United States District Court, W.D. Wisconsin
D. PETERSON DISTRICT JUDGE
James Anthony Davis, who is represented by volunteer counsel
recruited by the court, is proceeding on claims that
defendant Brian Piller violated his constitutional rights by
fabricating a report that Davis had overdosed on drugs. Davis
contends that Piller's false report caused him to be
subjected to unnecessary and painful medical procedures to
treat the non-existent overdose. Before the court is
Piller's motion for summary judgment. Dkt. 28. Having
reviewed the parties' arguments and evidence in the
record, I conclude that the motion must be granted. Although
there is a genuine factual dispute regarding whether Piller
falsified his report about Davis's overdose, the dispute
ultimately is immaterial to Davis's constitutional
claims. Even accepting Davis's version of events as true,
no reasonable jury could conclude that Piller's actions
violated Davis's substantive due process rights or
amounted to deliberate indifference under the Eighth
Amendment. Accordingly, I will grant Piller's motion for
summary judgment and dismiss this case.
times relevant to this case, Davis was incarcerated at Dodge
Correctional Institution, where Brian Piller worked as a
correctional officer. According to Davis's mental health
records, he has a history of anger, impulsivity, and mental
health problems. He has attempted suicide on approximately 40
occasions, by cutting himself, hanging himself, and
overdosing on medication. While incarcerated at Dodge
Correctional, Davis spent a significant amount of time in
segregation and under observation status. Correctional
officers in the segregation unit are supposed to check
inmates on observation status every 15 minutes to ensure that
they are not harming themselves. During the times Davis was
on observation status, he insulted correctional officers and
many officers thought he was unpleasant.
April 28, 2011, two days before the incident at issue in this
case, Davis met with a prison psychiatrist, Dr. Shirley
Dawson. Dawson noted that Davis had stopped taking some of
his medication and as a result, was decompensating and
hearing voices that were telling him to kill himself. She
also noted that Davis wanted to be moved to a different
institution and that he threatened to kill himself if he was
not transferred. He also reported that he was in danger from
various murderers who lived at Dodge Correctional.
Dawson's impressions were that Davis had stopped taking
his antipsychotic medication and was in the middle of a
paranoid episode. Dkt. 32-1 at 16. Dawson noted that
“during these times Davis uses threats of harm to
himself to get what he wants.” Id. At the
time, Davis was housed in the segregation unit and was in
morning of May 1, Piller was the correctional officer
responsible for performing observation checks on Davis every
15 minutes. Throughout the morning, Davis and Piller
exchanged insults and had several unpleasant interactions. At
approximately 10:00 a.m., Piller approached Davis's cell
to conduct a status check. Davis asked Piller when he would
be taken off of observation status, and Piller responded that
Davis probably would not be taken off observation until the
next day at the earliest.
parties dispute what happened next. According to Piller,
after he told Davis that he would not be taken off
observation that day, Davis responded by showing Piller what
appeared to be a handful of white pills and stating, “I
am going to get out of here one way or another by taking
these.” Davis then placed the pills in his mouth.
Piller immediately shut off the water in Davis's cell to
try and prevent him from drinking water that could assist him
in swallowing the pills. Piller then alerted the sergeant on
duty that Davis had taken a handful of pills. Piller asked
Davis was he had taken, and Davis responded that he had
swallowed 1200 mg of Trazodone and 6-9 mg of Risperidone.
Davis told Piller that he had saved the pills by swallowing
them halfway and then regurgitating them once the medication
pass officer walked away from his cell. Piller later checked
Davis's medication record and confirmed that Davis had
been prescriptions for both Trazodone and Risperidone.
denies making any gestures or saying anything to Piller to
suggest that he took pills or intended to commit suicide.
According to Davis, he insulted Piller and Piller became
angry. Piller then said, “Watch this, ” called
his supervisor over, and falsely stated that Davis had
attempted to commit suicide by overdose.
parties agree that once the captain on duty arrived at
Davis's cell, officers searched Davis but they found no
pills on Davis or in his cell. Piller and other staff members
escorted Davis to the health services exam room on the
segregation unit where Nurse Julie Wempner assessed Davis.
Wempner decided that Davis should be sent to the hospital for
evaluation and treatment. According to Wempner, it was
standard procedure to send any prisoner to the hospital for
treatment if a correctional officer and the prisoner reported
an overdose. Wempner's notes from her meeting with Davis
state that he told her that he took pills to try to kill
himself and to “get out of here.” Dkt. 32-1 at 2.
He also told her that he felt “higher than I've
ever felt in my life.” Id. Davis denies saying
anything to Wempner to suggest that he had taken pills or
attempted to commit suicide by overdose, but he has not
alleged that he denied taking pills, that he told Wempner
that Piller was lying, or that he objected to Wempner's
decision to send him to the hospital.
hospital, Davis was given an EKG and a urine drug screen.
Davis was handcuffed during the procedures. Because Davis did
not have to urinate at the emergency room, his urine was
extracted with a catheter, which Davis says was extremely
painful. Davis did not refuse the EKG or catheter and did not
otherwise object to treatment at the hospital. His hospital
records state that he was “calm” and
“cooperative” and there is nothing in his
hospital records suggesting that he denied taking pills. Dkt.
32-1 at 9. The drug screen came back negative. The hospital
records state that after Davis was told the results, he
reported that his abdomen hurt. Id. at 3, 11.
Hospital medical staff recommended that Davis follow up with
a primary care provider and be seen for a psychiatric
evaluation after he returned to the prison Id. at 3,
5, 2011, Davis saw Dr. Dawson again. According to
Dawson's notes, Davis “had an episode of claiming
to have overdosed on his meds, which turns out not to be
true.” Id. at 17. Dawson noted that Davis
reported to her that he was not trying to overdose on May 1,
but that he had saved some of his pills and had not taken
them right away. Dawson also noted that they discussed the
need for Davis to take all of his medications immediately
when they are distributed. Id. Davis denies telling
Dawson that he had saved pills or suggesting to her that he
had falsely reported overdosing on medication.
result of the incident, Piller wrote Davis a conduct report
for violating Wisconsin Administrative Code § DOC
303.57, “Misuse of Prescription Medication.” The
conduct report stated that Davis had told Piller that he was
going to “get out” of observation, that Davis had
placed a handful of pills in his mouth, and that Davis had
told Piller that the pills were Tazodone and Risperidone that
he had saved. Dkt. 31-2 at 1. Davis waived his right to a
formal due process hearing on the conduct report and checked
the box on the waiver form indicating, “I ADMIT I AM
GUILTY.” Id. at 4. At the May 6, 2011
disciplinary hearing on the conduct report, Davis stated that
he “did not swallow no pills, ” but also stated,
“I know I am guilty, I am just waiting to see what I
get.” Id. at 6.
was released from prison on June 19, 2011. He was
reincarcerated on April 19, 2013. After he was
reincarcerated, Davis learned that DOC was deducting
restitution from his prison account to pay for his May 1,
2011 hospital stay. He filed this lawsuit in October 2014.
Davis says that he still experiences pain ...