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Gooch v. Corizon, LLC

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

September 27, 2019




         I. Background

         At all relevant times, plaintiff Charles Gooch was an Indiana prisoner incarcerated at the the Correctional Industrial Facility (CIF). Mr. Gooch filed this civil rights action on April 3, 2017. Dkt. No. 1. This action was consolidated with another action, 1:17-cv-2217-RLY-MPB, on March 12, 2018. Dkt. 41. His third amended complaint, tendered on May 7, 2018, dkt. 48, and filed on June 8, 2018, is the operative pleading. Dkt. 52. Dana Miller, physical therapist, is one of eight defendants. Mr. Gooch seeks compensatory and punitive damages and injunctive relief in the form of diagnostics and surgery.[1]

         Defendant Miller has moved for summary judgment. Dkt. 89. Briefing was extended to allow the Court to recruit counsel to assist Mr. Gooch. Counsel was recruited on May 2, 2019, and August 15, 2019. Dkt. 137; dkt. 152. The Court greatly appreciates recruited counsel’s assistance with this case. Mr. Gooch responded, dkt. 149, and Ms. Miller replied, dkt. 154. For the reasons explained in this Entry, Ms. Miller’s motion for summary judgment, filed on February 13, 2019, must be granted.

         II. Summary Judgment Standard

         Summary judgment should be granted “if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(a). “Material facts are those that might affect the outcome of the suit under applicable substantive law.” Dawson v. Brown, 803 F.3d 829, 833 (7th Cir. 2015) (internal quotation omitted). “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 facts in the light most favorable to the non-moving party and all reasonable inferences are drawn in the non-movant’s favor. Barbera v. Pearson Education, Inc., 906 F.3d 621, 628 (7th Cir. 2018). The Court cannot weigh evidence or make credibility determinations on summary judgment because those tasks are left to the fact-finder. Johnson v. Advocate Health and Hospitals Corp. 892 F.3d 887, 893 (7th Cir. 2018).

         III. Discussion

         A. Facts

         The following statement of facts was evaluated pursuant to the standards set forth above. That is, this statement of facts is not necessarily objectively true, but as the summary judgment standard requires, the undisputed facts and the disputed evidence are presented in the light reasonably most favorable to Mr. Gooch as the non-moving party with respect to the motion for summary judgment. See Reeves v. Sanderson Plumbing Products, Inc., 530 U.S. 133, 150 (2000).

         Dana Miller has been a physical therapist for over 25 years. Dkt. 91-1 at 1, ¶ 3. Ms. Miller has worked for RepuCare, a medical staffing company, since 2003. Id. at ¶ 4. RepuCare assigns Ms. Miller to provide physical therapy services at various facilities. Id. at ¶ 5. During Mr. Gooch’s incarceration at CIF, RepuCare contracted with Corizon Health Care (Corizon) and Wexford of Indiana, LLC (Wexford). Id. at ¶¶ 4-6. Since 2007, CIF has been one of Ms. Miller’s assigned facilities. Id. at ¶ 5. Ms. Miller has never been employed by Corizon or Wexford. Id. at ¶ 4.

         In early 2015, Ms. Miller evaluated weakness Ms. Gooch had in his left leg and recommended he get an ankle-foot orthosis (AFO). Dkt. 91-2 at 14, 18 (Gooch Dep.) at 89:4-19, 109:8-9. An AFO is an L-shaped brace with a short end that slides under the foot to hold it up. Dkt. 91-2 at 3, 5 at 25:13-19, 41:2-16. Ms. Miller recommended an AFO for Mr. Gooch because he did not have good control of his left foot and knee. Dkt. 150-3, no. 2 at 4. An AFO is intended to assist with ambulation related to foot drop. Dkt. 150-4, no. 10 at 4. An AFO can raise the front of the foot and prevent the knee from hyperextending backward. Dkt. 150-3, no. 5 at 4.

         Mr. Gooch received his first AFO, a plastic version, in 2015. Dkt. 91-2 at 14, 17 at 89:16-19, 108:2-13. After about six months, the plastic AFO wore out and became weak. Dkt. 91-2 at 17 at 108:1-13. Mr. Gooch complained about the plastic AFO to Dr. Person, a physician at the prison. Dkt. 91-2 at 18 at 109:8-21. Dr. Person ordered a custom-fitted AFO to replace the plastic one. Id. An orthotist molded Mr. Gooch’s foot and made the custom AFO in mid-2015. Dkt. 91-2 at 18 at 109:2-5. The new AFO had hinges behind the ankle that prevented Mr. Gooch’s left foot from dropping when he walked. Dkt. 91-2 at 8-9 at 60:18-61:19.

         Mr. Gooch is dependent on his AFO to prevent his knee from extending backwards and to prevent stress on his knee. Dkt. 150-1 at ¶ 22. When Mr. Gooch attempts to walk without his AFO, he strains to keep his balance and he has twisted his ankle and knee without his AFO. Dkt. 150-1 at ¶ 23.

         On August 31, 2016, Mr. Gooch fell down some steps and injured his knee. Dkt. 150-1 at ¶ 5. This fall was not due to his AFO. Dkt. 91-2 at 10 at 65:8-9. He slipped on water on the ...

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