Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Steed v. Stenersen

United States District Court, W.D. Wisconsin

March 2, 2018

ROBERT STEED, Plaintiff,
v.
JULIE STENERSON, [1] Defendant.

          OPINION & ORDER

          JAMES D. PETERSON, DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Plaintiff 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.

         PRELIMINARY MATTERS

         Steed 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.

         UNDISPUTED FACTS

         The following facts are drawn from the parties' summary judgment materials, and are undisputed unless noted otherwise.

         Plaintiff 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.

         Steed 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.

         On July 14, 2014, Steed submitted a Medication/Medical Supply Refill Request form, requesting Hydrochlorothiazide and Metoprolol.[2] 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[3] 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.

         Steed's 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 doses.

         ANALYSIS

         To 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.

         The 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.

         To be 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 ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.