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Jones v. Manthei

United States District Court, E.D. Wisconsin

February 4, 2019

CHRISTOPHER MANTHEI, et al., Defendants.


          HON. PAMELA PEPPER United States District Judge

         The plaintiff, representing himself, filed this lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. §1983. Dkt. No. 1. The court screened the complaint and allowed him to proceed on claims that the defendants were deliberately indifferent to his serious medical needs in violation of the Eighth Amendment when they failed to follow a no-work restriction that had been put in place by medical staff. Dkt. No. 9. The parties filed cross-motions for summary judgment. Dkt. Nos. 18, 22.

         I. RELEVANT FACTS[1]

         Plaintiff Christopher Jones is incarcerated at the Waupun Correctional Institution. Dkt. No. 31 at ¶1. During the events the plaintiff described in the complaint, the defendants were employed at Waupun. Id. at ¶2. Christopher Manthei and Nicholas Sanchez worked as correctional sergeants, Brenda Rilling worked as a bakery chef and Aimee Wilson worked as the food services administrator. Id.

         In February 2017, the plaintiff worked as a window server in the kitchen at Waupun. Id. at ¶4. His primary duties included distributing trays of food to inmates and cleaning up after meals. Id. At that time, the plaintiff was on a light activity restriction because of chronic left knee pain from a basketball injury. Id. at ¶5. A “light activity” restriction allowed the plaintiff to do his kitchen job-he could work at his own pace, and could tell staff if there were job duties and assignments that he couldn't perform. Id. at ¶6.

         On February 24, 2017, the plaintiff was seen in health services for an injury to his right knee that he suffered while playing basketball the night before. Id. at ¶7. The nurse instructed the plaintiff to rest, ice and elevate his knee. Id. She also gave him a no-work restriction until March 1, 2017. Id. The nurse's notes reflect that she updated the prison's computer system to reflect a no-work restriction, but the notes did not indicate that she told any of the four defendants about the no-work restriction. Id. at ¶8.

         A few days later, a nurse contacted the plaintiff and told him that the x-ray of his knee was normal. Id. at ¶9. She also told him to stay off of work until after his scheduled follow-up appointment on March 1, 2017. Id. On March 1, 2017, before his appointment, the plaintiff reported to his work assignment in the kitchen. Id. at ¶10. The plaintiff explains that his name was on the schedule for that day, and inmates are not free to decline to report to work once they are called. Id. Instead, an inmate must report to his worksite and then discuss with the sergeant at the worksite any concerns he has about working. Id. The plaintiff reported to work because he was afraid he would receive a conduct report if he did not. Id. at ¶11.

         After his work shift on March 1, 2017, nursing staff evaluated the plaintiff's knee. Id. at ¶15. The plaintiff reported that his knee was feeling better, but it still hurt. Id. A nurse extended his no-work restriction to March 8, 2017. Id. Despite the extension of his no-work restriction, the plaintiff continued to work his normal schedule, which generally was every other day, sometimes for shifts that lasted all day. Id. During this time, there were certain duties that he could not do because they required too much lifting; as he did when his light-duty restriction was in place, he would tell kitchen staff what he wasn't able to do. Id. at ¶16.

         On March 8, 2017, nursing staff saw the plaintiff for a follow-up evaluation. Id. at ¶17. After noting the care plan-applying ice, not working and avoiding recreational activities-the nurse extended the plaintiff's no-work restriction to April 8, 2017, “pending an evaluation by the prison's physician.” Id. at ¶18. Nothing in the nurse's notes indicate that the plaintiff complained that he was still working despite the no-work restriction. Id. at ¶19.

         On March 14, 2017, the plaintiff told defendant Wilson that he was on the no-work restriction. Id. at ¶35. He asked Wilson why he continued to work when he was on a no-work restriction; Wilson responded that she hadn't received anything from health services about the plaintiff being on a no-work restriction. Id. at ¶36. The plaintiff asserts that after he told Wilson the restriction was in the computer, she responded that she didn't usually get the information on the computer system but that she would look into it. Id. at ¶37. According to Wilson, she did not learn the plaintiff was on a no-work restriction until after the plaintiff was injured on March 19, 2017. Id. at ¶38.

         The plaintiff states that he also told Manthei that he was on a no-work restriction, although he doesn't remember when. Id. at ¶39. According to the plaintiff, Manthei thought the plaintiff was joking. Id. Manthei responded to an interrogatory from the plaintiff, in which Manthei said that he knew that the plaintiff had been placed on the light duty restriction in mid-February 2017, but said that he did not know about the no-work restriction until March 21, 2017. Id. at ¶¶39-40. The plaintiff also informed his psychologist (who informed a lieutenant who informed the cell hall sergeant) and unnamed nurses that he was still working despite being on a no-work restriction. Id. at ¶¶41-43. None of these individuals are defendants, and there is nothing in the record to indicate that any of them informed the kitchen staff of the no-work restriction. Id.

         On the afternoon of March 19, 2017, the plaintiff was working in the kitchen. Id. at ¶20. Wilson was not working that day, Manthei was the sergeant in charge of food service for first shift (until around 12:30 p.m.) and Sanchez was the food service sergeant for second shift (starting at 2:00 p.m.); Rilling was working in the bakery. Id. At about 4:30 p.m., the plaintiff was carrying a stack of food trays when his right knee made an audible popping sound and buckled. Id. at ¶21; Dkt. No. 28 at ¶32. The plaintiff dropped the trays and fell into the counter of the service table. Dkt. No. 28 at ¶32. Two inmates helped the plaintiff to “the north side tray disposal bench area”; Sanchez approached the plaintiff. Dkt. No. 28 at ¶33; Dkt. No. 31 at ¶22. The plaintiff told Sanchez that he wasn't supposed to be working. Dkt. No. 31 at ¶23. Sanchez told the plaintiff that the schedule indicated he was on a light-duty restriction. Id. (The schedule continued to show that the plaintiff was on light duty. Id. at ¶24.) Sanchez then checked the computer and saw that, contrary to what the work schedule indicated, the plaintiff was on a no-work restriction. Id. at ¶25. The plaintiff was escorted to health services around 5:00 p.m. Id. at ¶26.

         The plaintiff says that earlier in the day on March 19, he had told Sanchez that he was on a restriction, but he did not clarify that he was on a no-work restriction. Id. at ¶28. The plaintiff told Sanchez that he was not supposed to be working, but Sanchez responded that the schedule said the plaintiff was on a light duty restriction. Id. at ¶23. The plaintiff also told Sanchez that his knee hurt and that he wanted to go to health services. Id. at ¶30. Sanchez responded that health services would not see the plaintiff at that point for an injury that Sanchez believed was “a few days old.” Id.

         In the federal court complaint, the plaintiff recounted the following under the heading “RELEVANT FACT(S) OF INMATE COMPLAINT”:

On [March 19, 2017], I was stationed at my assigned post, as the Northside Window Server. Before meals started, I informed C.O. Kickerbaul as well as Sergeant Sanchez that I had injured my knee recently and I was in a [l]ot of pain because I had been standing up all day and needed to be seen by HSU, because the pain medication that HSU prescribed to me was not working. Sergeant Sanchez then responded in front of C.O. Kickerbaul, Inmate Timothy Wilks, Inmate Jackson and others, that since it has been a couple of days, he knows for a fact HSU will not see me. I then told him could he call and tell them I need ...

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