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Lindsey v. Sauvey

United States District Court, E.D. Wisconsin

July 27, 2018




         Plaintiff Leighton D. Lindsey, a Wisconsin state prisoner who is representing himself, filed this lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff was allowed to proceed on an Eighth Amendment deliberate indifference claim against Dr. Mary Sauvey, Jean Lutsey, and J. LaBelle based on his allegations that the discontinuation of his medications resulted in increased pain and discomfort. Before me now is defendants' motion for summary judgment. Because no reasonable jury could find that the defendants acted with deliberate indifference towards the plaintiff and his medical needs, I will grant the defendants' motion and dismiss the case. As for plaintiff's other motions, I will deny his motion to compel and motion for order to view his files and deny as moot his motions for extensions of time. His motion to amend/correct his declaration is granted.

         I. BACKGROUND[1]

         A. The Parties

         Plaintiff was an inmate at Green Bay Correctional Institution (“GCBI”) at all times relevant to this case. Docket No. 56 at ¶ 1. Defendant Dr. Mary Sauvey worked at GBCI as a physician, Id. at ¶ 2, and Jean Lutsey was the Health Services Manager at GBCI, Id. at ¶ 3. James LaBelle was the Regional Nursing Coordinator for the Bureau of Health Services and also served as the reviewing authority for inmate complaints related to healthcare for all Wisconsin Department of Corrections prisons, including GBCI. Id. at ¶ 4.

         B. Plaintiff's Medical Care

         On July 20, 2015, plaintiff became “irate” when the guard passing out medication gave him the wrong medication. Docket No. 1 at ¶ 18. He told the guard he needed to write an incident report, and the guard responded that plaintiff does not boss him around. Id. Plaintiff then threw his medication on the floor. Id.; Docket No. 56 at ¶ 5. The guard told plaintiff he would call Health Services and have them discontinue his medication. Docket No. 1 at ¶ 19. On July 21, 2015, a member of either the nursing or security staff informed Dr. Sauvey that plaintiff was misusing his medication. Docket No. 56 at ¶ 6. Misuse of medication, which includes throwing medications on the ground (or refusing to take them), was a proper ground to consider discontinuation of medication if medically appropriate. Id. at ¶ 7. Dr. Sauvey discontinued plaintiff's Vitamin D, Reguloid, Mintox, and Tylenol until further notice, effective July 21, 2015. Id. at ¶ 8. They were all over-the-counter medications. Id. at ¶ 22.

         Dr. Sauvey prescribed plaintiff Vitamin D even though his levels were average for an adult African American male because plaintiff was regularly in the Restrictive Housing Unit. Id. at ¶¶ 9-11. From a medical standpoint, plaintiff did not need the Vitamin D. Id. at ¶ 11. As for the rest of the medications Dr. Sauvey discontinued, plaintiff took Reguloid for constipation; Mintox for occasional heartburn; and Tylenol for general aches and pains. Id. at ¶ 12. The parties dispute with what regularity plaintiff took these medications. Docket No. 77 at ¶ 13. Both Tylenol and Mintox were available to plaintiff at the Canteen. Docket No. 56 at ¶ 17. If he wanted to keep taking them, he could have ordered them with his own funds. Id. at ¶ 18. The only difference between ordering these medications and being prescribed them is who pays for them. Id. at ¶ 19.

         When Dr. Sauvey decided to discontinue the medication “until further notice, ” she intended and planned to monitor his medical needs for the medications (as well as his compliance with medications). Id. at ¶ 20. Plaintiff was seen an average of every eight days, for a variety complaints, in 2015 through 2016. Id. at ¶ 29. If a medical condition arose that, in her opinion, required a medication-even if it was one she previously discontinued-Dr. Sauvey would have been open to restarting it. Id. at ¶ 21. She restarted plaintiff's Reguloid/Miralaz on August 17, 2015 after he complained of mild constipation . Id. at ¶ 23. When Dr. Sauvey saw plaintiff on August 28, 2015, she noted that his knee pain was stable. Id. at ¶ 26. By the time she saw plaintiff on September 25, 2105, he was complaining of more knee pain. Id. Dr. Sauvey then started Meloxicam, in place of Tylenol. Id. at ¶ 24. Meloxicam is similar to Tylenol, but it has stronger pain relieving qualities. Id. at ¶ 25. She also reinstated plaintiff's Mintox/antacid tablets on October 3, 2015 because he reported he was experiencing heartburn. Id. at ¶ 27.

