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Collier v. Maassen

United States District Court, W.D. Wisconsin

March 15, 2019



          WILLIAM M. CONLEY District Judge

         Pro se plaintiff Rickey Collier contends that staff at Jackson Correctional Institution (“JCI”) violated his Eighth Amendment and state law rights in the manner in which they distributed his medications. Because Collier was incarcerated when he filed his complaint and is proceeding in forma pauperis the court must screen it pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2), 1915A. After reviewing the complaint, the court concludes that while Collier's complaint is subject to dismissal, he will receive the opportunity to file an amended complaint that addresses the deficiencies explained below.


         During the relevant time period, Collier was incarcerated at JCI, and each of the defendants were working. They are: Ms. Maassen, the Health Services Unit (“HSU”) nursing coordinator; John Doe, a correctional officer (“CO”); and nurses Kosthryz, Labarbara and Middleton.

         As of September of 2016, Collier was prescribed warfarin to prevent his blood from clotting. Collier states that his daily dosage varied, but he does not explain the specific condition he suffers from, how or why his dosage varies or who typically decides whether his dosage should change. On September 2, 2016, CO Doe gave Collier the wrong medication. The next day, September 3, Collier submitted an interview/information request to the HSU, in which he complained about that incident. In response, Ms. Helgeson (not a defendant in this action) responded “this was addressed[;] nursing staff is now giving meds.” (Compl. (dkt. #1) at 3.)

         On September 17, however, nurse Middleton refused to give Collier his medication, telling Collier that the on-duty officer would be giving him his medication that day. Later that day, Collier submitted another information request directed to the HSU supervisor, complaining that neither the on-duty officer nor nursing staff gave him his medication despite the previous assurance that a nurse would be administering his medication. Apparently Helgeson responded, again saying that a nurse would be giving him his medication. Collier does not allege whether he received his medication that day. However, the next day, September 18, nurses Kosthryz, Labarbara and Middleton insisted that the officer would be giving him his medication. Again, Collier does not allege whether he received his medications or who he received them from.

         On September 19, Collier filled out another interview/information request, yet again complaining that the nursing staff would not give him his medication. The next day, Middleton responded that she believed that his request had been addressed. Collier alleges that nursing staff did not begin to deliver his medication until the end of October of 2016.


         Plaintiff claims that he was harmed because untrained or undertrained officers delivered his medication instead of nurses. He is seeking leave to proceed on an Eighth Amendment deliberate indifference and negligence claims against each of the defendants. However, plaintiff may not proceed at this time because his allegations fail to meet the requirements of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8. Rule 8(a) requires a “‘short and plain statement of the claim' sufficient to notify the defendants of the allegations against them and enable them to file an answer.” Marshall v. Knight, 445 F.3d 965, 968 (7th Cir. 2006). Dismissal is proper “if the complaint fails to set forth ‘enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'” St. John's United Church of Christ v. City of Chi., 502 F.3d 616, 625 (7th Cir. 2007) (quoting Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). Plaintiff's allegations are too sparse and vague to state a claim under the Eighth Amendment. A prison official may violate the Eighth Amendment if the official is “deliberately indifferent” to a “serious medical need.” Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 104-05 (1976). “Serious medical needs” include (1) conditions that are life-threatening or that carry risk of permanent serious impairment if left untreated, (2) withholding of medical care that results in needless pain and suffering, or (3) conditions that have been “diagnosed by a physician as mandating treatment.” Gutierrez v. Peters, 111 F.3d 1364, 1371 (7th Cir. 1997). “Deliberate indifference” means that the officials are aware that the prisoner needs medical treatment, but are disregarding the risk by consciously failing to take reasonable measures. Forbes v. Edgar, 112 F.3d 262, 266 (7th Cir. 1997). Under this standard, plaintiff's must allege the following three elements:

1. Did plaintiff objectively need medical treatment?
2. Did defendants know that plaintiff needed treatment?
3. Despite their awareness of the need, did defendants consciously fail to take reasonable measures to provide the necessary treatment?

         As to the first element, plaintiff alleges very little about his medical need, only that he is prescribed warfarin to prevent his blood from clotting. It appears that he is prescribed a daily dosage, but he does not provide any details about specifically what this medication is meant to treat that would permit the court to infer that he actually suffers from a “condition” that requires treatment. While plaintiff's allegation that he was prescribed the medication suggests that he needs treatment, he has not included any allegations about what condition he suffered from during the relevant time period.

         Even reading plaintiff's vague allegations about his warfarin prescription as sufficient to permit an inference that he had a serious medical need, his complaint has a bigger problem: plaintiff has not alleged any facts that any of the named defendants were deliberately indifferent. As to CO Doe, plaintiff has not alleged that Doe knew that he had a serious medical condition requiring him to receive his warfarin as prescribed. Nor has he alleged facts suggesting that Doe actually knew or had reason to know that he had given plaintiff the wrong medication, or, more critically, that he intended to give him the wrong medication, or was reckless in doing so. For instance, plaintiff has not alleged that he told Doe that the medication he received was wrong or that Doe learned that the medication was incorrect and failed to take any steps to correct the mistake. Indeed, even assuming that Doe actually provided the wrong medication, this was a one-time mistake, which suggests possibly negligence but not deliberate indifference. See Robbins v. Pollard, No. 16-cv-1128, 2016 WL 8672956, at *2 (E.D. Wis. Nov. 18, 2016) (collecting cases); Morrison v. Utz, No. 11 C 4110, 2012 WL 293548, at *2 (C.D. Ill. Jan. 31, 2012); Ehrenberg v. Wis. Dep't of Corr., No. 10 C ...

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