United States District Court, W.D. Wisconsin
BRANDON D. HARRIS, Plaintiff,
JOSHUA MASON, JIMMY MUTCHIE, and JAMES WEDDIG,  Defendants.
OPINION AND ORDER
D. PETERSON, DISTRICT JUDGE.
plaintiff Brandon Harris, a Wisconsin prisoner incarcerated
at Stanley Correctional Institution, brings Eighth Amendment
deliberate indifference claims against correctional officers
at his previous prison, Waupun Correctional Institution
(WCI). Harris has sickle-cell disease and, while at WCI, he
suffered from “a sickle-cell crisis, ” an acute
episode of pain caused by the disease. He alleges that
defendants Joshua Mason, Jimmy Mutchie, and James Weddig
waited an hour and a half before seeking medical treatment
for him, and that this delay unnecessarily prolonged his
parties have filed motions for summary judgment. Dkt. 22 and
Dkt. 28. I will deny Harris's motion, and I will grant
defendants' motion in part. I will grant summary judgment
for defendants on Harris's claims against Mutchie and
Weddig. Because Harris has not produced any evidence showing
that these defendants were aware of the seriousness of his
condition, no reasonable jury could conclude that their delay
in providing treatment was the result of deliberate
indifference. But Harris's claim against Mason survives
summary judgment: there is a genuine dispute regarding
whether Mason purposely ignored Harris's medical needs,
or whether he believed that Mutchie and Weddig were attending
to them. So Harris's claim against Mason will need to be
resolved at trial.
before me are Harris's motion for assistance in
recruiting counsel, Dkt. 19, and defendants' motion to
stay, Dkt. 45. I will deny both motions. I am not persuaded
that Harris will be unable to try the case himself. And as
for defendants' motion to stay, defendants contend that I
should strike the trial date because a trial will be
unnecessary if I grant summary judgment. Because I am
granting defendants' motion for summary judgment only in
part, trial will proceed as scheduled on April 8.
following facts are undisputed except where noted.
times relevant to this suit, Harris was housed in the
restricted housing unit at WCI. Every cell in that unit has
an intercom that can be used to contact the officer on duty
in the unit's control center. The intercom is supposed to
be used for emergency calls only. The officer in the control
center cannot leave his post, but he can answer inmate calls
and notify other staff to respond if there is an emergency.
suffers from sickle-cell disease, an inherited blood disorder
that causes him to have abnormal hemoglobin and misshapen
red-blood cells. These misshapen blood cells can get stuck
and block blood flow, decreasing oxygen delivery and
triggering a “sickle-cell crisis.” A sickle-cell
crisis causes intense pain for the sufferer. It can occur
without warning, almost anywhere in the body.
morning of April 18, 2017, Harris had a sickle-cell crisis
and used his intercom to call defendant Joshua Mason in the
control center. The parties dispute the details of the call.
Harris says that he called before 11:15 a.m., Dkt. 25, at
¶¶ 20-24, and told Mason that he was suffering from
dizzy spells, fatigue, and pain in his lower back, legs,
abdomen, and chest. Dkt. 1, at 2-3. Defendants say that
Harris called at 11:25 a.m., Dkt. 14, ¶ 14, and told
Mason that he was having a medical emergency but never
elaborated. Dkt. 36-2, ¶ 4. In either case, it is
undisputed that when Mason answered Harris's call, he
could see via a hall camera that defendant officers Jimmy
Mutchie and James Weddig were standing outside of
Harris's cell. As Harris began speaking into the
intercom, Mason told him to speak with Mutchie and Weddig
and Weddig were passing out medication when Harris called for
help. They had a brief conversation with Harris through his
cell door. The parties dispute whether Harris specifically
said he was “having a medical emergency, ” Dkt.
37, ¶¶ 35, 38, but they agree that Harris told them
that he was in “pain due to a medical condition.”
Dkt. 43, ¶ 19. Harris did not tell them that he had
sickle-cell disease, or that he was suffering from a
sickle-cell crisis. Mutchie and Weddig are trained to
recognize certain life-threatening medical conditions,
including signs of a heart attack, stroke, or difficulty
breathing. When they talked to Harris, Harris did not exhibit
any of these signs.
told Harris that he and Weddig would notify the health
services unit (HSU) after they finished distributing
medication. Mutchie and Weddig left, finished passing
out medication, and contacted HSU. Neither party says how
long it took Mutchie and Weddig to distribute medication, or
what time they contacted HSU.
Mutchie and Weddig left, Harris tried to call Mason again,
but Mason stopped answering the intercom. Neither party says
how many times Harris tried to call Mason, and Mason does not
remember. Dkt. 36-2, ¶ 3. Although Mason was required to
keep a log of intercom calls, he did not record entries for
any of Harris's calls. Dkt. 40-1.
says that he also asked other inmates to call Mason on his
behalf. Dkt. 43, ¶ 14 and Dkt. 1-2, at 2-3. In
particular, Devon Love, an inmate housed in a nearby cell,
used his intercom to call Mason at 12:05 and tell Mason that
Harris needed medical attention. Harris alleges that Mason
told Love, “I don't give a fuck and have a nice
12:45, a nurse arrived at the restricted housing unit and
examined Harris. She gave him ibuprofen and water, and she
contacted a prison doctor. The doctor ordered additional
treatment, including blood tests. At 2:10 p.m., Harris was
sent to the emergency room at Waupun Memorial Hospital.
hospital, Harris was diagnosed with a sickle-cell crisis. The
doctor who conducted Harris's intake determined that
Harris “would need at least 2-3 days of intravenous
(IV) pain medication given the severity of his
symptoms.” Dkt. 1-3. Harris remained ...