United States District Court, W.D. Wisconsin
OPINION & ORDER
D. PETERSON DISTRICT JUDGE.
plaintiff Joey Howell is an inmate confined at the Wisconsin
Secure Program Facility (WSPF). I granted him leave to
proceed on Eighth Amendment deliberate indifference claims
against defendants Shawn Gallinger and Heidi Brown, WSPF
staff who he claims stood by while he attempted suicide by
swallowing pills, and defendant Craig Tom, another staff
member who he claims delayed in sending him to the emergency
room after the suicide attempt. Dkt. 9.
parties have filed cross-motions for summary judgment. Dkt.
16 and Dkt. 29. Defendants responded to Howell's summary
judgment motion, but Howell failed to respond to
defendants' motion. On August 7, 2017, Howell sent a
letter to the court stating that he hadn't
“received any documents from the courts” and
asking that he be sent copies of all recent filings and be
allowed additional time to respond to any motions filed. Dkt.
40. Defendants promptly filed several declarations indicating
that Howell's mail had not been withheld. Dkt. 43. They
sent new copies of their summary judgment materials to
Howell, just in case. Id. Howell acknowledged
receipt of those materials on August 10. Dkt. 42. He
explained that he would “do everything within [his]
power to address” the materials. Id. at 1. But
he has not filed anything more with the court since then.
Howell has had ample time to respond to defendants'
summary judgment motion, and he has not explained why he
needs more time. So I will deny his motion for an extension
of time and address the parties' cross-motions for
summary judgment. Genuine disputes of fact preclude summary
judgment as to Gallinger, but because there is no evidence
that Brown and Tom were deliberately indifferent to
Howell's risk of suicide, I will grant summary judgment
in their favor. Howell's claim against Gallinger will
proceed to trial.
following facts are undisputed except where noted. They are
adopted from the parties' proposed findings of fact
submitted in support of their summary judgment motions.
Because Howell failed to respond to defendants' proposed
findings, I will consider those findings undisputed unless
they conflict with Howell's.
December 2, 2015, Howell was housed in WSPF's restrictive
housing unit, Alpha Unit. Gallinger and Brown were
correctional officers assigned to work on Alpha Unit that
day. Just after 8 a.m., Gallinger and Brown were offering
recreation time to Alpha Unit inmates. When Gallinger stopped
at Howell's cell and asked if he wanted recreation,
Howell asked to speak with a psychological services unit
(PSU) staff member. According to defendants, Gallinger told
Howell to submit a PSU request slip, reiterated the
recreation offer, and then walked away. According to Howell,
he said it was an “emergency” and then repeated
his request for help while showing Gallinger a handful of
pills, but Gallinger just offered him recreation again and
then walked away as Howell yelled “I'm about to
take these pills in my hand.” Dkt. 38, ¶¶
than a few minutes later, Howell knocked on the window of his
cell to get Brown's attention and then took the handful
of pills. Brown ordered Howell not to take the pills, but
Howell swallowed them. Brown immediately reported
Howell's actions to shift sergeant Govier. Govier told
Brown to wait with Howell and then notified PSU, the health
services unit, and the security supervisor. According to
Howell, at some point around this time, he told Gallinger
that he was “having a psychological melt down”
and wanted to see PSU or he would kill himself. Id.
¶ 8. Defendants deny that Howell said this to Gallinger.
five minutes later, Tom, the lieutenant in charge of
transportation, arrived at Howell's cell, and Howell was
placed in restraints and escorted to the health services
room, where he was assessed by a nurse. Howell refused to say
exactly what pills he had ingested, other than that he'd
been saving up his daily medications for about six days. The
nurse estimated that Howell probably ingested 300 mg of
nortriptyline, 240 mg of duloxetine, and 900 mg of bupropion,
all antidepressants. The nurse determined that Howell's
vital signs were stable, that his airway was open and clear,
that he had no difficulty breathing, that he had no apparent
abnormalities, and that he was alert. The nurse relayed her
assessment to a doctor, who authorized Howell's
transportation to the emergency room for additional
assessment and treatment, if necessary.
was then escorted to an intake holding cell to be strip
searched before being transported to the emergency room. The
strip search is a mandatory procedure before transport,
except for “medical emergency trips where a strip
search is not practical or possible.” Dkt. 35-1. During
a strip search, inmates must “remove” braids in
their hair. Id. Tom ordered Howell to remove his
braids; Howell complied.
was then taken to the emergency room, where he was given
activated charcoal. He vomited once and complained of
fatigue, but “remained hemodynamically stable and
neurologically intact” during the visit and was
discharged that afternoon. Dkt. 31, ¶ 44.
judgment is appropriate if a moving party “shows that
there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the
movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). When, as here, the parties have filed
cross-motions for summary judgment, the court “look[s]
to the burden of proof that each party would bear on an issue
of trial [and] then require[s] that party to go beyond the
pleadings and affirmatively to establish a genuine issue of
material fact.” Santaella v. Metro. Life Ins.
Co., 123 F.3d 456, 461 (7th Cir. 1997). If either party
“fails to make a showing sufficient to establish the
existence of an element essential to that party's case,
and on which that party will bear the burden at trial,
” summary judgment against that party is appropriate.
Mid. Am. Title Co. v. Kirk, 59 F.3d 719, 721 (7th
Cir. 1995) (quoting Tatlovich v. City of Superior,
904 F.2d 1135, 1139 (7th Cir. 1990)). “As with any
summary judgment motion, this [c]ourt reviews these
cross-motions ‘construing all facts, and drawing all
reasonable inference from those facts, in favor of . . . the
non-moving party.'” Wis. Cent., Ltd. v.
Shannon, 539 F.3d 751, 756 (7th Cir. 2008) (quoting
Auto. Mechs. Local 701 Welfare & Pension Funds v.
Vanguard Car Rental USA, Inc., 502 F.3d 740, 748 (7th
contends that defendants were deliberately indifferent to his
suicide attempt, in violation of his Eighth Amendment right
to be free from cruel and unusual punishment. To prevail on
his claims, Howell must show that he “suffered an
objectively serious harm that presented a substantial risk to
his safety” and that defendants knew of and
“intentionally disregarded the risk.” Minix
v. Canarecci, 597 F.3d 824, 831 (7th Cir. 2010).