Rowe v. Gibson, No. 14-3316 (7th Cir. 2015)Annotate this Case
Indiana inmate Rowe was diagnosed with reflux esophagitis, (GERD), which may cause esophageal bleeding and can increase the risk of esophageal cancer. The prison physician told him to take Zantac pills. Rowe was permitted to keep Zantac in his cell and take pills when he felt the need, until his pills were confiscated and he was told that he would be allowed to take a Zantac only when a nurse gave it to him or buy it at the commissary. He complained that he needed to take Zantac with his meals. No reason was articulated for forbidding him to keep Zantac given him by prison staff while permitting him to keep Zantac that he bought at the commissary. Zantac is not a narcotic. Rowe filed suit under 42 U.S.C. 1983, claiming deliberate indifference to a serious medical need. After he filed suit, he ceased receiving Zantac because his authorization to receive over-the-counter Zantac free of charge lapsed. He was told to purchase the drug from the commissary if he wanted it. Rowe claims he could not afford to buy it. A doctor opined that his condition didn’t require Zantac. The doctor later relented. The Seventh Circuit reversed summary judgment in favor of the defendants, noting contradictory evidence and that the claim is “far from frivolous.” The court urged the court to consider appointing a neutral expert.