         C. Plaintiff's Complaints and Correspondence

         Plaintiff contacted Lutsey and LaBelle regarding his dissatisfaction with Dr. Sauvey's decision to discontinue his medications. Id. at ¶ 30. Lutsey was copied on the reviewing authority's decisions for offender complaint GBCI-2015-14137, Id. at ¶ 31, and contacted regarding inmate complaint GBCI-2015-14939, Id. at ¶ 32. In both instances, Lutsey reviewed the relevant medical files and documents. Id. at ¶ 33. She noted that Dr. Sauvey had a plan to monitor plaintiff's condition and that plaintiff was being seen on a consistent basis. Id. Lutsey deferred to plaintiff's medical providers' opinions as they seemed appropriate and she had no reason to believe that plaintiff's medical needs were not being met. Id. at ¶ 34. Lutsey did not do further investigating because she felt the situation was being handled appropriately. Her decision was upheld through the complaint system, including appeal. Id.

         On September 3, 2015, a nurse forwarded Lutsey a letter from plaintiff. Id. at ¶ 35. She responded to the letter on September 8, 2015, after having reviewed his medical file and explained to him that his inhaler (albuterol) was discontinued due to abuse and that the risks outweighed the benefits. Id. at ¶ 36. She noted that he had been evaluated on August 28, September 3, and September 4 and reminded him to report abnormal symptoms rather than asking for an inhaler he did not have an order for. Id. Lutsey was comfortable that plaintiff was abusing his inhaler and that he was being evaluated on a regular basis. Id. She had no concerns about the appropriateness of plaintiff's care because he was being seen and evaluated whenever he reported abnormal symptoms. Id. at ¶ 38. She deferred to the plaintiff's medical providers' decisions because they seemed appropriate based on her review of the records. Id. at ¶ 37.

         As for Labelle, his only involvement in this case was serving as the reviewing authority on the two inmate complaints already mentioned-GBCI-2015-14137 and GBCI-2015-14939. Id. at ¶ 39. The Inmate Complaint Examiner (“ICE”), Jodene Perttu dismissed GBCI-2015-14137 because, per plaintiff's own admission, plaintiff had abused his medications and the physician reviewed the incident and history and determined the risk outweighed the benefit of him receiving his medications. Id. at ¶ 41. She believed that plaintiff's treatment was proper given that he had thrown his medications on the floor and had a history of hoarding medication, which could cause liver damage if not used properly. Id. at ¶ 43. Perttu directed Lindsey to submit a Health Services Request if he experienced abnormal medical symptoms. Id. at ¶ 42. Because Perttu reviewed the issue and found that plaintiff was abusing his medications, which could be detrimental to his health, LaBelle accepted Perttu's recommendation and dismissed complaint GBCI-2015-14137. Id. at ¶ 45.

         LaBelle also agreed with Perttu's recommendation on complaint GBCI-2014-14939. Id. at ¶¶ 46, 50. Perttu dismissed the complaint because she determined that plaintiff was creating a safety risk by holding his medication and the risk outweighed the benefit. Id. at ¶ 46. Dr. Sauvey discontinued his medication until she evaluated him in person on August 14, 2015, at which time she restarted his blood pressure medication. Id. LaBelle also conducted his own investigation and noted that plaintiff had been seen by the physician (who had the proper education to diagnose and prescribe the most safe and effective medication for the needed treatment). Id. at ¶ 47. LaBelle found that plaintiff was noted to be holding his medication, which raised concerns about potential negative impacts to his health if overused. Id. at ΒΆ 48. LaBelle deferred to plaintiff's medical providers, but he also had no reason to ...

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