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Weaver v. Morris

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

September 13, 2018

Shayne Weaver, Plaintiff,
v.
Michael P. Morris, Sheriff of Knox County, Indiana, and Quality Correctional Care, LLC, Defendants.

          ORDER

          Hon. Jane Magnus-Stinson, Chief Judge

         Plaintiff Shayne Weaver slipped on a wet floor and twisted his knee while he was incarcerated at the Knox County, Indiana jail (the “Jail”) in March 2016. Mr. Weaver reported his injury, and subsequently received medical treatment and an x-ray, but did not receive an MRI until August 2016. The MRI revealed that Mr. Weaver had torn his ACL, and he had surgery in November 2016 after he was released from the Jail. The surgeon advised Mr. Weaver that his initial ACL tear could not be repaired, and that the stability of his knee may be affected and he may develop arthritis in his knee in ten to fifteen years. Mr. Weaver initiated this lawsuit in March 2017, and asserts claims against Defendants Knox County Sheriff Michael Morris and Quality Correctional Care, LLC (“QCC”) for violation of his Eighth Amendment right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment by acting with deliberate indifference to his medical needs, against Sheriff Morris and QCC for violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1983 by denying him his right to due process of law under the Fourteenth Amendment, and against QCC for negligence. Both QCC and Sheriff Morris have moved for summary judgment on all of Mr. Weaver's claims, [Filing No. 67; Filing No. 70], and those motions are now ripe for the Court's decision.

         I.

         Standard of Review

         A motion for summary judgment asks the Court to find that a trial is unnecessary because there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and, instead, the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). As the current version of Rule 56 makes clear, whether a party asserts that a fact is undisputed or genuinely disputed, the party must support the asserted fact by citing to particular parts of the record, including depositions, documents, or affidavits. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(1)(A). A party can also support a fact by showing that the materials cited do not establish the absence or presence of a genuine dispute or that the adverse party cannot produce admissible evidence to support the fact. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(1)(B). Affidavits or declarations must be made on personal knowledge, set out facts that would be admissible in evidence, and show that the affiant is competent to testify on matters stated. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(4). Failure to properly support a fact in opposition to a movant's factual assertion can result in the movant's fact being considered undisputed, and potentially in the grant of summary judgment. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e).

         In deciding a motion for summary judgment, the Court need only consider disputed facts that are material to the decision. A disputed fact is material if it might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law. Hampton v. Ford Motor Co., 561 F.3d 709, 713 (7th Cir. 2009). In other words, while there may be facts that are in dispute, summary judgment is appropriate if those facts are not outcome determinative. Harper v. Vigilant Ins. Co., 433 F.3d 521, 525 (7th Cir. 2005). Fact disputes that are irrelevant to the legal question will not be considered. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986).

         On summary judgment, a party must show the Court what evidence it has that would convince a trier of fact to accept its version of the events. Johnson v. Cambridge Indus., 325 F.3d 892, 901 (7th Cir. 2003). The moving party is entitled to summary judgment if no reasonable fact-finder could return a verdict for the non-moving party. Nelson v. Miller, 570 F.3d 868, 875 (7th Cir. 2009). 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). The Court need only consider the cited materials, Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(3), and the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals has “repeatedly assured the district courts that they are not required to scour every inch of the record for evidence that is potentially relevant to the summary judgment motion before them, ” Johnson, 325 F.3d at 898. Any doubt as to the existence of a genuine issue for trial is resolved against the moving party. Ponsetti v. GE Pension Plan, 614 F.3d 684, 691 (7th Cir. 2010).

         II.

         Statement of Facts

         The following factual background is set forth pursuant to the standard discussed above.[1]The facts stated are not necessarily objectively true, but as the summary judgment standard requires, the undisputed facts and the disputed evidence are presented in the light most favorable to “the party against whom the motion under consideration is made.” Premcor USA, Inc. v. American Home Assurance Co., 400 F.3d 523, 526-27 (7th Cir. 2005).

         A. Medical Services at the Jail

         Through the Knox County Inmate Healthcare Service Agreement (the “Agreement”), the Knox County Sheriff's Department contracted for QCC to provide inmate medical care services at the Jail. [Filing No. 71-1.] Among other things, the Agreement states that QCC will provide on-site physician/medical director coverage, to include one physician visit per week and a physician available via telephone or email twenty-four hours per day, seven days per week. [Filing No. 71-1 at 1.] The Agreement also requires QCC to provide on-site nursing (LPN or RN) coverage for forty hours per week to perform services that include “sick call, medical, dental screenings and medication pass (while on site) as required by law.” [Filing No. 71-1 at 2.]

