United States District Court, W.D. Wisconsin
REINALDO C. ACOSTA, JR., Plaintiff,
SGT. MAKI, LT. TROCHINSKI, DAVE TARR, and JOHN/JANE DOE, Defendants.
OPINION AND ORDER
D. PETERSON, DISTRICT JUDGE.
Reinaldo C. Acosta, Jr., appearing pro se, is an inmate at
Redgranite Correctional Institution. He alleges that he
slipped, fell, and injured himself on a slippery bathroom
floor at the prison. He brought Eighth Amendment claims
against defendant prison officials for failing to take proper
precautions or warn inmates about the unsafe conditions.
dismissed Acosta's complaint once and then dismissed the
entire case because Acosta's allegations did not state a
constitutional claim over which this court has jurisdiction.
See Dkt. 5 and Dkt. 9. At most, Acosta alleged
nothing more than standard “slip and fall”
claims, which belonged in state court under a negligence
after I dismissed the case and judgment was entered, Acosta
filed a motion to alter or amend the judgment under Federal
Rule of Civil Procedure 59(e), along with a second amended
complaint. Acosta has added a new defendant, Health Services
Unit Manager Angela Thompson, and new allegations that
Thompson and defendant Security Director David Tarr ignored
his injuries by refusing to approve off-site medical
district court has entered a final judgment, the plaintiff
cannot amend his complaint under Rule 15(a) unless the
judgment is modified, either by the district court under Rule
59(e) or 60(b), or on appeal. Runnion ex rel. Runnion v.
Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago & Nw. Indiana, 786
F.3d 510, 521 (7th Cir. 2015). But a district court may apply
the more lenient Rule 15(a)(2) standard to reopening a case
that is dismissed for a plaintiff's failure to properly
plead a claim for relief. Id. Acosta now includes
allegations that support federal claims: his new Eighth
Amendment medical-care claims. Because Acosta promptly
brought his amendment, I conclude that justice requires
reopening the case. So I will vacate the judgment and screen
Eighth Amendment prohibits prison officials from acting with
deliberate indifference to prisoners' serious medical
needs. Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 103-04
(1976). A “serious medical need” is a condition
that a doctor has recognized as needing treatment or one for
which the necessity of treatment would be obvious to a lay
person. Johnson v. Snyder, 444 F.3d 579, 584-85 (7th
Cir. 2006). A medical need is serious if it is
life-threatening, carries risks of permanent serious
impairment if left untreated, results in needless pain and
suffering, significantly affects an individual's daily
activities, Gutierrez v. Peters, 111 F.3d 1364,
1371-73 (7th Cir. 1997), or otherwise subjects the prisoner
to a substantial risk of serious harm. Farmer, 511
U.S. at 847. To be considered “deliberately
indifferent, ” an official must know of and disregard
“an excessive risk to an inmate's health or safety;
the official must both be aware of the facts from which the
inference could be drawn that a substantial risk of serious
harm exists, and he must also draw the inference.”
Snipes v. Detella, 95 F.3d 586, 590 (7th Cir. 1996).
However, inadvertent error, negligence, gross negligence, and
ordinary malpractice are not cruel and unusual punishment
within the meaning of the Eighth Amendment. Vance v.
Peters, 97 F.3d 987, 992 (7th Cir. 1996).
alleges that he was seriously injured but that both Thompson
and Tarr refused to authorize him to be taken off-site for
medical treatment, which he says harmed him further. I
conclude that Acosta has alleged enough to state Eighth
Amendment claims against Thompson and Tarr.
Acosta has now stated federal-law claims, I can exercise
supplemental jurisdiction over his negligence claims under 28
U.S.C. § 1367. Acosta alleges that defendants Tarr,
Thompson, Sergeant Maki, and Lieutenant Trochinski were all
aware of the slippery floor yet did nothing to fix the
problem, either by directly fixing it or adequately training
or supervising the other employees working on the unit. Under
Wisconsin law, all claims of negligence require the same four
elements: “(1) a breach of (2) a duty owed (3) that
results in (4) an injury or injuries, or damages.”
Paul v. Skemp, 2001 WI 42, ¶ 17, 242 Wis.2d
507, 625 N.W.2d 860. I conclude that Acosta has stated
negligence claims against these defendants.
final point. Acosta names “John/Jane Doe” in the
caption as a defendant or defendants, but he does not include
any allegations against an unnamed official. So I will
dismiss the Doe defendant.
IT IS ORDERED that:
Plaintiff Reinaldo C. Acosta, Jr.'s motion to alter or
amend the judgment, Dkt. 11, is GRANTED.
court's judgment in this case, Dkt. 10, is VACATED.
Plaintiff is GRANTED leave to proceed on the following
• Eighth Amendment medical-care claims against
defendants Angela ...