Articles Posted in U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit

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Substantial evidence supported finding that hospital’s contracts with physicians violated Anti-Kickback statute. Novak and Nagelvoort participated in a scheme under which Sacred Heart Hospital paid illegal kickbacks to physicians in exchange for patient referrals. Novak was the Hospital’s owner, President, and Chief Executive Officer. Nagelvoort was an outside consultant, and, at various times. served as the Hospital’s Vice President of Administration and Chief Operating Officer. Federal agents secured the cooperation of physicians and other Hospital employees, some of whom recorded conversations. Agents executed warrants and searched the Hospital and its administrative and storage facilities. The prosecution focused on direct personal services contracts, teaching contracts, lease agreements for the use of office space, and agreements to provide physicians with the services of other medical professionals. The Seventh Circuit affirmed their convictions under 42 U.S.C. 1320a-7b(b)(2)(A) and 18 U.S.C. 371, rejecting arguments that there was insufficient evidence to prove that they acted with the requisite knowledge and willfulness under the statute; that the government failed to prove that certain agreements fell outside the statute’s safe harbor provisions; and that Nagelvoort withdrew from the conspiracy when he resigned his position, so that any subsequent coconspirator statements were not admissible against him. View "United States v. Naglevoort" on Justia Law

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Inmate’s allegation that prison dentist intentionally sutured inmate’s gum without removing pieces of broken drill bit was sufficient to withstand screening. While Dr. Craig was extracting a wisdom tooth from Echols, an Illinois inmate, a drill bit broke. Craig sutured Echols’ gum with gauze and at least one half‐inch long piece of the broken bit still inside, where it caused pain for about two weeks before it was finally removed. Echols alleges that Craig sutured the site after intentionally packing it with non‐soluble gauze and without first locating the missing shards from the broken drill bit. The district court screened Echols’ 42 U.S.C. 1983 complaint under 28 U.S.C. 1915A, and dismissed it, stating that Echols’ allegations were factually frivolous. The Seventh Circuit vacated, holding that Echols’ allegations are quite plausible and state a claim for violation of the Eighth Amendment. Echols sufficiently alleged that Craig’s actions were so inappropriate that the lawsuit cannot be dismissed at screening. View "Echols v. Craig" on Justia Law

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The Seventh Circuit reversed summary judgment for the defendants in a suit by Johnson, an inmate of the Rushville Treatment and Detention Facility for persons believed prone to sexual violence, claiming that staff had caused Johnson to take the antipsychotic drug Risperdal, for more than a month, without Johnson’s knowledge or consent. The staff did not follow Illinois’s procedures for ordering forced medication; Johnson had not been found to be dangerous to himself or others. The doctor prescribed Risperdal after Johnson complained about feelings of aggression and hopelessness, even though Johnson refused to consent. The doctor stated that he wrote the prescription so that Johnson could take the medication if he wanted it. The nurse, not knowing what the pill was, included the Risperdal with Johnson’s medications for blood pressure, cholesterol, and stomach problems, so Johnson took the drug without noticing it. The Seventh Circuit noted that the Supreme Court has recognized a “significant liberty interest,” under the due process clause in “avoiding the unwanted administration of antipsychotic drugs,” which can have “serious, even fatal, side effects.” While Johnson was not forced to take the pill, the doctor “must have known that pills were delivered to the inmates, unlabeled, in little cups.” View "Johnson v. Tinwalla" on Justia Law

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Collins, a regular heavy drinker, had suffered alcohol withdrawal, and kept a bottle of Librium to treat withdrawal and anxiety. Collins had Librium with him when he was arrested for DUI. The jail physician, Dr. Al‐Shami, who approved Collins’s use of the Librium while in custody. Collins was taken to a cell; officers checked on him every 15 minutes. The next day Collins began to complain of shaking from alcohol withdrawal. He was given Librium and vitamins. By lunchtime, Collins was better and eating normally. In the afternoon, he began to complain again. A nurse called Dr. Al‐Shami, who ordered that Collins be given the normal treatment for alcohol withdrawal. After being treated for additional incidents, Collins was taken to the hospital. The examining physician concluded that Collins was not suffering from delirium tremens. Collins was returned to the jail. Collins continued to display strange behavior, interspersed with periods of normalcy. Officers continued to check on Collins every 15 minutes. Eventually, Collins was again taken to the hospital. Collins was hypothermic, had low blood pressure, and was suffering from dehydration, sepsis, and acute respiratory failure. He was in a medically‐induced coma for several days. The Seventh Circuit affirmed summary judgment for the defendants in Collins's suit under 42 U.S.C. 1983, concluding that the level of care was reasonable. View "Collins v. Al-Shami" on Justia Law

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While lifting a heavy door at his prison job in 2008, Cesal heard a “snap” in his back and felt pain in his leg and hip. He sought treatment from the prison’s medical staff but was dissatisfied with their response. He alleged that he received a three-year runaround, during which his pain was ignored, that the Clinical Director canceled Cesal’s insulin prescription in retaliation for Cesal’s filing a complaint about the inadequate care. Without the prescription, Cesal, an insulin-dependent diabetic, was unable to control his blood sugar and suffered additional pain and harm. He filed a second complaint with the prison about the insulin deprivation. Cesal, acting pro se, sued the Clinical Director and another Pekin physician. At the screening phase, 28 U.S.C. 1915A, the district court identified an Eighth Amendment deliberate indifference claim and a First Amendment retaliation claim related to the withholding of insulin. The court granted the defendants summary judgment, reasoning that the statute of limitations had run and that, in any event, there was no question of material fact that would justify allowing his case to proceed. The Seventh Circuit affirmed, acknowledging that "Cesal’s allegations are troublesome," but noting important differences between ordinary, or even aggravated, medical malpractice, and an Eighth Amendment violation View "Cesal v. Molina" on Justia Law

