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Wille v. Pugh

United States District Court, E.D. Wisconsin

August 16, 2016

CAINE J. WILLE, Plaintiff,



         The pro se plaintiff, Caine J. Wille, is a former Wisconsin Department of Corrections inmate. The events alleged in his complaint concern his incarceration at Stanley Correctional Institution (“SCI”), and what he alleges was his improper transfer to the Wisconsin Secure Program Facility (“WSPF”). On April 18, 2014, Judge Adelman issued an order allowing the plaintiff to proceed on a failure to protect claim arising out of his transfer to WSPF, where correctional officers he had known him from high school allegedly sexually assaulted him. Dkt. No. 69.

         On December 18, 2015, the defendants filed a motion for summary judgment, Dkt. No. 97, and a supporting brief, Dkt. No. 98. The plaintiff filed his opposition brief on January 6, 2016, Dkt. No. 108, and the defendants filed their reply on February 4, 2016, Dkt. No. 110. Although he did not seek, or obtain, leave from the court, on March 9, 2016, the plaintiff filed a sur-reply. Dkt. No. 111. For the reasons stated below, the court grants the defendants’ motion for summary judgment.

         I. FACTS [1]

         A. Parties

         The plaintiff is a former inmate at the SCI. Dkt. No. 70. The defendants are employees at the SCI: Warden Jeffrey Pugh, Social Worker Sarah Barth, Deputy Warden Mario Canziani, Line Supervisor Kyle Eslinger, and Security Director Christopher Buesgen. Dkt. No. 99, ¶¶1, 3, 6, 8, 10.

         B. The Plaintiff’s Allegations

         On November 6, 2012, the plaintiff and another inmate engaged in a physical altercation at SCI. Id. at ¶15. An officer witnessed the altercation, and gave the plaintiff a conduct report. Id. Captain Steinke, the hearing examiner assigned to the matter, sentenced the plaintiff to serve 240 days of disciplinary segregation and referred him to the Program Review Committee (“PRC”) to determine whether his custody status should change as a result of the conduct report. Id. at ¶¶15-16.

         On November 21, 2012, social worker Sarah Barth interviewed the plaintiff on behalf of the PRC. Id. at ¶¶18-19. She concluded that the plaintiff should be moved to maximum security due to the severity of the physical altercation. Id. at ¶20. The PRC accepted her recommendation, and elevated the plaintiff’s custody status to maximum security with transfer to WSPF general population. Id. at ¶21.

         On December 30, 2012, the plaintiff requested an interview with Barth. Id. at ¶22. He stated in his request that he knew personally several of the correctional officers employed at the WSPF. See id. Specifically, he wrote that Boscobel is “right in my back yard” and that he “smoke[d] marijuana with a couple [of] COs and serve[d] [a] couple others alcohol in my bar and watch[ed] them drive off.” Id.

         After reviewing the plaintiff’s interview request, Barth filed an incident report. Id. at ¶23. On January 3, 2013, Security Director Buesgen forwarded the incident report to Lieutenant Eslinger and asked him to investigate. Id. at ¶26. Eslinger interviewed the plaintiff, who said (among other things) that he knew a WSPF officer named Richard Matti who allegedly dealt drugs. Id. at ¶¶26-27. Eslinger deemed the plaintiff’s allegations about his past interactions with WSPF staff as credible. Id. As a result, Eslinger recommended instituting a Special Placement Need (“SPN”) for the purpose of separating the plaintiff from Matti. Id. Buesgen approved the SPN on January 10, 2013. Id. at ¶28.

         On February 14, 2013, the plaintiff left SCI to travel to Dodge Correctional Institution, the transfer location. Id. at ¶32. A week later, on February 20, 2013, correctional employees improperly transferred the plaintiff to WSPF (specifically, to general population at WSPF, referred to as WSGP). Id. More specifically, the computer program used to track inmate movement-the Wisconsin Integrated Corrections System (“WICS”)-erroneously sent a notification to the Bureau of Offender Classification Movement (“BOCM”), the organization responsible for scheduling transportation, indicating that it should transfer the plaintiff to “WSGP.” Id. at ¶¶ 31-32. At that time, WICS listed WSPF’s “general population” as “WSGP, ” and the computer recognized “WSPF” and “WSGP” as two different locations. Id. As a result, the SPN did not prevent the plaintiff from being transferred to WSPF. Id. Instead, the SPN at WSPF caused the computer system to reassign him to WSGP, which is actually the general population WSPF. Id.

         On February 23, 2013, WSPF Correctional Officer Nicole Nelson (not a defendant in this case) recognized the plaintiff as someone she knew from high school. Id. at ¶40. Nelson informed WSPF Captain Daryl Flannery (also not a defendant in this case) that the plaintiff could provide information about her to other inmates. Id. With Captain Flannery’s permission, Officer Nelson and Sergeant Mathew Scullion (also not a defendant in this case) removed the plaintiff from his cell and ordered him not to reveal Nelson’s full name to other inmates. Id. The plaintiff agreed, and the correctional officers escorted him back to his cell. Id. Four days later, on February 27, 2013, the Department of Corrections transferred the plaintiff to Waupun Correctional Institution. Id. at ¶32.

         On April 12, 2013, the security director at WCI received from the plaintiff a sexual assault complaint against Nelson and Scullion. Id. at ¶41. He alleged that on February 23, 2013, the officers had threatened him and sexually assaulted him when they took him out of his cell. Id. Waupun Correctional Institution Staff commenced a Prison Rape Elimination Act (“PREA”) investigation, and began to monitor the plaintiff’s mail. Id. at ΒΆΒΆ41-44. They found a letter from the plaintiff to another inmate, which stated that the plaintiff lied about the rape allegations because the ...

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