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Baker v. Litscher

United States District Court, E.D. Wisconsin

December 4, 2017

FONTAINE L. BAKER, SR. Plaintiff,
v.
JON E. LITSCHER, WARDEN PAUL KEMPER, MS. VASQUEZ, MS. FRAZIER, DR. HAGEN, DR. NACKER, DR. BASS, DR. CASTILLO, NURSE PAM, MR. GROW, MR. TRAVIS, MS. BISHOP, MS. DICKES, and JOHN DOES 1 - 5, Defendants.

          ORDER

          J. P. STADTMUELLER U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Plaintiff Fontaine L. Baker, Sr., who is incarcerated at Waupun Correctional Institution, proceeds in this matter pro se. He filed a complaint alleging that the defendants violated his constitutional rights. (Docket #1). Plaintiff has paid the filing fee in this matter, and Plaintiff's complaint thus comes before the Court for screening.

         The court shall screen complaints brought by prisoners seeking relief against a governmental entity or an officer or employee of a governmental entity. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). The court must dismiss a complaint or portion thereof if the prisoner has raised claims that are legally “frivolous or malicious, ” that fail to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or that seek monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. Id. § 1915A(b).

         A claim is legally frivolous when it lacks an arguable basis either in law or in fact. Denton v. Hernandez, 504 U.S. 25, 31 (1992); Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325 (1989); Hutchinson ex rel. Baker v. Spink, 126 F.3d 895, 900 (7th Cir. 1997). The court may, therefore, dismiss a claim as frivolous where it is based on an indisputably meritless legal theory or where the factual contentions are clearly baseless. Neitzke, 490 U.S. at 327. “Malicious, ” although sometimes treated as a synonym for “frivolous, ” “is more usefully construed as intended to harass.” Lindell v. McCallum, 352 F.3d 1107, 1109-10 (7th Cir. 2003) (citations omitted).

         To state a cognizable claim under the federal notice pleading system, the plaintiff is required to provide a “short and plain statement of the claim showing that [he] is entitled to relief[.]” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). It is not necessary for the plaintiff to plead specific facts and his statement need only “give the defendant fair notice of what the . . . claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (quoting Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 47 (1957)). However, a complaint that offers mere “labels and conclusions” or a “formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555). To state a claim, a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, “that is plausible on its face.” Id. (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570). “A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Id. (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556). The complaint's allegations “must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555 (citation omitted).

         In considering whether a complaint states a claim, courts should follow the principles set forth in Twombly by first, “identifying pleadings that, because they are no more than conclusions, are not entitled to the assumption of truth.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679. Legal conclusions must be supported by factual allegations. Id. If there are well-pleaded factual allegations, the court must, second, “assume their veracity and then determine whether they plausibly give rise to an entitlement to relief.” Id.

         To state a claim for relief under 42 U.S.C. Section 1983, a plaintiff must allege that: 1) he was deprived of a right secured by the Constitution or laws of the United States; and 2) the deprivation was visited upon him by a person or persons acting under color of state law. Buchanan-Moore v. County of Milwaukee, 570 F.3d 824, 827 (7th Cir. 2009) (citing Kramer v. Vill. of North Fond du Lac, 384 F.3d 856, 861 (7th Cir. 2004)); see also Gomez v. Toledo, 446 U.S. 635, 640 (1980). The court is obliged to give the plaintiff's pro se allegations, “however inartfully pleaded, ” a liberal construction. See Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007) (quoting Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 106 (1976)).

         Plaintiff's complaint arises from his time at Racine Correctional Institution (“RCI”) from October 2016 to January 2017. (Docket #1 at 3-10). Plaintiff states that he suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder (“PTSD”), depression, and insomnia, which together he characterizes as a serious medical condition. Id. at 3. On October 5, 2016, he attempted to retrieve his daily medication from Officer John Doe #1. Officer Doe #1 initially gave Plaintiff the wrong medication, but upon a closer review of the medications sheet, told Plaintiff that there were none for him. Id. Plaintiff responded that he needed the medication to treat his PTSD, but the officer informed him that he must contact the Health Services Unit (“HSU”) or the Psychological Services Unit (“PSU”) to remedy the situation. Id. Plaintiff wrote a note to both units that same day. Id.

         The next day, Plaintiff alleges that he began exhibiting withdrawal symptoms, including dizziness, vomiting, diarrhea, and undefined psychological issues. Id. Plaintiff was seen by Nurse Pam in HSU and he described his symptoms. Id. Nurse Pam admitted that she did not know what was wrong with Plaintiff. Id. Though Plaintiff asked for his PTSD medication to be returned, Nurse Pam instead told him to lie down and drink water. Id. at 3-4. She did not inform any of her superiors about Plaintiff's ailment. Id. at 4.

         On October 8, Plaintiff again wrote to HSU about his symptoms. Id. An unidentified HSU employee responded that the PTSD medication had been discontinued. Id. Plaintiff learned that Dr. Castillo had ended Plaintiff's prescription. Id. at 3. Plaintiff says this was done without consulting him. Id.

         On October 10, Plaintiff wrote to PSU for assistance, Id. at 4. Dr. Nacker responded the next day, stating that Plaintiff had failed to request a refill for his medication through HSU. Id. Plaintiff says this was untrue. Id. Plaintiff wrote to HSU to be seen by a doctor and inquire about the refill issue. Id. On October 12, HSU responded that the matters would be discussed in an already-scheduled appointment approximately one week later. Id.

         Plaintiff was placed in segregation on October 14, though he does not explain why. Id. While there, he again wrote to PSU, which gave him the same response the HSU had on October 12. Id. He also sought help from a guard named Mr. Grow, as well as Officer John Does #2, #3, and #4. Id. at 4-5. Plaintiff also made contact with Mr. Travis, a nurse, and Dr. Bass. Id. at 5. Over the next few days, Plaintiff told each of these people about his condition and the need for medication, but none actually secured any help. Id. at 4-5. On October 20, Plaintiff wrote directly to Dr. Castillo, stating that he believed the discontinuation of his medication was a mistake. Id. at 5. Plaintiff apparently received no response. Id.

         Plaintiff repeatedly wrote to both HSU and PSU from October 22 to October 26. Id. at 5-6. HSU provided more information about Dr. Castillo's order, indicating that the medication had been stopped due to “noncompliance.” Id. at 6. Later communications from both PSU and HSU revealed that Plaintiff had failed to show up for multiple appointments with his psychologist, and had refused to take his medications, so the prescriptions were ended by Dr. Castillo on October 5. Id. HSU said Plaintiff would see Dr. Castillo again in three weeks, and directed him to write to PSU to get help in the meantime. Id. Plaintiff wrote to Dr. Bass in PSU, describing his symptoms, but he was not seen by the doctor or any PSU personnel that day. Id.

         On October 26, Plaintiff was placed on suicide watch. Id. Dr. Wiliniski of PSU met with him there. Id. Plaintiff explained what had happened over the past few weeks, and Dr. Wiliniski told him that his PTSD medication should not have been stopped so abruptly. Id. at 6-7. Plaintiff was taken off of suicide watch the next day. Id. at 7. He saw Dr. Bass at ...


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