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Williams v. Swenson

United States District Court, E.D. Wisconsin

March 1, 2018



          William C. Griesbach, Chief Judge United States District Court.

         Plaintiff Travis Delaney Williams, who is currently representing himself, filed this action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 alleging that his civil rights were violated while he was incarcerated at the Kenosha County Detention Center (KCDC) (also referred to by the parties as the Kenosha County Jail). On September 10, 2015, U.S. District Court Judge Pamela Pepper (the judge assigned to the case at that time) allowed plaintiff to proceed on an Eighth Amendment deliberate indifference claim against defendants Nurse Practitioner Rebecca Swenson, Nurse Julie Bennett, and Nurse Meghan Keefer (the Medical Defendants).[1] ECF No. 12. Currently before the court is plaintiff's motion for summary judgment, ECF No. 107, and the Medical Defendants' motion for summary judgment, ECF No. 116.[2] For the following reasons, the court will grant the Medical Defendants' motion for summary judgment and deny plaintiffs motion for summary judgment.


         Plaintiffs complaint relates to events that allegedly occurred between October 2014, when plaintiff arrived at KCDC, and December 2014, when plaintiff filed his federal lawsuit. ECF No. 158 ¶ 1. On October 31, 2014, plaintiff informed health services that he had a fish allergy, and he requested that he be given fish-free meal trays. Id. ¶ 44; ECF No. 145 ¶ 9. According to defendants, plaintiff refused to identify the doctor who diagnosed the allergy, refused to authorize staff to obtain relevant records establishing an allergy, and refused a blood test to verify the allergy. ECF No. 158 ¶ 44. Regardless, despite no medical support, plaintiffs diet was changed on November 7, 2014, so that he did not receive fish. Id. ¶ 45.

         When plaintiff entered KCDC, he was receiving 800mg of Ibuprofen three times per day to address complaints of back, shoulder, hip, and knee pain. See Id. ¶¶ 27, 42; ECF No. 145 ¶ 24. Although not entirely clear when, the KCDC doctor reduced the dosage and ordered that it be offered only twice per day. See ECF No. 158 ¶ 41. Plaintiff subsequently complained that he wanted the dosage to be increased to what he had received at his previous institution. See Id. ¶ 42; ECF No. 145 ¶¶ 24, 27. On November 19, 2014, Swenson attempted to talk to plaintiff about his desire for the Ibuprofen dosage to be increased and his refusal to be examined. ECF No. 158 ¶ 41. Plaintiff asserts that he was in the shower while Swenson came to talk to him and that she threatened him in order to force him to sign a release of liability form that she had previously given him. Id. Plaintiff asserts that he told Swenson that he "wipe[d] his butt with the [forms] Swenson had sent, " so he could not sign them. Id. Swenson asserts that she told him he could receive Ibuprofen three times per day, but he needed to be examined first, but plaintiff refused to be examined and told Swenson to just change the order. Id.

         Swenson explains that, despite plaintiff refusing to be examined, his Ibuprofen was increased to three times per day: 600mg in the morning, 400mg in the afternoon, and 600mg at night. Id. ¶ 42. Plaintiff was not satisfied with this new prescription because he wanted to receive 800mg three times a day as he had been prescribed before he entered KCDC. Id.; ECF No. 145 ¶ 27. Swenson informed plaintiff that he should take the Ibuprofen only when needed and warned him that Ibuprofen can cause stomach upset and increase blood pressure. ECF No. 158 ¶ 43. She told him to notify health services if he had any questions or wanted to be examined. Id.

         On November 17, 2014, plaintiff was informed (it is not clear by whom) that he would need to be examined before he would be given a wheelchair. Id. ¶ 48. Although not entirely clear, it appears that a few days later, plaintiff was placed on a seventy-two hour activity log, during which time officers monitored and recorded plaintiffs activity without plaintiffs knowledge. Id. ¶ 49. During that time, plaintiff was observed moving around his cell, bending, walking, and standing without difficulty. Id. Shortly thereafter, health services obtained plaintiffs medical records from his previous institution. Id. ¶ 52. According to the Medical Defendants, the records did not support plaintiffs contention that he needed surgery to address his hip and knee pain. Id. Plaintiff explains that the doctor at his previous institution declined to consider surgery only because he found out plaintiff was scheduled to leave the institution. Id.

