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Jones v. Menning

United States District Court, E.D. Wisconsin

June 11, 2018

KURTIS D. JONES, Plaintiff,



         1. INTRODUCTION

         On November 20, 2017, the Court screened Plaintiff's complaint. (Docket #8). The complaint alleged that Defendants, correctional and medical staff at Green Bay Correctional Institution, failed to respond appropriately to Plaintiff's various acts of self-harm from May 9 to May 14, 2017 while he was incarcerated there. (Docket #8 at 3). Plaintiff was allowed to proceed on a claim of deliberate indifference to his serious medical needs, namely his risk of suicide, in violation of the Eighth Amendment, against each Defendant. Id. at 5.

         On May 1, 2018, Defendants moved for summary judgment. (Docket #36). Plaintiff's response to the motion was due on or before May 31, 2018. Civ. L. R. 7(b). That deadline has passed and no response has been received.

         The Court could summarily grant Defendants' motion in light of Plaintiff's non-opposition. Civ. L. R. 7(d). However, as explained below, Defendants also present valid bases for dismissing Plaintiff's claim. For both of these reasons, Defendants' motion must be granted.


         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56 provides that the court “shall grant summary judgment if the movant 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); see Boss v. Castro, 816 F.3d 910, 916 (7th Cir. 2016). A fact is “material” if it “might affect the outcome of the suit” under the applicable substantive law. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). A dispute of fact is “genuine” if “the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party.” Id. The court construes all facts and reasonable inferences in the light most favorable to the non-movant. Bridge v. New Holland Logansport, Inc., 815 F.3d 356, 360 (7th Cir. 2016).

         3. BACKGROUND

         The relevant facts are undisputed because Plaintiff failed to dispute them. In the Court's scheduling order, entered December 4, 2017, Plaintiff was warned about the requirements for opposing a motion for summary judgment. (Docket #13 at 3). Accompanying that order were copies of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56 and Civil Local Rule 56, both of which describe in detail the form and contents of a proper summary judgment submission. In Defendants' motion for summary judgment, they too warned Plaintiff about the requirements for his response as set forth in Federal and Local Rules 56. (Docket #36). He was provided with additional copies of those Rules along with Defendant's motion. Id. at 3-12. In connection with their motion, Defendants filed a supporting statement of material facts that complied with the applicable procedural rules. (Docket #43). It contained short, numbered paragraphs concisely stating those facts which Defendants proposed to be beyond dispute, with supporting citations to the attached evidentiary materials. See id.

         In response, Plaintiff filed absolutely nothing-no brief in opposition, much less a response to the statement of facts.[1] Despite being twice warned of the strictures of summary judgment procedure, Plaintiff ignored those rules by failing to properly dispute Defendants' proffered facts with citations to relevant, admissible evidence. Smith v. Lamz, 321 F.3d 680, 683 (7th Cir. 2003). Though the Court is required to liberally construe a pro se plaintiff's filings, it cannot act as his lawyer, and it cannot delve through the record to find favorable evidence for him. Thus, the Court will, unless otherwise stated, deem Defendants' facts undisputed for purposes of deciding his motion for summary judgment. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(e); Civ. L. R. 56(b)(4); Hill v. Thalacker, 210 Fed.Appx. 513, 515 (7th Cir. 2006) (noting that district courts have discretion to enforce procedural rules against pro se litigants).

         In the absence of any factual disputes, and in the interest of brevity, the Court will discuss the material facts as part of its analysis of Plaintiff's claim. All factual discussion is drawn from Defendants' statement of proposed facts. (Docket #43).

         4. ANALYSIS

         Plaintiff generally alleges that he used various sharp metal objects to harm himself, and that Defendants' responses to that behavior violated his constitutional rights. See (Docket #1 at 4-9). Plaintiff's allegations implicate his Eighth Amendment right to adequate medical care. Prison officials violate that right if they exhibit deliberate indifference to an inmate's serious medical needs. Orlowski v. Milwaukee Cnty., 872 F.3d 417, 422 (7th Cir. 2017). To show deliberate indifference, a plaintiff must prove that “(1) [he] had an objectively serious medical condition; (2) the defendants knew of the condition and were deliberately indifferent to treating [him]; and (3) this indifference caused [him] some injury.” Gayton v. McCoy, 593 F.3d 610, 620 (7th Cir. 2010).

         Normally, a completed or attempted suicide satisfies the “serious medical condition” element. Pittman ex rel. Hamilton v. Cnty. of Madison, Ill., 746 F.3d 766, 775 (7th Cir. 2014). However, a plaintiff still bears the burden to show that their suicidal ideation or the self-harm they inflicted was indeed “objectively [and] sufficiently” serious. Collins v. Seeman, 462 F.3d 757, 760 (7th Cir. 2006). Prison officials' refusal to treat “the sniffles or minor aches and pains or a tiny scratch or a mild headache or minor fatigue-the sorts of ailments for which ...

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