United States District Court, W.D. Wisconsin
JEFFREY D. LEISER Plaintiff,
KAREN KLOTH, et al., Defendants.
OPINION AND ORDER
STEPHEN L. CROCKER, MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
se plaintiff Jeffrey D. Leiser is proceeding in this
lawsuit on Eighth Amendment claims against defendants Karen
Kloth, Paula Stoudt, and Reed Richardson, related to
Kloth's alleged harassment and Stoudt and
Richardson's failure to protect him from harassment.
Defendants filed a Motion for Summary Judgment (dkt. 21),
which I am denying, and Leiser filed a Motion to Strike (dkt.
38) which I also am denying. Also, the parties have two
pending motions related to Leiser's discovery requests
(dkts. 17-18), which I am denying in part. Finally, I am
striking the upcoming trial date and scheduling this matter
for a telephonic scheduling conference.
is a DOC inmate who was housed at the Stanley Correctional
Institution at all times relevant to his claims in this
lawsuit. During his time at Stanley, Leiser was diagnosed
with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) related to a
sexual assault when he was a child. One trigger for
Leiser's PTSD is when someone stands directly behind him.
According to Leiser, when his PTSD is triggered, he
experiences flashbacks and becomes angry, starts sweating,
knocks his head against the wall, yells and screams, and
wants to attack or hurt the people who trigger his PTSD.
(Leiser decl., dkt. 31, ¶ 18.)
Karen Kloth was employed at Stanley as a sergeant during the
relevant time period. Defendant Paula Stoudt was a Unit
Manager at Stanley, and her responsibilities included
supervising the security, treatment, and general living
conditions of the inmates. Defendant Reed Richardson was the
warden at Stanley during the relevant period, and he was
responsible for the overall administration and operation
Stanley's Psychological Services Unit (PSU) Approach to
the relevant time period, non-defendant Dr. Jesse Frey was
the psychological supervisor at Stanley, and his
responsibilities included overseeing inmate mental health
treatment there. Dr. Frey explains that PSU staff do not
inform security staff about inmates' clinical diagnoses.
An exception to this general rule arises when an inmate needs
a special accommodation to address an inmate-specific
psychological condition. In such a case, psychological
services staff informs unit security staff of the particular
symptoms, behavioral or emotional responses of the inmate,
and the special accommodations needed to address that
inmate's issues. Dr. Frey states that:
It is my opinion, to a reasonable degree of clinical
certainty based on my review of Leiser's clinical records
and my interactions with him that Leiser did not need an
accommodation directive precluding Stanley security staff
from standing or moving behind him.
May 9, 2017 Declaration, dkt. 27, ¶ 16.)
Leiser's PTSD Diagnosis and Treatment by PSU
worked consistently with PSU staff on a variety of
psychological issues. During the relevant time period,
Leiser's treating clinician was Nichole Kaeppler. It
appears that she had her first session with Leiser on October
2, 2014, at which point she noted that Leiser made
“mention of psychotherapeutic treatment as an
adolescent while in foster care.” (Ex. 1005, dkt. 27-1,
at 1.) According to Leiser, he told Kaeppler that he suffers
from PTSD as a result of a childhood trauma in which he was
knocked out while talking to a blond female. (Leiser decl.,
dkt. 31, ¶ 10.) Leiser also claims that during that
session he told Kaeppler specifically that Kloth stands
behind him to trigger his PTSD, but Kaeppler's notes do
not include that detail.
December 18, 2014, Kaeppler noted that Leiser told her more
about his childhood trauma, this time revealing that the
trauma included sexual assault. Leiser also told her that he
related the trauma to his refusal to trust others as well as
his discomfort having people stand behind him. (Ex. 1005,
dkt. 27-1, at 4.) At that point, Kaeppler made a plan to
clinically monitor him to rule out PTSD. On January 8, 2015,
Kaeppler met with Leiser again; she noted that Leiser did not
want to discuss his childhood sexual abuse and again, and
noted her plan to monitor him to rule out PTSD. On February
5, 2015, Kaeppler noted that Leiser talked more about his
childhood sexual assault. Kaeppler also noted that the themes
he presented seemed “to root from symptoms of
PTSD.” (Id. at 7.) As such, she ordered a
follow up in three weeks, and planned with consult with Dr.
