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Taylor v. Health

United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Indianapolis Division

March 28, 2019

CORIZON HEALTH, MICHAEL E. PERSON, APN/NP BARBARA A. BRUBAKER, M.D. CHRISTOPHER S. NELSON, NP/RN DEBRA L. PERKINS, KATRINA CLARKSON as Personal Representative of the Estate of John B. Clarkson, M.D., STEVEN CLARKSON as Personal Representative of the Estate of John B. Clarkson, M.D., Defendants.



         I. Introduction

         Plaintiff Anthony W. Taylor is a prison inmate in the custody of the Indiana Department of Correction (IDOC). Mr. Taylor suffers from chronic kidney disease (CKD), which he contends has worsened due to Defendants' deliberate indifference to his serious medical needs. He filed this 42 U.S.C. § 1983 action against Michael E. Person, M.D.; Barbara A. Brubaker, N.P.; Christopher S. Nelson, M.D.; Debra L. Perkins, N.P.; and the Estate of John B. Clarkson, M.D., by his personal representatives Katrina Clarkson and Steven Clarkson, (the Individual Defendants) and Corizon, LLC, (Corizon) a company that had contracted with the IDOC to provide medical services to Indiana inmates. The Individual Defendants are medical professionals and employees of Corizon. Dr. Clarkson died before this action was filed, and Mr. Taylor elected to proceed against his estate. The estate appears through Dr. Clarkson's personal representatives, Katrina Clarkson and Steven Clarkson.

         Mr. Taylor, the Individual Defendants, and Defendant Corizon each move for summary judgment contending there is no genuine issue of material fact and they are each entitled to judgment on plaintiff's claims. These cross-motions have been fully briefed and are ready for decision.

         Mr. Taylor contends that his CKD has worsened because of Corizon's inadequate system for treating offenders. He also contends that the Individual Defendants have denied him medication and timely evaluation of his medical conditions, and that Corizon has failed to properly “administrate medical services, ” failed to adequately staff its obligation to provide medical services, and failed to effectively supervise the provision of medical services. Without articulating specific dates, Mr. Taylor contends that he has long complained of pain in his right abdomen, swollen lumps under his skin, including in his feet and groin area, boils under his arms, needlelike pain in his hands, and other pain. He contends that an x-ray revealed a mass of some kind in his abdomen. To this date, he alleges, the mass has not been identified, and his various painful conditions - which he attributes to the CKD - have not been treated or alleviated.

         Defendants contend that some of Mr. Taylor's claims are barred by the Indiana statute of limitations for injury lawsuits, that the two Individual Defendants named in this lawsuit were not deliberately indifferent to Mr. Taylor's serious medical needs, and that there is no evidence that Corizon's policies were deliberately indifferent to Mr. Taylor's serious medical needs. Mr. Taylor also contends he is entitled to summary judgment. He has submitted several filings in opposition to Defendants' motion and in support of his own motion.

         Before discussing the record, the Court notes the summary judgment legal standards.

         II. Summary Judgment Legal Standard

         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 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. Williams v. Brooks, 809 F.3d 936, 941-42 (7th Cir. 2016). “A genuine dispute as to any material fact exists ‘if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party.'” Daugherty v. Page, 906 F.3d 606, 609-10 (7th Cir. 2018) (quoting 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. 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 Indiana University, 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 Cir. 2010).

         When reviewing cross-motions for summary judgment, all reasonable inferences are drawn in favor of the party against whom the motion at issue was made. Valenti v. Lawson, 889 F.3d 427, 429 (7th Cir. 2018) (citing Tripp v. Scholz, 872 F.3d 857, 862 (7th Cir. 2017)). The existence of cross-motions for summary judgment does not imply that there are no genuine issues of material fact. R.J. Corman Derailment Servs., LLC v. Int'l Union of Operating Engineers, Local Union 150, AFL-CIO, 335 F.3d 643, 647 (7th Cir. 2003).

