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Menting v. Schmidt

United States District Court, E.D. Wisconsin

June 14, 2018

BRIAN R. SCHMIDT, Defendant.


          J. P. Stadtmueller, U.S. District Judge.

         1. INTRODUCTION

         Plaintiff William J. Menting (“Menting”), a prisoner, brought this action against defendant Brian R. Schmidt (“Schmidt”), alleging that he was deliberately indifferent to Menting's serious medical conditions, in violation of the Eighth Amendment. Specifically, Menting alleged that beginning around mid-2013, while he was incarcerated at Kettle Moraine Correctional Institution, Schmidt denied Menting a wheelchair (the “wheelchair claim”) and prevented Menting's meals from being delivered to him in his cell (the “meal-delivery claim”). (Docket #1 at 4-6 and #1-6). Menting alleged that both of these things were done in contravention of a physician's order. Id.

         Schmidt filed a motion for partial summary judgment as to Menting's meal-delivery claim on the ground that Menting did not properly exhaust his administrative remedies as to that claim. (Docket #23). The Court granted that motion and dismissed Menting's meal-delivery claim from this lawsuit. (Docket #43). The Court then set a new dispositive motion deadline for Menting's remaining wheelchair claim. Id. at 5.

         Now pending before the Court is Schmidt's motion for summary judgment as to Menting's wheelchair claim. (Docket #44). Menting did not file a response to Schmidt's motion for summary judgment, and his time to do so has long since passed. The Court could summarily grant Schmidt's motion in light of Menting's non-opposition. Civ. L. R. 7(d). However, as explained below, Schmidt also presents a valid basis for dismissing Menting's claim on its merits. For that reason, Schmidt's motion must be granted.[1]


         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56 provides the mechanism for seeking summary judgment. Rule 56 states 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 “genuine” dispute of material fact is created when “the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party.” Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). The Court construes all facts and reasonable inferences in a light most favorable to the non-movant. Bridge v. New Holland Logansport, Inc., 815 F.3d 356, 360 (7th Cir. 2016). In assessing the parties' proposed facts, the Court must not weigh the evidence or determine witness credibility; the Seventh Circuit instructs that “we leave those tasks to factfinders.” Berry v. Chicago Transit Auth., 618 F.3d 688, 691 (7th Cir. 2010).

         3. BACKGROUND

         3.1 Menting's Failure to Dispute Schmidt's Proposed Facts

         The relevant facts are undisputed because Menting failed to dispute them. In the Court's scheduling order, entered February 3, 2017, Menting was warned about the requirements for opposing a motion for summary judgment. (Docket #18 at 2-3). 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 Schmidt's motion for summary judgment, he too warned Menting about the requirements for his response as set forth in Federal and Local Rules 56. (Docket #44). Plaintiff was provided with additional copies of those Rules along with Defendant's motion. Id. at 3-12. In connection with his motion, Schmidt filed a supporting statement of material facts that complied with the applicable procedural rules. (Docket #46). It contained short, numbered paragraphs concisely stating those facts which Schmidt proposed to be beyond dispute, with supporting citations to the attached evidentiary materials. See id.

         In response, Menting filed absolutely nothing-no brief in opposition, much less a response to the statement of facts.[2] Despite being twice warned of the strictures of summary judgment procedure, Menting ignored those rules by failing to properly dispute Schmidt's 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 Schmidt's proposed 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).

         3.2 Relevant Facts

         Menting lost part of his left leg as a result of a motorcycle accident in 2010, prior to his incarceration at Kettle Moraine Correctional Institution (“KMCI”).[3] As a result, he has a stump left leg and a prosthesis that he uses to walk. Upon his arrival at KMCI in May 2014, Menting was assessed by the prison's Health Services Unit (“HSU”) medical staff. He was given medical restrictions for a low bunk, first floor accommodations, and light activity, but he was not deemed to require a wheelchair. Inmates at KMCI are allowed to have a wheelchair only if HSU has approved such use based on a determination that it is medically necessary.

         Over the course of his stay at KMCI, from May 2014 to July 2015, Menting was seen and treated by medical staff for various issues related to his stump leg. In October 2014, a doctor at the prison entered an order allowing Menting to have either crutches or a walker, but not a wheelchair. In the doctor's medical opinion, it was not appropriate for Menting to use a wheelchair because immobility inhibits circulation, and either crutches or a walker were better ...

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