United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Terre Haute Division
JOE L. WILLIAMS, Plaintiff,
SAMUEL BYRD, MARYANN CHAVEZ, BOBBY RIGGS, CORIZON HEALTH INC., Defendants.
ENTRY GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART MOTION FOR
PATRICK HANLON UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
action is before the Court for resolution of Defendants'
motion for summary judgment. Dkt. . For the reasons set
forth below, the motion is granted in part
and denied in part.
Summary Judgment Standard
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, the movant is entitled to judgment
as a matter of law. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(a).
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.
summary judgment, a party must identify evidence that would
convince a trier of fact to accept its version of the events.
Gekas v. Vasilades, 814 F.3d 890, 896 (7th Cir.
2016). 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. Skiba v.
Illinois Cent. R.R. Co., 884 F.3d 708, 717 (7th Cir.
2018). It cannot weigh evidence or make credibility
determinations on summary judgment because those tasks are
left to the fact-finder. Miller v. Gonzalez, 761
F.3d 822, 827 (7th Cir. 2014). 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.
Grant v. Trustees of Ind. Univ., 870 F.3d 562,
573-74 (7th Cir. 2017). 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
Joe Williams is an inmate at Wabash Valley Correctional
Facility (WVCF). On November 25, 2015, Plaintiff slipped and
fell while working at his job in the prison's kitchen.
Dkt. 23 at ¶ 10. Plaintiff felt severe pain in his left
knee and could not walk very well on his left leg.
months later, the WVCF medical staff arranged for
Plaintiff's knee to be examined by magnetic resonance
imaging (MRI). The MRI revealed that Plaintiff's medial
meniscus was frayed and that his anterior cruciate ligament
(ACL) was torn. Dkt. 32-3 at 117. On November 12, 2017,
Plaintiff underwent arthroscopic surgery to repair the torn
meniscus and ACL. Id. at 135-138.
lawsuit concerns the treatment Plaintiff received during the
two years between his injury and his operation. Defendant
Corizon Health, Inc. is a private entity that was contracted
by the Indiana Department of Correction (IDOC) to provide
medical treatment to inmates at WVCF. Defendants Samuel Byrd,
Maryann Chavez, and Bobby Riggs were medical professionals
employed by Corizon to treat inmates at WVCF. The action
includes claims that Defendants Byrd, Chavez, and Riggs were
deliberately indifferent to Plaintiff's serious medical
needs in violation of his Eighth Amendment rights, that his
rights were violated due to a Corizon custom or policy, and
that he was injured by a breach of Corizon's contract
with the IDOC.
Previous Treatment for Knee Pain, Injury, and Initial
Examinations by Nurses Klaiber and Riggs
had previously complained of and received treatment for pain
in his left knee. See Id. at 1-9. In May 2015, he
received a cortisone injection in the knee. Id. at
5-8. In September 2015, he received a brace for the knee.
Id. at 9.
injured his knee at work on November 25, 2015. The following
day, he was examined by Nurse Rhonda Klaiber. Id. at
10-13. Nurse Klaiber's notes document that
Plaintiff's knee was swollen, that it hyperextended and
locked, and that he experienced pain while walking that had
worsened since the injury. Id. at 10-11. Her notes
also document that Plaintiff had been treating the knee with
ice and over-the-counter pain medications he obtained from
the commissary but that his symptoms were not responding to
that treatment. Id. at 11. Nurse Klaiber referred
Plaintiff for an appointment with a physician and counseled
him to immobilize the knee and apply ice and heat in the
November 30, 2015, Plaintiff was examined by Nurse Riggs.
Id. at 14- 17. Nurse Riggs documented that Plaintiff
felt his knee “pop” at the time of his injury and
that he was unable to work due to the pain. Id. at
14. Her notes also document that Plaintiff had been icing,
elevating, and taking ibuprofen, but his condition had not
improved since his visit with Nurse Klaiber. Id. at
15. Nurse Riggs described the knee as stable and found no
swelling, bruising, or accumulation of fluid. Id.
Plaintiff told Nurse Riggs he believed he had torn a ligament
because he experienced so much pain when he put weight on his
knee. Dkt. 38-1 at ¶ 2. However, Nurse Riggs
characterized the injury as a sprain or strain. Dkt. 32-3 at
15. She counseled Plaintiff to continue icing and elevating
the knee and provided him with an exercise plan. Id.
states that Nurse Riggs accused him during the November 30
examination of faking his injury. Dkt. 38-1 at ¶ 3. He
adds that Nurse Riggs also told his supervisor in the kitchen
that he was faking to get out of work and he lost his job as
a result. Id. Nurse Riggs disputes these
allegations. Dkt. 32-4 at ¶ 7.
