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Easterling v. Adams

United States District Court, E.D. Wisconsin

February 22, 2017

CLARENCE M. EASTERLING, Plaintiff,
v.
DEBRA ADAMS, TIM HAINES, and CINDY O'DONNELL, Defendants.

          DECISION AND ORDER GRANTING THE DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT (DKT. NO. 71), GRANTING THE PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO REFILE HIS RESPONSE TO DEFENDANTS' PROPOSED FINDINGS OF FACT (DKT. NO. 119), AND GRANTING HIS MOTION TO SEAL EXHIBIT 747 AND TO FILE A REDACTED COPY (DKT. NO. 121)

          HON. PAMELA PEPPER United States District Judge

         Plaintiff Clarence M. Easterling, who is representing himself, is incarcerated at the Wisconsin Secure Program Facility (WSPF). On June 15, 2015, Judge Rudolph Randa (the judge assigned to the case at that time) screened the plaintiff's amended complaint under 28 U.S.C. §1915A, and permitted him to proceed on claims that eight of the nineteen defendants named in the complaint had violated his constitutional rights when they refused to allow him visits with his minor daughter. Dkt. No. 20.

         On December 28, 2015, this court (signing on behalf of Judge Randa, who had written the order but was not in the office to sign it due to medical issues) granted in part defendants' motion for judgment on the pleadings. Dkt. No. 61. Judge Randa dismissed five of the eight defendants-Michael Thurmer, Richard Raemisch, Pamela Fuller, Philip Kingston, and Jane Doe-because he found that the plaintiff's claims against them were barred by the statute of limitations. See id. at 3-6.

         In his complaint, the plaintiff sought several kinds of relief. He asked the court to issue an injunction ordering “all defendants who have authority to do so” to allow him visitation with his daughter. Dkt. No. 1 at 15. He asked for a declaratory judgment, declaring that he had a right to visitation with his daughter. Id. And he asked for “presumed, ” compensatory and punitive damages. Id. at 15-17. In its December 28, 2015 order, the court dismissed the plaintiff's claims against Cindy O'Donnell in her personal capacity, and dismissed the plaintiff's claim for money damages against her. Dkt. No. 61 at 9. Defendant O'Donnell remained in the case only in her official capacity, with relation to the plaintiff's requests for injunctive and declaratory relief.

         On February 19, 2016, the remaining defendants (Debra Adams, Tim Haines, and O'Donnell) filed a motion for summary judgment. Dkt. No. 71. That motion was fully briefed on June 29, 2016.[1] On July 7, 2016, Judge Randa referred the case to Magistrate Judge Patricia Gorence for mediation. Dkt. No. 109. On August 2, 2016, the case was reassigned to this court. On October 18, 2016, Judge Gorence advised the court that mediation was unsuccessful, and she returned the case to the court.

         For the reasons explained in this decision, the court grants the defendants' motion for summary judgment, and dismisses this case.

         I. RELEVANT FACTS[2]

         A. The 2004 Visitation Request and Denial at Waupun

         In 2004, while incarcerated at Waupun Correctional Institution, the plaintiff asked, in accordance with the relevant policies, that institution officials allow him to have visits with his three-year old daughter. Dkt. No. 106 ¶37. Pamela Fuller (who is no longer a defendant), acting as the warden's designee, completed a form denying that request. Dkt. No. 105 at 4. In the form, Fuller explained,

[Warden Kingston] has reasonable grounds to believe that the inmate's offense history indicates there may be a problem with the proposed visitation [309.08(4)(f); [and]
[Warden Kingston] has reasonable grounds to believe that [the proposed visitor] may be subjected to victimization. [309.08(4)(g)].

Dkt. No. 106 at ¶39.

         The plaintiff appealed the denial through the inmate complaint review system. Id. at ¶40. Inmate Complaint Examiner (ICE) James Muenchow (who is no longer a defendant) found that the denial complied with Wis. Admin. Code § DOC 309.08(4)(f) and (4)(g). Id. at ¶41. He explained that warden's decision refusing to approve a proposed visitor is both discretionary and unconditional, and that an ICE would not challenge or second-guess the warden's discretion. Id. He then recommended that the offender complaint be dismissed. Id.

         Michael Thumer (who no longer is a defendant) was a deputy warden at Waupun at this time; he agreed with Muenchow's recommendation and dismissed the offender complaint, finding no reason to overrule the visitation decision. Id. at ¶7, 42.

         The plaintiff appealed the decision to the Corrections Complaint Examiner's (CCE) office, which recommended that the appeal be dismissed. Id. at ¶43. The Office of the Secretary accepted the CCE's recommendation, and dismissed the appeal. Id. at ¶44. The plaintiff also appealed the denial to Philip Kingston (who no longer is a defendant), the warden at Waupun at that time. Id. at ¶45. Kingston responded to the appeal with the following:

I am in receipt of your correspondence of 12/21/04 appealing the denial of your daughter to your approved visiting list. I note you have appealed this denial through the Inmate Complaint Review System and have since received a decision from the Secretary of the Department of Corrections. The reason for denial is clearly stated in the complaint decision.
You ask if you will ever be allowed to visit with your daughter while you are incarcerated. You have the ability to influence that decision through your participation and successful completion of recommended treatment programming.

Id.

         The plaintiff's recommended programming included Cognitive Group Intervention Program, Vocational Education, Sex Offender Treatment, and Anger Management. Id. at ¶46.

         B. Policies for Requesting Visitors at WSPF Pursuant to DAI Policy #309.06.01 and WSPF Procedure #900.302.01, the current process for obtaining approval for a visitor at WSPF is as follows:

(a) The inmate is responsible for mailing a Visitor Questionnaire form (DOC-21AA) to proposed visitors.
(b) Each proposed visitor, including minors, shall complete a DOC-21AA form and send the completed form directly to the facility where the inmate is currently placed.
(c) Once the DOC-21AA form is returned, it is screened for completeness, legibility, appropriate signatures, conformance to the allowable number of visitors on the Visitor List, and the elapsed time since any previous denials or removals of ...

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