Frey about Leiser's symptoms to determine if an official
PTSD diagnosis was appropriate. She also ordered that Leiser
receive PTSD workbook materials. They met again on March 12,
2015, but the focus of that session was Leiser's loss of
March 30, 2015, Kaeppler met with Leiser, and they again
discussed his fear of having people stand behind him. She
noted that Leiser specifically said that his anxiety spiked
when he was waiting in line for medications in the Health
Services Unit (HSU). Kaeppler noted that she planned to
assign him a PTSD diagnosis after consulting with Dr. Frey,
and Dr. Frey signed that treatment note on April 13, 2015.
and Dr. Frey continued to see Leiser. At times, the treatment
notes indicate that Leiser reported that he was having
problems with unit staff standing behind him, but the notes
did not indicate that Leiser specifically reported that Kloth
was harassing him or deliberately triggering his PTSD.
(See dkts. 31-2, 31-7, 31-8.) Neither Dr. Frey nor
Kaeppler initiated a treatment plan that would accommodate
Leiser's needs related to his PTSD. Additionally, neither
Kaeppler, nor anyone else from Stanley's PSU informed
Stanley's other employees of Leiser's PTSD diagnosis
or that his PTSD was triggered when people stood behind him.
Dr. Frey explains that PSU did not create or
implement an accommodation prohibiting Stanley staff from
standing behind him because (1) psychological staff focus on
internal, not external, changes, and (2) Stanley is too
closely populated to ensure that no one would stand behind
Leiser, so any such accommodation could not be implemented.
does not dispute that there was no official accommodation for
him at Stanley. Instead, he contends that he told his
psychiatrist, Dr. Luxford, about the problem he had waiting
for his medications, and that afterwards, Dr. Luxford
arranged for Leiser to receive his medications inside the HSU
rather than waiting in line. (Leiser decl., dkt. 31, ¶
point in 2014 and 2015, Leiser was housed in the unit where
Kloth was sergeant. The parties dispute whether Leiser told
Kloth that he suffered from PTSD and that his PTSD was
triggered when someone stands directly behind him. Leiser
submitted his own declaration, stating that when he told
Kloth about his PTSD, Kloth responded that she can stand
where she wants and he would have to learn to deal with it.
(Leiser decl., dkt. 31, ¶ 10.) Beyond his declaration,
Leiser submits declarations from three other inmates,
recounting what they saw when Kloth and Leiser interacted.
Specifically, Leiser's brother, Loren Leiser (Loren),
states that he (Loren) told Kloth that she should not stand
behind Leiser because it would trigger his PTSD, warning her
that it would be her fault if Leiser “snapped on
her” and hurt her. (Loren Leiser decl, dkt. 37,
¶¶ 16-18.) Loren also states that he saw Leiser
tell Kloth not to stand behind him as well. (Id.
¶ 19.) Loren describes what happens to Leiser when his
PTSD is triggered, explaining that he has two levels of PTSD:
“level-one” involves fidgeting, sweating, and/or
darting eye movements, sometimes causing him to yell and walk
away; “level-two” involves level-one symptoms,
plus shaky hands, twitchy leg movements, and increased heart
rate. (Id. ¶ 15.) While Loren states that he
warned Kloth that he might “snap on her, ” Loren
does not state that Kloth saw Leiser experience these
symptoms when Leiser interacted with her.
other inmates, Robert Sekola and Terry Gorichs, state that
they saw Leiser tell Kloth not to stand behind him in the
cafeteria but she responded that she would stand where she
wanted and thereafter continued to stand behind him. (Gorichs
decl., dkt. 35, ¶¶ 2-3; Sekola decl., dkt. 36.)
Sekola also states that when he saw Kloth stand behind
Leiser, Leiser got angry and started shaking and sweating.
(Sekola decl, dkt. 36 ¶ 4.) Gorichs also explained that
he was Leiser's cellmate, and that he saw Leiser respond
to Kloth standing behind him by dumping his tray and going
back to his cell, where he would be shaking, sweating, and
talking to himself, saying things like “She is not
worth it” and “don't hurt her, ...