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Williams v. Ortiz

United States District Court, E.D. Wisconsin

February 6, 2018

SIMEON ORTIZ, et al., Defendants.


          William C. Griesbach, Chief Judge United States District Court

         Plaintiff Travis Delaney Williams, proceeding pro se, filed this action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 alleging that his civil rights were violated while he was a pretrial detainee at the Racine County Jail (the Jail). Currently before the court is plaintiff's motions for summary judgment and defendants Simeon Ortiz, William Coe, and James Olstinske's (the Medical Defendants) motion for summary judgment. Defendants Bradley Friend, Austin Isferding, and Robert Hernandez (the Jail Defendants) also filed a motion for summary judgment. The court will address plaintiff's motions for summary judgment as to the Jail Defendants and the Jail Defendants' motion for summary judgment in a separate order. For the following reasons, the court will deny plaintiff's motions for summary judgment as to the Medical Defendants and grant the Medical Defendants' motion for summary judgment.


         Dr. Ortiz, Coe, and Olstinske were professionally licensed as a medical doctor, licensed practical nurse, and registered nurse, respectively, during the relevant time. ECF No. 197 at ¶ 8. They were employed by Correctional Healthcare Companies to provide healthcare to inmates at the Racine County Jail (the Jail). Id. at ¶ 9. Plaintiff was booked into the Jail on May 8, 2013. ECF No. 152 at ¶ 14.

         According to defendants, while at the Jail, plaintiff suffered from osteoarthritis and mild heel spurs. ECF No. 197 at ¶ 12. Defendants assert that these are common conditions which are treated by over-the-counter medications. Id. Plaintiff asserts that he suffered “from more than that” and argues that none of the defendants did anything to find out why he was in so much pain. Id.

         Defendants explain that in December 2013 and possibly into early 2014, plaintiff was provided a double mattress as an accommodation. In February 2014, Dr. Ortiz again examined plaintiff and noted that he was not experiencing swelling in his knees or legs or tenderness in his calves. ECF No. 152 at ¶ 15. After consulting with the nursing staff, Dr. Ortiz determined that plaintiff did not require a mattress accommodation and that his barrage of requests was likely an effort to take advantage of the system and gain extra privileges. Id.

         According to defendants, between June 5, 2014, and July 10, 2014, Dr. Ortiz or the nurse practitioner examined plaintiff at least five times. ECF No. 197 at ¶ 15. After reviewing the results of an x-ray, Dr. Ortiz diagnosed plaintiff with modest-sized bone spurs. Id. at ¶ 17. Plaintiff explains that, while this may be true, Nurse Coe or Olstinske interfered with Dr. Ortiz's examinations, told Dr. Ortiz that Jail policies prevented him from ordering a double mattress, and even hid behind filing cabinets to intimidate Dr. Ortiz. Id. at ¶ 15.

         On June 12, 2014, Dr. Ortiz assessed plaintiff's complaints of hip pain and noted that plaintiff was requesting an extra mattress. Id. at ¶ 18. Dr. Ortiz did not believe that his condition warranted an extra mattress; instead, he continued plaintiff's prescribed medications and reminded plaintiff of previous orders from medical staff that plaintiff elevate his legs while he was seated or laying down. Id. Similarly, on July 1, 2014, Dr. Ortiz assessed plaintiff for arm and shin pain. Id. Dr. Ortiz continued plaintiff's ibuprofen prescription but did not order that plaintiff receive a second mattress. Id.

         On July 9, 2014, Williams was assessed by the nurse practitioner (not a defendant); she noted plaintiff's complaints of severe chronic pain, but she also noted that he “was able to stand during visit without any difficulty” and that she observed no swelling, bruising, or tenderness. Id. at ¶ 20. The next day, Dr. Ortiz examined plaintiff; he also did not observe any evidence of swelling in plaintiff's legs, and he noted that plaintiff could stand, walk, and extend his legs against his knees. Id. at ¶ 21. Dr. Ortiz confirmed his diagnosis of degenerative arthritis, prescribed elastic knee support, and continued the two pain medications plaintiff was already taking. Id. Plaintiff argues that Dr. Ortiz and the nurse practitioner are lying. Id. at ¶¶ 19-21.

         Throughout June and July 2014, plaintiff received, in addition to half a dozen medications, 800mg of ibuprofen twice per day for chronic pain and, at times, Tylenol. Id. at ¶ 22. Plaintiff asserts that the ibuprofen failed to address his pain and Dr. Ortiz never tried any other medications. Id.

         Dr. Ortiz asserts that, at no time in June or July 2014, did he believe that an extra mattress was necessary to accommodate plaintiff's medical condition. Id. at ¶ 26. In addition, defendants assert that, at no time, did any nurse interfere with Dr. Ortiz's treatment of plaintiff. Id. at ¶ 27. Defendants explain that, as the physician, Dr. Ortiz would issue treatment orders and nursing staff would carry out those orders. Id.

         On July 3, 2014, defendants assert that plaintiff threw his medication at Coe, who reported the incident to correctional officer Isferding. Id. at ¶ 32. Plaintiff denies that he threw anything at Coe. Id. Coe explains that, as a nurse, he has no authority to discipline inmates. Id. at ¶ 33. While this may be so, plaintiff argues that Coe was still free to confer with Isferding and suggest to Isferding how plaintiff should be punished. Id. Coe asserts that he did not ask or direct Isferding to implement any specific punishment or sanction against plaintiff; in fact, he is unaware of whether plaintiff was ever disciplined for this incident. Id. at ¶ 34.

         On September 22, 2015, U.S. District Court Judge Pamela Pepper (the judge assigned to the case at that time) screened plaintiff's complaint and allowed him to proceed on Fourteenth Amendment claims against the Medical Defendants based on his allegations that they denied him a mattress accommodation while he was in disciplinary segregation. ECF No. 10 at 11. She also allowed him to proceed on a retaliation claim against Coe based on his allegations that he and Isferding denied him indigent hygiene kits days after plaintiff wrote them up for misconduct. Id. at 11-12.

         LEGAL ...

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