United States District Court, W.D. Wisconsin
OPINION & ORDER
D. PETERSON DISTRICT JUDGE.
Walter Blanck is a prisoner incarcerated at the Green Bay
Correctional Institution. In this consolidated lawsuit,
brings claims that prison officials failed to properly treat
his spine curvature and arthritis that required medication
and hot baths, at least in part because they meant to
retaliate against him for his long history of filing inmate
grievances. He also alleges that a correctional officer
intentionally allowed a violent inmate to attack him.
Defendants have filed a motion for summary judgment.
deny summary judgment on Blanck's claim that defendant
Sumnicht denied him hot baths to ease his arthritis pain. But
I will grant the rest of defendants' summary judgment
motion. Blanck fails to provide facts that could lead a
reasonable jury to infer that any of the other defendants
violated his Eighth Amendment rights with regard to his
medical care, or that any of the defendants retaliated
against him for his grievance history. I also conclude that
Blanck's failure-to-protect claim against the officer who
allegedly allowed Blanck to be attacked must be dismissed
because it is barred by the applicable statute of
Walter Blanck is an inmate at the Green Bay Correctional
Institution (GBCI). Defendants all worked at GBCI for at
least part of the time during the events discussed in this
case. Defendant Paul Sumnicht is a physician. Defendant Kathy
Lemens is a registered nurse. Defendants Wayne Laufenberg and
Valerie Beverly were sergeants. Defendants Daniel McDonald
and Joseph Verdegan were “Correctional Officers
II.” Michael Baenen was the warden.
suffers from a variety of medical conditions, including high
blood pressure, abnormal heart beat, elevated cholesterol,
and back and joint pain caused by abnormal curvature of the
back and arthritis.
5, 2005, Blanck was assaulted by an inmate nicknamed
“Psycho” Coleman. Blanck sustained injuries,
including facial bruises and cuts and a fractured nose
requiring surgery. Blanck alleges that defendant Verdegan
knew that Coleman was a violent inmate, that Blanck was known
in the prison as an informant, and that Verdegan provoked
Coleman to attack Blanck, allowed Coleman access to Blanck,
and allowed Coleman to attack Blanck.
May 2009 and November 2015, Blanck filed 202 inmate
grievances on a wide range of issues. Grievances are kept
confidential to a certain extent, but because complaint
examiners often consult with prison officials about the
disputes that are the subject of the grievances, prison
officials often gain knowledge about grievances. Blanck was
known by officials to complain often about his conditions of
confinement and treatment in prison.
point during his time at GBCI, Blanck was allowed to take hot
baths to ease his arthritis pain from his curved spine.
Blanck filed two grievances in January 2010 about defendant
Verdegan denying him a pass to use the baths, but both
grievances were dismissed after it was discovered that
Blanck's name was not on the “pass list” at
parties dispute whether the baths were merely a substitute
for showers that he could not reach without using stairs, or
a necessary medical treatment for his pain. A doctor at GBCI
discontinued the baths in June 2010. When defendant Dr.
Sumnicht arrived at GBCI in 2012, he treated Blanck for his
various medical conditions, including arthritis. Sumnicht did
not re-order the baths for Blanck, instead focusing on
treatment with medication, including methadone. Sumnicht
believes that Blanck could function without the baths, Blanck
did not need to avoid climbing stairs, and he thought that
Blanck might be malingering. Blanck's expert, Dr. Paul A.
Searles, DO, states that the lack of hot baths likely made
Blanck's arthritis pain worse, and that the baths are
“reasonable and necessary for his problems.” Dkt.
135-2, at 3.
succeed on their motion for summary judgment, defendants must
show that there is no genuine issue of material fact and that
they are entitled to judgment as a matter of law on the
merits. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c); Celotex Corp. v.
Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986). “A genuine
issue of material fact arises only if sufficient evidence
favoring the nonmoving party exists to permit a jury to
return a verdict for that party.” Brummet v.
Sinclair Broad. Grp., Inc., 414 F.3d 686, 692 (7th Cir.
2005). All reasonable inferences supported from the facts in
the summary judgment record must be drawn in Blanck's
favor as the nonmoving party. Baron v. City of Highland
Park, 195 F.3d 333, 338 (7th Cir. 1999). If Blanck fails
to establish the existence of an essential element on which
he will bear the burden of proof at trial, summary judgment
for defendants is proper. See Celotex, 477 U.S. at
brings claims that defendants violated his Eighth Amendment
rights by failing to give him appropriate treatments for his
various maladies. More specifically, he organizes his claims
• Defendant Dr. Sumnicht refused to provide “these
treatments, ” claiming that Blanck did not meet ...