Sharif v. Carter et al
OPINION and Order: For the reasons stated in the accompanying Opinion and Order, the Court grants the Wexford Defendants' motion for summary judgment 158 and the IDOC Defendants' motion for summary judgment 161 . The Court enters judgment for the Wexford and IDOC Defendants and terminates this case. Hearing set for 8/9/17 is stricken. Signed by the Honorable Sara L. Ellis on 8/8/2017. Mailed notice(ep, )
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
NORTHERN DISTRICT OF ILLINOIS
JAMAL SHARIF (A-88447),
IMHOTEP CARTER, M.D., ROYCE
BROWN-REED, KEVIN HALLORAN,
MARCUS HARDY, DARRYL EDWARDS,
and WEXFORD HEALTH SOURCES, INC.,
No. 12 C 5685
Judge Sara L. Ellis
OPINION AND ORDER
Plaintiff Jamal Sharif, an inmate at Stateville Correctional Center (“Stateville”), fractured
his right ankle while playing basketball on October 6, 2011. He filed this 42 U.S.C. § 1983 suit
against Defendants Dr. Imhotep Carter, Kevin Halloran, and Wexford Health Sources, Inc.
(“Wexford,” and collectively with Dr. Carter and Halloran, the “Wexford Defendants”) and
Royce Brown-Reed, Marcus Hardy, and Darryl Edwards (collectively, the “IDOC Defendants”),
alleging that the Wexford and IDOC Defendants exhibited deliberate indifference to his serious
medical needs in violation of the Eighth Amendment. Both the Wexford and IDOC Defendants
seek summary judgment on Sharif’s claims. Because Sharif cannot demonstrate that Dr. Carter,
Halloran, Hardy, Edwards, or Brown-Reed acted with deliberate indifference to his ankle injury,
the Court grants summary judgment for these Defendants. Similarly, because Sharif has not
sufficiently established a question of fact as to whether Wexford’s alleged cost-cutting policies
and written policy for treating ankle fractures caused him harm, the Court grants summary
judgment for Wexford.
Sharif challenges the medical care and treatment he received while an inmate at Stateville
after injuring his ankle while playing basketball on October 6, 2011. Wexford, a private
corporation, has a contract with the Illinois Department of Corrections (“IDOC”) to provide
medical services to inmates at IDOC facilities, including Stateville. Dr. Carter served as
Stateville’s medical director from July 25, 2011 to May 13, 2012. Halloran served as Wexford’s
chairman but has not and does not provide medical care to inmates. He has no involvement in
medical decisions made for particular inmates, including those related to Sharif’s care at
Brown-Reed served as the health care unit administrator at Stateville at the relevant time.
Although she oversaw all departments in the health care unit, she did not review or approve
inmate treatment plans or conduct investigations into inmate complaints. She also had no
involvement in the scheduling of medical care. She did not monitor or observe individual
appointments of patients as the health care unit administrator, although she had done so
previously as a nurse.
Hardy was the Stateville Warden between December 2009 and December 2012, with
Edwards serving as the Assistant Warden of Programs between 2010 and August 2012. Hardy
generally oversaw Stateville’s population, safety, security, sanitation, and budget management.
The facts in this section are derived from the Joint Statement of Undisputed Material Facts. The Court
includes only those portions of the statements that are appropriately presented, supported, and relevant to
the resolution of the pending motions for summary judgment. The Court takes all facts in the light most
favorable to Sharif, the non-movant. Sharif also includes additional facts in his combined response to the
motions for summary judgment, attaching exhibits in support of those facts. As discussed further below,
the Court does not consider these additional facts, as they are not appropriately presented in accordance
with the Court’s summary judgment procedures.
General Provision of Medical Care at Stateville
Inmates request medical care by putting a sick call request in a box, speaking to
correctional staff who then contact the emergency room, or speaking with medical technicians or
nurses while they round through the housing units on a daily basis. When inmates place sick call
requests, the requests are logged by medical technicians in the inmate’s medical chart and
reviewed. The medical technicians evaluate whether they can treat the issue or whether it needs
referral to a physician. If an inmate needs emergency care, a medical technician evaluates the
inmate and sends the inmate to urgent care if needed. If the issue is not an emergency, the
inmate then must submit a sick call request.
Facility lockdowns do not prevent inmates from being seen at the health care unit in
emergency situations. But level-one lockdowns could result in inmates not receiving in-facility
medical care for non-emergencies. Facility lockdowns do not prevent inmates’ outside referrals
from taking place or security staff from taking inmates offsite for medical treatment, however.
Wexford’s regional medical director testified that Wexford advises its employees to be
cost conscious. When hospital-based services, such as surgeries, exceed Wexford’s annual
hospitalization utilization threshold for a given year, Wexford must pay for the services rendered
by independent practitioners.
Sharif’s Ankle Injury and Treatment
Sharif injured his right ankle playing basketball on October 6, 2011. Sharif claims he
reported his injury to the inmate on cell house duty sometime between 2:00 p.m. and 3:00 p.m.,
asking him to contact the sergeant to have a medical technician look at the injury. The inmate
reportedly told Sharif that the sergeant told Sharif to be patient and that a nurse would attend to
him, but no nurse or medical technician arrived. Sharif has no reason to believe the inmate on
duty did not report the injury as reported, but he has no evidence that the injury was actually
reported to the health care unit or a medical technician. Ultimately, around 5:00 p.m., Sharif
went to the prison dining facility, where he reported his injury to Sergeant Baldwin. He was then
taken to the health care unit’s emergency room, where a nurse immediately treated him with
crutches, a bag of ice, and a pass to return to the health care unit emergency room on October 10,
Sharif’s pass to return to the emergency room on October 10 was canceled, and Sharif
instead returned to the emergency room the following day. There, he waited in the waiting cell
for five or six hours without being seen.2 On October 12, Sharif had an x-ray on his right ankle,
which revealed an undisplaced or non-displaced fracture of the right lateral malleolus. The x-ray
request was signed in Dr. Carter’s name, although Latanya Williams, the physician’s assistant,
requested it. In a non-displaced fracture, the bones line up. Conservative treatment, rather than
surgery, is typically appropriate, with the fracture taking between six months and a year to heal
on its own.
