Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Fisher v. Correct Care Solutions

United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, South Bend Division

May 17, 2017

JACKIE LEE FISHER, Plaintiff,
v.
CORRECT CARE SOLUTIONS, et al., Defendants.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          JON E. DEGUILIO Judge United States District Court

         While detained in the Elkhart County jail, plaintiff Jackie Lee Fisher slipped on a water leak in his cell and hit his head. He was promptly tended to by a nurse, and a doctor gave treatment directions by phone. The following week, he sought additional treatment for continuing symptoms, but refused to be treated unless the medical staff first agreed to waive the $15 co-payment, which they did not. Several days later, Mr. Fisher relented and sought treatment notwithstanding the co-payment. He was evaluated by a nurse, who again consulted with the doctor by phone, and he saw the doctor in person the following week. Mr. Fisher alleges in this action that the delay in seeing the doctor in person and the failure to waive the co-payment caused him to endure unnecessary pain during this period, in violation of his constitutional rights. The defendants-the doctor, a nurse, and the company that provides medical services at the jail-have now moved for summary judgment, arguing that there is no evidence that they were deliberately indifferent to Mr. Fisher's serious medical needs. The Court agrees, and grants the motion for summary judgment.

         I. FACTUAL BACKGROUND

         On April 26, 2014, plaintiff Jackie Lee Fisher was a pretrial detainee in the Elkhart County jail. Early in the morning, Mr. Fisher slipped on a water leak in his cell and fell and hit his head. Another inmate in his cell used the call box to notify jail staff that Mr. Fisher had fallen and was hurt. Jail staff came to the cell and escorted Mr. Fisher to the medical unit, where he was evaluated by nurses on duty. Mr. Fisher had a cut on his head that was two inches long, but not deep. He also reported a ringing and tenderness in his ears. His vital signs were generally normal, though, and he also performed well on tests designed to detect neurological injuries.

         At 6:32 a.m., about an hour after the fall, a nurse called and spoke to Dr. John Foster, the doctor employed by Correct Care Solutions to provide treatment at the jail. The nurse told Dr. Foster about Mr. Fisher's injury, and informed him that Mr. Fisher was complaining of nausea, blurred vision, and a pounding headache. She also provided Dr. Foster with the neurological test results. Dr. Foster ordered an x-ray of Mr. Fisher's skull, and also ordered that Mr. Fisher receive Tylenol 975 mg., twice a day for two days. That medication was in addition to an existing prescription Mr. Fisher had for Mobic, a mild pain-reliever and anti-inflammatory drug. Dr. Foster concluded based on the information provided to him that Mr. Fisher was stable from a neurological perspective and did not need to be sent to the hospital. Mr. Fisher states that he was also vomiting at this time, but he does not dispute that Dr. Foster was not given that information. The x-ray was taken that same morning and came back normal, showing no skull fracture. Either that night or the following day, a nurse called Dr. Foster and informed him that Mr. Fisher was fine, had no pain, no blurred vision, and was ready to go back to his dorm, so Dr. Foster released him back to the general population.

         Several days later, on April 30, Mr. Fisher submitted a request to see the medical department. An appointment was scheduled for the following day, but when he was called for his appointment, Mr. Fisher refused to go. Nurse Daniel Kinnear, the nursing supervisor, asked to speak with Mr. Fisher about why he was refusing treatment. Mr. Fisher alleges that medical staff had told him he would have to pay a triage fee of $15 in order to be seen. He believed that the fee was contrary to Correct Care's policy, though, and also that his injury was the jail's fault because of the leak, so he refused to be triaged without being assured that he would not be charged. Nurse Kinnear encouraged Mr. Fisher to be triaged and advised him that he could be seen by the medical staff at any time, but Mr. Fisher refused to be seen, believing that he would be wrongfully charged for the treatment.

