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Granados v. Rasmussen

United States District Court, E.D. Wisconsin

March 8, 2017




         The plaintiff, currently in prison in Wisconsin and representing himself, is proceeding on Eighth Amendment claims regarding the defendants' failure to protect the plaintiff from harming himself.

         I. FACTS[1]

         A. Parties

         At the time of the events he describes in the complaint, he was an inmate at Waupun Correctional Institution (Waupun) in 2015. Dkt. No. 29 at ¶1. (He recently was transferred to Green Bay Correctional Institution. Dkt. No. 42.) Defendants Ryan Rasmussen, Jesse Umentum, Peter Schalk, and Cory Sabish were members of the security staff at Waupun, and defendant Bonnie Halper was a psychological associate at Waupun. Dkt. No. 29 at ¶¶5-7, 19.

         B. Previous Self-Harm Injury

         On February 10, 2015, a nurse was called to the restrictive housing unit at Waupun because the plaintiff had cut himself with a razor, then “flushed the razor.” Dkt. No. 29 at ¶31. He had a two-inch laceration on his left upper arm. Id. “The nurse applied two butterfly closures and two 4x4s with tape to cover the laceration.” Id.

         A little over a month later, on March 10, 2015, a nurse again was called to the restrictive housing unit, this time to check the plaintiff's left arm. Id. at ¶32. The plaintiff had picked “the scab off his healing laceration and dried blood surrounded the area.” Id. It looked to the nurse as though the plaintiff “was trying to make the wound bigger.” Id. The nurse instructed the plaintiff to keep his hands off his wound and to keep it clean and dry. Id.

         C. Transfer to Observation

         A few days later, on March 13, 2015 at approximately 1:45 p.m., the plaintiff reported to staff members that he was suicidal. Id. at ¶33. He made numerous statements that he would harm himself and needed to be placed in observation. Id. The plaintiff “said he had been trying to work with staff concerning his restrictions, but he felt he had not been treated fairly, and this made him want to hurt himself.” Id. The plaintiff asked to be “strapped down, ” and threatened to “open his arm up” when placed in observation. Id. Due to the plaintiff's statements about his intention to hurt himself and his overall agitated presentation, Psychological Associate Joshua Olson decided to place the plaintiff in observation, with close fifteen-minute checks as a preventative measure. Id. The defendants indicate that the plaintiff “had been having difficulty with stability, ” based on the fact that this was his third observation placement since March 7, 2015. Id.

         The plaintiff says that he was escorted to the “strip cage” before he was taken to an observation cell, but he does not specify who escorted him. Dkt. No. 1 at 3. According to the plaintiff, defendant Rasmussen approached him and ordered him to hand out his “green gown for exchange for a paper gown.” Id. The plaintiff says that Rasmussen “seemed drunk.” Dkt. No. 40 at 1. The plaintiff asked Rasmussen if he was being strip searched, and Rasmussen said no. Dkt. No. 1 at 3. In his complaint, the plaintiff quoted Rasmussen as saying, “No, I'm not feeling it today, just give me your gown and put this on ….” Id. In his affidavit in response to the defendants' motion for summary judgment, the plaintiff relays Rasmussen's words as, “no I'm not feeling it today, just get dressed.” Dkt. No. 40 at 1.

         In his complaint, the plaintiff states that Rasmussen, Umentum, Sabish, and Schalk escorted him to “the cell” and placed him in observation. Dkt. No. 1 at 3. In his affidavit, the plaintiff says that Rasmussen and Umentum escorted him to his observation cell and, when they arrived, Schalk and Sabish were searching the cell. Dkt. No. 40 at 1. According to the plaintiff, “they didn't make sure I didn't have any item on me or ask if I was in the strip search.” Id.

         D. Plaintiff's Self-Harm on March 13, 2015

         Moments after he was placed in the observation cell, the plaintiff noticed that he still had his rosary around his neck and half a comb in his hair. Dkt. No. 1 at 3-4. The plaintiff “instantly used both items to cut [his] inner left elbow.” Id. at 4.

         Around 3:00 p.m. that day, Halper was “conducting other contacts in the restrictive housing unit.” Dkt. No. 29 at ¶34. The plaintiff called out to her and asked to talk, and Halper approached his door. Id. The plaintiff showed Halper what she thought was a plastic rosary. Id. He also showed Halper his wrist, and “demonstrated that he used the charm to engage in self-harm.” Id. Halper described the wound on the plaintiff's wrist “as a scratch or superficial abrasion.” Id.

         Halper told the plaintiff “that he would need to hand out the rosary.” Id. Halper does not have keys to the observation cells, and doesn't carry a radio to contact the sergeant or other security staff. Id. “Halper went quickly to report the incident to the sergeant.” Id. By the time the sergeant arrived, the plaintiff said he had swallowed the rosary and had flushed the beads and comb. Id.; Dkt. No. 40 at 2.

         “A supervisor was called, ” and the plaintiff “was placed in ambulatory restraints for his own protection. Dkt. No. 29 at ¶34. The plaintiff says that he “was put in the strip cage where they took pictures.” Dkt. No. 40 at 2. He also indicates that the doctor “put [him] in mitts and the body suit.” Id. (A “Safety Suit” covers the body from ankles to neck; it keeps the person from “being able to pass items through his body and retrieve them, ” as well as preventing the person from irritating a wound or harming himself. Dkt. No. 29 at ¶21.)

         The restrictive housing unit logbook entry for second shift on March 13, 2015 indicates that the plaintiff swallowed something and cut his arm at approximately 2:56 p.m. Dkt. No. 29 at ¶21. The health services unit saw him, and put him in “mitts, ” or the “Tube.” Id. at ¶¶21. (The Tube restraint covers one's entire hand, to keep the person from grasping items, and from irritating or opening wounds. Id.) The plaintiff was continued on observation status as a preventative measure. Id. at ¶34. The plaintiff avers that he sustained severe scar tissue from cutting himself and has emotional thoughts when he looks at the scar. Dkt. No. 1 at 4.

         Over the next several days, the plaintiff was placed in the Tube and the Safety Suit. Dkt. No. 29 at ¶21. While in the safety suit, the inmate does not have the ability to use the toilet without a staff member assisting him and removing the suit. Id. at ΒΆ22. An ...

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