Dr. Schaefer, another doctor working in Stateville’s health care unit, informed Sharif of
his non-displaced fracture on October 14. Dr. Schaefer ordered Sharif to use crutches, have
repeated x-rays, and take pain medication. He also provided Sharif with medical permits for a
low bunk and low gallery. Dr. Carter testified that Dr. Schaefer’s treatment decision was in line
with medical standards. Sharif had a repeat x-ray on October 19, which reaffirmed the nondisplaced fracture diagnosis. Dr. Carter reviewed these results and saw Sharif on October 24,
concluding that Sharif had pain in his ankle. Sharif claims that Dr. Carter ordered an open-toe
shoe and instructed Sharif to follow up in two weeks.
Dr. Carter and Brown-Reed both testified that there was no reason why an inmate waiting in the holding
cage would not be seen and receive treatment absent some emergency.
Around this time, Sharif claims to have spoken with Edwards regarding his ankle and to
have made a request to be moved to a lower gallery, with the parties agreeing Sharif did not have
a low gallery permit at the time he made the request. Edwards responded that he could move
Sharif to F House, but Sharif testified that he did not want to go to F House because he thought it
would involve the same issues of going up and down stairs as his current placement and housed
mostly segregation inmates. Sharif also claims that he asked Edwards to help him see an outside
foot specialist, but that Edwards responded that Sharif looked alright to him. Edwards does not
recall any interactions with Sharif or investigating Sharif’s medical treatment.
Sharif filed a grievance on October 21, complaining of deliberate withholding of serious
medical needs, specifically that he had waited five or six hours without seeing a doctor, but he
did not mention any of the named Defendants in his grievance or check the medical treatment
box on the grievance form. The grievance office received the October 21 grievance on
November 7, forwarded it to someone in the health care unit, and responded on December 7 that
Sharif had received an x-ray on October 6.3
Sharif was next seen in the health care unit on November 4 by Dr. Dubrick. A follow up
on November 15 was canceled because of a lockdown. On January 10, 2012, Dr. Carter saw
Sharif, noting that Sharif had been “lost to follow-up,” Doc. 160 ¶ 47, but that Sharif had good
range of motion in his right ankle, no effusion, and that neurovascular function was preserved.
Dr. Carter decided that Sharif’s ankle had healed but ordered follow up x-rays for verification.
Dr. Carter concluded that Sharif could return to full weight-bearing and so took away Sharif’s
crutches. Sharif testified that, in his view, Dr. Carter acted as he should up to January 10.
The date of the x-ray included on the grievance response is incorrect, as Sharif actually received his first
x-ray on October 12.
The x-rays taken on January 12 revealed that Sharif’s ankle was still fractured. The
radiologist’s January 16 report indicated that there was no callous formation, or growth of new
bone, so as to suggest healing. On January 20, Sharif saw Williams, who noted the x-ray results
and scheduled a follow up for Sharif with Dr. Carter. Sharif claims that Brown-Reed was at this
visit, but Brown-Reed has no recollection of this. Dr. Carter saw Sharif on January 25,
informing him that the fracture remained non-displaced and that Dr. Carter would arrange for an
appointment with a specialist. On February 1, Dr. Carter again saw Sharif, noting that he had not
yet been seen by a specialist and that the fracture was not healing. No request for a referral
appears in Sharif’s medical records before this appointment. The orthopedic consult was
approved in a collegial review on February 6. Once approved, Stateville’s medical records
director, Olayinka Olarewaju (“Ms. Yeku”) scheduled the appointment with Hinsdale
Orthopaedic. Wexford’s policies provide that once collegial review approves an outside
appointment, care should be initiated as soon as possible. Based on custom and practice, Ms.
Yeku scheduled the appointment within five days of the date of approval, using a list of outside
providers and reporting the basis for the referral and its urgency. The specialist then scheduled
the appointment based on the provided information, choosing the date of the appointment.
On February 8, 2012, Sharif filed a grievance indicating he learned he had an
appointment with an orthopedic specialist but that when staff came to get him, it did not happen.
He asked for a rescheduled appointment, but he did not take issue with the conduct of any named
Defendants in this case. On February 27, Sharif saw Dr. Carter, who informed him that the
collegial review process had approved Sharif seeing a specialist. Sharif again filed a grievance
on March 16, requesting a visit with an orthopedic specialist. On April 2, Sharif saw Dr.
Puppala from the Hinsdale Orthopaedic Clinic, who recommended that Sharif have surgery on
his right ankle, which Dr. Puppala assessed to be an anatomic, non-displaced fracture. Although
Sharif stated his pain at the time registered a nine out of ten, Dr. Puppala did not fully credit this
rating. The Wexford Utilization Management team, along with Dr. Carter, approved the surgery
on April 9. But when Ms. Yeku tried to schedule or confirm the surgery, Dr. Puppala asked for
an additional appointment and x-rays before surgery. On June 5, this request was noted by the
Wexford Utilization Management team, with Sharif thereafter approved for additional follow up
and x-rays with Dr. Puppala.
Sharif claims he sent Halloran letters on April 20 and June 1, requesting right ankle
surgery, and that he also wrote to Brown-Reed on April 20 and 29 regarding delays in his
surgery. He also filed another grievance on April 22 concerning the IDOC van and step ladder
used for transport, but this grievance related to issues surrounding his transportation to his April
2 appointment with Dr. Puppala. Sharif also claims to have written a letter to Hardy on May 10
asking for help in having his surgery sooner. Hardy does not know if he received the letter, as he
does not keep a log of incoming mail and his assistant handles his mail, forwarding it to the
appropriate department to handle. He also has no recollection of Sharif and knows nothing about
his medical treatment. Similarly, Hardy does not recall ever reviewing any of Sharif’s
grievances.4 Brown-Reed also has no recollection of Sharif and does not recall receiving any
letters from him. She did not personally review letters sent to her by inmates, and letters from
Although Hardy does not recall reviewing any grievances, the parties acknowledge in the joint statement
of facts that one of Hardy’s designee’s, Keven Senor, signed off on Sharif’s emergency grievance, which
they state was dated May 22, 2012, finding it was not an emergency. The only emergency grievance
found not to be an emergency signed by Marcus Hardy (or his designee) attached to the joint statement of
facts is a March 16, 2012 grievance, signed by Hardy on March 26, 2012. See Doc. 160-17. Hardy also
acknowledges that he concurred in the denial of one of Sharif’s grievances on January 4, 2012, proof of
which is attached to Sharif’s second amended complaint. See Doc. 162 at 8 (acknowledging instance);
Doc. 27-6 at 3 (grievance response).
inmates received by her office would be stamped. Neither of the letters Sharif claims to have
sent her have stamps on them from her office.