         On May 6, Mr. Fisher finally agreed to be seen despite the $15 charge. He was examined on May 8 by Nurse Kinnear. At that time, Mr. Fisher's vital signs were normal and the cut on his head was healing nicely, but he complained of headaches and neck pain since his fall. Nurse Kinnear then called Dr. Foster and discussed Mr. Fisher's complaints. Dr. Foster ordered that Mr. Fisher receive Tylenol 975 mg. for seven days. Nurse Kinnear also referred Mr. Fisher for an appointment with Dr. Foster, which took place on May 15. On that date, Dr. Foster examined Mr. Fisher in person for the first time since the accident. Mr. Fisher reported a headache that would come and go, and also reported that he was still very tender in his lower neck and upper back. Dr. Foster prescribed Flexeril, a muscle relaxant. He also ordered a cervical spine x-ray, which was taken the next day and came back normal. Mr. Fisher continued to seek and receive treatment for over the next year, but only focuses in this action on his treatment through May 15, so the Court need not discuss the rest of his treatment history.

         Mr. Fisher filed a pro se complaint in this case on June 18, 2014. Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, the Court screened the complaint, and granted Mr. Fisher leave to proceed on a deliberate indifference claim against eleven individuals involved in his medical care, and against Correct Care Solutions, the private company that contracted to provide medical services at the jail and that employed Dr. Foster and Nurse Kinnear. The Court also granted Mr. Fisher's motion to recruit counsel, so he is now represented.[1] Mr. Fisher later stipulated to the dismissal of five of the individual defendants. In addition, following the remaining defendants' motion for summary judgment, Mr. Fisher stipulated to the dismissal of four more of the defendants, conceding that the record could not support his claims against them. Accordingly, Mr. Fisher's claims remain pending against Dr. Foster, Nurse Kinnear, and Correct Care, each of which have moved for summary judgment.[2]

         II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         Summary judgment is proper when 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 “material” fact is one identified by the substantive law as affecting the outcome of the suit. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). A “genuine issue” exists with respect to any material fact when “the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party.” Id. Where a factual record taken as a whole could not lead a rational trier of fact to find for the non-moving party, there is no genuine issue for trial, and summary judgment should be granted. Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986) (citing Bank of Ariz. v. Cities Servs. Co., 391 U.S. 253, 289 (1968)). In determining whether a genuine issue of material fact exists, this Court must construe all facts in the light most favorable to the non-moving party and draw all reasonable and justifiable inferences in that party's favor. Jackson v. Kotter, 541 F.3d 688, 697 (7th Cir. 2008); King v. Preferred Tech. Grp., 166 F.3d 887, 890 (7th Cir. 1999).

         III. DISCUSSION

         Mr. Fisher argues that Dr. Foster, Nurse Kinnear, and Correct Care violated his constitutional rights by delaying his treatment and by improperly charging him for that treatment. At the time of these events, Mr. Fisher was a pre-trial detainee at the jail. “Although the Eighth Amendment applies only to convicted persons, pretrial detainees . . . are entitled to the same basic protections under the Fourteenth Amendment's due process clause. Accordingly, [courts] apply the same legal standards to deliberate indifference claims brought under the Eighth or Fourteenth Amendment.” Minix v. Canarecci, 597 F.3d 824, 831 (7th Cir. 2010). A constitutional claim based on inadequate medical care contains two elements: “(1) the prisoner suffered an objectively serious harm that presented a substantial risk to his safety, and (2) the defendants were deliberately indifferent to that risk.” Id.; Petties v. Carter, 836 F.3d 722, 728 (7th Cir. 2016) (en banc).

         The defendants do not contest the first element for these purposes, but focus on the second element. That element requires a dual showing that the defendant (1) had subjective knowledge of a risk to the inmate's health, and (2) intentionally disregarded that risk. Thomas v. Cook Cty. Sheriff's Dep't, 604 F.3d 293 (7th Cir. 2010); Minix, 597 F.3d at 831. “For a medical professional to be liable for deliberate indifference to an inmate's medical needs, he must make a decision that represents ‘such a substantial departure from accepted professional judgment, practice, or standards, as to demonstrate that the person responsible actually did not base the decision on such a judgment.'” Jackson, 541 F.3d at 697 (quoting Sain v. Wood, 512 F.3d 886, 895 (7th Cir. 2008)). The Court considers Mr. Fisher's claim against each defendant in turn.

         A. ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.