         The Agreement addresses situations which require off-site care, stating:

When off-site care, including hospital care, ambulance services are required for a covered person - in the opinion of the treating physician and/or QCC's Medical Director, QCC shall arrange for said care and be financially responsible for the cost of all approved medical care and/or diagnostic testing, up to the maximum dollars pool agreed ($100, 000 annually). QCC shall arrange all off-site treatment and care in accordance with accepted Policies and Procedures. All off-site care shall be performed by certified medical professionals.

[Filing No. 71-1 at 2-3 (emphasis omitted).] The Agreement requires QCC to “manage all inmate healthcare costs for off-site services up to an annual pool limit of $100, 000. If medical, services exceed the total of the annual pool, all excess invoices shall be returned to the COUNTY for payment.” [Filing No. 71-1 at 7 (emphasis omitted).] The Agreement provides that “[o]ff-site service expenses for [Department of Corrections (“DOC”)] inmates shall not be charged against the Medical Services Pool and shall be billed directly to the DOC whenever possible.”[2] [Filing No. 71-1 at 8.]

         B. Mr. Weaver's Injury and Medical Treatment

         Mr. Weaver was an inmate at the Jail in March 2016. [Filing No. 69-1 at 1; Filing No. 69-1 at 6; Filing No. 69-2 at 9.] At the end of that month, the heating and cooling system in Mr. Weaver's block at the Jail was not working, and condensation had built up on the walls and floors. [Filing No. 71-2 at 3.] Mr. Weaver was wearing plastic sandals and slipped as he was walking into the bathroom. [Filing No. 71-2 at 3.] He “tweaked” his left knee and “twisted it good.” [Filing No. 71-2 at 3.] Timothy Page, another inmate, helped Mr. Weaver back to his bunk. [Filing No. 71-2 at 3.]

         When Mr. Weaver got back to his bunk, a guard told him he would need to wait until the nurse came in. [Filing No. 71-2 at 3.] The next day, he went to sick call where the nurse examined his knee and “said it was bad, that he'd get ahold of the doctor, they [were] going to have to do x-rays.” [Filing No. 71-2 at 4.] The nurse also told him that first he should rest his knee for two weeks and keep his foot up. [Filing No. 71-2 at 4.] He was not given ice, but made his own ice packs. [Filing No. 71-2 at 4.]

         On April 19, 2016, Mr. Weaver requested medical services and stated “I slipped on some water a week ago on the floor banging my knee, I thought it was just bruised but after a week it has gotten worse. I afraid I have tore something not sure, it gets worse when I'm laying down then get back up, lots of pain, need someone to check it out.” [Filing No. 72-1 at 9.] Mr. Weaver was seen by medical staff that same day, and the nurse that examined him wrote “inner side of knee pain from slip & fall 7 days ago.” [Filing No. 72-1 at 10.] The nurse noted that Mr. Weaver had increased pain with staying still and decreased pain with mobility, and that Mr. Weaver had no past trauma, no surgeries, and had reported that it had gotten worse and he was walking with a limp. [Filing No. 72-1 at 10.] An x-ray was performed on Mr. Weaver's left knee later that day, and the Radiology Report from the x-ray stated “[t]he knee joint is intact. No. fracture or dislocation is seen. No. suprapatellar joint effusion is seen…. No. acute fracture or dislocation in left knee.” [Filing No. 72-1 at 11.]

         On April 25, 2016, Mr. Weaver again requested medical services and stated “my knee is still hurting bad, they took x-rays of it but I still havnt heard anything back?” [Filing No. 72-1 at 12.] Staff responded “X-ray was Negative. Rest the knee and keep it elevated. Ibu or Tylenol is available on commissary.” [Filing No. 72-1 at 12.] Mr. Weaver again requested medical services on April 26, 2016, stating “you say x-ray was negative, my knee in bad shape can we get a mri?” [Filing No. 72-1 at 13.] Staff responded “I will ask the provider.” [Filing No. 72-1 at 13.] Mr. Weaver did not hear anything further regarding his April 26, 2016 request. [Filing No. 72-1 at 3.] Dr. Quentin Emerson, a QCC employee working as a physician supervising and delivering care to inmates and pre-trial detainees at the Jail, instructed a nurse to inform Mr. Weaver that he should rest, ice, and elevate his knee, and take Ibuprofen. [Filing No. 69-6 at 2.] Dr. Emerson reasoned that soft tissue knee injuries can take several months to fully heal, and that Mr. Weaver's knee appeared to be healing as demonstrated by his normal range of motion and his ability to ambulate unassisted. [Filing No. 69-6 at 2.]

