United States District Court, E.D. Wisconsin
DECISION AND ORDER
WILLIAM C. GRIESBACH, CHIEF JUDGE UNITED STATES DISTRICT
Travis Delaney Williams filed a pro se complaint
under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging that his civil rights
were violated. He claims that certain Wisconsin State Patrol
troopers as well as correctional and medical staff at the
Racine County Jail violated his constitutional rights through
their deliberate indifference to his serious medical needs.
This matter, recently reassigned to the undersigned judge, is
now before the court on the defendants' motions for
summary judgment. ECF Nos. 82, 88, 92. For the following
reasons, the defendants' motions will be granted and the
turning to the parties' substantive arguments, the court
will first address two preliminary matters. First, Williams
filed what appears to be a fourth motion to appoint counsel,
days after this case was reassigned to this court. Civil
litigants do not have a constitutional or statutory right to
appointed counsel. Pruitt v. Mote, 503 F.3d 647, 649
(7th Cir. 2007) (en banc); Zarnes v. Rhodes, 64 F.3d
285, 288 (7th Cir. 1995). Yet, district courts have
discretion to recruit attorneys to represent indigent parties
in appropriate cases pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(1).
The court must address the following question: given the
difficulty of the case, does the plaintiff appear competent
to litigate it himself? Pruitt, 503 F.3d at 654-55
(citing Farmer v. Haas, 990 F.2d 319, 321-22 (7th
Cir. 1993)). Under the Pruitt standard, Williams has
failed to demonstrate a need for court-recruited counsel at
maintains counsel is warranted because Judge Pepper directed
him to review the summary judgment motion with psychological
services staff. Due to the limited availability of staff
members, however, he did not have the opportunity to do so.
Williams also asserts that he did not have glasses until
after June 22, 2017, and that he was not given his
psychiatric medications. Instead, he was forced to submit a
response to the defendants' motions while under many
mind-altering illnesses and untreated, chronic, crippling
pain. He claims these circumstances warrant court-recruited
counsel and require the court to reopen briefing on the
defendants' motions for summary judgment. The court notes
that Judge Pepper never required Williams to confer with
staff before submitting his response to the defendants'
motions for summary judgment. Rather, she agreed in her
February 13, 2017 order that Williams' attempts to do so
and the delay in getting staff to help him warranted an
extension of time to respond to the medical defendants'
motion for summary judgment. ECF No. 120. Even without staff
assistance, Williams was able to amply and extensively
respond to all three motions for summary judgment. Judge
Pepper found in her July 13, 2017 order that the motions for
summary judgment were fully briefed and ready for decision.
ECF No. 160.
accepted that the motions were fully briefed for over five
months, until he thought he might be able to convince the
court to reopen briefing. I will not do so. Williams has
revealed an ability to litigate on his own behalf. His
filings are neat and his arguments are clear. There is
nothing in the record to suggest that Williams does not have
the same competence to represent himself as the vast number
of other pro se litigants who cannot afford to hire
an attorney and are unable to convince one to take his case
on a contingent fee basis. I conclude that the difficulty of
this case-both factually and legally-did not exceed
Williams' capacity to represent himself and file briefs
in opposition to the defendants' motions for summary
judgment. Accordingly, Williams' motion to appoint
counsel will be denied.
Williams listed several defendants who were identified by
their partial names or named as John Does. In a scheduling
order entered April 19, 2016, Judge Pamela Pepper, the
assigned judge at the time, advised Williams that he had
until June 22, 2016 to identify the proper defendants and
file an amended complaint naming them. To date, Williams
never properly identified Nurse Tom, Nurse Practitioner Jane
Doe, or Trooper John Doe. Because he has not identified these
defendants in a timely manner, his claims against them will
be dismissed with prejudice. Even if Williams had named these
defendants, he has not demonstrated a violation of his
constitutional rights by either named or unnamed defendants.
claims begin with his arrest on May 8, 2013, and include the
medical treatment he received following his arrest, at the
incident site, at the hospital, and at the Racine County
Jail, as well as medical care he received during his time at
the Jail in 2013 and 2014.
