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Sanchez v. Olig

United States District Court, E.D. Wisconsin

March 21, 2018

TODD OLIG, et al., Defendants.



         The plaintiff, who is representing himself, filed this lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. §1983, alleging that the defendants violated his constitutional rights. The court allowed the plaintiff to proceed on two claims: first, that defendants Paul Ludvigson, Todd Olig and Jeremy Westra retaliated against him, violating the First Amendment; and second, that Olig used excessive force against him, violating the Eighth Amendment. Both the plaintiff and the defendants filed motions for summary judgment. The court grants the defendants' motion for summary judgment, denies the plaintiff's motion for summary judgment and dismisses the case.

         I. RELEVANT FACTS[1]

         The plaintiff was housed at Waupun Correctional Institution (Waupun) at the time the incidents underlying this lawsuit occurred. Dkt. No. 67 at ¶2; Dkt. No. 72 at ¶1. Defendant Todd Olig worked there as a correctional officer, defendant Jeremy Westra worked as a Supervising Officer 2 (Captain), and defendant Paul Ludvigson worked as the corrections program supervisor in the Restrictive Housing Unit (RHU). Dkt. No. 72 at ¶¶2-4.

         On June 9, 2015, Olig worked first shift on the B wing of the RHU, where the plaintiff was housed. Id. at ¶6. Olig passed out medication as part of his normal duties, a process referred to as “medication pass.” Id. at ¶7. Officers control the medication for inmates on the A and B wings of the RHU. Id. at ¶8. Medical staff members place the medications on a cart for the correctional officer assigned to each wing to deliver to the inmates. Id. The morning medication pass begins at 6:00 a.m., starting with an announcement over the intercom. Id. at ¶ 9. In order to receive his medications, an inmate must be standing at his cell door with the light on, wearing a minimum of pants. Id. at ¶10. The “Segregation Unit Handbook, ” which is given to all inmates on entry to the RHU, outlines the medication pass process. Id. at ¶11. Inmates are expected to read the handbook and comply with the rules it outlines. Id.

         According to Olig, the plaintiff was not at his door with the light on when Olig went past on the morning of June 9, 2015, so Olig continued without delivering medication to the plaintiff; he also did not deliver medication to other inmates on the B wing who were not, according to Olig, following RHU rules. Id. at ¶¶12-13. Olig alleges that the plaintiff began to complain loudly about being skipped for medication pass. Id. at ¶14. He says that he walked over to the plaintiff's cell and told him that he did not give the plaintiff his medication because the plaintiff didn't follow RHU rules, and that Olig would come back if he had time. Id. at ¶15. Olig indicates that he left the plaintiff's door, and denies that he ever intentionally kicked or hit the plaintiff's door. Id. at ¶16-17. Later, Olig alleges, he went back to all the cells of B wing inmates who were not at their door for the initial medication pass to give them their medicine. Id. at ¶18.

         According to the plaintiff, jail staff did not give the inmates on the B wing proper notice that medication pass was going to begin, though he states that he did follow RHU procedure and was at his cell door. The plaintiff confirms that he began to complain loudly when Olig went past his cell without giving him his medication. Dkt. No. 68 at ¶4. The plaintiff alleges that Olig walked back over to his cell, ultimately kicking the plaintiff's cell door. Id. at ¶¶5-6; Dkt. No. 67 at ¶6. According to the plaintiff, his finger was pinched in the door, causing severe pain and bleeding behind the fingernail. Id. at ¶7.

         Olig indicates that the plaintiff reported the pinched finger to Olig, who called the Health Services Unit (HSU) to let the nurse know. Dkt. No. 72 at ¶19.

         Nurse DeYoung saw the plaintiff at his cell door at 8:50 a.m., and noted that he had a “1/2 by 1/4 [inch] abrasion split thickness over DIP (distal interphalangeal joint) of 4th finger and no active bleeding.” Dkt. No. 72 at ¶20; see also Dkt. No. 68 at ¶9. Nurse DeYoung told the plaintiff that she would evaluate him in the HSU exam room as soon as possible. Dkt. No. 72 at ¶21.

         Around 11:45 a.m., Olig escorted the plaintiff to the HSU examination room so that Nurse DeYoung could assess his injury. Id. at ¶22; Dkt. No. 68 at ¶9. The plaintiff says that, in Olig's presence, he told the nurse that Olig had kicked his door and caused the injury, and he says Olig did not deny it or write the plaintiff up for lying. Dkt. No. 68 at ¶10. Olig says he doesn't remember the plaintiff telling the nurse he had kicked Sanchez's door. Dkt. No. 72 at ¶23. The nurse's notes from her visit to the plaintiff's cell indicate that the plaintiff told her that his finger was pinched when Olig kicked his door. Dkt. No. 67-3 at 1-2. The nurse did not note or feel any signs of deformity “other than abrasion.” Dkt. No. 72 at ¶24.

