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Jackson v. Wexford of Indiana, LLC

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

October 29, 2019



          Hon. Jane Magnus-Stinson, Chief Judge

         Plaintiff Samuel Jackson, an inmate currently incarcerated at Pendleton Correctional Facility (“Pendleton”), brought this action against medical providers and other employees at Pendleton, including Dr. Paul Talbot and his employer, Wexford of Indiana, LLC (“Wexford). Mr. Jackson alleges that the defendants have provided and continue to provide deficient medical treatment for his severe foot fungus[1] and that his toes now appear to be infected, black and rotten.

         The Court enters a preliminary injunction in Mr. Jackson's favor as follows:

In order to ensure that Mr. Jackson receives constitutionally adequate care, Dr. Talbot and Wexford of Indiana, LLC, shall refer Mr. Jackson to an outside dermatologist by no later than November 23, 2019. The Medical Defendants must follow the treatment recommend by the dermatologist while this injunction remains in effect. The dermatologist shall be given a copy of this Order. The Medical Defendants shall report no later than November 23, 2019, that the referral has been made and the date the appointment is scheduled. This report may be filed ex parte only if Mr. Jackson is not given notice of the date of the appointment.

         I. Legal Standard for Issuing Preliminary Injunction

         “A preliminary injunction is an extraordinary remedy never awarded as of right.” Winter v. Natural Res. Def. Council, Inc., 555 U.S. 7, 20 (2008). “To obtain a preliminary injunction, a plaintiff must establish that it has some likelihood of success on the merits; that it has no adequate remedy at law; that without relief it will suffer irreparable harm.” GEFT Outdoors, LLC v. City of Westfield, 922 F.3d 357, 364 (7th Cir. 2019) (citation and quotation marks omitted); see Winter, 555 U.S. at 20. “If the plaintiff fails to meet any of these threshold requirements, the court must deny the injunction.” GEFT Outdoors, 922 F.3d at 364 (citation and quotation marks omitted).

         If the plaintiff passes the threshold requirements, “the court must weigh the harm that the plaintiff will suffer absent an injunction against the harm to the defendant from an injunction, and consider whether an injunction is in the public interest.” Planned Parenthood of Ind. & Ky., Inc. v. Comm'r of Ind. State Dep't of Health, 896 F.3d 809, 816 (7th Cir. 2018). The Seventh Circuit “‘employs a sliding scale approach' for this balancing: if a plaintiff is more likely to win, the balance of harms can weigh less heavily in its favor, but the less likely a plaintiff is to win the more that balance would need to weigh in its favor.” GEFT Outdoors, 922 F.3d at 364 (quoting Planned Parenthood, 896 F.3d at 816).

         II. Reasons Why Preliminary Injunction is Issued

         A. Likelihood of Success on the Merits

         The Court begins with whether Mr. Jackson has a likelihood of success on the merits of his Eighth Amendment medical claim. Mr. Jackson was and remains a convicted prisoner, thus his treatment and the conditions of his confinement are evaluated under standards established by the Eighth Amendment's proscription against the imposition of cruel and unusual punishment. See Helling v. McKinney, 509 U.S. 25, 31 (1993) (“[T]he treatment a prisoner receives in prison and the conditions under which he is confined are subject to scrutiny under the Eighth Amendment.”). Pursuant to the Eighth Amendment, prison officials have a duty to provide humane conditions of confinement, meaning they must take reasonable measures to guarantee the safety of the inmates and ensure that they receive adequate food, clothing, shelter, and medical care. Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 834 (1994).

         “To determine if the Eighth Amendment has been violated in the prison medical context, [the Court] perform[s] a two-step analysis, first examining whether a plaintiff suffered from an objectively serious medical condition, and then determining whether the individual defendant was deliberately indifferent to that condition.” Petties v. Carter, 836 F.3d 722, 727-28 (7th Cir. 2016) (en banc). To show deliberate indifference, “a plaintiff does not need to show that the official intended harm or believed that harm would occur, ” but “showing mere negligence is not enough.” Id. at 728. Instead, a plaintiff must “provide evidence that an official actually knew of and disregarded a substantial risk of harm.” Id.

         The uncontradicted evidence reflects that Mr. Jackson is “suffering from black fungus on [his] toe-nail that spread onto multiple toes and nails causing them to be infected, black and rotten needing surgery, removed or amputated and the pain and suffering [he is] experiencing because [he is] not receiving adequate medical care or proper pain medication from the defendants is becoming unbearable.” Dkt. 9-1 at ¶ 3.

         A reasonable jury could, and likely would, infer that the progression of a fungus over the course of 19 years that gives the appearance that the plaintiff's toes are rotting is a serious medical need. And that the denial of responsive medical care including pain medication is due to deliberate indifference of the medical providers. Mr. Jackson has therefore shown a significant likelihood of success on his Eighth Amendment medical claim.

         B. No. ...

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