Initial Examinations by Drs. Rajoli and Byrd
December 16, 2015, Dr. Naveen Rajoli examined Plaintiff
during a chronic care appointment. Dkt. 32-3 at 18-21. Dr.
Rajoli found no swelling, determined that diagnostic imaging
was not warranted, and advised Plaintiff to continue taking
non-steroid anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) as needed for
his knee pain. Id. at 18, 20.
January 7, 2016, Dr. Byrd examined Plaintiff for the first
time in response to Nurse Klaiber's referral six weeks
earlier. Id. at 22-28. Dr. Byrd's treatment
notes from the January 7 examination recount Plaintiff's
description of his injury and the symptoms he experienced
thereafter. Dr. Byrd described Plaintiff's knee pain as
“sharp” and “throbbing” when he
placed weight on the knee. Id. at 22. He further
noted that Plaintiff experienced pain when standing, walking,
ascending or descending stairs, kneeling, and going to
recreation; and that he struggled to dress and put on shoes.
Id. Plaintiff described sensations of grinding,
popping, and catching and stated that his knee sometimes gave
out. Id. Dr. Byrd observed a decreased range of
motion in Plaintiff's knee and mild accumulation of fluid
in the joint. Id. He ordered and reviewed x-rays,
which did not show a dislocation or accumulation of fluid.
Byrd's examination included a McMurray test, which Dr.
Byrd explains is used to determine whether a patient has torn
cartilage in the knee. Dkt. 32-2 at ¶ 11.
Plaintiff's McMurray test was positive, suggesting he may
have had a torn meniscus. Id.; dkt. 32-3 at 22.
Plaintiff states that Dr. Byrd informed him that his injury
likely included a torn ligament. Dkt. 23 at ¶ 16.
on these observations, Dr. Byrd determined that Plaintiff
should undergo an MRI. Dkt. 32-3 at 22. Dr. Byrd noted that
he had seen Plaintiff in the past for complaints of knee pain
“with much less impressive findings.”
Id. He suspected a “bucket-handle tear”
in Plaintiff's meniscus, but, based on his training and
experience, Dr. Byrd knew that torn cartilage is not visible
on an x-ray. Id.; dkt. 32-2 at ¶ 12. Dr. Byrd
requested authorization for an MRI and gave Plaintiff
crutches and a 15-day supply of naproxen, a NSAID. Dkt. 32-3
at 22, 25, 27; Dkt. 32-2 at ¶ 11.
Denial of MRI, Physical Therapy, and Second Examination by
Although Dr. Byrd suspected that Plaintiff had a torn
meniscus and knew that an MRI would be necessary to confirm
the tear, he was not authorized to order an MRI. Dkt. 32-3 at
22-26. Rather, Dr. Byrd could only request that an MRI be
arranged for Plaintiff, and his request required approval by
a Corizon administrator. Id. at 29.
Byrd submitted his MRI request on January 15, 2016.
Id. at 29-31. On January 21, Corizon denied the
request. Id. at 32-34. The Corizon administrator
determined that Plaintiff's injury could be treated
adequately with physical therapy. Id.
completed physical therapy sessions on January 28 and
February 15, 2016. Id. at 35-37. The physical
therapist's notes indicate that Plaintiff's symptoms
did not improve as a result of the physical therapy.
Id. at 37.
February 23, 2016, Nurse Riggs again examined Plaintiff.
Id. at 38- 41. Plaintiff complained of constant pain
and an inability to walk on his left leg. Id. at 38.
Nurse Riggs noted that the knee was swollen and that his
condition was not responding to the treatment he had been
provided. Id. at 39. Accordingly, she stated she
would refer Plaintiff for another appointment with a
physician. Id. Plaintiff again completed physical
therapy on March 21 and 31, 2016. Id. at 42-43.
Records of these sessions document Plaintiff's impression
that physical therapy was not helping his symptoms.
Treatment by Dr. Chavez
Chavez examined Plaintiff for the first time on June 22,
2016, during a chronic care appointment. Dkt. 32-3 at 45-50.
This was Plaintiff's first meeting with a physician since
his examination by Dr. Byrd more than five months earlier and
four months after Nurse Riggs stated she would refer him for
an appointment with a physician.
Chavez's notes from that examination do not show any
improvement in Plaintiff's symptoms. See Id. at
48. Dr. Chavez ordered and reviewed new x-rays, which
revealed no changes from the x-rays Dr. Byrd reviewed five
months earlier. Id. at 49-50. Moreover, Dr. Chavez
noted that Plaintiff was no longer receiving physical therapy
because the physical ...