         On June 8, 2016, Mr. Weaver requested medical services and stated “Its been 3 months now and my knee is still not better. I'm telling you something is tore. I need MRI bad. Please let me know something. So I can figure out what steps to take next.” [Filing No. 72-1 at 14.] Staff responded “Will put you on to see the DR. he has to order further testing.” [Filing No. 72-1 at 14.] Mr. Weaver did not receive any further response, [Filing No. 72-1 at 3], and so he filed another request for medical services on June 15, 2016 stating “i slipped on water in a-pod almost 3 months ago twisting my knee. i have put several request in saying I believe something is torn in my knee. you all did x-rays and said nothing is wrong, well I need a mri. i feel like im being denied medical treatment. actions will be taken if still being denied.” [Filing No. 72-1 at 15.] Staff responded “[t]he x-ray was negative and we have to have an order for MRI from the doctor. Will let doctor see your chart and records on his next round.” [Filing No. 72-1 at 16.] On June 20, 2016, medical staff stated “Per doctors orders starting you on Ibuprofen for ten days tonight.” [Filing No. 72-1 at 16.]

         Mr. Weaver did not see medical staff for the rest of June, [Filing No. 72-1 at 3], and filed another request for medical treatment on July 5, 2016 in which he stated “my knee is still not better, still in lots of pain, Ibuprofen has ran out, pain is worse since then. Im telling something is torn I know it.” [Filing No. 72-1 at 17.] Staff responded “[w]ill talk with the doctor.” [Filing No. 72-1 at 17.] On July 10, 2016, Mr. Weaver submitted another request for medical services in which he stated “[m]y knee is still not getting better. I'm really upset that I'm not getting the medical treatment I need. My mom is a RN and says I need a MRI. I'm in serious pain still. I'm keeping everything record. And getting lawyer if not tooken care of.” [Filing No. 72-1 at 18.] Staff noted “I will talk with the doctor about an MRI, ” then noted a few days later “Per doctors orders we are not going to obtain an MRI d/t they just received an xray on your knee in April of 2016 and everything came back just fine. Starting you on some Ibuprofen for the pain. Also keep it elevated throughout the day and do not do any strenuous activity on it.” [Filing No. 72-1 at 18.]

         On July 20, 2016, a QCC nurse told Mr. Weaver that he “needed an MRI and that he would check on it for me but said he found out the jail insurance wouldn't cover it.” [Filing No. 72-1 at 4.] Mr. Weaver filed several requests for medical services on July 20, stating:

• “I hurt my knee at the end of march in a-pod when a/c unit was down it was humid in here causing floors to be real wet. I slipped twisting my knee. there was swelling and bru[i]sing. They did x-ray but no breaks. Nurse stan told me needed mri and that he check on it. but found out insurance wont cover”;
• “[S]omething is torn in my knee for sure. I have been putting in request for months about my knee and the pain Im in. they keep telling me to keep elevated and Ibuprofen for so many days, that they are not going to do anything else…”; and
• “[B]ut the new nurse here keeps arguing with me that Im not doc, and I have paper work saying I am. Im done arguing with medical cause they will not give me the medical treatment I need as an inmate (doc or county) I get out aug. 28th 2016 and Im purs[u]ing legal matters over my knee. just wanted record.”

[Filing No. 72-1 at 20-22.]

         QCC notes from July 21, 2016 indicate that Mr. Weaver had finished Ibuprofen and believed something was torn in his knee, that he was “limping in pain, ” and that he was requesting an MRI, but that Dr. Emerson would not order an MRI because the x-ray “came back normal in April 2016.” [Filing No. 72-1 at 19.] Mr. Weaver also saw the Jail Commander when he was passing out mail one day around this timeframe, and the Jail Commander said that there are funds allotted for ...


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