United States District Court, E.D. Wisconsin
Stadtmueller, U.S. District Judge.
Clancy Louis Jacobs (“Jacobs”), a prisoner,
brought this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against
defendant Kyle Wagner (“Wagner”), a correctional
official at Oshkosh Correctional Institution
(“OCI”), for using excessive force against him in
violation of his Eighth Amendment rights. Wagner filed a
motion for summary judgment, and the motion has been fully
briefed. (Docket #27-31, #33-40, #41-43). For the reasons
stated below, the Court will grant summary judgment in favor
of Wagner and dismiss this action with prejudice.
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 factfinders.” 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).
is an inmate in the custody of the Wisconsin Department of
Corrections. At all times relevant to this lawsuit, Jacobs
was incarcerated at OCI and Wagner was a correctional officer
focal point of this lawsuit arose from a brief encounter
between Jacobs and Wagner on December 30, 2015. That evening,
Jacobs was in a dayroom, or common area, of his housing unit
at OCI, seated on chair near a table with his feet propped up
on another chair, chatting with two other inmates. Wagner
entered the dayroom and walked in Jacobs' direction. As
he turned to walk around the table where Jacobs was seated,
Wagner looked the other way and, as he did, his foot made
contact with the chair on which Jacobs' feet were
resting. The chair slid away and Jacobs' feet fell to the
floor. According to Jacobs, when his legs fell, his heel hit
the ground, causing his knee to bend backward. He says this
was painful, and though he did not initially think the injury
was very serious, his knee swelled up after the incident and
he continues to suffer from considerable pain. Jacobs
believes Wagner's action was an “intentional wanton
infliction of pain.” (Docket #34 at 2).
immediately replaced the chair under the table where Jacobs
and the two other inmates were seated, placed his hands on
the back of the chair, and engaged in a brief conversation
with Jacobs. Wagner then left the dayroom and Jacobs
continued in conversation with his two follow inmates at the
table. About nine minutes went by, after which time Jacobs
got up to retrieve ice for his knee. Jacobs returned to the
table a few minutes later and remained in the dayroom for
several more hours. He played chess with fellow inmates and
engaged in laughter and conversation.
January 3, 2016, Jacobs reported his alleged knee injury to a
nurse who examined his knee and did not observe any swelling.
The nurse reported that she observed Jacobs walk with a limp
as he left the health services unit, but that the limping
stopped as Jacobs walked down the sidewalk to his housing
video from OCI captured the events of December 30, 2015.
(Docket #30-1). The video confirms that as Wagner passed by
Jacobs' table in the dayroom, his foot hit the leg of the
chair on which Jacobs' feet rested, causing the chair to
slide out from under Jacobs' feet. It is unclear from the
video whether Wagner's action was accidental or if it was
intentional horseplay. In any event, the video shows that,
following the incident, Jacobs continued to engage in
conversation and laughter with his fellow inmates. As he got
up and walked out of the room for a couple minutes, he did
not limp. When he returned to the room and for the remainder
of the evening, Jacobs did not exhibit any signs or symptoms
of injury or distress.
raises an Eighth Amendment claim for excessive force, and
Wagner opposes it by arguing, first, that his use of force
was de minimis and, second, that he is entitled to
qualified immunity. The Court begins with the merits of
Jacobs' Eighth Amendment claim.
Eighth Amendment prohibits the “unnecessary and wanton
infliction of pain” on prisoners. Outlaw v.
Newkirk, 259 F.3d 833, 837 (7th Cir. 2001). When an
official is accused of using excessive force, the core
inquiry is “whether force was applied in a good-faith
effort to maintain or restore discipline, or maliciously and
sadistically to cause harm.” Hudson v.
McMillian, 503 U.S. 1, 7 (1992); Rice ex rel. Rice
v. Corr. Med. Servs., 675 F.3d 650, 668 (7th Cir. 2012).
Several factors are relevant to this determination, including
the need for force, the amount applied, the threat an officer
reasonably perceived, the effort made ...