Dr. Carter left Stateville’s employment on May 13. On June 3, Sharif filed another
grievance, complaining that Hardy and Edwards were delaying or failing to take action on his
ankle surgery. The grievance did not mention any of the Wexford Defendants. On June 5,
Sharif met with Dr. Puppala and recalls Dr. Puppala telling him that his initial surgery was
canceled and eventually rescheduled. Dr. Puppala noted that, upon examination, Sharif now had
a “healing fracture of the right lateral malleolus,” meaning that he could “avoid surgery at this
time” as Sharif’s “body is trying to heal this on its own.” Doc. 160 ¶ 80. Dr. Puppala decided to
confirm healing through a CT scan, pursuing surgery only if the CT scan did not show healing.
Wexford approved the CT scan recommendation, which occurred on June 21. The CT scan did
not show the healing Dr. Puppala wanted. Wexford then approved a referral for surgery one day
after receiving the CT scan results. On July 13, Dr. Puppala performed the right ankle surgery,
specifically an open reduction and internal fixation of right distal fibula, at Silver Cross hospital.
The surgery required a bone marrow graft and insertion of a plate and six screws. Sharif then
spent two weeks in the health care unit’s intensive care ward. Although Dr. Puppala
recommended a follow up visit within six weeks of the surgery, he did not see Sharif again. Dr.
Puppala also wrote Sharif a prescription for a bone stimulator but does not know whether Sharif
ever received the bone stimulator. Sharif filed a grievance to see Dr. Puppala and receive the
prescribed bone stimulation therapy after his surgery, but that grievance was denied. Sharif also
claims to have written Brown-Reed a letter on September 5, 2012 regarding not receiving bone
stimulation therapy, but he does not know if Brown-Reed received the letter.
Based on Hinsdale Orthopaedics’ bills, it cost more money to send Sharif for additional
follow up visits, x-rays, and the CT scan than it would have if Dr. Puppala had operated
immediately after Sharif’s first appointment with him. Dr. Puppala testified that his office had
not yet been paid for Sharif’s surgery.
Summary judgment obviates the need for a trial where there is no genuine issue as to any
material fact and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed. R. Civ. P. 56.
To determine whether a genuine issue of fact exists, the Court must pierce the pleadings and
assess the proof as presented in depositions, answers to interrogatories, admissions, and
affidavits that are part of the record. Fed. R. Civ. P. 56 & advisory committee’s notes. The party
seeking summary judgment bears the initial burden of proving that no genuine issue of material
fact exists. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323, 106 S. Ct. 2548, 91 L. Ed. 2d 265
(1986). In response, the non-moving party cannot rest on mere pleadings alone but must use the
evidentiary tools listed above to identify specific material facts that demonstrate a genuine issue
for trial. Id. at 324; Insolia v. Philip Morris Inc., 216 F.3d 596, 598 (7th Cir. 2000). Although a
bare contention that an issue of fact exists is insufficient to create a factual dispute, Bellaver v.
Quanex Corp., 200 F.3d 485, 492 (7th Cir. 2000), the Court must construe all facts in a light
most favorable to the non-moving party and draw all reasonable inferences in that party’s favor.
Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 255, 106 S. Ct. 2505, 91 L. Ed. 2d 202 (1986).
Sharif’s Fee Status
Before addressing the merits of Sharif’s claims, the Court must address Sharif’s in forma
pauperis status. Recently, it has come to the Court’s attention that Sharif had accumulated three
strikes under the Prison Litigation Reform Act (“PLRA”), 28 U.S.C. § 1915(g), prior to the filing
of this suit. See Sharif v. Jacob, No. 17 C 5025, Doc. 4 (N.D. Ill. July 17, 2017) (detailing
Sharif’s litigation history, including the three cases dismissed as frivolous upon screening in
1993 and 1994 in the Southern District of Illinois). Under § 1915(g), prisoners who have
acquired three strikes cannot proceed with another action without prepaying the filing fee, unless
they are in imminent danger of serious physical injury. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(g). Additionally, an
inmate is required to advise the Court that he has struck out, with the Court having the ability to
dismiss the action as a sanction if the inmate fails to do so. See Isby v. Brown, 856 F.3d 508, 519
(7th Cir. 2017) (collecting cases); Ammons v. Gerlinger, 547 F.3d 724, 725 (7th Cir. 2008) (“A
litigant who knows that he has accumulated three or more frivolous suits or appeals must alert
the court to that fact.”); Sloan v. Lesza, 181 F.3d 857, 858–59 (7th Cir. 1999) (explaining that
“fraud” on the Court must “lead to immediate termination of the suit”). Sharif’s initial complaint
was dated July 4, 2012, before he had ankle surgery. Because the allegations of the complaint
could be read to suggest a continuing need to address his ankle injury, the Court will not revoke
Sharif’s in forma pauperis status and instead will address the fully briefed summary judgment
motion. The Court does warn Sharif, however, that in future filings, he must disclose the fact
that he has accumulated three or more strikes under § 1915(g) and cannot file suit in federal
court without prepaying the filing fee unless he is in imminent danger of serious physical injury.
His failure to disclose his litigation history, including his strikes, when he files a new federal
lawsuit will result in immediate dismissal of the action with prejudice. See Sloan, 181 F.3d at
Adherence to the Court’s Summary Judgment Procedures
Additionally, the Court must address Sharif’s inclusion of additional facts in his response
brief. The Court’s summary judgment procedures differ from Local Rule 56.1, in that this Court
requires the parties to submit a joint statement of undisputed facts. See Sweatt v. Union Pac.
