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Thompson v. Hale

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

January 7, 2016

MARTY HALE, et al., Defendants.



         I. Introduction

         Tommy Thompson, an inmate currently incarcerated at Wabash Valley Correctional Facility (“Wabash Valley”), filed this suit against several staff members-correctional officers and medical professionals-at Wabash Valley regarding his medical treatment and housing placement after he ruptured his Achilles tendon. Pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, he alleges that the defendants violated his Eighth Amendment rights when they were deliberately indifferent to his serious medical needs as well as to a serious risk of further injury, and that one of the defendants violated his First Amendment rights by retaliating against him for filing a grievance regarding his treatment.

         He also brings state law claims. The defendants who are medical professionals-Lolit Joseph, Marilyn Rodriguez, Michael Mitcheff, Michael Rogan, and Maria Gadberry (the “Medical Defendants”)-move for summary judgment on all of Mr. Thompson’s claims against them. The claims against the remaining defendants are not at issue in this Entry. For the reasons explained below, the Court grants inpart and denies in part the Medical Defendants’ motion for summary judgment. [Filing No. 51.]


         Summary Judgment Legal Standard

         Summary judgment is appropriate when 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. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(a). A “material fact” is one that “might affect the outcome of the suit.” Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). To survive a motion for summary judgment, the non-moving party must set forth specific, admissible evidence showing that there is a material issue for trial. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). The Court views the record in the light most favorable to the non-moving party and draws all reasonable inferences in that party’s favor. Darst v. Interstate Brands Corp., 512 F.3d 903, 907 (7th Cir. 2008). It cannot weigh evidence or make credibility determinations on summary judgment because those tasks are left to the fact-finder. O’Leary v. Accretive Health, Inc., 657 F.3d 625, 630 (7th Cir. 2011).

         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, 477 U.S. at 248. If no reasonable jury could find for the non-moving party, then there is no “genuine” dispute. Scott v. Harris, 550 U.S. 372, 380 (2007).


         Undisputed Facts

         Mr. Thompson is, and was at all times relevant to this case, an inmate at Wabash Valley. Prior to April 5, 2013, Mr. Thompson was housed on the 400 range of the F Housing Unit at Wabash Valley, which is an upper range housing unit that can only be accessed by climbing metal grated stairs.[1]

         On Friday, April 5, 2013, Mr. Thompson severely injured his ankle playing basketball and was unable to walk. Mr. Thompson was taken to the Wabash Valley medical staff. Dr. Gregory Haynes decided Mr. Thompson needed to be sent to the emergency room, as he most likely needed an MRI, and prescribed Vicodin for the pain.

         Mr. Thompson was taken to the emergency room at Terre Haute Regional Hospital. The emergency room physician administered tests and determined that, although no bones were fractured, Mr. Thompson had probably ruptured his Achilles tendon. The discharge notes from the emergency room physician reflect, among other things, that Mr. Thompson should not put any weight on his ankle and should call on Monday, April 8, 2013, to schedule an appointment to see an orthopedic specialist and undergo an MRI. Upon his return to Wabash Valley, Mr. Thompson was seen by Dr. Haynes, who prescribed him three days of Vicodin and provided him crutches. Three days later, on April 8, 2013, Mr. Thompson complained of ankle pain, and his Vicodin prescription was renewed.

         Mr. Thompson attests that, between April 5 and 8, 2013, he told several Wabash Valley correctional staff[2] and Nurse Marilyn Rodriguez about his ankle injury and that it caused him difficulty getting up and down the stairs to his upper-level housing unit. He asked each of them to move him to a lower range and issue him a lay-in pass so that he did not have to use the stairs, but they each responded that they could not do that.

         On April 9, 2013, Dr. Lolit Joseph submitted a request to Dr. Mitcheff that Mr. Thompson undergo an MRI. Dr. Rogan agreed with Dr. Joseph that an MRI was appropriate.

         Later on April 9, 2013, Mr. Thompson was walking on the metal grated stairs with his crutches, when they got stuck on the metal grating, causing Mr. Thompson to lose his balance and fall down half a flight of stairs. The fall caused Mr. Thompson excruciating pain in his neck, lower back, and right knee.

         After his fall, Mr. Thompson was taken to Dr. Joseph, who noted severe tenderness in the back, although no swelling. Dr. Joseph prescribed Mr. Thompson the anti-inflammatory Mobic and the pain reliever Nalbuphine (in addition to the Vicodin he was still taking), placed him in a neck collar, and ordered that he undergo x-rays. Lastly, Dr. Joseph ordered that Mr. Thompson be given a bottom bunk, bottom range pass.

         Mr. Thompson’s back was x-rayed on April 12, 2013. It revealed no further injuries, and it was suggested that Mr. Thompson may have suffered a muscle spasm when he fell.

         On April 15, 2013, Mr. Thompson had a scheduled medical visit. Among other things, Mr. Thompson requested information regarding the MRI he was supposed to receive. At that time, Mr. Thompson was still taking Mobic, but was no longer taking Vicodin. That same day, Mr. Thompson filed a formal grievance alleging, among other things, that Dr. Joseph was intentionally delaying the treatment of his ankle, as he had yet to have the ordered MRI or surgery.

         Mr. Thompson had a scheduled visit with Dr. Joseph on April 17, 2013. Dr. Joseph’s treatment notes reflect that Mr. Thompson’s ankle was swollen and causing him pain, and Mr. Thompson requested Vicodin. Mr. Thompson, however, states that the first thing Dr. Joseph said was, “why did you file a grievance against me?” [Filing No. 2 at 4.] Mr. Thompson says he explained to Dr. Joseph the reasons he did so, to which she responded, “you will not be receiving any pain medication,” and that he could order pain medication from commissary, which Mr. Thompson told her would take two weeks. [Filing No. 2 at 4.] Mr. Thompson attests that, at an unspecified later date, Dr. Rogan apologized for Dr. Joseph’s denial of Vicodin.

         Mr. Thompson was seen again the next day, April 18, 2013, complaining of swelling and pain. Dr. Joseph’s affidavit states that he was seen by an unnamed “medical provider” about these complaints, and that this medical provider did not make any changes to Mr. Thompson course of treatment at that time. [Filing No. 52-1 at 4.] The medical records reflect that Dr. Joseph was Mr. Thompson’s “Provider” for this visit. [Filing No. 52-2 at 38.]

         On April 24, 2013, Dr. Mitcheff prescribed Mr. Thompson Vicodin for two weeks, to be taken twice daily.

         According to the response to Mr. Thompson’s grievance regarding the delay in his MRI, the MRI request was approved on April 26, 2013. Mr. Thompson returned to the hospital that day for an MRI. Two days later, on April 28, 2013, Mr. Thompson was seen by a nurse regarding complaints that his leg was swollen and that he wanted more pain medication. Although the defendants assert that this led Mr. Thompson to be “again” prescribed Vicodin, the medical records reflect, as stated above, that Mr. Thompson was prescribed Vicodin by Dr. Mitcheff two days earlier, and remained on that two-week prescription.

         Mr. Thompson’s MRI results were available on April 29, 2013. They showed that he had suffered a complete tear of his left Achilles tendon, that his ankle was still swollen, and there was bruising present. Based on the MRI results, Mr. Thompson was scheduled for surgery; he went to the hospital for a pre-surgical consultation on May 1, 2013, and his surgery occurred on May 3, 2013. After surgery, Mr. Thompson was given hydrocodone for the pain and ...

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