United States District Court, E.D. Wisconsin
Stadtmueller U.S. District Court.
Jeff Poff (“Poff”), a prisoner, brings this
action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Defendants,
prison officials at Waupun Correctional Institution
(“Waupun”), alleging that they acted with
deliberate indifference to his medical needs-specifically,
that they failed to properly treat a tooth he chipped on a
rock in his baked beans. Defendants filed a motion for
summary judgment on May 22, 2017. (Docket #59). Poff filed a
response on May 26, 2017. (Docket #66 and #67). Defendants
replied on June 9, 2017. (Docket #68). For the reasons stated
below, Defendants' motion will be granted and this action
will be dismissed.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
Rule of Civil Procedure 56 provides that the court
“shall grant summary judgment if the movant shows that
there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the
movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a); see Boss v. Castro, 816 F.3d
910, 916 (7th Cir. 2016). A fact is “material” if
it “might affect the outcome of the suit” under
the applicable substantive law. Anderson v. Liberty
Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). A dispute of fact
is “genuine” if “the evidence is such that
a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving
party.” Id. The court construes all facts and
reasonable inferences in the light most favorable to the
non-movant. Bridge v. New Holland Logansport, Inc.,
815 F.3d 356, 360 (7th Cir. 2016). The court must not weigh
the evidence presented or determine credibility of witnesses;
the Seventh Circuit instructs that “we leave those
tasks to fact finders.” Berry v. Chicago Transit
Auth., 618 F.3d 688, 691 (7th Cir. 2010). The party
opposing summary judgment “need not match the movant
witness for witness, nor persuade the court that [his] case
is convincing, [he] need only come forward with appropriate
evidence demonstrating that there is a pending dispute of
material fact.” Waldridge v. Am. Hoechst
Corp., 24 F.3d 918, 921 (7th Cir. 1994).
Poff's Failure to Dispute the Material Facts
relevant facts are largely undisputed because Poff did not
dispute them. In the Court's amended scheduling order,
entered January 23, 2017, Poff was warned about the
requirements for opposing a motion for summary judgment.
(Docket #51 at 3). Accompanying that order were copies of
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56 and Civil Local Rule 56,
both of which describe in detail the form and contents of a
proper summary judgment submission. Most relevant here is
Local Rule 56(b)(2), which obligates the non-movant on
summary judgment to file “a concise response to the
moving party's statement of facts that must contain a
reproduction of each numbered paragraph in the moving
party's statement of facts followed by a response to each
paragraph, including, in the case of any disagreement,
specific references to the affidavits, declarations, parts of
the record, and other supporting materials relied
upon[.]” Civ. L. R. 56(b)(2)(B)(i).
on May 22, 2017, Defendants filed their motion for summary
judgment. (Docket #59). In the motion, Defendants also warned
Davis about the requirements for his response as set forth in
Federal and Local Rules 56. Id. at 1-2. He was
provided with additional copies of those Rules along with
Defendants' motion. See Id. at 3-12. In
connection with their motion, Defendants filed a supporting
statement of material facts that complied with the applicable
procedural rules. (Docket #61). It contained short, numbered
paragraphs concisely stating those facts which Defendants
proposed to be beyond dispute, with supporting citations to
the attached evidentiary materials. See id.
response, Poff submitted two documents, neither of which
respond to Defendants' statement of facts in compliance
with the Federal and Local rules. The first is his brief in
opposition to Defendants' motion. (Docket #66). His brief
contains a prose recitation of his version of the relevant
events, but it neglects to specifically address the numbered
paragraphs set forth in Defendants' statement of facts.
See Id. at 1-5. Moreover, Poff's factual
narrative does not contain citations to any record evidence.
Id. Instead, he simply attached over fifty pages of
exhibits to the brief, including requests for medical care,
medical records, and inmate grievances, without explanation.