R.R. Co., 796 F.3d 701, 711–12 (7th Cir. 2015) (affirming this Court’s summary judgment case
management procedures). The party opposing summary judgment may, however, submit
additional facts it contends demonstrate a genuine issue of material fact in its response, providing
citations to supporting material. Id.; Judge Sara L. Ellis, Case Procedures, Summary Judgment
These additional facts must be genuinely disputed; the non-moving party may not use the
response as an opportunity to sidestep the joint process. See Judge Sara L. Ellis, Case
Procedures, Summary Judgment Practice (“The parties may not file—and the Court will not
consider—separate statements of undisputed facts.”). Here, Sharif includes in his response his
own narrative of facts, citing not only to the parties’ joint statement but also to additional
supporting material where his recitation of facts is not supported by the joint statement. The
Wexford Defendants take issue with Sharif providing his own narrative, arguing that he has
undermined the joint process. The Court agrees that, to the extent Sharif relies on undisputed
facts, those facts should have been included in the joint statement of facts and so are not
appropriately before the Court.
Deliberate Indifference Claim
Correctional officials and health care providers may not act with deliberate indifference
to an inmate’s serious medical needs. Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 104, 97 S. Ct. 285, 50 L.
Ed. 2d 251 (1976); Fields v. Smith, 653 F.3d 550, 554 (7th Cir. 2011). Deliberate indifference
has both an objective and a subjective element: (1) the inmate must have an objectively serious
medical condition, and (2) the defendant must be subjectively aware of and consciously
disregard the inmate’s medical need. Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 834, 114 S. Ct. 1970,
128 L. Ed. 2d 811 (1994); Roe v. Elyea, 631 F.3d 843, 857 (7th Cir. 2011). The parties do not
dispute that Sharif suffered from an objectively serious medical condition for purposes of this
motion, so the Court only addresses the subjective element of Sharif’s deliberate indifference
claim against each Defendant.
The subjective element of a deliberate indifference claim requires that the defendant act
with a sufficiently culpable state of mind—“something akin to criminal recklessness”—requiring
“that the defendant be aware of and disregard an excessive risk of serious harm to the inmate.”
Norfleet v. Webster, 439 F.3d 392, 397 (7th Cir. 2006). “For a medical professional to be held
liable under the deliberate indifference standard, he must make a decision that is ‘such a
substantial departure from accepted professional judgment, practice, or standards, as to
demonstrate that the person responsible actually did not base the decision on such a judgment.’”
Holloway v. Del. County Sheriff, 700 F.3d 1063, 1073 (7th Cir. 2012) (quoting Jackson v. Kotter,
541 F.3d 688, 697 (7th Cir. 2008)). Neither negligence nor gross negligence constitutes
deliberate indifference. Farmer, 511 U.S. at 836.
Sharif argues that Dr. Carter should be held liable because, on at least five occasions, his
actions led to delays in the treatment of Sharif’s ankle, unnecessarily prolonging Sharif’s pain.
The Court must consider Sharif’s treatment as a whole instead of in pieces. See Walker v.
Peters, 233 F.3d 494, 501 (7th Cir. 2000) (“We examine the totality of an inmate’s medical care
when determining whether prison officials have been deliberately indifferent to an inmate’s
serious medical needs.”). Looking at the totality of Sharif’s treatment, the Court cannot
conclude that Dr. Carter acted with deliberate indifference, where he initially pursued a
conservative treatment for a non-displaced fracture and then, when it became clear Sharif’s
fracture was not healing, determined that he should refer Sharif to a specialist.6 See Arnett v.
Webster, 658 F.3d 742, 754 (7th Cir. 2011) (inmate not entitled to “demand specific care” or to
“the best care possible,” although he is “entitled to reasonable measures to meet a substantial risk
of serious harm”); Jackson, 541 F.3d at 697 (because “[t]here is not one ‘proper way to practice
medicine in a prison, but rather a range of acceptable courses based on prevailing standards in
the field . . . [a] medical professional’s treatment decisions will be accorded deference unless no
The Wexford Defendants argue that Sharif did not exhaust his administrative remedies before filing suit,
but they fail to adequately develop this argument both factually and legally. Because the Court will not
research and develop the argument for the Wexford Defendants, the Court does not address the
exhaustion defense further and instead focuses on the merits of Sharif’s claims against the Wexford
Defendants. See Nelson v. Napolitano, 657 F.3d 586, 590 (7th Cir. 2011) (the court is not “obliged to
research and construct legal arguments for parties, especially when they are represented by counsel”).
Aside from the delays with which he takes issue, Sharif also appears to contend that Dr. Carter exhibited
deliberate indifference in failing to provide him with the bone stimulator that Dr. Puppala prescribed
during Sharif’s April 2 appointment. Dr. Puppala’s notes suggest he considered ordering a bone
stimulator but noted that Sharif would “follow up at time of surgery.” Doc. 160-14 at 3. Thus, Dr. Carter
cannot be faulted for not following the instructions of a specialist where no specific instruction for a bone
stimulator was made pre-surgery. See Petties v. Carter, 836 F.3d 722, 729 (7th Cir. 2016) (doctor may be
deliberately indifferent if “a doctor refuses to take instructions from a specialist”). Although Dr. Puppala
did indicate that a bone stimulator would be ordered post-surgery, Dr. Carter cannot be faulted for failure
to follow Dr. Puppala’s recommendation post-surgery as he no longer worked at Wexford at that point.
See Walker v. Ghosh, No. 13 C 1354, 2015 WL 1397982, at *5 (N.D. Ill. Mar. 25, 2015) (finding that Dr.
Ghosh could not be held liable for conduct that occurred after he retired).
minimally competent professional would have so responded under those circumstances”
(citations omitted) (internal quotation marks omitted)).