Pursuit and Arrest
8, 2013, Williams led law enforcement officials on a high
speed chase through Kenosha and Racine Counties. Defendant
Derek Bergum, a state trooper employed by Wisconsin State
Patrol and the Department of Transportation, was on duty,
operating a fully-marked Wisconsin State Patrol cruiser and
in full uniform, during the time of the pursuit. Bergum heard
about the pursuit on his radio and observed Williams'
vehicle headed toward his location on Highway 142, just west
of I-94 southbound. He activated his emergency lights and
joined the Kenosha County Sheriff's deputy already
following Williams. Bergum subsequently became the primary
officer pursuing Williams after Kenosha County terminated its
pursuit. During the pursuit, Williams traveled at speeds over
100 miles per hour, drove recklessly, and endangered the
safety of others. He showed disregard for human life by
passing into oncoming traffic, operating left of center,
cutting in front of other vehicles after passing, and going
through intersections controlled by stop signs. ECF No. 90,
¶¶ 2-8. Ignoring his own blatant and unlawful
refusal to comply with the various officers' commands
that he pull over and stop his vehicle, Williams suggests
that he was forced to engage in this erratic driving due to a
renegade, rogue Wisconsin state trooper's actions, though
he does not deny the characterization of his driving. ECF No.
127, ¶ 8.
trooper set tire deflation devices at a roundabout Williams
was quickly approaching. Williams maneuvered around the
deflation devices and continued south onto Highway 45. Bergum
contacted dispatch and requested authorization to use the
Pursuit Intervention Technique to end the pursuit. Sergeant
Rembert approved and authorized the request. A Racine County
Sheriff's Deputy, traveling northbound in the southbound
lane on Highway 45, forced Williams to slow down and veer
around his vehicle. This gave Bergum the opportunity to
perform the Pursuit Intervention Technique, bringing Williams
to a stop and ending the pursuit. Williams maintains that his
car had run out of gas and was coasting when Bergum ran into
the side of the car. Id., ¶¶ 9-12.
Williams' vehicle stopped, Bergum exited his car and
ordered Williams to exit his vehicle. Bergum and several
other law enforcement officers ultimately helped Williams
exit the vehicle through his passenger side window. Bergum
secured Williams' feet while the other officers
handcuffed him and then placed him in Bergum's cruiser
and under arrest. When another trooper informed Bergum that
Williams complained of neck, back, and leg pain, Bergum
contacted dispatch and requested an ambulance. After
Williams' arrest, Bergum relinquished his custody to the
Racine County Sheriff's Department. An ambulance
transported Williams and a Racine County deputy to Wheaton
Franciscan All Saints Hospital in Racine. Bergum did not
accompany Williams in the ambulance. Instead, he remained at
the scene to conduct a search of Williams' vehicle.
Id., ¶¶ 13-23.
arrived at the hospital after searching Williams' vehicle
and made contact with the deputies stationed with Williams.
The deputies advised Bergum that medical personnel were
evaluating Williams. Two Racine County deputies remained at
the hospital with Williams and transported him to the Racine
County Jail after he received medical clearance.
May 8, 2013 hospital chart notes injury to the posterior neck
and C-spine, left shoulder, upper back and thoracic spine,
right shin, and left shin. ECF No. 103, Ex. 1. The assessment
noted that Williams was comfortable, was able to walk with no
acute distress, and was able to move all extremities with
adequate strength. Id. The emergency department
medical doctor reviewed and approved the discharge
instructions, diagnosis, and management plan. ECF No. 103,
Ex. 2. These discharge instructions indicated that Williams
had been evaluated for injuries received in a motor vehicle
collision and that the caregiver had not found his injuries
serious enough to require hospitalization. ECF No. 148 at 1.
The custom instructions from the physician assistant
indicated that Williams could take Tylenol or Ibuprofen as
needed for pain, recommended gentle stretching and local
massage for pain areas, and advised Williams that he should
expect to feel more stiff and sore the following day.
Id. The instructions advised Williams to return if
his conditions worsened or he had any emergencies.
Id. They also mentioned examples of situations in
which a patient should seek immediate medical care, such as
“numbness, tingling, weakness, or problem with the use
of your arms or legs.” Id. at 2.
does not recall having any contact with Williams during the
medical evaluation. Instead, he went to his cruiser, at the
request of his sergeant, to immediately complete a synopsis
of the incident. Bergum then drove to the Racine County Jail
to complete booking. Bergum's only contact with Williams
at the Jail occurred after the Racine County deputies
transported Williams to the Jail. Bergum approached Williams
at his cell and attempted to read Williams his Miranda rights
and obtain ...