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Mullins v. Wexford Healthcare Sources

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

July 17, 2019




         Plaintiff Richard L. Mullins, an inmate at Putnamville Correctional Facility in Greencastle, Indiana, brought this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 alleging that the defendants violated his Eighth Amendment rights by showing deliberate indifference to his serious medical needs while he was incarcerated at Wabash Valley Correctional Facility in Carlisle, Indiana (“WVCF”). The defendants are (1) Dr. Samuel Dr. Byrd, (2) Kim Hobson, (3) R. Robinson, (4) Laura Petty, (5) Robert Lundy, and (6) Wexford Healthcare Sources.

         The defendants have moved for summary judgment. For the reasons explained in this Order, the defendants are entitled to summary judgment on all of Mr. Mullins's claims.

         I. Summary Judgment 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). Whether a party asserts that a fact is undisputed or genuinely disputed, the party must support the asserted fact by citing to specific portions 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 by an adverse party 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)). 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 factfinder. 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 the record” for evidence that is potentially relevant to the summary judgment motion. Grant v. Trustees of Indiana University, 870 F.3d 562, 573-74 (7th Cir. 2017) (quoting Harney v. Speedway SuperAmerica, LLC, 526 F.3d 1099, 1104 (7th Cir. 2008)). Any doubt as to the existence of a genuine issue for trial is resolved against the moving party. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 255.

         II. Factual Background

         Mr. Mullins was transferred to WVCF in July 2017. All the events discussed below occurred in 2017 unless otherwise noted. At the relevant times, defendants Laura Petty and Robert Lundy were state employees and lieutenants at WVCF. Defendants Kim Hobson (a healthcare administrator), R. Robinson (a registered nurse), and Dr. Samuel Byrd were all employees of defendant Wexford Healthcare Sources.

         Between August 4 and August 11, Mr. Mullins told Lundy and Petty that he had poison ivy and asked to be referred for an injection. Dkt. 78-1 at 14-15. According to Mr. Mullins, Lundy and Petty told him he could not receive the injection because Mr. Mullins was not on a labor line. Id. at 15, 19. Petty instructed Mr. Mullins to file healthcare request forms. Id. at 20. Mr. Mullins asked Lundy and Petty to advocate on his behalf with medical staff, but they declined to do so. Id. at 26.

         On August 7, Mr. Mullins submitted a healthcare request form stating that he had either poison ivy or poison oak all over his body. Dkt. 78-2 at 26. He wanted an injection that he believed would help relieve either of those conditions. Dkt. 78-1 at 23. Also on August 7, Mr. Mullins submitted an informal grievance complaining about poison ivy or poison oak. Dkt. 73-11. Defendant Robinson responded to the informal grievance on August 8. Id. She noted that Mr. Mullins had seen a medical provider on August 7 and instructed him to submit healthcare request forms if his problems persisted. Id.

         On August 8, Mr. Mullins submitted another healthcare request form, this time stating that he had shingles and that a nurse had informed him he would be given antibiotics to treat his shingles. Dkt. 78-2 at 25. Also on August 8, Dr. Byrd instructed a non-defendant member of the nursing staff to give Mr. Mullins a Dexamethasone Sodium Phosphate (“Dexamethasone”) injection. Dkt. 73-1 at 2; see also dkt. 78-2 at 25. Mr. Mullins maintains that he never received an injection. Dkt. 78-1 at 31.

         On August 10, prison custody staff contacted Dr. Byrd about Mr. Mullins's ongoing pain. Dkt. 73-4 at 1. Dr. Byrd noted the prior treatments of Prednisone and Dexamethasone. Id. He then prescribed a low dose of Pamelor for Mr. Mullins's pain and Acyclovir to treat the shingles virus. Id.; see dkt. 78-2 at 17; dkt. 73-1 at 3.

         On August 11, Mr. Mullins filed a healthcare request form complaining that his shingles were painful and asking to see a doctor. Dkt. 78-2 at 22. A non-defendant member of the health care staff responded to the grievance on August 12, noting that Mr. Mullins had been prescribed pain medication and that the doctor was following his progress. Id. Also on August 11, Mr. Mullins filed an informal grievance complaining that he had not been seen by medical staff for his shingles. Dkt. 78-1 at 55. Defendant Hobson learned of the grievance by email on October 26, and she was otherwise unfamiliar with Mr. Mullins's skin conditions. Dkt. 73-13 at 1; see also Dkt. 73-14. Hobson responded to the grievance on October 26, summarizing the treatment Mr. Mullins had received for shingles and eczema between August 8 and October 26. Dkt. 73-16.[1]

         On August 21, Mr. Mullins filed a healthcare request form seeking an Acyclovir refill. Dkt. 78-2 at 17. A non-defendant member of the healthcare staff responded on August 23 informing Mr. Mullins that the Acyclovir treatment was complete. Id.

         On August 22, Mr. Mullins had his first in-person visit with Dr. Byrd. Dkt. 73-6 at 1. Dr. Byrd formally diagnosed Mr. Mullins with shingles (herpes zoster) and noted that the shingles rashes were itchy and painful. Id. at 1, 3. Dr. Byrd replaced the Pamelor prescription with Cymbalta to treat Mr. Mullins's ...

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