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Henry v. Stetter

United States District Court, W.D. Wisconsin

April 26, 2019

MARCUS HENRY, Plaintiff,
v.
ANGELA STETTER and JAMIE BARKER, [1] Defendants.

          ORDER

          JAMES D. PETERSON DISTRICT JUDGE

         Plaintiff Marcus Henry, appearing pro se, is an inmate at Green Bay Correctional Institution. He alleges that when he was incarcerated at New Lisbon Correctional Institution, defendant nurses Angela Stetter and Jamie Barker intentionally failed to get him prompt treatment for surgical stitches that had come undone, causing him a more painful recovery.

         Defendants have filed a motion for summary judgment, stating that Henry's stitches remained intact until they were removed two weeks after the surgery. But Henry maintains that both Stetter and Barker told him that some of the stitches had come undone. And it is undisputed that his incision reopened shortly after the stitches were removed. Because I conclude that a reasonable jury could conclude that defendants harmed Henry by ignoring the “popped” stitches, I will deny defendants' motion for summary judgment.

         UNDISPUTED FACTS

         Henry did not follow this court's procedures by preparing a document in which he responded to each of defendants' proposed findings of fact. See Dkt. 17, at 14-20 (explaining court's summary judgment procedures). But the dispute here is relatively simple, and Henry has provided a declaration explaining his version of events, Dkt. 37, so I will accept his declaration as his response. I draw the following facts from defendants' proposed findings and Henry's declaration; the facts are undisputed unless otherwise noted.

         Plaintiff Marcus Henry was an inmate at the New Lisbon Correctional Institution (NLCI) during events at issue in this lawsuit. Defendants Jamie Barker and Angela Stetter both held the title “Nurse Clinician 2” at NLCI.

         On February 8, 2013, Henry had a cyst removed from his back. The wound site was closed with about 10 sutures.[2] Two or three hours later, another prisoner told Henry that blood was soaking through the back of his shirt. Henry returned to the Health Services Unit (HSU).

         Stetter removed the dressing and looked at the wound. She says that she did not find active bleeding or that any stitches had become loose or had broken or “popped.” But Henry says that Stetter told him that about three stitches had popped, and that the doctor had gone home for the day. Henry says that he told Stetter to call the doctor and tell him to come back, but she said no.

         Stetter asked Barker to look at the wound. Barker says that she looked at the wound and also determined that no stitches had broken or popped. Henry says that Barker stated that it “look[ed] as if a couple at the bottom popped.” Dkt. 37, at 2, ¶ 11. Henry says that he again asked for the doctor to come back to re-stitch him, but that Stetter and Barker talked with each other and decided that they would not call the doctor back, and that Henry could come back tomorrow when the doctor was in. Defendants applied new dressing and Henry was sent back to his unit.

         Defendants did not record the February 8 incident in any treatment notes. They acknowledge that a nurse would usually record this type of meeting in the prisoner's chart. Defendants say that the omission was not intentional.

         Henry says that he went to the HSU the next day, February 9, and Stetter and Barker told him that it was too late to re-stitch him because doing so would risk infection; instead he would have to have the wound packed with gauze twice a day. There is no record of this visit in Henry's treatment notes, and Stetter and Barker do not say anything about seeing him on February 9. I infer that they dispute Henry's account on this point.

         On February 10, Nurse Toni Johnson saw Henry in the HSU for a dressing change. Nurse Johnson recorded in Henry's chart that the suture line had bruising but that the sutures were intact. This means that there were no loose, popped, or broken stitches. Nurse Johnson washed the area and re-dressed the wound. A plan was made to have the dressing re-checked the next day.

         On both February 11 and 14, Stetter checked Henry's dressing and noted that the incision site was clean, dry, and intact. Stetter did not observe any popped or broken stitches or sign of infection.

         On February 20, Henry saw Johnson for the removal of the sutures. Johnson noted that the sutures were removed without difficulties. She found no signs or ...


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