Wolf v. Indiana State Prison et al
OPINION AND ORDER: The court VACATES the dismissal order and judgment 51 and 52 ; GRANTS the summary judgment motion 35 ; DIRECTS the clerk to enter judgment in favor of Warden Ron Neal and against Scott Lee Wolf; and DIRECTS the clerk to close this case. Signed by Judge Robert L Miller, Jr on 10/15/2020. (bas)
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UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
NORTHERN DISTRICT OF INDIANA
SOUTH BEND DIVISION
SCOTT LEE WOLF,
CAUSE NO.: 3:18-CV-915-RLM-MGG
OPINION AND ORDER
On August 12, this court granted what appeared at the time to be an
unopposed summary judgment motion filed by defendant Ron Neal against Scott
Lee Wolf, a prisoner proceeding without a lawyer. The motion appeared
unopposed because the deadline for Mr. Wolf to file his response was July 31.
Mr. Wolf he signed a motion on July 31 asking for additional time; because of
delays beyond Mr. Wolf’s control, it wasn’t docketed until August 13.. With the
benefit of the mailbox rule, the motion was considered timely and granted, see
Edwards v. United States, 266 F.3d 756, 758 (7th Cir. 2001). The court will
vacate the earlier opinion and judgment and consider the now fully briefed
Mr. Wolf is proceeding “against Warden Ron Neal in his official capacity
for injunctive relief for the treatment of the growths on his testicles, the pain in
his elbow, and the pain and numbness in his arms and legs . . ..” Warden Neal’s
summary judgment motion argued that Mr. Wolf is “receiving the adequate
medical care that he is entitled to receive under the Constitution, justifying
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dismissal of his claim for injunctive relief.” ECF 36 at 12. The court will now rule
on the fully briefed summary judgment motion.
Summary judgment must be granted when “there is no genuine dispute
as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of
law.” Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(a). A genuine issue of material fact exists
when “the evidence is such that a reasonable [factfinder] could [find] for the
nonmoving party.” Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). To
determine whether a genuine issue of material fact exists, the court must
construe all facts in the light most favorable to the non-moving party and draw
all reasonable inferences in that party’s favor. Heft v. Moore, 351 F.3d 278, 282
(7th Cir. 2003). A party opposing a properly supported summary judgment
motion can’t rely merely on allegations or denials in its own pleading, but rather
must “marshal and present the court with the evidence she contends will prove
her case.” Goodman v. Nat’l Sec. Agency, Inc., 621 F.3d 651, 654 (7th Cir. 2010).
“[I]nferences relying on mere speculation or conjecture will not suffice.” Trade
Fin. Partners, LLC v. AAR Corp., 573 F.3d 401, 407 (7th Cir. 2009). Summary
judgment “is the put up or shut up moment in a lawsuit . . ..” Springer v.
Durflinger, 518 F.3d 479, 484 (7th Cir. 2008).
In support of the summary judgment motion, Warden Neal provided more
than 600 pages of medical records demonstrating Mr. Wolf received extensive
medical care from June 6, 2018, (about five months before this case was filed) to
January 8, 2020, (days before the summary judgment motion was filed). The
warden’s brief set out facts he asserts are undisputed.
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Much of Mr. Wolf’s response is focused on medical conditions unrelated to
this case – specifically, epilepsy, high blood pressure, degenerative thoracic
spinal problems, and a submandibular mass in his mouth which causes him
difficulty swallowing and breathing. None of those conditions are relevant to this
lawsuit which is limited to “the treatment of the growths on his testicles, the pain
in his elbow, and the pain and numbness in his arms and legs . . ..” ECF 5 at 4.
As for treatment for the growths on his testicles, Warden Neal asserts that
“Since his September 10, 2019 visit with Dr. Marthakis, there have been no
further entries by the doctor, or nursing staff showing any further reports from
Wolf of pain in his testicles or scrotum.” ECF 36 at 4. Mr. Wolf’s response makes
no mention of his testicles. The medical records show that in addition to daily
blood sugar/insulin checks1, he was seen thirteen other times by medical staff
from September 10, 2019, to January 8, 2020.2 Therefore, the court accepts as
an undisputed fact that he is not now in need of medical treatment for his
testicles. See Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(e)(2).
As for the pain in his elbow, and the pain and numbness in his arms and
legs, Warden Neal asserts “Mr. Wolf’s medical records for the past year show he
has been receiving repeated services and adequate care for his arm pain, leg
pain, and also back pain.” Mr. Wolf doesn’t dispute having received any of the
treatment described in the 600+ pages of medical records submitted with the
1 The medical records show Mr. Wolf missed or refused nineteen of these daily
checks during this time. ECF 35-6 at 1-96.