         On November 27, 2014, plaintiff was examined (again, it is unclear who examined plaintiff); medical records indicate that there was no documented evidence of a knee replacement surgery, nor was there a scar behind plaintiffs knee. Id. ¶ 50. Plaintiffs request for a wheelchair was then denied. Id. ¶ 47. An order was entered for plaintiff to be seen by the doctor every week and for the KCDC nurse practitioner to see him twice per week, but plaintiff often refused to see them. Id. ¶ 51. Plaintiff explains that he had no reason to see them, until they threatened to stop his medication unless he agreed to be examined. Id.

         Also on November 27, 2014, Keefer explained to plaintiff that the doctor was willing to refill his Ibuprofen prescription for only two more weeks. Id. ¶ 58. She told him that, if he wanted further refills, he needed to be examined by the doctor. Id. That same day, plaintiff requested minerin cream, which is used for dry skin, and lactulose, which is a laxative used by those who are lactose intolerant. Id. ¶ 60. The Medical Defendants assert that plaintiff was offered an alternative to lactulose, but he refused. Id. The next day, plaintiff was given lactulose for two weeks, and told he needed to be examined before the prescription would be extended further. Id. ¶ 61. Plaintiff indicates that his prescriptions for minerin cream and lactulose were discontinued on January 20, 2015. ECF No. 14 ¶¶ 34-35.

         On December 6, 2014, the doctor changed plaintiffs Ibuprofen prescription to 800mg twice per day for seven more days. Id. ¶¶ 29-35; ECF No. 145 ¶ 28. The next day, Bennett informed plaintiff that he needed to see the doctor if he wanted to receive Ibuprofen after that seven-day period. ECF No. 158 35. According to Bennett, plaintiff was not denied his prescribed medications; he refused to take all of his morning medications except for Omeprazole. Id. ¶ 36. Plaintiff argues that the doctor erred when she decided to reduce his Ibuprofen dosage from three times per day to two times per day. He explains that he is not paralyzed, so his ability to move around his cell should not have been used as a basis for reducing his pain medication. Id. ¶¶ 29-31. He also argues that he had been told on November 27 that his prescription would be continued for two weeks, and so it was improper for the doctor to adjust the prescription before that two-week period had passed. Id.

         Plaintiff agreed to be examined by the doctor on December 9, 2014. Id. ¶ 38. The doctor noted that plaintiffs musculoskeletal exam was normal. Id. She opted to change plaintiffs pain medication from Ibuprofen (which plaintiff asserts worked) to Gabapentin (which plaintiff asserts did not work). Id. ¶ 35.

         Throughout December 2014, Swenson asserts that repeated attempts were made to evaluate or treat plaintiff, but he often refused to be seen. She asserts that, during that month, he was seen daily during medication pass. Id. ¶ 14. On at least five days, he refused to take his medications; on four other days he refused to see a nurse practitioner; and on one day he refused to see the doctor. Id. ¶ 55. Plaintiff does not dispute that he refused medications or evaluations, but he explains that he either did not need what was being offered or, because he did not want to get into a confrontation with medical staff, he would just walk away and ignore them. See, e.g., Id. ¶¶ 9, 12, 16, 20.


         Summary judgment is appropriate when the moving party shows that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). All reasonable inferences are construed in favor of the nonmoving party. Foley v. City of Lafayette,359 F.3d 925, 928 (7th Cir. 2004). The party opposing the motion for summary judgment must “submit evidentiary materials that set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial.” Siegel v. Shell Oil Co., 612 F.3d 932, 937 (7th Cir. 2010) (citations omitted). “The nonmoving party must do more than simply show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts.” Id. Summary judgment is properly entered against a party “who fails to make a showing sufficient to establish the ...

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