Jocelyn Chatham, Administrator of the Estate of Marvin T. McDonald, Plain tiff-Appellant,
Randy Davis, Warden, Pinckneyville Correctional Center, et al., Defendants-Appellees.
October 26, 2015
from the United States District Court for the Southern
District of Illinois. No. ll-cv-00650 - Stephen C. Williams,
Wood, Chief Judge, and Bauer and Sykes, Circuit Judges.
McDonald died after suffering an asthma attack while he was
an inmate at Pinckney-ville Correctional Center, an Illinois
prison. His estate, administered by Jocelyn Chatham, sued the
prison's warden, Wexford Health Services (a private
corporation contracted to run the prison's healthcare
unit), a prison doctor and nurse, and several prison guards
under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Chatham claimed that the
defendants were deliberately indifferent to McDonald's
serious medical needs, violating his rights under the Eighth
Amendment. A magistrate judge entered summary judgment for
the warden and Wexford. The other claims went to trial, and a
jury found for the remaining defendants. Chatham now appeals,
challenging the order granting summary judgment for the
warden and Wexford. She also challenges the denial of her
motions for leave to amend her complaint, for discovery
sanctions, and for a new trial.
affirm. The magistrate judge was right to enter summary
judgment for the warden and Wexford. Chatham did not produce
evidence to support a reasonable inference that the warden
consciously disregarded a substantial risk of harm to
McDonald. Nor did she have evidence showing that a Wexford
policy, practice, or custom caused a constitutional injury.
Finally, the judge did not abuse his discretion in declining
to allow leave to amend, impose a discovery sanction, or
grant a new trial.
was an inmate at Pinckneyville Correctional Center, an
Illinois prison, and was housed in the segregation unit. At
about 5 p.m. on May 26, 2010, he began to suffer an asthma
attack in his cell. His symptoms persisted, and after a few
hours, he told his cellmate about his situation. Unlike
certain other units in the prison, the segregation cells did
not have emergency call buttons, so his cellmate banged on
the cell door to alert the guards. A guard eventually
responded and escorted McDonald to the prison's
healthcare unit. By that time it was approximately 12:15 a.m.
healthcare unit is run by Wexford, a private company under
contract with the Illinois Department of Corrections
("IDOC"). The healthcare unit was supposed to be
managed by a permanent medical director, but the post had
been vacant for more than a year. To cover the position, two
Wexford doctors split the medical director's
responsibilities: Dr. Jill Wahl, a traveling medical
director, and Dr. Dennis Larson, a regional medical director.
McDonald arrived at the healthcare unit, he was wheezing and
using his accessory muscles to breathe. Nurse Rhonda Reuter
checked his vital signs, assessed the oxygen saturation in
his blood, and measured his peak expiratory flow rate, which
was extremely low. Nurse Reuter started him on oxygen and
administered an albuterol nebulizer and epinephrine. She then
phoned Dr. Larson for a consult.
Larson was on call for about a dozen IDOC facilities that
evening, although he was only the backup on-call doctor for
most of these facilities. He slept through Nurse Reuter's
call. At about 2 a.m. he finally returned her call and was
briefed on McDonald's situation. He continued the oxygen,
prescribed more albuterol, and added prednisone, a steroid.
Dr. Larson called back again about a half hour later to check
on McDonald's status and was told that he was still using
his accessory muscles to breathe. At that point Dr. Larson
ordered McDonald transferred to Pinckneyville Community
Hospital via ambulance, calling ahead to alert the
emergency-room staff of his condition.
ambulance McDonald was given more albuterol and another
asthma medication. He arrived at the hospital at 3:45 a.m.
and was seen by a Dr. Reyes 15 minutes later. Dr. Reyes
treated him with more albuterol, still another medication to
aid in breathing, and more epinephrine. These treatments
continued throughout the early morning hours. At 5:20 a.m.
McDonald was still having difficulty breathing, so Dr. Reyes
inserted a breathing tube. The initial attempt to insert the
tube failed, but by 5:44 a.m. intubation was achieved. It was
too late. A Code Blue was called at 5:53 a.m. McDonald died
at 6:09 a.m.
the administrator of McDonald's estate, filed this §
1983 suit alleging that various prison officials and Wexford
were deliberately indifferent to McDonald's serious
medical needs in violation of his Eighth Amendment right to
be free from cruel and unusual punishment. In addition to
Wexford, the named defendants included Randy Davis, the
Pinckneyville warden; Dr. Larson and Nurse Reuter; and the
guards who were responsible for monitoring McDonald on the
date in question. The claims against the warden and Wexford
focused on the lack of a permanent medical director in the
healthcare unit and the lack of emergency call buttons in the
segregation-unit cells. The complaint also alleged that
Wexford failed to adequately train Nurse Reuter in 911
protocols specific to asthma-related emergencies like
McDonald's. A magistrate judge entered summary judgment
for Warden Davis and Wexford on these claims.
claims against the remaining defendants-Dr. Larson, Nurse
Reuter, and the prison guards-were allowed to proceed. Before
trial but after the expiration of the court's deadline to
amend the pleadings, Chatham sought leave to file a third
amended complaint to add state-law claims against Nurse
Reuter and Dr. Larson. The magistrate judge denied the
motion. Chatham also moved for discovery sanctions against
Wexford for dragging its feet in disclosing its treatment
protocols relating to asthma. That motion, too, was denied.