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Miller v. Pach

United States District Court, E.D. Wisconsin

July 17, 2018

MICHAEL ANTHONY MILLER, Plaintiff,
v.
NATHAN PACH, et al., Defendants.

          DECISION AND ORDER

          William C. Griesbach, Chief Judge United States District Court

         Plaintiff Michael Anthony Miller, who is representing himself, filed this action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging that defendants Nathan Pach, Shane Waller, and Nancy Garcia were deliberately indifferent to his serious medical needs in violation of the Eighth Amendment. In particular, Miller asserts Pach and Waller disregarded a medical restriction that allowed him to take six warm showers per day while incarcerated in the restrictive housing unit and Garcia failed to ensure that a vaccination she had ordered for him was actually administered by nursing staff. Presently before the court is the defendants' motion for summary judgment. Miller has not responded to the motion. For the following reasons, the defendants' motion will be granted and the case will be dismissed.

         BACKGROUND

         The following facts are taken from the defendants' proposed findings of fact. Because Miller did not respond to the proposed facts, they will be deemed admitted for the purposes of summary judgment. See Civil L.R. 56(b)(4).

         At all times relevant to this action, Miller was housed at Waupun Correctional Institution. Miller has sickle cell disease, a genetic condition that affects his red blood cells. On December 8, 2015, Miller presented for an appointment with Nurse Practitioner Nancy Garcia. Garcia wrote Miller a prescription for Tylenol and entered an order that Miller receive his vaccinations, including the pneumococcal vaccination Prevnar-13. Prevnar-13 is given to patients in the prison setting who have medical conditions such as sickle cell disease. Nursing staff ordered the vaccination on the same day Garcia entered the order. Once a nurse places an order for a vaccination, the vaccination may not be delivered to the prison for up to two months.

         On January 16, 2016, Garcia entered another order instructing nursing staff to schedule Miller for a follow-up appointment to monitor his sickle cell and asthma and requesting a status of the Prevnar-13 vaccination. Nursing staff noted Miller would receive the vaccination that week. Miller ultimately received the vaccination on January 26, 2016.

         Miller reported at a follow-up appointment with Garcia on January 28, 2016 that he recently received his vaccinations. Garcia then entered an order for nursing staff to update the Wisconsin Immunization Registry to reflect that the vaccinations had been administered. Miller also noted at this appointment that he had a history of priapism, a condition that causes the prolonged, sometimes painful erection of the penis. He told Garcia that he had received extra showers at a previous institution to alleviate this problem. Garcia wrote an order for Miller to receive warm showers as needed for priapism and as determined by an officer. Nursing staff translated her order into a medical restriction form stating that Miller may “shower up to 6x (sic) day for medical necessity (priapism).” Although the medical restriction indicates that Miller may shower up to six times per day, Garcia did not actually authorize this number of showers. She did not believe that it was likely that a patient with sickle cell disease would experience priapism that often. She also did not intend for Miller to receive showers simply because he requested one, as reflected in the medical restriction. Instead, a security officer was supposed to visually confirm Miller's need for a warm shower in order for him to receive one.

         Miller claims that he began requesting warm showers as soon as Garcia wrote the order on January 28, 2016. It appears Miller misunderstood Garcia's order, believing that he was allowed to take warm showers simply due to joint pain. On January 31, 2016, Miller submitted a health services request form stating that he had a medical restriction allowing him to take hot showers for joint pain. He also submitted an inmate complaint on that day stating that his shower restriction for joint pain was not being followed.

         Miller asserts he asked Restricted Housing Unit (RHU) Officer Nathan Pach if he could take a shower on January 31, 2016, but Pach responded that it was not a shower day. Miller claims he showed Pach the restriction form stating Miller could shower six times per day. Pach advised Miller that he wanted to show the from to the RHU sergeant “to make sure it was right.” Miller asked Pach about the form the next time he saw Pach, and Pach confirmed that he gave the form to RHU Sergeant Shane Waller. Although Miller claims he wrote Waller before and after January 31, 2016 to inform him of the shower restriction, neither Waller nor Pach recall Miller's request, and there is no record of Miller's correspondence to Waller. Even though Miller did not receive an unscheduled shower on January 31, 2016, he continued to take his normal showers, scheduled twice per week. Miller did not request additional showers after January 31, 2016.

         Garcia received Miller's January 31, 2016 HSU request on February 11, 2016. In her response to the request, she advised Miller that the showers were ordered for priapism, not joint pain, and that the showers would be replaced with warm compresses. At a follow-up appointment on May 6, 2016, Miller reported that the warm compresses helped his priapism.

         LEGAL STANDARD

         Summary judgment is appropriate when the moving party shows that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). The moving party bears the initial burden of proving that summary judgment should be granted. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). All reasonable inferences are construed in favor of the nonmoving party. Foley v. City of Lafayette, 359 F.3d 925, 928 (7th Cir. 2004). The party opposing the motion for summary judgment must “submit evidentiary materials that set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial.” Siegel v. Shell Oil Co., 612 F.3d 933, 937 (7th Cir. 2010) (citations omitted). “The nonmoving party must do more than simply show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts.” Id. Summary judgment is properly entered against a party “who fails to make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an element essential to the party's case, and on which that party will bear the burden of proof at trial.” Parent v. Home Depot U.S.A., Inc., 694 F.3d 919, 922 (7th Cir. 2012) (internal quotations omitted).

         ANALYSIS

         The Eighth Amendment prohibits “cruel and unusual punishments.” U.S. Const. amend. VIII. It imposes a duty on prison officials to take reasonable measures to guarantee an inmate's safety and to ensure that inmates receive adequate medical care. Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 832 (1994). A prison official's “deliberate indifference” to a prisoner's medical needs or to a substantial risk of serious harm violates the Eighth Amendment. Id. at 828; Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 104-05 (1976). This does not mean, however, that every claim by an inmate that he has not received adequate medical treatment states a violation of the Eighth Amendment. An inmate's claim for deliberate indifference must establish “(1) an objectively serious medical condition; and (2) an official's deliberate indifference to that claim.” Gomez v. Randle, 680 F.3d 859, 865 (7th Cir. 2012). Miller asserts that the ...


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