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Lowder v. Talbot

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

March 29, 2019

CURT LOWDER, Plaintiff,



         This matter is before the Court on Plaintiff Curt Lowder's (“Mr. Lowder”) Motion for Preliminary injunction. At the time of the filing of this lawsuit, Mr. Lowder was an Indiana prison inmate incarcerated in the Indiana State Reformatory (ISR) in Pendleton, Indiana. He sued Dr. Paul Talbot and Health Services Administrator LaFlower, medical employees at ISR, for their alleged deliberate indifference to his serious medical needs. He seeks specific medical treatment and medications. After defendants answered, Mr. Lowder filed this motion for a preliminary injunction seeking essentially the same relief he seeks in his lawsuit. Defendants responded in opposition to the motion. Mr. Lowder did not reply. For the reasons stated below, the motion, dkt. [18] is denied.

         I. Preliminary Injunction Standard

         “A preliminary injunction is an extraordinary equitable remedy that is available only when the movant shows clear need.” Turnell v. Centimark Corp., 796 F.3d 656, 661 (7th Cir. 2015). “To survive the threshold phase, a party seeking a preliminary injunction must satisfy three requirements.” Valencia v. City of Springfield, 883 F.3d 959, 966 (7th Cir. 2018) (internal quotations omitted)). It must show that: (1) “absent a preliminary injunction, it will suffer irreparable harm in the interim period prior to final resolution of its claims”; (2) “traditional legal remedies would be inadequate”; and (3) “its claim has some likelihood of succeeding on the merits.” Id. Only if the moving party meets these threshold requirements does the court then proceed to the balancing phase of the analysis. Id. In the balancing phase, “the court weighs the irreparable harm that the moving party would endure without the protection of the preliminary injunction against any irreparable harm the nonmoving party would suffer if the court were to grant the requested relief.” Id.

         II. Discussion

         Before arriving at ISR, Mr. Lowder was incarcerated at the Wabash Valley Correctional Facility (WVCF). While there he had seen outside medical provider Dr. Kurt Madsen, and apparently medical providers at WVCF followed the specialist's recommendations in some respects. He received Ultram, Gabapentin, Tylenol, and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications for pain, as well as Pepcid for a gastrointestional condition. After he was transferred from WVCF to ISR, defendants changed his treatment, specifically discontinuing Ultram. Mr. Lowder also contends that Dr. Madsen recommended surgery, but defendants will not follow that recommendation. Mr. Lowder contends he is in pain because defendants' have been deliberately indifferent to his serious medical needs by not following Dr. Madsen's recommendations.

         The Court will address the three Valencia factors to assess Mr. Lowder's motion.

         A. Likelihood of Success on the Merits

         Mr. Lowder's argument that he is likely to succeed on the merits of his claims are premised on the assertion that defendants are deliberately indifferent because they are not following Dr. Madsen's recommendations. Defendants offer evidence that they are providing constitutionally adequate medical treatment, and therefore Mr. Lowder's likelihood of success on the merits is not a foregone conclusion.

         To state a valid Eighth Amendment claim for inadequate medical care, Mr. Lowder must “allege acts or omissions sufficiently harmful to evidence deliberate indifference to serious medical needs.” Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 106 (1976). A deliberate indifference claim is comprised of two elements: one objective and one subjective. McGee v. Adams, 721 F.3d 474, 480 (7th Cir. 2013). Defendants do not dispute that Mr. Lowder suffers from serious medical conditions. To demonstrate deliberate indifference to a serious medical judgment a plaintiff must show that medical decisions were “such a substantial departure from accepted professional judgment, practice, or standards, as to demonstrate that [they] . . . did not base the decision[s] on such a judgment.” Proctor v. Sood, 863 F.3d 563, 568 (7th Cir. 2017).

         “Under the Eighth Amendment, [a plaintiff] is not entitled to demand specific care. [H]e is not entitled to the best care possible. [H]e is entitled to reasonable measures to meet a substantial risk of serious harm to [him].” Forbes v. Edgar, 112 F.3d 262, 267 (7th Cir. 1997). Mr. Lowder “is not entitled to demand specific care.” Id.

         In Dr. Talbot's affidavit submitted in opposition to the motion for preliminary injunction, he states that when Mr. Lowder arrived at ISR, he reviewed Mr. Lowder's records and performed research on recommended treatments for Mr. Lowder's conditions. He prescribed Mobic for pain, which is a long-acting non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication and recommended, with exercise, for the condition afflicting Mr. Lowder. He also determined that Gabapentin was no longer recommended for Mr. Lowder's condition, so he ordered a gradual reduction of the Gabapentin. Dr. Talbot also states that there was no specific recommendation from Dr. Madsen for Mr. Lowder to receive any back or hip surgery. Finally, Dr. Talbot continued Mr. Lowder's prescription for Pepcid.

         Dr. Talbot also states in the affidavit that he has seen Mr. Lowder numerous times in 2017 and 2018, and Mr. Lowder does not require a cane, walker, or wheelchair, is able to walk to the health care unit, get up and down from the examination table, and dress and bathe himself. While Mr. Lowder always asks for Ultram, Dr. Talbot states that his physical findings and the medical research do not warrant that medication. Finally, Dr. Talbot ...

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