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Taylor v. Smith

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

March 22, 2017

DAVID G. TAYLOR, Plaintiff,


          Hon. William T. Lawrence, Judge

         Plaintiff David G. Taylor (“Mr. Taylor”), an inmate at the Wabash Valley Correctional Facility (“Wabash Valley”), brings this lawsuit pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 alleging that defendant Dr. Jeffery Smith (“Dr. Smith”) was deliberately indifferent to his serious medical need in violation of the Eighth Amendment when he terminated Mr. Taylor's treatment for hepatitis C after Mr. Taylor tested positive for methamphetamines. Both parties move for summary judgment.

         For the reasons set forth below, the defendant's motion for summary judgment is granted and the plaintiff's motions for summary judgment are denied.

         I. Summary Judgment Standard

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(a) provides that 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.” In ruling on a motion for summary judgment, the admissible evidence presented by the non-moving party must be believed and all reasonable inferences must be drawn in the non-movant's favor. Zerante v. DeLuca, 555 F.3d 582, 584 (7th Cir. 2009) (“We view the record in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party and draw all reasonable inferences in that party's favor.”). “When a motion for summary judgment is properly made and supported, an opposing party may not rely merely on allegations or denials in its own pleading; rather, its response must-by affidavits or as otherwise provided in this rule-set out specific facts showing a genuine issue for trial. If the opposing party does not so respond, summary judgment should, if appropriate, be entered against that party.” Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(e)(2). The nonmoving party bears the burden of demonstrating that such a genuine issue of material fact exists. Harney v. Speedway Super America, LLC., 526 F.3d 1099, 1104 (7th Cir. 2008). The non-moving party bears the burden of specifically identifying the relevant evidence of record, and “the court is not required to scour the record in search of evidence to defeat a motion for summary judgment.” Ritchie v. Glidden Co., 242 F.3d 713, 723 (7th Cir. 2001).

         II. Statement of Material Facts Not in Dispute

         A. Evaluation and Treatment of Hepatitis C Virus.

         Mr. Taylor was an inmate at the Wabash Valley at all times relevant to the allegations in the complaint. He alleges that Dr. Smith discontinued his treatment for hepatitis C (“HCV”) in December of 2013 after Mr. Taylor tested positive for methamphetamines. The Indiana Department of Correction (“IDOC”) restarted Mr. Taylor's HCV treatment on or about February 26, 2016. [Dkt. 53, at 2].

         Mr. Taylor attached IDOC Health Care Directive 3.09 to his complaint and motion for summary judgment as evidence that he has received improper treatment for his HCV. [Dkt. 56-1].

         IDOC Directive 3.09 is no longer the standard of care for treatment. Instead, the current standard of care for treatment of HCV is found in the HCV Treatment Guidelines (“Guidelines”) promulgated by the Federal Bureau of Prisons (“BOP”). [Dkt. 58-3]. The Guidelines are used to prioritize patients for treatment and determine which treatments to provide. In July 2015, the BOP revised its Guidelines to reflect the availability of new treatments and established a new standard of care. [Dkt. 58-1, ¶ 6; 58-3].

         According to the Guidelines, testing for HCV infection is recommended for all sentenced inmates with risk factors for HCV infection, for all inmates with certain clinical conditions, and for inmates who request testing. [Dkt. 58-3, at 5]. Clinical conditions include testing for all inmates with a reported history of HCV infection. [Dkt. 58-3, at 6].

         Cirrhosis is a condition of chronic liver disease. Progression of HCV infection to fibrosis and cirrhosis may take years to occur in some patients, or may not occur at all. Most complications from HCV infection occur in people with cirrhosis. [Dkt. 58-3, at 8].

         The platelet ratio index (“APRI”) score, which is a calculation based on results from two blood tests (the aspartate aminotransferase (“AST”) and platelet count), is a less invasive and less expensive means of assessing fibrosis and cirrhosis than a liver biopsy. This test is irrelevant and unnecessary if the individual is known to have cirrhosis. [Dkt. 58-3, at 7]. An APRI score greater than 2.0 may be used to predict the presence of liver cirrhosis. Patients with APRI scores greater than 2.0 should have a liver ultrasound to evaluate the liver. [Dkt. 58-3, at 8-9].

         Assessing hepatic compensation is important for determining the most appropriate HCV treatment regimen, and treatment may differ depending on the level of cirrhosis. [Dkt. 58-3, at 9]. The Guidelines provide that certain cases are at higher risk for complications or disease progression and require more urgent consideration for treatment. The patients at Level 1, or highest priority, are those with cirrhosis, liver transplant candidates or recipients, patients with hepatocellular carcinoma, those with comorbid medical conditions associated with HCV (such as renal disease), those taking immunosuppressant medications for a comorbid medical condition, and continuity of care for inmates already receiving treatment. [Dkt. 58-3, at p. 11]. Patients at Level 2, or high priority, include those with APRI scores greater or equal to 2.0, those with advanced fibrosis on a liver biopsy, those with Hepatitis B and HIV coinfection, and those with comorbid liver disease. Patients at Level 3, or intermediate priority, include those with APRI scores between 1.5 and 2.0, those with Stage 2 fibrosis on a liver biopsy, those with diabetes mellitus, and those with porphyria cutanea tarda. Patients at Level 4, or routine priority, are those with Stage 0 to Stage 1 fibrosis on liver biopsy, and all other cases of HCV infection that meet the criteria for treatment. [Dkt. 58-3, at 12].

         In addition to the above criteria, the Guidelines provide that patients being considered for treatment for HCV should also have no contraindications to any component of the treatment regimen, and demonstrate willingness and an ability to adhere to a rigorous treatment regimen and abstain from high-risk activities while incarcerated. [Dkt. 58-3, at 13]. The Guidelines currently recommend treatment with medications such as Harvoni and Viekira ...

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