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Ruiz v. Boughton

United States District Court, W.D. Wisconsin

February 1, 2019

JUAN F. RUIZ JR, Plaintiff,
v.
GARY BOUGHTON, SANDRA McARDLE, and JOLINDA WATERMAN, Defendants.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          JAMES D. PETERSON, DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Pro se plaintiff Juan F. Ruiz Jr, an inmate incarcerated at Wisconsin Secure Program Facility (WSPF), alleges that defendants, all prison employees, violated his rights by misdiagnosing him with diabetes. Dkt. 1. He has made an initial partial payment of the filing fee for this action in accordance with 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(1).

         The next step is to screen the complaint and dismiss any portion that is legally frivolous, malicious, fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or asks for money damages from a defendant who by law cannot be sued for money damages. 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915 and 1915A. In screening any pro se litigant's complaint, the court must read the allegations of the complaint generously. Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520-21 (1972) (per curiam).

         I conclude that Ruiz has not stated a claim against any of the defendants. Ruiz's complaint seems to be premised on the view that any misdiagnosis violates his rights, but that is incorrect. The bottom line is that Ruiz doesn't allege that he suffered any harm or was even subjected to a serious risk of harm, so he hasn't stated a claim under state or federal law. Therefore, I will dismiss his complaint in its entirety.

         ALLEGATIONS OF FACT

         I draw the following facts from Ruiz's complaint, and I accept them as true at the screening stage.

         In April 2018, Ruiz began to feel dizzy and lightheaded while working at his prison job. After describing his symptoms to correctional officers, the shift captain explained that it sounded like Ruiz was suffering from low blood sugar level. The captain asked whether he was a diabetic, but Ruiz said that he wasn't.

         The next day, prison staff sent Ruiz to the Health Services Unit. A nurse examined Ruiz and told him that he may be a diabetic, but Ruiz again said that he wasn't.

         The following day, prison staff sent Ruiz to see defendant Sandra McArdle, a nurse practitioner at WSPF. McArdle informed Ruiz that he was a diabetic, according to his prison medical records. McArdle prescribed diabetic medications for Ruiz to take and ordered him to check his blood sugar levels daily. Ruiz left the examination “in a confused state of mind.”

         Ruiz checked his blood sugar every day, for two weeks, but his levels were always normal. (Ruiz doesn't say whether he ever took any of the prescribed medication.) Ruiz then obtained a copy of his medical records, which included the medical records of a different prisoner, who was a diabetic. After an investigation, prison staff confirmed that Ruiz was not, in fact, a diabetic.

         Defendant Gary Boughton is the warden at WSPF and, among other duties, supervises the implementation of health services at the prison. Defendant Jolinda Waterman is the Health Services Manager at WSPF and supervises the treatment decisions made by medical caregivers at the prison.

         ANALYSIS

         I understand Ruiz to be contending that defendant McArdle violated his rights by providing unneeded medical treatment and that defendants Boughton and Waterman violated his rights by failing to supervise McArdle. Ruiz does not include any legal theories in his complaint, but I see three potential claims: (1) a violation of his right to humane conditions of confinement under the Eighth Amendment; (2) a violation of his right to refuse unwanted medical care under the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment; and (3) negligence.

         I conclude that Ruiz hasn't stated a claim under any of these theories. As to defendant McArdle, Ruiz's claims fail because he doesn't allege that she knew she had misdiagnosed Ruiz, that he tried to refuse treatment, or that he was harmed. As to defendants Boughton and Waterman, Ruiz doesn't allege that they have any involvement in this case other than as McArdle's supervisors. ...


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