         Finally, once a movant for summary judgment has presented evidence showing entitlement to judgment and no genuine issue of material fact, the non-movant cannot simply rely on the allegations in the complaint. The non-movant must come forward with evidence to counter the movant's showing. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e); Anderson, 477 U.S. at 252.

         III. The Summary Judgment Record

         Defendants moved for summary judgment on August 16, 2018. Dkt. 48. Their motion is supported by the sworn declarations of Defendants Dr. Nelson, Nurse Practitioner (NP) Perkins, NP Brubaker, Dr. Person, and an expert witness Dr. Ippel. Also submitted are the relevant medical records of Mr. Taylor, authenticated by Dr. Ippel in his declaration. Dkts. 49-3 & 49-2.

         Mr. Taylor filed a response in opposition to Defendants' motion for summary judgment. Dkt. 69. In considering Mr. Taylor's opposition to Defendants' motion, the Court will also consider the allegations made in Mr. Taylor's verified complaint as equivalent to an affidavit. See 28 U.S.C. § 1746; Devbrow v. Gallegos, 735 F.3d 584 (7th Cir. 2013); Hart v. Hairston, 343 F.3d 762, 765 (7th Cir. 1996).

         Before he responded in opposition to Defendants' motion for summary judgment, Mr. Taylor filed a verified motion for summary judgment. Dkt. 61. The brief in support of his motion contains arguments in opposition to Defendants' motion. Dkt. 62. Mr. Taylor submitted separate filings entitled “Statement of Disputed Factual Issues” and “Statement of Undisputed Facts.” Dkts. 63 & 64. Neither filing contains assertions of fact relevant to the viable issues in this lawsuit. Mr. Taylor also submitted his medical records and verified their authenticity under oath. Dkt. 66. These records are largely duplicative of the medical records submitted by Defendants.

         Before discussing the relevant facts distilled from the summary judgment record, the Court first notes that this lawsuit was filed on July 13, 2017. Actions brought pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 are governed by the state laws in the district in which the claims are brought. Serino v. Hensley, 735 F.3d 588, 590 (7th Cir. 2013). In Indiana, the applicable statute of limitations period is two years. See Richards v. Mitcheff, 696 F.3d 635, 637 (7th Cir. 2012); Ind. Code § 34-11-2-4. Therefore, in assessing the facts, the Court is most concerned with the allegations against the Defendants for claims occurring in the two-year period between July 13, 2015 and July 13, 2017.

         IV. Facts of the Case

         The following factual background is set forth pursuant to the standard discussed above in Section II in connection with parties' Motions for Summary Judgment. 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. Chronic Kidney Disease

         The parties agree that Mr. Taylor suffers from CKD and that it is a serious medical need. CKD results in a gradual loss of kidney function over time. Dr. Bruce Ippel's declaration states that the treatment of the disease primarily involves monitoring the disease and reducing complications to slow the disease's progression. There is no specific medication to treat CKD, but medications to control complications such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, anemia, and edema are useful to slow the progression. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle also helps slow the progression of CKD. Exercising, restricting salt intake, and avoiding over-the-counter non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications are recommended for someone with CKD. Mr. Taylor was diagnosed with CKD on January 7, 2012.

         Two measures of kidney function are the estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR) and the creatinine level. A normal level of creatinine in adult males is between 0.6 and 1.2 milligrams per deciliter. CKD is measured in five stages. A patient with stage three CKD, like Mr. Taylor, may have an eGFR measuring between 30 and 59.

         B. The Medical Records

         The medical records submitted by Mr. Taylor and Defendants show the following course of treatment sought by Mr. Taylor and provided by the Individual Defendants. In light of Mr. Taylor's arguments, the Court will discuss some of the medical records before July 13, 2015, and after the filing of this lawsuit on July 13, 2017.

         On March 2, 2015, Mr. Taylor's eGFR level was tested at 58 and his creatinine at 1.52. The creatinine level was a slight improvement over the results from previous tests. In July 2015, Mr. Taylor's eGFR and creatinine levels were “stable.” In December 2015, Mr. Taylor's eGFR and creatinine levels were 51 and 1.71, respectively, and in July 2016, the levels were ...

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