United States District Court, W.D. Wisconsin
BARBARA B. CRABB DISTRICT JUDGE.
plaintiff Jerome Walker, who is incarcerated at the Wisconsin
Secure Program Facility in Boscobel, Wisconsin, is proceeding
on claims that prison medical staff violated his rights under
the Eighth Amendment by failing to provide him adequate
medical care for his lower back pain. Before the court are
the motions for summary judgment filed by plaintiff, dkt.
#28, defendant Bonson, dkt. #50, and defendant Waterman, dkt.
reasons stated below, I am granting the motion for summary
judgment filed by defendant Jolinda Waterman and denying the
motions for summary judgment filed by plaintiff and defendant
Tanya Bonson. Defendant Waterman will be dismissed. This case
will proceed to trial on only one claim: that defendant
Bonson took away the TENS unit plaintiff needed for his lower
back pain and failed to return it for 69 days without
consulting or examining him, even though she knew he was in
the parties' proposed findings of fact, I find that the
following facts are undisputed unless otherwise noted.
Jerome Walker has been an inmate at the Wisconsin Secure
Program Facility in Boscobel, Wisconsin since September 20,
2016. At all times relevant to this lawsuit, defendants were
both employed at the institution.
Tanya Bonson is an advanced nurse “prescriber”
under contract with Maxim Physician Resources, Inc. and was
assigned to the Wisconsin Secure Program Facility to serve as
the primary care provider from May 31, 2016 to March 31,
2017. Bonson did not see plaintiff in person during her
assignment at the institution.
Jolinda Waterman is a nurse and the health services manager
at the prison. As the health services manager, she is under
the general supervision of the warden and is responsible for
providing administrative support and direction to the unit.
Waterman does not provide direct patient care, but a No. of
nurses and support staff in the health services unit work
with patients. She does not have the authority to require a
health care provider to pursue a certain course of treatment.
If an inmate receives a recommendation for care from an
outside medical provider, the recommendation is not
automatically implemented and must be reviewed by health
services staff with the institution's security needs in
Plaintiff's Medical Treatment
has chronic, axial low back pain for which surgical treatment
is not an option. On July 31, 2015, an outside medical
specialist recommended that plaintiff use a transcutaneous
electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) unit for his lower back
pain “for lifetime, ” and the health services
unit agreed to provide one to plaintiff. A TENS unit is a
non-invasive, drug-free, small electronic device comprising a
base unit and four electrode pads connected to the base unit
by thin wires. When activated, the TENS unit sends
stimulating pulses across the surface of the skin, producing
a tingling or massaging sensation to reduce the sensation of
pain. Although the TENS unit is an effective means of pain
management for some users, it has the potential for misuse in
the prison setting and can pose significant threats to
security. For example, the base unit can be converted for use
as a tattoo machine, or as a heating element in which the
bare wires are utilized to conduct electrical currents for
heating foods and beverages. (The parties dispute whether the
TENS unit at the prison is always kept on the medication cart
and available only during medication pass times. Plaintiff
says that he was allowed to keep his TENS unit in his cell at
pads on a TENS unit prescribed for an inmate become
non-functioning, the inmate can request replacement pads by
submitting a medication refill form to the health services
unit. A nurse reviews the request and can send new pads to
the inmate on the medication cart.
September 29, 2016, defendant Bonson entered an order
referring and scheduling plaintiff for a neurosurgery consult
for low back pain and moderate stenosis at an outside
hospital. She noted that plaintiff had recently transferred
into the prison and was going to miss an appointment for an
epidural steroid injection at the pain clinic at his previous
institution. Bonson ...