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Armstead v. Plato

United States District Court, E.D. Wisconsin

October 24, 2017



          J. P. Stadtmueller U.S. District Judge.

         1. INTRODUCTION

         Plaintiff, Latasha R. Armstead (“Armstead”), proceeds against Defendants Johnathan J. Plato (“Plato”) and Eric R. Ziegler (“Ziegler”) in this action on a single claim-deliberate indifference to her risk of self-harm, in violation of her rights under the Eighth Amendment. (Docket #14).[1] On August 9, 2017, Defendants filed a motion for summary judgment, along with a brief in support, proposed findings of fact, and several declarations. (Docket #25-32). Plaintiff was required to respond to Defendants' motion on or before September 11, 2017. See Civil L. R. 56(b)(2). As of today's date, the Court has received no response to the motion or other communication from Armstead. The Defendants' motion will be addressed in its unopposed form and, for the reasons explained below, it will be granted.


         Federal 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).

         3. BACKGROUND

         3.1 Plaintiff's Failure to Dispute the Material Facts

         The facts relevant to Defendants' motion are undisputed because Plaintiff failed to dispute them. In the Court's scheduling order, entered January 23, 2017, Plaintiff was warned about the requirements for opposing a motion for summary judgment. (Docket #21 at 2-3). 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. In Defendants' motion for summary judgment, they too warned Plaintiff about the requirements for her response as set forth in Federal and Local Rules 56. (Docket #25). She was provided with additional copies of those Rules along with the motion. Id. In connection with their motion, Defendants filed a supporting statement of material facts that complied with the applicable procedural rules. (Docket #27). 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.

         Plaintiff filed nothing in response to Defendants' motion. Though the Court is required to liberally construe a pro se plaintiff's filings, it cannot act as her lawyer, and it cannot delve through the record to find favorable evidence for her. Thus, the Court will 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).[2]

         3.2 Relevant Material Facts

         At all times relevant, Armstead was a prisoner, Ziegler was a correctional sergeant, and Plato was a correctional officer at Taycheedah Correction Institution (“TCI”). (Docket #27 at 1).

         Armstead alleges that on March 1, 2016, Ziegler and Plato taunted her to the point of her requiring attention from the psychological services unit (“PSU”) because she was having thoughts of self-harm. (Docket #14 at 3). She alleges Ziegler and Plato refused to call PSU when she first asked, and she resulted to cutting herself. Id.

         Defendants remember the events of March 1, 2016 differently. When Plato arrived to start his shift, Armstead immediately told him that she needed to take a shower and go to the laundry room. Id. Because Plato had not yet attended to the duties required of him at the beginning of his shift, he told Armstead that she would have to wait. Id. Armstead then asked if she could go the PSU. Id. at 3. Plato asked Armstead if she had thoughts of self-harm or of harming others, and Armstead said no. Id. Based on this response, Plato determined Armstead did not require an immediate visit to the PSU, so he instructed Armstead to fill out a request for an appointment with the PSU. Id. at 3. Plato told his sergeant, Ziegler, about this interaction, and Ziegler confirmed that Plato had followed the proper procedure for determining whether Armstead required immediate attention from psychological health staff. Id.

         Armstead did not submit a request to be seen by the PSU that day. Id. at 4. There are no health services records indicating that Armstead engaged in any self-harming behavior ...

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