“To show that a delay in providing treatment is actionable under the Eighth Amendment,
a plaintiff must also provide independent evidence that the delay exacerbated the injury or
unnecessarily prolonged pain.” Petties, 836 F.3d at 730; see also Jackson v. Pollion, 733 F.3d
786, 790 (7th Cir. 2013) (“In cases where prison officials delayed rather than denied medical
assistance to an inmate, courts have required the plaintiff to offer verifying medical evidence that
the delay (rather than the inmate’s underlying condition) caused some degree of harm. That is, a
plaintiff must offer medical evidence that tends to confirm or corroborate a claim that the delay
was detrimental.” (citation omitted)). Although the Court has already concluded that Sharif’s
overall treatment by Dr. Carter meets constitutional standards, the Court addresses each alleged
delay in turn.
First, Sharif complains that Dr. Carter did not examine him on October 11, when Sharif
waited in the health care unit emergency room’s waiting cell without being seen. Although
Sharif was not seen on October 11, he had x-rays taken of his right ankle on October 12, after
which Dr. Schaefer saw Sharif on October 14 to address the x-ray results and create a plan of
treatment. Further, Sharif had already been seen for his ankle pain on the day of his injury,
October 6, and had received crutches and ice at that time. Sharif does not present any evidence
to suggest that his failure to be seen on October 11, by Dr. Carter or any other Stateville medical
staff member, exacerbated his injury. See Poff v. Schettle, No. 15-CV-954-JPS, 2017 WL
2728430, at *7 (E.D. Wis. June 23, 2017) (dental services staff could not have been deliberately
indifferent to conditions they did not know existed where plaintiff did not make them aware of
pain he experienced that allegedly resulted from five-day delay in receiving dental treatment).
Next, Sharif contends that Dr. Carter exhibited deliberate indifference in failing to see
him between October 24, 2011 and January 10, 2012. Although Dr. Carter’s notes do indicate
that Sharif had been “lost to follow-up,” Doc. 160 ¶ 47, Sharif acknowledged that he did not
have any issues with Dr. Carter’s treatment through January 10, 2012, undermining any claim
that this delay in appointments caused Sharif further pain. The Court also cannot give any
weight to Sharif’s mere speculation that additional appointments during this time period may
have sped up the time frame in which he was referred to a specialist, particularly in light of Dr.
Carter’s conclusion on January 10 that Sharif’s ankle had healed, pending x-ray confirmation,
and the parties’ agreed fact that, at the three-month mark (which coincided with the January
appointment), the treating physician needed to see progression in healing based on x-rays to
continue with a conservative treatment plan. With no indication that deviation from the
conservative treatment plan would have occurred before the three-month mark or a suggestion
that in the interim Sharif suffered additional harm absent additional visits with Dr. Carter, the
Court cannot find this delay actionable.
Third, Sharif claims that Dr. Carter prolonged Sharif’s pain by taking away Sharif’s
crutches on January 10, 2012, when he determined that Sharif’s ankle had healed, and only
returning them to Sharif on January 25, approximately two weeks later and after the x-ray
showed that his ankle was still fractured. Sharif contends that there is a genuine issue of dispute
as to whether Dr. Carter actually believed that Sharif’s ankle had healed on January 10, but he
presents no evidence to call Dr. Carter’s judgment into question, instead agreeing that Dr.
Carter’s treatment up to January 10 was appropriate. Moreover, Sharif does not present evidence
that he requested crutches at any time between his January 10 appointment and his January 25
appointment with Dr. Carter. During that time, he had at least one appointment with Williams,
the physician’s assistant, on January 20, at which point she told him his ankle remained fractured
and he could have requested crutches, but did not. The evidence again does not create a question
of fact as to whether an actionable delay occurred.
Finally, Sharif takes issue with the delay in presenting the request for a referral to
Wexford’s collegial review and between the approval of that referral and his appointment with
the specialist and ultimately, surgery.7 But Sharif provides no independent evidence, either
through an expert or in his own medical records, to suggest that the delay in first presenting the
request for a referral and later in his seeing the specialist and then having the surgery exacerbated
his injury or unnecessarily prolonged his pain. Cf. Petties, 836 F.3d at 732–33 (evidence in
record suggested that delay in seeing specialist had detrimental effect where specialist noted pain
and gapping due to lack of immobilization). Indeed, the record does not include any verifying
evidence suggesting that Sharif’s ankle “would have healed better had he received [surgery]
earlier.” Walker, 2015 WL 1397982, at *6. Moreover, the record does not suggest that Dr.
Carter was responsible for the delays in Sharif’s outside consultations and ultimate surgery. See
Harvey v. Ghosh, No. 11 C 6716, 2015 WL 8329876, at *5 (N.D. Ill. Dec. 9, 2015) (although
delay in inmate receiving x-ray was “extraordinary,” no evidence in record that doctor was
responsible for delay or aware of it). Instead, the parties affirmatively agree that Dr. Carter had
no responsibility for scheduling, with that left to the Stateville medical records director and the
Ultimately, the Court does not find that Sharif has identified a material issue of fact as to
his treatment by Dr. Carter and any of the identified alleged delays. Therefore, because Sharif
Dr. Carter left Stateville on May 13, 2012. To the extent Sharif complains about delays after that date,
those complaints are not properly directed against Dr. Carter, who had left Stateville prior to Sharif’s
follow up appointment with Dr. Puppala and cannot be held liable for any alleged failures in treatment
after he no longer worked for Wexford at Stateville. See Walker, 2015 WL 1397982, at *5.
has not shown that Dr. Carter’s treatment was inadequate so as to rise to the level of a
constitutional violation, the Court grants summary judgment for Dr. Carter.
Sharif brings a claim against Halloran, Wexford’s chairman, even though Halloran was
not personally involved in Sharif’s medical care. He bases his claim on two letters he sent to
Halloran on April 20 and June 1, 2012. Because § 1983 creates a cause of action based on
personal liability and predicated upon fault, “to be liable under § 1983, the individual defendant
must have caused or participated in a constitutional deprivation.” Pepper v. Vill. of Oak Park,
430 F.3d 805, 810 (7th Cir. 2005) (citation omitted) (internal quotation marks omitted). For a
supervisor like Halloran, this means that he must have known “about the conduct and
facilitate[d] it, approve[d] it, condone[d] it, or turn[ed] a blind eye.” Arnett, 658 F.3d at 757.
