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Petties v. Carter

United States Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit

July 30, 2015

TYRONE PETTIES, Plaintiff-Appellant,
IMHOTEP CARTER and SALEH OBAISI, Defendants-Appellees

Argued April 28, 2015

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division. No. 12 C 9353; George M. Marovich, Judge.

For Tyrone Petties, Plaintiff - Appellant: Rami Naji Fakhouri, Attorney, Goldman Ismail Tomaselli Brennan & Baum Llp, Chicago, IL.

For Imhotep Carter, SALEH OBAISI, Doctor, Defendants - Appellees: Robert L. Larsen, Attorney, Cunningham, Meyer & Vedrine, Warrenville, IL; Michael R. Slovis, Attorney, Cunningham, Meyer & Vedrine, Chicago, IL.

Before FLAUM, KANNE, and WILLIAMS, Circuit Judges.


Per Curiam.

Tyrone Petties, an Illinois prisoner, claims in this suit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 that successive medical directors at Stateville Correctional Center violated the Eighth Amendment by failing to provide adequate medical care for his torn Achilles tendon. Petties appeals the district court's grant of summary judgment for the doctors. We conclude that, on this record, a jury could not reasonably find that the doctors' treatment of Petties's ankle rose to the level of a constitutional violation, and we affirm.


In January 2012 Petties was climbing stairs when he felt a sudden " pop" and extreme pain in his left ankle. He went immediately to the prison infirmary, where the examining physician noted tenderness and abnormal reflex in the left Achilles tendon and observed that Petties could not bear weight on that ankle. The physician, who is not a defendant in this suit, prescribed Vicodin and crutches. He also authorized a week of " meals lay-in" so that Petties could eat in his cell rather than walk to the cafeteria.

That same day the prison's medical director, Dr. Imhotep Carter, noted in the medical file that Petties in fact had suffered an " Achilles tendon rupture." Dr. Carter, an employee of Wexford Health Sources (and one of the defendant physicians) modified his colleague's treatment instructions by directing that Petties be scheduled for an MRI and examination by an orthopedist. He characterized these additional steps as " urgent."

Prison lockdowns during the following week resulted in cancelation of three appointments at the infirmary. By the time Petties was next seen, eight days had passed since his injury, and apparently he thought he could bear weight on his left foot. That was the understanding of the examining physician, who noted in the medical file that Petties " believes he can bear weight." Petties insists that, at the time, he was experiencing severe pain when he put weight on his left foot, but he does not dispute that the examining physician read the situation differently.

During the weeks after his injury, Petties continued to feel pain even when he used the crutches. He next was seen in the infirmary in February 2012, three-and-a-half weeks after his injury. Petties complained to an infirmary worker that his Achilles tendon was " killing" him and keeping him from climbing stairs because of the pain. The next day, on February 14, 2012, Dr. Carter examined him and noted that the Achilles tendon was shortened and swollen. He extended the prescription for Vicodin for six weeks, directed Petties to continue using crutches, reauthorized him to have a low bunk and " medical lay in" for two months, and told him to avoid stairs and the gym.

On March 6, 2012, Petties was taken offsite for the MRI ordered by Dr. Carter. That diagnostic confirmed a " complete Achilles tendon rupture." The next week Petties again was taken offsite for examination by Dr. Anuj Puppala, an orthopedist. He opined that the absence of " any sort of cast" to immobilize Petties's torn Achilles tendon was " contributing to his pain and likely contributing" to the 2 cm gap in the ruptured tendon. Dr. Puppala gave Petties an orthopedic boot that would function like a cast to immobilize his ankle. The doctor also recommended continued use of crutches and referred Petties to a foot and ankle specialist. A doctor at Stateville promptly approved use of the orthopedic boot for three months, and another infirmary physician increased the strength of the Vicodin dose prescribed for Petties.

Petties continued to be seen at the infirmary until his appointment with the foot and ankle specialist. A note in his medical file from April 4, 2012, says that Petties was wearing the boot but waiting on special support shoes. On April 10 he was wearing the boot and walking with a cane. In May a doctor renewed his allowance for a low bunk, crutches, and orthopedic boot until August. The prison's medical staff also repeatedly renewed the Vicodin prescription--at the end of ...

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