United States District Court, W.D. Wisconsin
OPINION & ORDER
D. PETERSON, DISTRICT JUDGE.
Robert Steed brings this lawsuit in which he alleges that
defendant Julie Stenerson, a nurse at the New Lisbon
Correctional Institution, violated his Eighth Amendment
rights by failing to provide him with hypertension
medication. Stenerson has filed a motion for summary
judgment. Steed has filed motions for an order directing
prison officials to give him more law library time, for an
extension of his summary judgment response deadline, and for
the court's assistance in recruiting him counsel. But
shortly thereafter Steed filed his summary judgment response,
so that motion is fully briefed. I will deny Steed's
motions, and after considering the summary judgment materials
filed by the parties, I will grant Stenerson's motion for
summary judgment because the undisputed acts show nothing
more than a mistake on Stenerson's part, which is not
enough to violate the Eighth Amendment.
filed a motion for an order directing prison officials to
give him more law library time, and extension of his summary
judgment response deadline. Dkt. 28. He filed a second motion
renewing his previously denied motion for the court's
assistance in recruiting him counsel. Dkt. 30. But he
followed shortly thereafter with his summary judgment
response and supporting materials, which are relatively well
prepared. I will deny his motions as moot because he was able
to file a summary judgment response in advance of his
deadline. I also note that the summary judgment materials
reveal no reason for me to consider recruiting counsel for
Steed. As the discussion below shows, the problem with
Steed's claim is not a lack of counsel, time, or access
to the law library; it is that the undisputed facts show that
defendant Stenerson at most acted negligently toward Steed,
which is not enough to violate the Eighth Amendment.
following facts are drawn from the parties' summary
judgment materials, and are undisputed unless noted
Robert Steed is an inmate at the New Lisbon Correctional
Institution (NLCI). Defendant Julie Stenerson worked as a
licensed practical nurse in the pharmacy department of the
Health Services Unit (HSU) at NLCI.
suffers from hypertension and was prescribed
Hydrochlorothiazide and Metoprolol to treat this problem.
Under Department of Corrections' policies, inmates with
this type of chronic condition are provided with 30 days'
worth of medication at a time. An inmate in general
population, like Steed was, must fill out a
“Medication/Medical Supply Refill Request” form
requesting a refill of medication when he is running out. HSU
staff retrieve filled-out forms from a box in each unit and
send them on to the pharmacy department. A nurse, in this
case defendant Stenerson, reviews each form and decides how
to respond: options include dispensing a new supply of
medication, ordering more medication, or telling the inmate
that his prescription has expired or that he is requesting a
refill too soon. When the nurse dispenses medication,
correctional officers deliver the medication to the inmate.
14, 2014, Steed submitted a Medication/Medical Supply Refill
Request form, requesting Hydrochlorothiazide and
Metoprolol. Stenerson received the form, initialed the
form, and marked the “Date Returned to Patient”
line of the form with “7/15/14.” She also
dispensed the medication. But in addition to the correct
medications-60 doses of 25 mg Metoprolol and 30 doses of
25 mg Hydrochlorothiazide-Stenerson included 30 doses of 12.5
mg Hydrochlorothiazide. This lower dosage apparently
reflected a previous prescription. Correctional officers took
the medication and the form and delivered them to Steed.
Steed's medical records show that he received the
Metoprolol on July 15 and the Hydrochlorothiazide on July 16.
proposed findings are somewhat unclear, but I take him to be
saying that he mistakenly took the 12.5 mg doses of
Hydrochlorothiazide for the next eight days, leading to him
suffering dangerously high blood pressure, swollen ankles and
knees, and migraine headaches. Steed filed a health service
request on July 22, 2014, after he figured out that some of
the Hydrochlorothiazide he received was the wrong dosage. A
nurse's response indicated that Steed had both 12.5 and
25 mg doses. Steed returned what remained of the 12.5 mg
succeed on a motion for summary judgment, the moving party
must show that there is no genuine issue of material fact and
that the party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c); Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477
U.S. 317, 322 (1986). “A genuine issue of material fact
arises only if sufficient evidence favoring the nonmoving
party exists to permit a jury to return a verdict for that
party.” Brummett v. Sinclair Broad. Grp.,
Inc., 414 F.3d 686, 692 (7th Cir. 2005). All reasonable
inferences from the facts in the summary judgment record must
be drawn in the nonmoving party's favor. Baron v.
City of Highland Park, 195 F.3d 333, 338 (7th Cir.
1999). If the nonmoving party fails to establish the
existence of an essential element on which that party will
bear the burden of proof at trial, summary judgment for the
moving party is proper. Celotex, 477 U.S. at 322.
Eighth Amendment prohibits prison officials from acting with
deliberate indifference to prisoners' serious medical
needs. Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 103-04
(1976). A “serious medical need” is a condition
that a doctor has recognized as needing treatment or one for
which the necessity of treatment would be obvious to a lay
person. Johnson v. Snyder, 444 F.3d 579, 584-85 (7th
Cir. 2006). A medical need is serious if it is
life-threatening, carries risks of permanent serious
impairment if left untreated, results in needless pain and
suffering, significantly affects an individual's daily
activities, Gutierrez v. Peters, 111 F.3d 1364,
1371-73 (7th Cir. 1997), or otherwise subjects the prisoner
to a substantial risk of serious harm. Farmer v.
Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 847 (1994). The parties do not
appear to be disputing that Steed's hypertension or
symptoms occurring after he took the wrong dosage of
Hydrochlorothiazide were serious medical needs.
considered “deliberately indifferent, ” an
official must know of and disregard “an excessive risk
to an inmate's health or safety; the official must both
be aware of the facts from which the inference could be drawn
that a substantial risk of serious harm exists, and he must
also draw the inference.” Snipes v. Detella,
95 F.3d 586, 590 (7th Cir. 1996). However, inadvertent error,
negligence, gross negligence, and ordinary malpractice are