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Brown v. Garcia

United States District Court, W.D. Wisconsin

June 4, 2018

MARK BROWN, Plaintiff,

          OPINION & ORDER


         Pro se plaintiff and prisoner Mark Brown is proceeding on a claim that defendants Nancy Garcia and Marirose Howell (both nurses) failed to give him appropriate treatment for various symptoms he was experiencing between late September 2015 and late November 2015, in violation of the Eighth Amendment. Defendants have filed a motion for summary judgment, Dkt. 27, which is ready for review.

         In his complaint, Brown alleged that he was suffering from symptoms such as high blood pressure, dizziness, blurred vision, headaches, and an irregular heartbeat, but defendants failed to schedule a medical appointment for him or conduct any tests. The undisputed facts show now that defendants were not aware of many of Brown’s requests for treatment and that, when they did examine Brown, the treatment they provided was not blatantly inappropriate. Under those circumstances, Brown cannot prevail on his claim, so the court will grant defendants’ motion for summary judgment.

         After the parties finished briefing defendants’ summary judgment motion, Brown filed a letter that I interpret to be a request for assistance in recruiting counsel. Dkt. 38. He says that another prisoner has been helping him with the case, but he needs a lawyer now because he was transferred to a different prison. Because the transfer occurred after the parties completed briefing defendants’ summary judgment motion and Brown does not ask the court to give him another chance to file summary judgment materials, I will deny this request as moot.


         The following facts are undisputed.

         At the time relevant to this case, plaintiff Brown was a prisoner at the Waupun Correctional Institution, which is in Waupun, Wisconsin. Defendant Garcia was an advanced practice nurse prescriber and was Brown’s primary care provider. Defendant Howell was a registered nurse.

         Defendants describe Brown as having “chronic kidney disease.” Dkt. 35, ¶ 9. At the time Brown entered the Wisconsin Department of Corrections in 2010, he had been diagnosed with “hypertension stage II,” or elevated blood pressure.[1] Chronic elevated blood pressure can cause kidney damage. Brown’s creatine level was 1.41 mg/DL, which is above the normal range of .50-1.30 mg/DL. Chronic elevated creatinine levels indicate impaired kidney function.

         Over the years, Brown has been prescribed medication to control his blood pressure. His blood pressure, blood sugar, Vitamin D levels, and parathyroid glands have been monitored to ensure no further progression of his conditions. He also received a renal ultrasound.[2]

         When a prisoner wants medical treatment, he may submit what is called a “health service request. In a request dated September 28, 2015, Brown said he was experiencing “a bad headache” and “blur[red] vision.” He was concerned that his blood pressure was rising. In response, a nurse checked the box next to “NP/PA” and wrote “soon” on the form. Dkt. 31-1, at 28.[3] In a request dated October 1, 2015, Brown wrote that he was still suffering from a headache and blurred vision. He believed that his symptoms were the result of high blood pressure and he wanted to see the nurse. A nurse signed the request on October 2, but did not otherwise write anything on the request.

         On October 5, a nurse took Brown’s blood pressure. The results showed that his blood pressure was 134/98, which Garcia describes as “slightly higher than normal.” Dkt. 35, ¶ 32. The nurse scheduled Brown for an appointment at the hypertension chronic care clinic.

         On October 7, 2015, Garcia examined Brown. His blood pressure was still elevated (140/90), so Garcia increased the dose of his blood pressure medication (Metroprolol) to 50 mg twice a day. (The parties don’t say what dose Brown was taking before.) Garcia’s goal was to keep Brown’s blood pressure under 140/90. When a nurse reported a week later that Brown’s blood pressure remained elevated (150/98), Garcia increased his medication again, this time to 100 mg of Metroprolol twice a day.

         On October 22, staff conducted lab tests on Brown’s blood. His creatine level was 1.40, which was about the same as it was when Brown enter the Department of Corrections in 2010.

         assess the size, shape, and location of the kidneys. Ultrasound may also be used to assess blood flow to the kidneys.” “Kidney ultrasound,” available at In a request dated October 30, 2015, Brown wrote that he was “having slight back pain on both sides” and that his urine “come[s] out very very yellowish and [has] a little smell to it.” Brown wondered whether these symptoms were being caused by his new blood pressure medication. Brown also wrote that, while lying down, he could ...

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