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Saddy v. Agnesian Health Care

United States District Court, E.D. Wisconsin

February 13, 2017

DAVID SADDY, Plaintiff,


          J.P. Stadtmueller U.S. District Judge.

         1. INTRODUCTION

         On January 9, 2017, the defendants Agnesian Healthcare (“Agnesian”), Dr. Thomas W. Grossman (“Grossman”), Margaret M. Anderson (“Anderson”), and Waupun Memorial Hospital (“Waupun”) (Grossman and Anderson collectively referred to as “Defendants”) filed a motion for summary judgment. (Docket #166).[1] On January 25, 2017, the plaintiff David Saddy (“Saddy”) submitted a response to the motion. (Docket #181). On February 8, 2017, Defendants offered a reply in support of their motion. (Docket #187). For the reasons explained below, the motion must be denied.


         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56 provides the mechanism for seeking summary judgment. Rule 56 states that the “court shall grant summary judgment 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); see Boss v. Castro, 816 F.3d 910, 916 (7th Cir. 2016). A “genuine” dispute of material fact is created when “the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party.” Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). The Court construes all facts and reasonable inferences in a light most favorable to the non-movant. Bridge v. New Holland Logansport, Inc., 815 F.3d 356, 360 (7th Cir. 2016). In assessing the parties' proposed facts, the Court must not weigh the evidence or determine witness credibility; the Seventh Circuit instructs that “we leave those tasks to factfinders.” Berry v. Chicago Transit Auth., 618 F.3d 688, 691 (7th Cir. 2010). Internal inconsistencies in a witness's testimony “create an issue of credibility as to which part of the testimony should be given the greatest weight if credited at all.” Bank of Ill. v. Allied Signal Safety Restraint Sys., 75 F.3d 1162, 1170 (7th Cir. 1996) (quoting Tippens v. Celotex Corp., 805 F.2d 949, 953 (11th Cir. 1986)). The non-movant “need not match the movant witness for witness, nor persuade the court that [their] case is convincing, [they] need only come forward with appropriate evidence demonstrating that there is a pending dispute of material fact.” Waldridge v. Am. Hoechst Corp., 24 F.3d 918, 921 (7th Cir. 1994).

         3. RELEVANT FACTS

         The Court will provide a brief timeline of events addressing each of Defendants' roles therein. In accordance with the standard of review, the facts and inferences therefrom are construed in Saddy's favor. The Court limits its discussion to the facts necessary for disposing of the instant motion.

         From January 2011 to January 2013, the bulk of the relevant time period, Saddy was housed at Racine Correctional Institution (“Racine”). Prior to 2012, he had an extensive history of knee problems. Before seeing Grossman, Saddy had at least four knee surgeries. Grossman, an orthopedic surgeon working at Waupun and employed by Agnesian, performed two knee surgeries on Saddy in July 2009 and December 2011, respectively. In a note stemming from the 2011 surgery, Grossman stated that he expected “residuals” from Saddy's knee arthritis. Throughout this time, Saddy received regular treatment to manage his knee pain.

         The interactions relevant to this litigation began on May 2, 2012. On that date, Saddy met with Grossman in his office. X-rays confirmed that Saddy had degenerative changes in both knees. Grossman discussed various treatment options with Saddy, including another surgery, use of a cane or wheelchair, or narcotic pain medication. They agreed on the surgery option.[2]The Wisconsin Department of Corrections (“DOC”), which had ultimate custody of Saddy and control over his medical care, approved the surgery. Grossman performed the surgery on July 30, 2012. The surgery was completed without apparent complications. Afterwards, however, Saddy began making complaints of pain and disfigurement in his knees.[3]

         On September 4, 2012, Saddy went back to Grossman's office for a follow-up visit. Saddy was not seen by Grossman, but instead met with Anderson, a nurse practitioner who assisted Grossman's practice. X-rays showed that the surgery appeared successful. Anderson collaborated with Grossman to review the X-ray results and discuss Saddy's pain medication, but Grossman did not actually go in to see Saddy. In meeting with Anderson, Saddy indicated that he was concerned about taking too much medication because he was an addict, but that he could take Tylenol. Anderson discussed the issue with Grossman, who prescribed Saddy the maximum allowable dose of Tylenol.

         Saddy also complained about his pain and disfigurement to Anderson. He told her that he was in pain and felt “lousy.” (Docket #176 at 170:24-171:14). Saddy further reported that he knees ached. Anderson examined them and found that Saddy did not have discomfort with knee palpitation. He also mentioned that he was having trouble sleeping due to his knee pain. Anderson did not include all of those complaints in her clinical note memorializing the appointment, however. Anderson's note acknowledged Saddy's ache and sleeping issues, but rather than relating Saddy's pain and “lousy” feeling, Anderson indicated that he “reports doing well.” (Docket #170-11 at 2). Anderson's note concluded by recommending a follow-up visit in a year. Id. Though she acknowledged that Saddy's knees were swollen, Anderson avers that this was normal and denies discussing knee disfigurement with Saddy at the appointment.

         Saddy's final relevant appointment was with Grossman on October 31, 2012. Saddy states that he complained of knee pain. Grossman did not include this information in the office note for the visit, though Grossman contends that Saddy had no visible displays of pain at the time. As to knee disfigurement, X-rays were again taken. These, along with Grossman's in-person assessment, led him to conclude that Saddy's gait was “off.” Medically speaking, there was “a slight 5 degree difference in valgus alignment between Mr. Saddy's right knee and his left knee.” (Docket #170 at ¶ 26). Defendants assert that this “is not unexpected” and “can and does occur in the absence of negligence, ” but at his deposition, Grossman conceded that “[t]here's a wide range of variation in normal knee alignment, and I was unable to come up with literature consensus as to what was normal.” Id. at ¶ 27; (Docket #179 at 84:14-18). It is not clear whether the misalignment was present prior to the July 30 surgery.

         Grossman and Saddy discussed Saddy's ongoing pain treatment and agreed on the use of an orthotic shoe apparatus. Saddy refused to see Grossman or Anderson again after October 31, 2012. On December 14, 2012, Saddy met with the orthotic provider. The representative noted “a considerable amount [of] external rotation of the tibia associated with the femur, ” and that Saddy's “toe angle is probably about a 20 degree angle.” Saddy avers that since the July 30, 2012 surgery his pain has been greater than ever before. Defendants counter that pain is normal after this type of surgery, and that Saddy has presented no expert testimony to show that the origin of the new, more severe pain was Grossman's latest surgery. They stress that Saddy has had chronic, degenerative knee conditions for years.

         4. ...

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