         The next day, June 10, 2015, the plaintiff submitted an information request to the security office in which he alleged that Olig kicked his door during the 6:00 a.m. medication pass the previous day, causing injury to his right ring finger. Id. at ¶25; Dkt. No. 68 at ¶11. Defendant Paul Ludvigson states that he interviewed the plaintiff about the incident, dkt. no. 72 at ¶26; the plaintiff says that Ludvigson never interviewed him, dkt. no. 81 at ¶26.

         Ludvigson then downloaded three video clips from the video recording system at Waupun. Dkt. No. 72 at ¶26. The first clip begins at 6:08:44 a.m. and shows Olig walking back towards the plaintiff's cell from the opposite end of the hallway. Id. at ¶27; Dkt. No. 74-1. Olig then speaks to the plaintiff through the door, gesturing at the plaintiff, then walks back down the hall. Dkt. No. 74-1. The clip ends at 6:09:46. Id. The plaintiff alleges that the video “skips” at 6:09:05 for one to two seconds, and that it was during this time that Olig kicked the door. Dkt. No. 68 at ¶14.

         The next clip begins at 6:28:30, and shows Olig delivering medications to the plaintiff. Dkt. No. 72 at ¶28; Dkt. No. 74-1. The final clip, which picks up where the second one left off and begins at 6:29:47, begins with three to four seconds of a “frozen” image, then shows Olig closing the trap on the plaintiff's cell door and walking away, pushing the cart. Dkt. No. 72 at ¶29; Dkt. No. 74-1.

         Having reviewed the clips, Ludvigson found no evidence that Olig had kicked the plaintiff's cell door. Dkt. No. 72 at ¶30. On June 23, 2015, Ludvigson issued Conduct Report No. 2639723 to the plaintiff for lying about an employee, violating Wis. Admin. Code. §DOC 303.32. Id. at ¶¶31, 33. Olig had no part in writing that particular conduct report. Id. at ¶32; Dkt. No. 68 at ¶12. On June 24, 2015, the Security Director's designee approved the report to proceed as a major offense, noting that the plaintiff recently had “been warned about the same or similar conduct and … created a risk of serious disruption at the facility or in the community.” Dkt. No. 72 at ¶36. Staff provided the plaintiff with a copy of the conduct report and a Notice of Major Disciplinary Hearing Rights, and assigned him a staff representative. Id. at ¶¶37. The plaintiff says that the only contact he had with a representative was a substitute he met with the night before the hearing. Dkt. No. 68 at ¶13.

         Defendant Jeremy Westra was assigned as the hearing officer for the disciplinary hearing on Conduct Report No. 2639723. Dkt. No. 72 at ¶38. Westra had no prior knowledge of or involvement in the incidents at issue in the Conduct Report. Id. at ¶39. On June 24, 2015, Westra received an “Inmate's Request for Attendance of Witness/Evidence” form from the plaintiff. Id. at ¶40; see also Dkt. No. 68 at ¶13. The plaintiff asked that Olig, Ludvigson and a nurse appear as witnesses at the disciplinary hearing; he also asked for his medical records from June 9, 2015 and the video evidence from Olig's 6:00 a.m. medicine pass. Dkt. No. 72 at ¶40. Westra approved the video evidence and all the witnesses except the nurse (because the plaintiff did not specify a name). Id. at ¶41. The plaintiff says that he also asked for the RHU movement log, but that he did not receive that log or his medical records. Dkt. No. 81 at ¶41.

         The hearing took place on July 9, 2015. Dkt. No. 72 at ¶43; Dkt. No. 68 at ¶14. The plaintiff gave a verbal statement that Olig kicked his cell door during the medication pass, “pinching his hand in the door.” Dkt. No. 72 at ¶43. Ludvigson testified that when he watched the video, he did not see Olig hit or kick the plaintiff's door. Id. at ¶44. Olig testified that he didn't hit or kick the plaintiff's door. Id. at ¶45. Westra reviewed the video evidence. Id. at ¶47. The plaintiff claims that he told Westra that the video was missing footage, dkt. no. 81 at ¶51; Westra said he had no reason to believe that any footage was missing, and that he “assumed” that he'd been given the video evidence the plaintiff had requested, dkt. no. 72 at ¶51. The defendants assert that the video was not the “sole deciding factor” in Westra's decision to find the plaintiff guilty of the violation. Dkt. No. 72 at ¶52. Westra asserts that, after learning of the plaintiff's claim that footage was missing, he went back and reviewed the clips at Dkt. No. 74-1, and that his review did not “reveal any information that would have changed his finding at the disciplinary hearing.” Id. at ¶53.

         Westra ordered the plaintiff to serve ninety days in disciplinary separation. Id. at ¶58.

         II. ...

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