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Jones v. Syed

United States District Court, W.D. Wisconsin

August 22, 2019

MICHAEL JONES, Plaintiff,
v.
DR. SYED, MS. MASHAK, DR. HOFFMAN, NURSE-JANE DOE, RADIOLOGIST-JOHN DOE, and SYMPHONY DIAGNOSTIC SERVICES NO. 1, LLC, Defendants.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          James D. Peterson District Judge.

         Pro se plaintiff Michael Jones alleges that prison medical officials at Columbia Correctional Institution failed to treat his swollen and painful right knee. He is proceeding on Eighth Amendment claims against the state defendants (Dr. Salam Syed, Dr. Karl Hoffman, and Meredith Mashak), and malpractice claims against a John Doe radiologist and Symphony Diagnostic Services for misreading an x-ray. The claims against Symphony Diagnostic and its John Doe employee are stayed pending the completion of bankruptcy proceedings.

         The state defendants filed a motion for summary judgment on May 2, 2019.[1] Jones failed to file any opposition materials by his June 3 deadline, but he filed several requests for court assistance in recruiting counsel. On July 8, 2019, I denied Jones's requests for counsel, but I granted him an extension of his summary judgment deadline. Dkt. 73. I warned Jones that if he did not file his opposition materials by the new deadline, I would accept all of defendants' proposed findings of fact as undisputed and would resolve the summary judgment motion based solely on the evidence and arguments presented by defendants. Jones's new deadline has passed, and he has still not filed any materials in opposition to defendants' motion. Therefore, I have considered only the arguments and evidence presented by defendants. Because the evidence shows that the state defendants did not act with deliberate indifference to Jones's knee condition, I will grant the motion for summary judgment. I will direct the clerk of court to enter judgment under Rule 54(b) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure in favor of the state defendants on Jones's claims against them.

         The only claims remaining in this case will be Jones's claims against John Doe radiologist and Symphony Diagnostic Services. Because this court cannot act on those claims until Symphony Diagnostic's bankruptcy proceedings have concluded, I will dismiss this case without prejudice, subject to it being reopened upon the conclusion of the bankruptcy proceedings. I will also require Symphony Diagnostic Services to provide periodic updates to the court and Jones regarding the status of the bankruptcy proceedings.

         UNDISPUTED FACTS

         The following facts are drawn from defendants' summary judgment materials and are undisputed unless noted otherwise.

         In 2015 and 2016, plaintiff Michael Jones was incarcerated at Columbia Correctional Institution. Defendants Karl Hoffman and Salam Syed were physicians at the prison and Meredith Mashak was the health services manager.

         On January 29, 2015, Hoffman evaluated Jones for right knee pain. Hoffman found a small amount of fluid buildup which he thought might be a symptom of degenerative joint disease. Hoffman ordered an x-ray of Jones's knee and scheduled a follow-up appointment.

         On February 2, 2015, Jones received the x-ray. The results were normal and did not show a fracture, dislocation, or fluid in the joint. Jones saw Hoffman again on March 9, 2015 and reported that he still had knee discomfort. Hoffman noted that Jones had an even gait and moved without obvious pain. Hoffman prescribed meloxicam, a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug, and told Jones that his pain might be related to his obesity. After March 2015, Hoffman had no further involvement with Jones's medical care.

         In January 2016, Jones again complained of right knee pain. He saw a nurse, who examined his knee and found no redness or swelling. The nurse noted that Jones walked with a normal gait and had a good range of motion. The nurse advised Jones to continue taking meloxicam daily and Tylenol as needed. She also scheduled an appointment for Jones with a doctor.

         On February 3, 2016, Jones saw Dr. Syed about several medical concerns, including high blood pressure, asthma, medications, and knee pain. Syed examined Jones's knee and did not observe any swelling or symptoms of pain. After reviewing Jones's chart, including the normal x-ray results of Jones's right knee, Syed concluded that it was not necessary to add any additional treatment for Jones's knee pain. Syed noted that Jones's obesity might be contributing to his knee pain.

         After his appointment, Jones filed an inmate complaint regarding Dr. Syed's failure to provide him additional treatment for his knee pain. The inmate complaint examiner contacted health services manager Mashak about the complaint. Mashak reviewed Jones's medical records and relayed to the inmate complaint examiner the care that Jones had received for his knee. The reviewing authority dismissed Jones's complaint, with the recommendation that Jones be assessed for physical therapy.

         On February 29, 2016, Syed wrote an order for Jones's meloxicam prescription to expire. Syed did not think that non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications should be prescribed for chronic conditions or for prolonged use and thought that Jones's pain could be managed without meloxicam or any medication in addition to Tylenol.

         Jones was seen by medical staff seven times between March and July 2016 and did not complain about knee pain. The next time Jones saw Dr. Syed was on August 5, 2016, for concerns about hypothyroidism and asthma. Jones did not raise any concerns about his knee. ...


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