United States District Court, W.D. Wisconsin
DEREK M. WILLIAMS, Plaintiff,
DR. SCHMIDT, DR. BREEN, DR. HAMILTON, and DR. OLBINSKI, Defendants.
OPINION AND ORDER
D. PETERSON DISTRICT JUDGE.
case is before the court on the third round of summary
judgment. The only claims remaining in the case are plaintiff
Derek Williams's claims that (1) defendant Todd Hamilton,
a psychologist, placed him in unconstitutionally harsh
conditions of confinement while he was on
“observation” status at Green Bay Correctional
Institution (GBCI), and (2) defendants Steven Schmidt, Martha
Breen, and Katie Olbinski, also psychologists, acted with
deliberate indifference to Williams's mental health needs
by refusing to assign him to a male psychologist and
persisting with treatment that they knew was ineffective. In
a June 14, 2017 decision, I directed the parties to
supplement their briefing with facts and arguments addressing
the conditions-of-confinement claim and defendants'
entitlement to qualified immunity. Dkt. 89. Having now
reviewed the parties' supplemental briefs, Williams's
supplemental proposed findings of fact, and defendants'
responses, I conclude that Williams has failed to show that
Hamilton was deliberately indifferent to his conditions of
confinement, but that there are disputed issues of material
fact relating to Williams's mental health treatment
claim. Therefore, I will grant defendants' motion as to
the conditions-of-confinement claim but will deny the motion
as to the mental health claim. This case will be set for a
telephonic status conference so that a new trial schedule can
Conditions of confinement
contends that Hamilton violated the Eighth Amendment by
depriving him of “humane conditions of
confinement.” Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825,
832 (1994). See also Gillis v. Litscher, 468 F.3d
488, 493 (7th Cir. 2006). An Eighth Amendment
“conditions-of-confinement” claim has two parts.
First, the inmate must show that the alleged deprivation was
objectively, “sufficiently serious, ” such that
an official's act or omission results in the
“denial the minimal civilized measure of life's
necessities.” Townsend v. Fuchs, 522 F.3d 765,
773 (7th Cir. 2008) (citing Farmer, 511 U.S. at
834). This means that to defeat summary judgment, Williams
must show that a factfinder reasonably could conclude that
the conditions of his confinement “exceeded mere
discomfort and were constitutionally unacceptable.”
Estate of Simpson v. Gorbett, 863 F.3d 740, 745 (7th
Cir. 2017) (citations omitted). Second, the inmate must show
that the prison official acted with a subjectively culpable
state of mind, known as “deliberate
indifference.” Deliberate indifference means that the
official knew about the risk of harm, had the ability to
prevent the harm, and failed to do so. Mays v.
Springborn, 575 F.3d 643, 648 (7th Cir. 2009).
conditions-of-confinement claims concern two periods he spent
in observation status at GBCI in 2011: January 31 to February
10, and March 21 to May 11 or 16. In previous summary
judgment filings, Hamilton had argued that he was entitled to
summary judgment on Williams's conditions-of-confinement
claim on preclusion grounds and on the merits. I concluded
that preclusion principles did not bar Williams's claim.
As for the merits, I ordered additional briefing because the
parties had provided few findings about the actual conditions
faced by Williams and Hamilton's knowledge of them.
supplemental proposed findings of fact, Williams provides
significant detail regarding the conditions he endured in the
observation cells. In particular, he alleges that for a total
of 66 days, 56 of which were consecutive, his experienced the
following conditions in his observation cells:
• Extreme isolation. Williams was confined to his small
cell 24 hours a day and did not have access to recreation.
• Extremely cold temperatures. Williams estimates that
the cell temperature was between 35 and 45 degrees because
ice formed on the interior glass of his cell, he could see
his own breath, and he would shake so violently from the cold
temperatures that sometimes he had difficulty eating.
• Inadequate clothing. Williams's only item of
clothing was a sleeveless smock made from quilted material
about one-half inch thick that reached his knees. He also had
one blanket and a rubber mat that was approximately two
inches thick. (There is some dispute about whether Williams
had two blankets and no smock during some of the time he was
on observation, but the dispute is immaterial.)
• Constant noise and sleep interruption. Correctional
officers performed checks on Williams every 15 minutes while
he was on observation. If Williams was asleep, the officers
would kick or knock on Williams's cell door until he woke
up and moved. Additionally, other inmates in nearby cells
would scream, yell, and kick the steel cell doors or the
aluminum sinks in their cells, making nearly constant noise
that prevented Williams from sleeping.
• Constant illumination. Williams's cell was
illuminated 24 hours a day by a bright overhead florescent
light. The brightness of the light was enhanced by a
reflector on the light fixture and the eggshell white color
of cell walls. The light could be dimmed to a “night
light” setting by staff, but staff never dimmed
• A filthy cell. Williams's cell was not cleaned
adequately before he was placed in it. The walls were smeared
with feces and urine and he was not permitted to clean the
cell during his confinement.
• Lack of eyeglasses. Williams was not allowed to wear
his prescription eyeglasses while in observation, so he was
forced to squint excessively. He ...