The summary judgment motion was filed January 22, 2020, and the last
medical record provided is dated January 8, 2020.
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summary judgment motion, so those treatments are undisputed facts. See
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(e)(2). Rather, Mr. Wolf says those treatments
are inadequate. He says he has multiple bone spurs; a degenerative, debilitating
problem with his wrist; and degenerative post-operative changes to his arm and
elbow. Merely listing ongoing medical conditions doesn’t amount to proof that he
has received constitutionally inadequate care warranting injunctive relief.
Mr. Wolf says he hasn’t gotten antibiotics, but he doesn’t provide any
evidence showing (nor even an argument explaining) a need for antibiotics. The
only specific, relevant, medical treatment he argues was inadequate is an Ace
bandage for his wrist because it didn’t stop the loss of muscle tone, control, and
spasms in August 2018. ECF 56 at 1. Mr. Wolf is proceeding only on a claim for
injunctive relief. Whether the Ace bandage was effective two years ago is of very
limited value in deciding whether he is receiving constitutionally adequate
medical treatment today. All of the medical records presented are relevant, but
it’s particularly noteworthy that in the three months3 preceding the summary
judgment motion, Mr. Wolf had nine visits with medical staff in addition to access
to daily blood sugar/insulin checks.4 35-6 at 1-64.
It’s undisputed Mr. Wolf has many ongoing medical problems and that he
is dissatisfied with the care he is getting. Inmates are entitled to constitutionally
3 The summary judgment motion was filed January 22, 2020, and the last
medical record provided is dated January 8, 2020.
The medical records show Mr. Wolf missed or refused thirteen of these daily checks during this
time. ECF 35-6 at 1-64.
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adequate medical care under the Eighth Amendment, Estelle v. Gamble, 429
U.S. 97, 104 (1976), but
medical professionals are not required to provide proper medical
treatment to prisoners, but rather they must provide medical
treatment that reflects “professional judgment, practice, or
standards. There 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. The Constitution is not a medical code that
mandates specific medical treatment.
Jackson v. Kotter, 541 F.3d 688, 697 (7th Cir. 2008) (quotation marks, citations,
parenthesis, and brackets omitted; emphasis added). Inmates are “not entitled
to demand specific care,” Walker v. Wexford Health Sources, Inc., 940 F.3d 954,
965 (7th Cir. 2019), nor are they entitled to “the best care possible.” Forbes v.
Edgar, 112 F.3d 262, 267 (7th Cir. 1997). Mere disagreement with a medical
professional isn’t a basis for a injunctive relief. See Ciarpaglini v. Saini, 352 F.3d
328, 331 (7th Cir. 2003).
Whether and how pain associated with medical treatment should be
mitigated is for doctors to decide free from judicial interference,
except in the most extreme situations. A prisoner’s dissatisfaction
with a doctor’s prescribed course of treatment does not give rise to
a constitutional claim unless the medical treatment is so blatantly
inappropriate as to evidence intentional mistreatment likely to
seriously aggravate the prisoner’s condition.
Snipes v. DeTella, 95 F.3d 586, 592 (7th Cir. 1996) (quotation marks and citation
omitted). This is why courts “defer to medical professionals’ treatment decisions
unless there is evidence that no minimally competent professional would have
so responded under those circumstances.” Walker v. Wexford Health Sources,
Inc., 940 F.3d 954, 965 (7th Cir. 2019) (quotation marks and citation omitted).
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“The Constitution is not a medical code that mandates specific medical
treatment.” Jackson v. Kotter, 541 F.3d 688, 697 (7th Cir. 2008).
Mr. Wolf hasn’t provided evidence showing his current medical treatment
for the growths on his testicles, the pain in his elbow, and the pain and
numbness in his arms and legs is constitutionally inadequate. Therefore, the
summary judgment motion will be granted and this case dismissed.
For these reasons, the court:
(1) VACATES the dismissal order and judgment (ECF 51 and 52);
(2) GRANTS the summary judgment motion (ECF 35);
(3) DIRECTS the clerk to enter judgment in favor of Warden Ron Neal and
against Scott Lee Wolf; and
(4) DIRECTS the clerk to close this case.
SO ORDERED on October 15, 2020
s/ Robert L. Miller, Jr.
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
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