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Jackson v. Foster

United States District Court, W.D. Wisconsin

March 11, 2019

TERRY L. JACKSON, Plaintiff,


          BARBARA B. CRABB District Judge.

         Pro se plaintiff Terry L. Jackson is proceeding on claims that medical and non-medical staff at Waupun Correctional Institution violated the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments by denying him appropriate footwear for his plantar fasciitis. Before the court are the parties' cross motions for summary judgment. Dkt. ##34, 42. I am granting defendants' motion and denying plaintiff's because no reasonable jury could conclude that any defendant was deliberately indifferent to plaintiff's foot condition or denied plaintiff equal protection under the law.

         From the parties' proposed findings of fact and evidence in the record, I find that the following facts are material and undisputed, unless otherwise noted.


         A. The Parties

         Plaintiff Terry L. Jackson is an inmate who was confined at the Waupun Correctional Institution in Waupun, Wisconsin at all times relevant to this case. Defendants were all employed at Waupun during the relevant time period. Brian Foster was the warden; Emily Stadtmueller is a registered nurse and acted as the health services manager from February 2016 through September 2016; Nicole Kamphuis was a financial program supervisor and the Americans with Disabilities Act coordinator responsible for processing requests for accommodations from inmates with disabilities; and Sandra Markus, Gwendolyn A. Vick and Amy Gunderson were registered nurses.

         B. Inmate Shoes at Waupun

         Inmates at Waupun are provided state-issued boots or state-issued shoes to wear during their incarceration. The general rule is that inmates are to wear the state-issued footwear, but there are three exceptions:

(1) The health services unit can issue inmates medical shoes, which are commonly referred to as the black Velcro shoe. The black Velcro shoes are issued to inmates who have a medical need that prevents them from wearing the state-issued footwear. The black Velcro shoes have a softer sole with more flexibility.
(2) Inmates may order up to two pairs of personal shoes from one of the three approved vendor catalogs-Union Supply, Jack L. Marcus or Access-all of which have been screened for compliance with Department of Corrections' security guidelines.
(3) The Special Needs Committee may give an inmate permission to order personal shoes not included in the approved vendor catalogs at a value that exceeds the general property limit of $75.00, if it is deemed medically necessary.

         If an inmate or medical provider thinks an inmate needs special shoes because of a medical necessity, the request is evaluated by the Special Needs Committee. The committee includes one or more staff representatives from the health services unit, a staff representative from security and a non-security staff representative. Decisions to approve or deny an inmate's request to order from an unapproved vendor are made on a case-by-case basis. The committee representatives review the special needs requests received from inmates and make recommendations based on their role on the committee. For example, the health services unit representative on the committee reviews the inmate's relevant medical records and determines whether the item or action requested is medically necessary.

         Before 2016, there was significant confusion among health services staff regarding whether the health services unit could order shoes for inmates directly or could approve inmate requests to order shoes outside of the approved vendor catalogs. In March 2016, the Department of Corrections distributed a document to the Waupun health services unit titled “DAI Inmate Shoe Process, ” which was intended to clarify the process for handling requests from inmates to order shoes from anyone other than an approved vendor. The process made it clear that inmates should be permitted to order shoes from vendors not on the approved list only when such shoes were medically necessary. However, such requests still had to be approved through the Special Needs Committee.

         C. Plaintiff's Diagnosis of Plantar Fasciitis

         In 2013, a prison doctor gave plaintiff a diagnosis of flat feet and plantar fasciitis, which is inflammation of the band of tissue that runs across the bottom of the foot. Plantar fasciitis may be aggravated by loose or thin-soled shoes, shoes without enough arch support or shoes without sufficient padding to absorb shock. Plaintiff's plantar fasciitis causes him chronic pain, stiffness and cramping in both feet and makes it difficult for him to walk in the mornings. The prison doctor ...

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