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Balistreri v. Kast

United States District Court, W.D. Wisconsin

July 20, 2017




         Pro se plaintiff Steven Balistreri has filed this civil rights lawsuit alleging that while he was an inmate at Fox Lake Correctional Institution, his Eighth Amendment rights were violated by Correctional Sergeant Jeremy Bailey, Correctional Officer Amy Mastricola, and Correctional Officer Ken Kast. Specifically, Balistreri alleges that he was exposed to unconstitutional conditions of confinement when Mastricola and Kast did not immediately remove him from his cell after the in-cell toilet overflowed. Balistreri also alleges that after he slipped on the wet cell floor, Bailey delayed in providing him with necessary medical treatment.[1]

         The three defendants have filed a joint motion for summary judgment on both claims. Because the undisputed facts show that defendants did not violate plaintiff's constitutional rights, I am granting their motion for summary judgment.


         On October 21, 2013, plaintiff Steven Balistreri was an inmate at Fox Lake Correctional Institution (FLCI). Defendants were staff of FLCI that were on-duty at the time of the incident: defendant Jeremey Bailey was a correctional sergeant, and defendants Amy Mastricola and Ken Kast were correctional officers.

         In his complaint, Balistreri alleges that the toilet in his cell malfunctioned and overflowed at approximately 12:00 p.m., resulting in the cell being flooded with urine and fecal matter. (Complaint (dkt. 1) ¶ 17.) Balistreri further alleges that he told Mastricola, and his roommate told Kast, about the situation, Id. ¶¶ 18, 21, although neither Kast nor Mastricola recall being notified. By 12:40 p.m., the problem had not yet been fixed, and Balistreri says he again told Kast of the situation in the cell. Id. ¶ 19. Kast does not recall being notified at this time, but he does note that he was aware that the maintenance department had been notified of the situation.

         At 12:40 p.m., Bailey made an entry into the log book noting that Balistreri's cell was flooded and that maintenance had been notified. Bailey does not recall who told him that the cell was flooded. Bailey states that typically when a toilet overflows, a maintenance person is sent to clean out the trap, and the inmates in the affected cell are temporarily moved to another cell until the affected cell can be cleaned by an inmate janitor. However, in this instance, defendants state there was an inmate harming himself on the unit at the time of the overflow in Balistreri's cell. According to defendants, responding to the other inmate harming himself took priority over moving Balistreri to a new cell.

         Balistreri alleges in his complaint that after the toilet backed up, he slipped and fell while moving about the cell. (Complaint, dkt. 1, at¶ 24). From Balistreri's complaint, the closest I can pinpoint the time of his fall is after 12:40 but before 1:57 p.m. See id. at ¶¶ 19 & 26. Balistreri states that he twice informed Bailey that he had fallen and had hurt his elbow, neck, back, and head. Id. ¶ 25. Bailey does not recall Balistreri telling him that he had fallen or injured himself, but Bailey states that if Balistreri had told him that he had fallen, then Bailey would have contacted the Health Services Unit (HSU) so that a nurse could visit Balistreri's cell to evaluate him. For the purposes of summary judgment, the court must accept Balistreri's account as true. These are Balistreri's verified allegations in his complaint:

24. Balistreri, while moving in the cell slipped and fell into the fecal and urine water that covered the cell floor.
25. On at least two occasions, Balistreri informed Bailey that he had fallen and hurt his elbow, neck, back and head. Bailey stated that he had other things to tend to and would get to Balistreri later, if he even could.
26. Shortly after speaking to Bailey, at about 1:57 p.m., Balistreri informed Schmidt and Butterboardt that he needed medical attention and what had occurred for him to need the attention.
27. Balistreri was not seen by medical staff until after 2:30 p.m., at which time the severity of his injuries was noted, which were of a severe enough nature, he was sent to the local emergency room.
April 20, 2015 Complaint, dkt. 1, at 2-3.

         With regard to Paragraph 26, Balistreri's medical records show that Nurse Schueler actually saw Balistreri at 2:22 p.m., presumably after Officers Schmidt and Butterboardt (or their colleagues) walked Balistreri to the HSU. Balistreri told Nurse Schueler that when he fell, he hit his head on the bed and fell onto his right elbow, which was bruised, immobile, numb, tingling, pale, and cold. Nurse Schueler provided Balistreri with ice and a sling, and he was transported to the hospital at 3:20 p.m. At the hospital, the doctor took a CT scan of Balistreri's head and cervical spine, as well as X-rays of his lumbrosacral spine and right elbow. The doctor determined that Balistreri had a ...

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