See (Docket #66-1). Similarly, Poff's other
submission, his own “proposed findings of fact, ”
provides no citations to actual evidence, nor does it address
Defendant's statement of facts in any fashion. (Docket
being twice warned of the strictures of summary judgment
procedure, Poff ignored those rules by failing to properly
dispute Defendants' proffered facts with citations to
relevant, admissible evidence. Smith v. Lamz, 321
F.3d 680, 683 (7th Cir. 2003). Though the Court is required
to liberally construe a pro se plaintiff's
filings, it cannot act as his lawyer, and it cannot delve
through the record to find favorable evidence for him.
See Waldridge, 24 F.3d at 922; Herman v. City of
Chicago, 870 F.2d 400, 404 (7th Cir. 1989) (“A
district court need not scour the record to make the case of
a party who does nothing.”). Further, while the Court
is cognizant that Poff lacks legal training, his utter
failure to comply with the rules of procedure is not
excusable on that ground alone. Thus, the Court will, unless
otherwise stated, deem Defendants' facts undisputed for
purposes of deciding their motion for summary judgment.
See Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(e); Civ. L. R. 56(b)(4);
Hill v. Thalacker, 210 F. App'x 513, 515 (7th
Cir. 2006) (noting that district courts have discretion to
enforce procedural rules against pro se litigants).
Facts Material to Defendants' Motion
was an inmate at Waupun. Defendants were at the relevant time
all employees of the Wisconsin Department of Corrections
(“DOC”): Dr. John Schettle
(“Schettle”) was a dentist at Waupun; Dr. Man Lee
(“Lee”) is the DOC's dental director; Amanda
Cole (“Cole”) is a dental hygienist at Waupun;
and Jason Jackson (“Jackson”) is a dental
assistant at Waupun. As noted above, this case stems from
allegedly inadequate medical care Poff received after he
chipped his tooth on a rock buried in his food.
Dental Services for Waupun Inmates
inmates enter DOC institutions, they are given an inmate
handbook informing them that if they require non-emergency
dental attention, they must submit a dental services request
to the health/dental services unit. Inmates are informed that
if they need to see dental staff immediately for an
emergency, they need to alert unit staff of their concern.
Waupun's dental services unit receives between 10-25
dental services requests from inmates on a typical day.
to DOC policy, these requests are divided into four
categories-emergency, urgent, routine, and hygiene. Under
those policies, only the institution dentist is qualified to
triage dental services requests. The policy defines a dental
“emergency” as a dental problem causing a
life-threatening condition and requiring immediate care.
Examples include: uncontrolled bleeding, allergic
reactions/shock, swelling or fractures causing impaired
breathing, high fever from dental infection, or serious
“urgent” request involves a dental condition
which, if not addressed in a timely manner, could result in
severe pain and suffering. In addition to pain, other factors
are considered when scheduling urgent appointments, such as
whether the inmate has an exposed nerve, facial swelling, or
an inability to eat or sleep. Generally, urgent dental issues
are brought to the dental services unit's attention by
security or health services staff, not through a dental
“routine” dental services are elective and
provided when requested by the inmate or when determined to
be clinically appropriate by the treating dentist. Routine
requests are further subdivided into three categories:
routine, essential routine, and prosthetic routine. Routine
requests include dental conditions that are asymptomatic and
for which a delay in completion of up to one year would not
result in serious health risks. This includes minor cavities,
old but serviceable fillings, prosthetics which are cosmetic
only, or denture repairs when the denture remains functional.
Essential routine requests include dental conditions which
are chronic, asymptomatic, and which if not completed within
6-8 weeks could result in an acute episode. This encompasses
advanced cavities, teeth with hopeless prognosis, infected
teeth, and care for inmate patients which is relevant to
their chronic medical conditions.
makes every effort to see inmates who are scheduled on the
essential routine wait list within five days. As the dentist
at Waupun, Schettle triaged the inmates' dental services
requests and identified the proper category of the request,
i.e., routine, essential routine, hygiene, etc.
Schettle then ...