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Inmate Diggs injured his knee in a fight in 2006 and complained to medical staff about knee pain and instability 14 times. In 2009, Dr. Ghosh, the prison’s medical director, recommended that Diggs be assigned to a lower bunk and ordered an MRI, which revealed that his right ACL had a complete tear. Ghosh got approval from Wexford, the private company that contracts with Illinois to provide prison medical care, for Diggs to receive orthopedic follow‐up. Notwithstanding recommendations by the outside providers, Diggs received no physical therapy and no follow‐up. After several delays and changes in staff, Diggs unsuccessfully filed an emergency grievance, requesting surgery and complaining that his placement effectively confined him to his cell. In 2015, a Wexford physician reportedly stated that no local doctor would perform the surgery. Diggs sued, alleging that the doctors and warden were deliberately indifferent to his torn ACL and intentionally had caused him emotional distress. He sought an injunction to compel the warden to authorize surgery. The district court granted summary judgment for all defendants, finding that the doctors had treatment choices and that Diggs did not establish that the warden knew about the supposed mistreatment nor that the defendants’ conduct was extreme and outrageous. The Seventh Circuit vacated in part, finding that a reasonable jury could rule in favor of Diggs on the deliberate indifference claims. View "Diggs v. Ghosh" on Justia Law

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Rasho, an Illinois inmate since 1996, has a history of mental illness. After he stopped taking his medication and had escalating symptoms, he was transferred to Pontiac’s Mental Health Unit, where he remained until 2006, when he was transferred to the Segregation Unit. Rasho believes that he was transferred, not because he no longer required specialized treatment, but in retaliation for complaints he lodged against prison staff. According to Rasho, after he was transferred, he was denied minimally adequate mental health care for more than 20 months. Rasho filed suit under 42 U.S.C. 1983, alleging deliberate indifference to his serious medical needs. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of all defendants. The Seventh Circuit reversed in part. Rasho put forward sufficient evidence from which a reasonable jury could decide that two doctors caused him to be transferred for reasons unrelated to medical judgment. The court affirmed with respect to defendants with more tenuous connections to his mental health treatment: two doctors who allegedly failed to supervise properly the contract between IDOC and its medical provider and the warden. An individual defendant is liable under section 1983 only if personally responsible for the constitutional violation. View "Rasho v. Elyea" on Justia Law

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Glisson was diagnosed with laryngeal cancer. His larynx, part of his pharynx, portions of his mandible and 13 teeth were removed. He was fitted with a voice prosthesis, and received postoperative radiation treatment. Later, doctors inserted a gastrojejunostomy tube to help with nutrition and a cancerous lesion on his tongue was excised. Glisson also suffered memory issues, hypothyroidism, depression, smoking, and alcohol abuse. Glisson was sentenced to incarceration for giving a friend prescription painkillers. Prison medical personnel noted spikes in Glisson’s blood pressure, low pulse, low oxygen saturation level, confusion, and anger. His condition worsened, indicating acute renal failure. After a short hospital stay, Glisson died in prison. The district court rejected his mother’s suit under 42 U.S.C. 1983 on summary judgment. The Seventh Circuit initially affirmed, rejecting a claim that failure to implement an Indiana Department of Corrections Health Care Service Directive, requiring a plan for management of chronic diseases, violated the Eighth Amendment. On rehearing, en banc, the court reversed. The Department’s healthcare contractor, Corizon, was not constitutionally required to adopt the Directives or any particular document, but was required to ensure that a well-recognized risk for a defined class of prisoners not be deliberately left to happenstance. Corizon had notice of the problems posed by lack of coordination, but did nothing to address that risk. Glisson was managing his difficult medical situation successfully until he fell into the hands of the Indiana prison system and Corizon. View "Glisson v. Indiana Department of Corrections" on Justia Law

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Lake, a prisoner at Illinois’ Hill Correctional Center, claimed, in his suit under 42 U.S.C. 1983, that Dr. Jackson, the prison’s dentist had refused to send him to an outside dentist to extract a decayed tooth that was causing him pain. Lake claimed that Wexford, the contractor serving the prison, has policy of withholding medical care to save money. Although Dr. Jackson assured him that his mouth could be numbed successfully, Lake refused to let her pull the tooth and complained to Wexford that he was suffering needlessly because of its refusal to provide him with outside treatment. Lake later agreed to let a different prison dentist extract the tooth. A local anesthetic was used during the extraction, but Lake complained afterward that the procedure had been painful. The Seventh Circuit affirmed summary judgment, rejecting Lake’s claims, and agreeing that a jury would have to find that Dr. Jackson had been exercising professional judgment in predicting that administering a local anesthetic would enable her to extract the decayed tooth without inflicting significant pain. View "Lake v. Wexford Health Sources, Inc." on Justia Law

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Harper, an Illinois prisoner, sued a prison doctor and a nurse under 42 U.S.C. 1983 for deliberate indifference to his pain following nine abdominal surgeries, the management of his diet, and inattention to a possible renal cell tumor. The Seventh Circuit affirmed summary judgment for the defendants, concluding that Harper had not produced evidence from which a jury could find that either defendant ignored a substantial risk of harm. Harper was evaluated and treated each time that he appeared at the health center, given a treatment plan, and told to return if his symptoms persisted. Harper is not entitled to dictate how he should have been treated or whether he should have been transferred. View "Harper v. Santos" on Justia Law