree that Parisi told Owikoti that he was not receiving his fish oil, although they dispute whether Parisi was, in fact, receiving it. Owikoti prescribed aspirin, niacin, lopid, fiber lax, and fish oil for Parisi's hyperlipidemia. On July 23, 2014, Parisi had an appointment with a nurse at Stateville, who prescribed niacin, Lopid, fiber lax, and fish oil.

         On August 30, 2014, he wrote a letter to Dr. Saleh Obaisi, Stateville's medical director at the time, a defendant in this case, and an employee of Wexford.[4] Although the parties did not submit the letter as evidence before the Court, Parisi testified that he wrote that he had not been receiving his medications as prescribed. There is no evidence regarding whether Obaisi received, read, or responded to the letter.

         On November 10, 2014, Parisi saw Dr. Obaisi regarding a muscle spasm, and Dr. Obaisi prescribed steroids to treat it. It is undisputed that this was the first time Parisi met with Dr. Obaisi. There is no evidence regarding whether Parisi mentioned any lapses in the provision of his medications during this appointment.

         On December 9, 2014, Parisi had an appointment with Dr. Alma Martija, a named defendant in this case and an employee of Wexford. She noted that his blood pressure was normal and that his triglyceride level was 684. It is undisputed that Parisi told Dr. Martija that he was not receiving his prescribed Zocor (a statin used to treat cholesterol), aspirin, and Lopid, although the parties dispute whether Parisi was, in fact, receiving these medications. Dr. Martija issued prescriptions for these medications, as well as for fish oil, fiber lax, and aspirin. She also noted that Parisi had diabetes, and she issued an order for him to undergo A1C tests every three months for one year. The parties dispute whether Wexford's clinicians had previously conducted A1C tests on Parisi.

         On December 24, 2014, Parisi had another appointment with Dr. Obaisi. Parisi reported to Dr. Obaisi that he had suffered from a pounding headache for four or five days, and Dr. Obaisi found that that Parisi had tachycardia, or an elevated heart rate. Parisi also had a high blood pressure reading. Parisi testified that he showed symptoms of a heart attack and that Dr. Obaisi felt he had blood flow issues, but the parties dispute whether he showed such symptoms or Dr. Obaisi believed he had such problems. It is undisputed, however, that Parisi did not suffer from a heart attack and that Dr. Obaisi told him that a vitamin supplement he was taking, niacin, likely caused the headache and the tachycardia. Dr. Obaisi discontinued the order for Parisi to take niacin, switched him to Atenolol, a beta-blocker used to treat chest pain and hypertension, and placed him on a medication called Glipizide to treat his diabetes.

         On February 3, 2015, Parisi filed an emergency grievance stating that on many occasions, he had not received medications on time and that, as of February 3, all of his medications had lapsed or would soon lapse. Wexford again asserts that, according to the medical records, Parisi received his medications during this timeframe. Warden Williams personally did not review the grievance. Parisi resubmitted the grievance to McBee, who again forwarded the grievance to the health care unit, issued a report recommending that the IDOC take no action, and included the unit's response in her report. On appeal, the IDOC's Administrative Review Board denied this grievance on December 1, 2015. It is undisputed that the IDOC's then-Director John Baldwin did not review the grievance and had no personal knowledge of it.

         On February 10, 2015, Dr. Martija saw Parisi regarding his blood sugar and cholesterol. She testified that Parisi's cholesterol profile had improved, "his Niacin [had been] discontinued due to his reports of headache and tachycardia," and he reported to her "that he was feeling much better." Martija's Decl., Ex. C. to Wexford's L.R. 56.1 Stmt., dkt. no. 79-1, at 143 ¶ 6. Parisi had another appointment with Dr. Martija on April 22, 2015, at which she found that his cholesterol level had increased. There is no indication in the record that he reported to Dr. Martija at either of those appointments that he was not receiving his medication as prescribed.

         Parisi had a follow-up appointment with Dr. Martija on February 26, 2015. She indicated that he had Type II diabetes, continued his prescriptions to treat his diabetes, and assigned him ...


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