United States District Court, W.D. Wisconsin
OPINION AND ORDER
William M. Conley, District Judge.
se plaintiff Thomas Tisher filed this lawsuit pursuant
to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Tisher claims that defendants, all
employees of the Wisconsin Department of Corrections,
violated his rights under the Eighth Amendment by failing to
respond to his need for treatment for his spinal stenosis.
Tisher's complaint is ready for screening as required by
28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2), 1915A. In addressing any
pro se litigant's complaint, the court must read the
allegations of the complaint generously. Haines v.
Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 521 (1972). Even under this
generous standard, however, this complaint must be dismissed,
although the court will give Tisher the opportunity to file
an amended complaint that addresses the deficiencies
Tisher is no longer incarcerated, during the relevant time
period he was a prisoner at Jackson Correctional Institution
(“Jackson”) and Black River Falls Correctional
Center (“Black River Falls”), where defendants
were employed. The Jackson defendants are the Health Services
Unit (“HSU”) Manager Mrs. Massaan; Unit Manager
P. Schultz; Sergeant Burke; Correctional Officers Cryier;
Warden Tegels; class specialists T. Waldera and A. Alt; and
Dr. Liu. The Black River Falls defendants are Superintendent
Mathew Gerber; Nurse Northwood; Captain Miller; Sergeant
Culpert, a program manager; Mrs. Wheeland, a program
instructor; R. Anderson, a program supervisor; and K. Loomis,
a social worker.
has been diagnosed with spinal stenosis in the lumbar region,
meaning that the spaces between his spine have narrowed. This
condition causes him chronic back pain. On November 14, 2017,
while Tisher was incarcerated at Jackson, he requested to see
a doctor. However, Tisher was transferred to Black River
Falls on December 4, 2017, having never been seen at Jackson.
When he arrived at Black River Falls, Tisher submitted a
request to be seen, and a nurse examined him. Tisher does not
provide details about what he reported to the nurse or
anything else about their encounter.
at Black River Falls, Tisher participated in the Early
Release Program (“ERP”), which required him to
sit for three hours daily for educational programming. Tisher
spoke with the program director about this requirement,
asking for a different type of chair. Anderson responded that
there was nothing that she could do for him. Tisher then
asked Captain Miller for help, and Miller consulted with
medical professionals about Tisher's request. Miller
subsequently decided to transfer Tisher back to Jackson,
where Tisher could receive treatment for his condition.
unclear exactly when, but Tisher was transferred back to
Jackson. Tisher did not see a doctor until March 5, 2017, but
he has not provided details about what he reported to the
doctor at that time or the treatment (if any) he received as
a result of that appointment. Apparently Tisher's
treatment caused him to be removed from the ERP.
claims that defendants violated his Eighth and Fourteenth
Amendment rights because they failed to provide him timely
medical care and discriminated against him by removing him
from the ERP.
prison official who violates the Eighth Amendment in the
context of a prisoner's medical treatment demonstrates
“deliberate indifference” to a “serious
medical need.” Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97,
104-05 (1976). Forbes v. Edgar, 112 F.3d 262, 266
(7th Cir. 1997). “Serious medical needs” include
(1) life-threatening conditions or those carrying a 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).
indifference” encompasses two elements: (1) awareness
on the part of officials that the prisoner needs medical
treatment and (2) disregard of this risk by conscious failure
to take reasonable measures. Allegations of delayed care,
even a delay of a just a few days, may violate the Eighth
Amendment if the alleged delayed caused the inmate's
condition to worsen or unnecessarily prolonged his pain.
See Estelle, 429 U.S. at 104-05, (1976); McGowan
v. Hulick, 612 F.3d 636, 640 (7th Cir. 2010);
Petties v. Carter 836 F.3d 722, 730-31 (7th Cir.
2016) (holding that inexplicable delay in medical treatment
for a prisoner, which serves no penological interest, can
support an inference of deliberate indifference, as element
for a prisoner's Eighth Amendment claim); Grieveson
v. Anderson, 538 F.3d 763, 779 (7th Cir. 2008) (guards
could be liable under the Eighth Amendment for delaying
treatment of broken nose for a day and half); Edwards v.
Snyder, 478 F.3d 827, 830-31 (7th Cir. 2007) (a
plaintiff who painfully dislocated his finger and was
needlessly denied treatment for two days stated a claim for
deliberate indifference). Thus, a plaintiff's claim has
three elements under this standard:
1. Did plaintiff objectively need medical treatment?
2. Did defendants know that plaintiff needed ...