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Robinson v. Barrett

United States District Court, E.D. Wisconsin

April 26, 2019

JAE ROBINSON, Plaintiff,
v.
CO JODI BARRETT, et al., Defendants.

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          WILLIAM E. DUFFIN U.S. Magistrate Judge.

         Jae Robinson, a Wisconsin state prisoner who is representing himself, filed a lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging that the defendants violated his civil rights at the Waupun Correctional Institution (“WCI”). (ECF No. 8.) The court screened the amended complaint and allowed Robinson to proceed with an Eighth Amendment claim that on December 5, 2017, Jodi Barrett, Don Uherka, and CO John Doe (later identified as Daniel Markelz) showed deliberate indifference toward his suicidal thoughts. (See ECF Nos. 9, 19.)

         Due to the parties' non-consent to magistrate judge jurisdiction, the case was reassigned to United States District Court Judge William C. Griesbach on May 3, 2018. (ECF No. 12.) The next day, Judge Griesbach referred it back to this court for all pretrial proceedings. (ECF No. 13.) This matter comes before the court on the defendants' motion for summary judgment. (ECF No. 26.)

         I. RELEVANT FACTS

         The court takes the facts in this section from the defendants' Proposed Findings of Fact (ECF No. 30), Robinson's “Statement of Disputed Factual Issues” (ECF No. 38), Robinson's “Declaration in Opposition” (ECF No. 36), and Robinson's sworn amended complaint (ECF No. 8), which the court must construe as an affidavit at the summary judgment stage. Ford v. Wilson, 90 F.3d 245, 246-47 (7th Cir. 1996).

         At the time relevant to this matter, Robinson was an inmate at WCI. (ECF No. 30, ¶ 1.) Defendants Jodi Barrett, Don Uherka, and Daniel Markelz were correctional officers at WCI. (Id., ¶ 2.) Barrett worked in C-range; Markelz worked in B-range; and Uherka worked in the Control Center. (Id., ¶¶ 8-13.)

         On December 5, 2017, Robinson was assigned to C-range in the Restrictive Housing Unit (“RHU”). (ECF No. 36, ¶ 4.) Inmates in RHU can have personal property in their cells, but items such as “razors, staples, and other sharp objects, ” are restricted for the inmates' health and safety. (ECF No. 30, ¶ 7; see also ECF No. 37, ¶ 27.) As Barrett was handing out supplies that afternoon, Robinson told her that he felt suicidal. (ECF No. 30, ¶ 14; ECF No. 36, ¶ 4.) Barrett asked Robinson whether he planned to harm himself. (Id.; see also ECF No. 30, ¶¶ 14-15.) According to Robinson, he responded, “I will cut my wrist and bang my head on my cell door until I am unconscious.” (ECF No. 36, ¶ 4.) According to Barrett, Robinson responded, “Fuck you Barrett, I don't know you, ” and asked to speak with a unit sergeant. (ECF No. 30, ¶¶ 15-16.) Both parties agree that Robinson was not actively engaging in self-harm at that time. (See ECF No. 30, ¶ 26; see also ECF No. 36, ¶¶ 4, 7.)

         Barrett gave Robinson a Psychological Services Unit (“PSU”) request form and told him to submit the document to speak with the psychologist. (See ECF No. 30, ¶¶ 17, 25; see also ECF No. 36, ¶ 4.) Although Robinson told Barrett that he needed to speak to someone immediately, she continued handing out supplies. (ECF No. 36, ¶ 4.) Barrett explains that the PSU request form “procedure” is essential for PSU to function properly. (ECF No. 30, ¶¶18-19, 22-23.) She states that PSU staff collect and review PSU request forms daily and reserve daily appointments for inmates to be seen by staff. (Id., ¶¶ 18, 21). Barrett explains, “if security staff called PSU each time an inmate requested, this would be disruptive to the regularly conducted business and activities of PSU.” (Id., ¶ 22.)