“[A] prison official’s knowledge of prison conditions learned from an inmate’s communications
can, under some circumstances, constitute sufficient knowledge of the conditions to require the
officer to exercise his or her authority and to take the needed action to investigate and, if
necessary, to rectify the offending condition.” Vance v. Peters, 97 F.3d 987, 993 (7th Cir. 1996).
Sharif argues that summary judgment should be denied as to Halloran because he sent
two letters to Halloran—on April 20 and June 1, 2012—describing how he badly fractured his
ankle, had been waiting for surgery since then, and that delayed treatment only prolonged his
pain.8 Sharif argues that because he did not receive a response, a genuine issue of material fact
exists as to whether Halloran ignored his condition. But here, there is no evidence in the record
that Halloran received Sharif’s letters so as to provide him with knowledge of Sharif’s condition,
warranting summary judgment for Halloran. Halloran avers that he did not receive the letter,
with inmate letters instead directed to Wexford’s risk management unit. He also testified that he
Only the April 20, 2012 letter is in the record.
had no involvement in medical decisions made for particular inmates. See Boyce v. Obaisi, No.
13 C 5746, 2015 WL 5462137, at *15 (N.D. Ill. Sept. 16, 2015) (“Wexford officials may depend
on the health care staff at each facility to assess an inmate’s needs and to provide appropriate
care and treatment.”). This evidence sufficiently establishes that Halloran had no knowledge of
Sharif’s complaints so as to be held liable for deliberate indifference to Sharif’s medical needs.
See Keller v. Elyea, 496 F. App’x 665, 667 (7th Cir. 2012) (upholding summary judgment where
plaintiff did not produce evidence that doctor knew of alleged violations by treating medical staff
or had reviewed plaintiff’s letters, distinguishing Reed v. McBride, 178 F.3d 849, 854 (7th Cir.
1999), where supervisors acknowledged receiving plaintiff’s complaint letters); Johnson v.
Snyder, 444 F.3d 579, 584 (7th Cir. 2006) (record demonstrated that defendant did not personally
receive inmate correspondence related to grievances), overruled on other grounds by Hill v.
Tangherlini, 724 F.3d 965 (7th Cir. 2013); Wilder v. Wexford Health Sources, Inc., No. 11 C
4109, 2015 WL 2208440, at *12 (N.D. Ill. May 8, 2015) (granting summary judgment for
Halloran where evidence established that Halloran did not know of plaintiff’s complaint and had
no responsibility for making or implementing medical policies). Thus, the Court grants
summary judgment for Halloran.
Sharif next contends that Wexford maintains a policy that its physicians and other
medical practitioners should be cost conscious in their treatment of inmates’ medical needs, and
that this policy caused the delay of Sharif’s surgery and the denial of a bone stimulator for both
pre- and post-surgery therapy. He also claims that Wexford’s policy as to how to treat a
fractured ankle does not take into account pain arising from a fractured ankle and how such pain
should impact recommendations for surgery.
To prevail on his claim against Wexford, Sharif must show that Wexford has an official
policy, pattern, or practice that caused a constitutional violation. See Chatham v. Davis, 839
F.3d 679, 685 (7th Cir. 2016) (Monell liability “applies in § 1983 claims brought against private
companies acting under color of state law”). Liability may be based on (1) an express policy
that, when enforced, causes a constitutional deprivation; (2) a widespread practice that, although
not authorized by written law or express policy, is so permanent and well-settled as to constitute
a custom or usage with the force of law; or (3) a constitutional injury caused by a person with
final policy making authority. Monell v. Dep’t of Social Servs., 436 U.S. 658, 694, 98 S. Ct.
2018, 56 L. Ed. 2d 611 (1978); McCormick v. City of Chicago, 230 F.3d 319, 324 (7th Cir.
2000). The policy or practice “must be the direct cause or moving force behind the
constitutional violation.” Woodward v. Corr. Med. Servs. of Ill., Inc., 368 F.3d 917, 927 (7th
Cir. 2004) (citation omitted) (internal quotation marks omitted). Although the Court has found
that Sharif has no claim against Dr. Carter, institutional liability may still be possible where the
“institutional policies are themselves deliberately indifferent to the quality of care provided.”
Glisson v. Ind. Dep’t of Corr., 849 F.3d 372, 378 (7th Cir. 2017). But the alleged failures in care
must be caused by Wexford itself; Wexford cannot be held liable on a respondeat superior
theory of liability for its employees’ conduct. Estate of Novack ex rel. Turbin v. County of
Wood, 226 F.3d 525, 530 (7th Cir. 2000).
Here, Sharif failed to include the support on which he relies for his claim against
Wexford in the joint statement of undisputed facts, but the Court nonetheless briefly addresses it.
Sharif bases his claim that Wexford had a cost conscious policy that harmed him on the fact that
Dr. Puppala prescribed a bone stimulator that he never received, and that such therapy would,
according to Dr. Puppala, cost several thousand dollars.9 Sharif cannot use his isolated
experience in not receiving a bone stimulator to support a policy claim against Wexford, as
“[s]uch isolated incidents do not add up to a pattern of behavior that would support an inference
of a custom or policy, as required to find that Wexford as an institution/corporation was
deliberately indifferent” to Sharif’s needs. Shields v. Ill. Dep’t of Corr., 746 F.3d 782, 796 (7th
Cir. 2014). Additionally, the record does not include evidence to suggest to whom the failure to
provide the bone stimulator can be attributed—Wexford, IDOC, or an outside provider. Finally,
the parties have agreed that it cost more to send Sharif back to Hinsdale Orthopaedics for
additional follow up visits, x-rays, and a CT scan than it would have if Dr. Puppala proceeded
directly to surgery, undercutting the existence of a cost-cutting policy. Thus, Sharif cannot
prevail on this aspect of his claim against Wexford.
