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Ward v. Sauvey

United States District Court, W.D. Wisconsin

February 28, 2019

QUENTIN C. WARD, Plaintiff,
v.
MARY SAUVEY, JEAN LUTSEY, HANNAH UTTER, MARY ALSTEEN, and KATHY LEMENS, Defendants.[1]

          OPINION AND ORDER

          JAMES D. PETERSON, DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Plaintiff Quentin C. Ward, a prisoner at the Green Bay Correctional Institution, alleges that prison officials have failed to properly treat the severe pain he suffers from his degenerative spine condition and carpal tunnel syndrome. He brings Eighth Amendment claims against one of the doctors and several nurses who he says were involved in making decisions about his pain treatment. He has filed a motion for summary judgment, which I will deny because he fails to show that he is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. The case will proceed to trial. Ward has also filed a motion for preliminary injunctive relief, which I will deny, and several other motions that I will address in the opinion below.

         SUMMARY JUDGMENT

         A. Undisputed Facts

         I draw the following facts from the parties' summary judgment materials.[2]

         Plaintiff Quentin C. Ward is a prisoner at Green Bay Correctional Institution (GBCI). Ward suffers from degenerative disk disease, spinal stenosis, and carpal tunnel syndrome. He suffers severe pain in his neck and back and pain and numbness in his left arm and hand.

         Ward was transferred from Oshkosh Correctional Institution to GBCI in September 2012. At some point prior he had been prescribed methadone to treat his severe pain, but that medication was discontinued before he got to GBCI. In June 2013 a doctor at GBCI prescribed Ward methadone. But Ward did not receive the medication. Defendant Nurse Jean Lutsey, who served as the health service manager for at least part of the events in question, told Ward that “Madison” did not approve the doctor's request for methadone. Ward suggests that a “special needs committee” denied the request. (Ward brings claims against defendant nurses Kathy Lemens, Hannah Utter, and Mary Alsteen for denying his requests for methadone when they sat on special needs committees, although the parties do not provide any proposed findings about specific committee decisions they took part in).

         Over the ten-year period preceding this lawsuit, Ward had been prescribed many different pain medications. He says that none of them have truly been effective other than methadone. Ward says that his condition worsened throughout his time at GBCI.

         Defendant Mary Sauvey was a physician at GBCI from October 2013 to September 2016. In 2013 she reviewed Ward's prior care and noted that he had “good functionality” over the past year being off narcotic pain medication. Sauvey says that narcotics generally are not used for “non-malignant” chronic pain. At that time, Ward had been prescribed acetaminophen by his previous doctor, and I take Sauvey to be saying that she kept that order in place.

         Sauvey saw Ward multiple times in 2014, mostly regarding a urinary-tract infection. The parties dispute whether Ward complained about back or neck pain at those appointments. But pain must have been discussed at some point, because Sauvey says that in June 2014 she switched him from ibuprofen to Celebrex for his carpal tunnel pain. It is unclear when the ibuprofen was added or if it replaced the acetaminophen. In September 2014, she referred him for surgery. The parties do not explain whether he received surgery as the result of that referral, but it does not appear that he did.

         Sauvey saw Ward five times from April to July 2015 regarding urinary-tract symptoms, and he did not report pain from his orthopedic problems. In October 2015 she referred Ward to an orthopedist to consider surgery. In January 2016, Ward requested methadone. Sauvey decided to give him a course of Tramadol, a nonnarcotic medication for pain relief, and referred him to pain specialists at Aurora Hospital for another opinion. In February 2016 she told Ward that methadone would not be effective, nor was it indicated, to treat his type of pain. Ward says that at some point, Sauvey told him that it was her practice to not provide opioids to her patients unless they were cancer patients, suggesting that Ward's pain was not sufficient for such a prescription. In March 2016, Ward had carpal-tunnel-release surgery on his left arm.

         Ward says that he saw nurses Lutsey, Lemens, Utter, and Alsteen numerous times in the Health Services Unit over the years, complaining about his severe pain. The records provided by Ward show that the nurses generally followed up in some way, mostly by setting an appointment with a doctor.

         B. Analysis

         Ward brings claims that defendants violated his rights under the Eighth Amendment. To succeed on his motion for summary judgment, Ward must show that there is no genuine issue of material fact and that he is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c); Celotex Corp. v. Catrett,477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986). “A genuine issue of material fact arises only if sufficient evidence favoring the nonmoving party exists to permit a jury to return a verdict for that party.” Brummett v. Sinclair Broad. Grp., Inc.,414 F.3d 686, 692 (7th Cir. 2005). All reasonable inferences from ...


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