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Williams v. O'Brien

United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Terre Haute Division

February 10, 2015

JOSEPH WILLIAMS, Plaintiff,
v.
DR. O'BRIEN, Defendant.

ENTRY DISCUSSING MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

WILLIAM T. LAWRENCE, District Judge.

Plaintiff Joseph Williams, a former inmate of the Putnamville Correctional Facility ("Putnamville"), brings this action alleging that defendant Dr. Paul O'Brien provided him with inadequate medical care by failing to recommend surgery for his rectal fistula.[1] Mr. Williams apparently brings an Eighth Amendment claim pursuant to 42 U.S.C. ยง 1983 and a claim for medical malpractice. Dr. O'Brien moves for summary judgment and Mr. Williams has not responded.

I. Standard of Review

Summary judgment is appropriate if "the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). A dispute about a material fact is genuine only "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). If no reasonable jury could find for the non-moving party, then there is no "genuine" dispute. Scott v. Harris, 550 U.S. 372, 127 S.Ct. 1769, 1776, 167 L.Ed.2d 686 (2007).

As noted, Mr. Williams has not opposed the motion for summary judgment. The consequence of his failure to do so is that he has conceded the defendant's version of the facts. Smith v. Lamz, 321 F.3d 680, 683 (7th Cir.2003) ("[F]ailure to respond by the nonmovant as mandated by the local rules results in an admission."); Waldridge v. American Hoechst Corp., 24 F.3d 918, 921-22 (7th Cir. 1994). This does not alter the standard for assessing a Rule 56(a) motion, but does "reduc[e] the pool" from which the facts and inferences relative to such a motion may be drawn. Smith v. Severn, 129 F.3d 419, 426 (7th Cir. 1997).

II. Undisputed Facts

Applying the standards set forth above, the undisputed facts are as follows:

Dr. O'Brien started working at Putnamville on August 2, 2009. Dr. O'Brien was the Medical Director and treating physician at that facility. In addition to Dr. O'Brien, there was a nurse practitioner and at times another doctor. Nursing staff was responsible for scheduling offenders to see Dr. O'Brien. Dr. O'Brien had no involvement with scheduling offenders to see him within the prison.

When Mr. Williams arrived at Putnamville, he reported a history of an anal fistula which had been surgically repaired. He also reported a severe anal infection with gangrene that had to be debrided. During his time at Putnamville, Mr. Williams was enrolled in the Chronic Care Clinic for hypertension, which means he was seen by a provider at least every 12 weeks for that condition. He also took medication for hypertension.

On September 15, 2009, Mr. Williams submitted a Request for Healthcare asking for a medical follow-up for rectal bleeding. Mr. Williams was seen in nursing sick call on September 17, 2009 for this complaints. Dr. O'Brien examined him on September 30, 2009 and found prolapsed hemorrhoids, rectal bleeding, and anal leakage. He noted that Mr. Williams previously had a rectal perianal infection from an abscess in the past that caused gangrene. Mr. Williams's sphincter tone was weak, as was his distal rectal wall. Dr. O'Brien noted that there were no signs of infection or abscess. Dr. O'Brien prescribed Anisole suppositories and ordered blood work. The treatment plan was to see if Mr. Williams improved over the next month before Dr. O'Brien decided if he needed a referral to a specialist. Mr. Williams had blood work done on October 21, 2009. On October 29, 2009, Dr. O'Brien reviewed Mr. Williams's lab work and ordered encouraged fluids, low fat diet with low protein, and continue to monitor for changes of borderline labs.

On November 12, 2009, Mr. Williams had additional lab work done. On November 28, 2009, Mr. Williams submitted a Request for Healthcare asking for a medical follow-up for his problem of rectal bleeding. Mr. Williams was seen in nursing sick call on November 29, 2009 for this complaints. Mr. Williams thought it was his hemorrhoids again, but the bleeding was getting worse. He said the treatment did not help and he asked to see the doctor. Mr. Williams was scheduled to see the doctor on December 1, 2009, but the appointment had to be cancelled because the facility was on lockdown. Dr. O'Brien examined Mr. Williams in the Chronic Care Clinic on December 2, 2009. Mr. Williams's blood pressure was doing well. He reported anal leakage and bright rectal bleeding. He reported that it might be another fistula, which he had surgery for in 2002 with a bad infection. Dr. O'Brien submitted a consultation request to send Mr. Williams to a proctologist for the possible fistula. Darla Scherb, the scheduling assistant at the prison, scheduled Mr. Williams' appointment with the general surgery team at Wishard Hospital on December 4, 2009. The providers at the prison had no control over when outside hospitals or clinics scheduled offenders. The prison was simply told when the specialist had an opening on his or her schedule. Offenders were not told of the date and time of their outside appointments pursuant to Department of Correction's security policy. If an offender learned of the date and time of his appointment, that appointment had to be rescheduled pursuant to the Department of Correction's security policies. Mr. Williams submitted a Request for Healthcare on December 19, 2009, stating that he had not yet seen an outside physician.

Mr. Williams was evaluated by the general surgery team at Wishard Hospital on January 14, 2010 for fecal incontinence and bleeding. Mr. Williams reported difficulty controlling bowel movements when coughing or sneezing, as well as some bleeding with incontinence. He reported difficulty controlling bowel movements since his prior operation (fistulotomy). The specialist recommended three tests: a colonoscopy, an endorectal ultrasound, and manometry, with a referral back to general surgery once the studies were completed.

On February 10, 2010, Mr. Williams submitted a Request for Healthcare asking when he would be going back to Wishard Hospital for his medical problem of rectal bleeding. Medical staff responded that they were not aware that he had a follow-up visit and that they would check with the doctor. Dr. O'Brien submitted a consultation request for a colonoscopy and endoanal ultrasound with manometry on February 18, 2010. On February 26, 2010, Mr. Williams submitted a Request for Healthcare asking what treatment he was going to get for his condition. Medical staff responded that they would check on this for him.

Mr. Williams was placed in segregation by the correctional staff on March 2, 2010. Dr. O'Brien examined Mr. Williams in the Chronic Care Clinic on March 18, 2010. His vital signs were taken and his hypertension was doing well. Mr. Williams had no complaints about ...


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