Second, Sharif contends that Wexford’s policy of caring for ankle dislocations and
fractures, providing primarily for “[s]plint[ing], ic[ing], and elevat[ing],” does not appropriately
address how an inmate’s pain should impact the recommendation for treatment.10 See Doc. 1753 at 15. Sharif argues that the policy should have taken into account pain, where Dr. Puppala
recommended Sharif receive surgery in part based on the pain he was experiencing. See Wilder,
2015 WL 2208440, at *10–11 (finding that reasonable jury could find that policy that did not
include instruction regarding inmate’s pain as factor in whether patient should have surgery to
repair hernias resulted in deliberate indifference to plaintiff). But here, Sharif cannot connect the
Wexford cannot reasonably dispute that Dr. Puppala testified that a bone stimulator would cost several
thousand dollars, so this fact should have been included in the parties’ joint statement. Instead, the parties
included in their joint statement information about the cost of sending Sharif to see Dr. Puppala, which
appeared to address Sharif’s previously-articulated theory that Wexford delayed his surgery because it
cost too much, which he has now apparently abandoned.
The Court again notes that because Sharif did not properly present the Wexford policy document to the
Court, the Court could find that Sharif has no basis for this aspect of its claim against Wexford. But the
Court nonetheless proceeds to address the issue for purposes of completeness.
Wexford policy to any prolonged pain or delayed surgery, for he does not present evidence that
the Wexford doctors in his case did not consider pain in treating his ankle or that they delayed
referring him to a specialist based on Wexford’s written policy.11 Instead, the evidence suggests
that Wexford medical practitioners treated Sharif’s ankle with more than just a splint, ice, and
elevation, monitoring it with a number of x-rays, providing him with pain medication, and, when
Dr. Carter determined that the fracture was not healing, referring him to a specialist for further
treatment. Cf. Heard v. Ill. Dep’t of Corr., No. 06 C 644, 2012 WL 832566, at *7 (N.D. Ill. Mar.
12, 2012) (denying summary judgment to Wexford based on hernia policy that did not take into
account pain where there was sufficient evidence that doctor followed policy when he did not
take into account surgeons’ recommendation and did not authorize surgery). Without such
evidence, in his case or that of other inmates, Sharif cannot hold Wexford responsible for a
constitutional violation based on its written policy for treating ankle fractures. Thus, the Court
grants judgment for Wexford on Sharif’s deliberate indifference claim against it.
Because the IDOC Defendants are not medical professionals responsible for
administering medical care, they are entitled to rely on and defer to the judgment of medical
professionals. McGee v. Adams, 721 F.3d 474, 483 (7th Cir. 2013); King v. Kramer, 680 F.3d
1013, 1018 (7th Cir. 2012). The IDOC Defendants may be found to have been deliberately
indifferent to Sharif’s medical needs, however, if they had actual knowledge or reason to believe
that medical personnel were not treating or were mistreating Sharif. King, 680 F.3d at 1018.
Indeed, the policy manual notes that the “[c]linical pathways do not replace sound clinical judgment,
nor are they intended to strictly apply to all patients.” Doc. 175-3 at 3. It continues that “[t]he specific
strategies and pathways presented in this manual provide a clinical management approach, but their
application is a decision made by the practitioner accounting for individual circumstances.” Id. This
suggests that practitioners had leeway to consider, among other things, an inmate’s pain when treating an
ankle fracture, with the manual providing only guidelines for treatment.
The parties are at odds as to Hardy’s awareness of Sharif’s ankle injury and treatment.
The only facts properly before the Court, as presented in the parties’ joint statement of
undisputed facts, indicate that Sharif wrote Hardy a letter on May 10, 2012 and that Hardy
reviewed two grievances filed by Sharif in January and March 2012.12
Hardy signed off on the grievance officer’s report that Sharif appeared to be receiving
appropriate medical care at the time on January 4, 2012, and then determined that Sharif’s March
16, 2012 grievance was not an emergency but rather should be submitted in the normal manner.
Hardy’s actions concerning the grievances cannot form the basis of a deliberate indifference
claim, as “the alleged mishandling of [Sharif’s] grievances by persons who otherwise did not
cause or participate in the underlying conduct states no claim.” Owens v. Hinsley, 635 F.3d 950,
953 (7th Cir. 2011). Hardy was also entitled to rely on the medical staff’s judgment in signing
off on the initial grievance. See Adams v. Durai, 153 F. App’x 972, 975 (7th Cir. 2005) (“An
administrator does not become responsible for a doctor’s exercise of medical judgment simply
by virtue of reviewing an inmate grievance[.]”); Greeno v. Daley, 414 F.3d 645, 655–56 (7th Cir.
2005) (corrections complaint appeals examiner not deliberately indifferent where he reviewed
complaints and verified with medical officials that inmate was receiving medical treatment).
Sharif also contends that he sent Hardy a letter in May 2012 requesting immediate
attention to scheduling his ankle surgery. As discussed above, an inmate’s letter may be enough
to put a prison official on notice of conditions requiring the official to take action to rectify
Sharif also refers to a February 2012 grievance he filed, which Hardy reviewed in October 2012. But
because Sharif only presented this grievance in his response, and not in the joint statement, and the fact of
the response cannot genuinely be disputed, the Court does not consider it here. Additionally, citing to his
own deposition testimony, Sharif claims that Hardy spoke with Sharif in his cell about Sharif’s ankle
swelling, with Hardy writing down Sharif’s name and recommending that Sharif receive treatment.