         Barrett says that, after leaving Robinson's cell, she notified the unit sergeant about Robinson's request to speak to him about his suicidal thoughts. (ECF No. 30, ¶ 29.) “Approximately 20-30 minutes later, ” Robinson made an emergency call-in to the Control Center. (ECF No. 36, ¶ 5). The parties dispute the precise timing of the call (Uherka says the call came in at 2:55 p.m.; Robinson says the call occurred at 3:05 p.m.) (Id.; ECF No. 30, ¶ 30), but the dispute is irrelevant for purposes of this motion. Uherka recorded Robinson's call in the emergency call log and noted that Robinson said he “cut myself.” (ECF No. 30, ¶¶ 33-34; see also ECF No. 31-2.) Uherka explains that the correctional officer assigned to the Control Center is responsible for answering inmate calls but cannot leave the Control Center unattended. (ECF No. 30, ¶¶ 10, 31, 35.) Since he was the only officer assigned to the Control Center at that time, Uherka could not leave the Control Center. (Id., ¶ 36) As a result, Uherka notified Sergeant Winters (not a defendant) of Robinson's call. (ECF No. 30, ¶ 37.)

         About ten to twenty minutes later, Robinson placed a second emergency call in to the Control Center. (See ECF No. 36, ¶ 6; see also ECF No. 30, ¶ 38.) Again, the parties dispute the precise timing of the call (Uherka says the call occurred at 3:25 p.m.; Robinson says the call occurred at 3:09 p.m.), but the exact timing of the call does not matter for purposes of summary judgment. (Id.) Uherka recorded Robinson's second call in the emergency call log and noted that Robinson stated, “cut myself. What the fuck?” (ECF No. 30, ¶ 38; see also ECF No. 31-2.) Uherka called the unit sergeant's desk and informed Barrett about Robinson's statement. (ECF No. 30, ¶ 39.)

         After Robinson placed his second call to the Control Center, he began engaging in self-harm, “cutting my left forearm with a staple.” (ECF No. 36, ¶ 7.) About ten to fifteen minutes later, Barrett conducted rounds. (Id., ¶ 8.) Robinson “once again informed CO Barrett of [his] plans for self-harm and showed her [the] cut on [his] forearm.” (Id.) According to Robinson, Barrett responded, “Oh, it's only a scratch, ” and continued with her rounds. (Id.; see also Griffin Dec., ECF No. 41.) According to Barrett, she did not see Robinson engaging in self-harm or see any injuries on his forearm. (ECF No. 30, ¶ 40-42.) Barrett then went off of C-range to tell the unit sergeant of Robinson's statement. (Id., ¶ 44.)

         Over the next roughly half hour Robinson states that he called the Control Center several more times about his suicidal thoughts. (ECF No. 36, ¶¶ 9-14; see also ECF No. 40-1 at 2-9.) At 3:26 p.m., Uherka answered Robinson's call but said only “okay” and then hung up. (ECF No. 36, ¶ 9.) About ten minutes later, at 3:35 p.m., Robinson called again, and Uherka asked, “What is your medical emergency?” (Id., ¶ 10.) Robinson asked Uherka, “What is your name?” Uherka responded, “What is my name?” and hung up. (Id.) Within the next ten minutes, Robinson made two more calls, first at 3:42 p.m. and then again a minute later, at 3:43 p.m. Uherka “ignored and hung up” when Robinson called to say he was bleeding and needed to be placed on observation. (Id., ¶¶ 12-13.) Within the next twenty minutes, at 3:58 p.m. and again at 4:06 p.m., Robinson made two more calls “to plead for help.” Uherka again “ignored” him. (Id., ¶ 14.)

         During this time, at around 3:50 p.m., Barrett passed out meal trays to inmates on C-range through the “trap door.” (EFC No. 30, ¶ 45.) According to Barrett, Correctional Officer Mikulac (not a defendant) assisted her with the meal pass. (Id., ¶¶ 46-47, 50.) According to Robinson, it was defendant Markelz who assisted with the meal pass. (ECF No. 36, ¶ 15.) According to Robinson, he showed Barrett his self-inflicted injury for a second time, and Barrett again stated, “it's only a scratch.” (Id.) Robinson then “began hitting [his] head on [the] cell door, ” and Barrett encouraged him by saying, “Hit it harder! Hit it harder, Robinson!” (Id; see also Griffin Dec., ECF No. 41.) According to Barrett, she did not see any cuts on Robinson's forearm nor did she see Robinson hitting his head against the door. (ECF No. 30, ¶¶ 49, 56.)

         The officers then gave Robinson his meal tray and tried to close the trap door. (ECF No. 30, ¶¶ 46-47.) Robinson states that he “grabbed the trap door, because [he] saw no other way at that point to protect [him]self after pleading for so long.” (ECF No. 36, ¶ 16.) According to Robinson, he stated, “I will not let go of the trap unless you go get the sergeant and put me on observation.” (Id.) Barrett says she told Robinson several times to pull his arm back inside the ...


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