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Leiser v. Hannula

United States District Court, W.D. Wisconsin

August 11, 2016

JEFFREY D. LEISER, Plaintiff,
v.
DR. JOAN HANNULA, et al., Defendants.

          OPINION & ORDER

          STEPHEN L. CROCKER Magistrate Judge

         Pro se plaintiff Jeffrey Leiser has been permitted to proceed on claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, in which he contends that the defendants failed to respond to his requests for treatment for his spinal and testicle pain, in violation of the Eighth Amendment and Wisconsin state law. Leiser has filed a Motion for a Preliminary Injunction (dkt. 25), in which he seeks an order requiring the Wisconsin Department of Corrections (“DOC”) to bring him to the University of Wisconsin-Madison hospital to be evaluated by a neurosurgeon. I requested briefing, and after reviewing the parties’ submissions, I determined that a hearing was unnecessary because the parties do not dispute the material facts and Leiser had failed to submit sufficient facts to suggest that he is entitled to the relief he seeks. Accordingly, his motion will be denied.

         UNDISPUTED FACTS

         During all relevant times, Leiser was held at the Stanley Correctional Institution (“SCI”), where he is currently incarcerated. He has been permitted to proceed against the following SCI employees: Dr. Joan Hannula, the head doctor; July Bentley, a nurse practitioner; Patty Scherreiks, Tracy Brunner and Ms. Thacker, nurses; Sandra DeMars, Christine McCall and Jeanie Ann Voeks, the current and prior health services unit (“HSU”) managers; and Lon Becher, the nursing coordinator.

         Leiser attached numerous medical records to his complaint. They show a history of chronic pain due to disc herniations. Leiser underwent a lumbar fusion surgery in 1996 and a revision surgery in 2002. A 2006 scan did not reveal any loosening or failure from those procedures. (Progress Notes, dkt. #1-2.) Leiser arrived at SCI on October 28, 2010, where he promptly submitted a health services request (“HSR”). Leiser reported that he had undergone spinal surgery in 2010, he still experienced “pinching” pain on the left side, and two herniated discs caused “spasms and shooting pain.” Between November 2010 and January of 2015, Leiser submitted a multitude of health service requests, and he received treatment as a result. In my March 10, 2016, order, I summarized Leiser’s descriptions of his requests for treatment and the responses of HSU staff. For purposes of this motion, however, I need to focus on the actual evidence Leiser has submitted that would show he is entitled to immediate injunctive relief.

         Leiser’s primary evidence is his own statements about the pain he suffers. He repeatedly states that he suffers severe testicle, back and foot pain that affects his daily life and causes serious mental and emotional distress. Additionally, Leiser cites two medical records to establish the severity of his back condition: (1) a January 2010 MRI taken at Agnesian Health Care, which includes the statement: “At the T7-T8 level there is mild central disc herniation noted which does appear to impinge the right anterior aspect of the spinal cord . . ..” (Dkt. 25, Ex. B.); and (2) a November 26, 2013, MRI ordered by Dr. Hannula, which noted that the degenerative disk disease was “most significant at ¶ 4-L5 with a small posterior disk protrusion and annula fissure, ” “mild to moderate central spinal stenosis, ” “mild narrowing of the lateral recesses bilaterally, ” and “mild bilateral neural foraminal narrowing.” (Dkt. #25, Ex. A.)

         Finally, to establish that the defendants ignored his requests for treatment, Leiser references the following treatment requests and responses:

• May 28, 2011: Leiser was taken to HSU in a wheelchair due to severe lower lumbar and leg pain, and he was then sent to the emergency room. At the emergency room, he received a pain pill and was sent back to SCI with the recommendation that he “see a neurologist or neurosurgeon.” (Dkt. 1-6.)
• August 14, 2013: Leiser was taken to a hospital to see a general surgeon. In a letter to Bentley, the doctor noted that the problem may be neurological but that he would defer to a spinal specialist. (Dkt. 1-5.)
• August 30, 2013: Leiser submitted a letter to Dr. Hannula asking for an MRI and to see a neurosurgeon. (Dkt. 34-1, Ex. C.) Dr. Hannula responded, on September 3, 2013, that an appointment would be made to discuss a surgical consultation. (Dkt. 34-1, Ex. D.)
• November 26, 2013: Leiser underwent an MRI ordered by Dr. Hannula. The MRI results noted that the degenerative disk disease was “most significant at ¶ 4-L5 with a small posterior disk protrusion and annula fissure, ” “mild to moderate central spinal stenosis, ” “mild narrowing of the lateral recesses bilaterally, ” and “mild bilateral neural foraminal narrowing.” (Dkt. 1-4.)
• August 5, 2014: Leiser sent a letter to Dr. Hannula stating that if they were not going to send him to see a neurosurgeon, he wanted to have his testicle removed to stop the pain. (Dkt. 34-1, at 3.)
• August 28, 2014: Dr. Hannula saw Leiser and noted that Leiser wanted a neurosurgery evaluation. She also noted that she told Leiser that based on his MRI and clinical exam, he had no need for surgery. (Dkt. 34-1, Ex. G.)
• September 22, 2014: Leiser was seen by Dr. Stephen Endres, a doctor at Black River Memorial Hospital, who stated that “It is not uncommon to have disc pain radiate into the scrotum and in fact I told him numerous times in my practice I have seen hernia surgeries performed when ...

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