Again, because this could have been presented in the joint statement of facts, the Court does not consider
problematic conduct. See Vance, 97 F.3d at 993. But here, Hardy has presented uncontroverted
evidence that his assistant handles his mail and forwards it to the appropriate department to
handle, meaning that Hardy would not have received Sharif’s letter and thus cannot have known
of the alleged unconstitutional violation.13 See Keller, 496 F. App’x at 667; Johnson, 444 F.3d at
584. Thus, the Court grants summary judgment for Hardy.
Sharif claims that Edwards exhibited deliberate indifference to Sharif’s medical needs in
refusing Sharif’s request to be moved to a lower gallery cell in October 2011. In October 2011,
Sharif encountered Edwards and asked to be moved to a lower gallery, despite at the time not
having a low gallery permit. Edwards offered to move him to F House, but Sharif did not accept
this offer because he believed it would involve the same issue he had in his current block of
going up and down stairs and he did not want to transfer to F House, which housed segregation
Sharif contends that a disputed issue of fact exists because Edwards’ response of offering
to put Sharif in F House instead of accommodating his “reasonable medical request” constituted
punishment and was “motivated by malice.” Doc. 175 at 22. But several problems exist with
Sharif’s claims. First, Sharif has not shown that Edwards had any responsibility for bunk
Even proceeding as if Hardy had received the May 2012 letter, Sharif has provided no evidence that,
had Hardy investigated at that time, he would have found that Sharif was receiving constitutionally
deficient care. See Riley El v. Godinez, No. 13 C 5768, 2016 WL 4505038, at *15 (N.D. Ill. Aug. 29,
2016) (plaintiff’s claim that non-medical defendants failed to investigate and intervene in his medical
treatment failed where plaintiff received constitutionally adequate medical care); Coleman v. Hardy, No.
12 C 03842, 2014 WL 4911305, at *5 (N.D. Ill. Sept. 30, 2014) (even if defendants had received letters
plaintiff claimed to have sent, plaintiff presented no evidence that care he received fell below professional
standards to support claim of deliberate indifference). Sharif does not present evidence suggesting that he
received inadequate care at that time, when the medical records specialist testified that after Wexford
approved the surgery on April 9, Dr. Puppala requested an additional appointment and x-rays before
surgery. Thus, Sharif required an additional follow-up appointment at the request of the specialist, which
occurred on June 5 and at which Dr. Puppala determined Sharif did not need surgery. Only after a further
CT scan did Dr. Puppala decide to perform surgery.
assignments. See Estate of Miller by Chassie v. Marberry, 847 F.3d 425, 427 (7th Cir. 2017)
(finding summary judgment appropriately granted for defendants where, among other things,
defendants were not responsible for bunk assignments). Second, Sharif admits that at the time he
spoke to Edwards, he did not have a low gallery permit. Finally, his claims of hostility or
punishment are not supported by the record. Instead, the evidence demonstrates that Edwards
provided Sharif with a reasonable option to move in response to his request. The fact that Sharif
found the accommodations in F House undesirable and so refused to take advantage of them
does not create a genuine issue of fact as to whether Edwards demonstrated deliberate
indifference to Sharif’s serious medical needs. See Long v. Steepro, 27 F. App’x 625, 627 (7th
Cir. 2001) (prison officials could not be held liable for disregarding risk to inmate’s safety where
they offered to place inmate in protective custody and inmate refused, noting that “[o]fficials
who take reasonable steps to prevent harm to a prisoner cannot be held liable for subsequent
injuries, even if the harm is not averted”). Sharif has not pointed to evidence in the record of any
harm that resulted from Edwards not transferring him to a different gallery, or, for that matter,
that he did not end up on a low gallery thereafter. Thus, the Court grants summary judgment for
Finally, Sharif claims that Brown-Reed, as the health care unit administrator, exhibited
deliberate indifference when she failed to act on any of Sharif’s complaints of pain, which he
claims she learned of through his letters to her and observing his January 20, 2012 appointment
with Williams. Sharif also appears to suggest in his response that Brown-Reed should have been
aware of his condition and treatment because, as the health care unit administrator, she oversaw
the grievance process as it related to the health care unit, but the evidence in the record indicates
that Brown-Reed did not conduct investigations into inmate complaints or review treatment
plans, and Sharif does not point to any particular grievances that Brown-Reed reviewed. Thus,
Sharif cannot rely on Brown-Reed’s alleged role in the grievance process to create a genuine
issue of fact here.
As for the April 20 and 29 and September 5 letters Sharif allegedly sent Brown-Reed, she
has testified that she never personally reviewed letters sent to her by inmates. Additionally, she
indicated that letters received by her office were stamped and that none of the letters Sharif
claims to have sent her bear stamps from her office, suggesting that they were not received.
Because the evidence in the record establishes that Brown-Reed did not receive Sharif’s letters
and so did not have knowledge of the issues raised in those letters, Sharif cannot establish her
deliberate indifference through these letters.14
Finally, although Brown-Reed does not recall being present during Sharif’s January 20
appointment with Williams, assuming that she was, Sharif does not explain how her presence at
that appointment supports a finding of deliberate indifference. While this appointment would
have placed her on notice of Sharif’s ankle problem at the time, Williams scheduled Sharif for a
follow up appointment with Dr. Carter during that visit, and that follow up occurred on January
25, only a few days later. Brown-Reed was entitled to rely on the treatment decisions made by
the medical professionals in addressing Sharif’s ankle, knowing, on January 20, that Sharif
would soon be seen by a doctor to address the fact that his ankle remained fractured. Sharif fails
to point to anything suggesting that she should have taken additional steps to address his ankle
As addressed above with respect to Hardy, even if the Court found a question of fact on whether
Brown-Reed received these letters, Sharif has provided no evidence that, had Brown-Reed investigated
Sharif’s care after receiving the April 2012 letters, she would have found that Sharif was receiving
constitutionally deficient care. See supra n.13. As for the September 5 letter, Sharif does not develop
evidence as to his treatment at Wexford post-surgery, so the Court cannot opine on what Brown-Reed
would have found had she investigated. Because there is no question of fact as to Brown-Reed’s
knowledge at this stage, the Court need not address the issue.
injury at that time. See Shaw v. Wexford Health Sources, Inc., No. 13-cv-09335, 2017 WL
131585, at *5 (N.D. Ill. Jan. 13, 2017) (granting summary judgment for Brown-Reed on
deliberate indifference claim where plaintiff did not show that Brown-Reed “had the obligation
to speed up [plaintiff’s] physical therapy, or that she was not entitled to rely on the decisions that
had been made by medical professionals”). Therefore, the Court grants summary judgment for
For the foregoing reasons, the Court grants the Wexford Defendants’ motion for
summary judgment  and the IDOC Defendants’ motion for summary judgment . The
Court enters judgment for the Wexford and IDOC Defendants and terminates this case.
Dated: August 8, 2017
SARA L. ELLIS
United States District Judge
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