United States District Court, W.D. Wisconsin
OPINION & ORDER
D. PETERSON District Judge.
Conrad Lee Vargas, a state of Wisconsin inmate currently
confined at the Columbia Correctional Institution, brings
this lawsuit about the severe injury he suffered while
working in the metal shop at the Jackson Correctional
Institution. Vargas cut his hand with an angle grinder after
the grinder kicked back from the metal conduit he was
cutting. It turned out that the vise Vargas used to secure
the conduit was badly damaged, contributing to the accident.
brings Eighth Amendment and Wisconsin-law negligence claims
against prison officials who he says knew that the vise was
damaged. He also brings Eighth Amendment claims against
prison grievance examiners who denied his grievance about
inadequate pain treatment following his injury. Defendants
have filed a motion for summary judgment on all of
Vargas's claims. Dkt. 24.
grant defendants' motion for summary judgment on
Vargas's claims against the grievance examiners because
he fails to show that any of them were deliberately
indifferent to his medical needs. But I will give Vargas a
chance to supplement his summary judgment materials regarding
his claims about the dangerous conditions in the metal shop.
following facts are drawn from the parties' summary
judgment materials and are undisputed unless noted otherwise.
Conrad Lee Vargas is a state of Wisconsin inmate. This
lawsuit concerns events occurring while he was incarcerated
at the Jackson Correctional Institution (JCI). Most of the
defendants worked at JCI: Jay Minshall was a correctional
sergeant; Barry Clark was a facilities maintenance
specialist; Robert Mann was the buildings and grounds
supervisor; Larry Bonner was the buildings and grounds
superintendent; Jodi Dougherty was the institution complaint
examiner; and Christopher Buesgen was the deputy warden.
Defendants Charles Facktor and Cindy O'Donnell worked at
the DOC central office: Facktor was a corrections complaint
examiner, and O'Donnell acted as the secretary's
designee on inmate grievance appeals.
worked in the metal shop in the maintenance facility at JCI.
Clark was his supervisor. Minshall was a correctional
sergeant who supervised inmates working in the maintenance
say that when an inmate is assigned to a job in the
maintenance facilities, the inmate receives initial training
by his supervisor concerning safe work methods, including
demonstrations of safety features related to the particular
work assignment. Inmates are also told to report any
deficiencies to staff. Vargas disputes this, saying that he
only “sign[ed] papers” before starting work.
See Dkt. 33, at 1.
was assigned to dismantle and separate scrap metal. On
September 9, 2014, Vargas had been working on this assignment
for about two and one-half months. That day, he was cutting
flexible metal conduit using an angle grinder. Vargas was
injured when the grinder “kicked back” and hit
his hand. Vargas sustained a one-and-one-half to two-inch
cut. A staff member alerted Minshall to the injury. Minshall
told Vargas to sit down while they waited for an escort to
the Health Services Unit. Vargas later went to the hospital.
investigation showed that the bench vise Vargas used to
secure the conduit was broken; there was a large crack in the
base, and a significant portion of the base was missing.
Defendants say that they did not know that the vise was
broken, and that the crack was not plainly visible.
Defendants say that the crack could not be seen unless you
were looking up at the vise from the floor, but that is not
supported by the photos of the vise. The crack in the base is
plainly visible in the photos, and defendants do not explain
how the mounting of the vise would conceal the crack. Vargas
states that even before he started working in the metal shop,
an inmate named Morrison had told defendants about the broken
vise. The vise was replaced after the accident.
couple of weeks after the incident, Vargas filed an inmate
grievance, stating that he was injured because of faulty
equipment, and that defendants Minshall, Mann, and Clarke
knew that the vise he was using was broken. Defendant
Dougherty recommended dismissing the grievance in part
because Vargas did not report to staff until after the
incident that the vise was broken. Vargas appealed this
decision through the DOC system. Defendants Buesgen, Facktor,
and O'Donnell each ruled against Vargas.
December 2014, Vargas filed a grievance about Health Services
Unit staff failing to provide him with adequate pain
medication. Defendant Dougherty contacted HSU staff and
reviewed Vargas's medical records, including those
showing that a week before the complaint, a nurse
practitioner had discontinued the ibuprofen about which
Vargas complained, and had prescribed meloxicam. Dougherty
recommended that the complaint be dismissed because
Vargas's medical care was a matter of professional
medical judgment and he continued to ...