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Stechauner v. Kemper

United States District Court, W.D. Wisconsin

April 30, 2019




         Pro se plaintiff Matthew Stechauner, an inmate at Oshkosh Correctional Institution (OCI), brings this suit against officials at his previous prison, Racine Correctional Institution (RCI). He alleges that defendants Lavail Jamison, Dana Brown, and Kim Einwalter ignored his requests for medical treatment, and that when he complained about the quality of medical treatment at RCI, defendant Paul Kemper transferred him to OCI in retaliation. He brings claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for violation of his rights under the First and Eighth Amendments.

         Several motions are before me. Stechauner has filed motions for summary judgment against all defendants, Dkt. 39, and for default judgment against Einwalter, Dkt. 56. I will deny the motion for summary judgment because all of Stechauner's claims involve disputed issues that will need to be resolved at trial. And because I cannot assess damages against Einwalter until after Stechauner's other claims are resolved, I will defer ruling on that motion. After the trial of Stechauner's claims against Jamison, Brown, and Kemper, I will schedule a hearing on Stechauner's motion for default judgment against Einwalter.

         Defendants have also filed a motion for partial summary judgment, Dkt. 61, but after receiving Stechauner's response, defendants concede that there is a genuine dispute of material fact and ask to withdraw the motion. Dkt. 75. So I will grant that motion.

         Finally, Stechauner has filed a renewed motion for assistance in recruiting counsel. Dkt. 76. I will deny the motion because I am not persuaded that Stechauner will be unable to try the case himself.


         A. Stechauner's motion for summary judgment

         Stechauner moves for summary judgment against all defendants. For his claim against defendant Kim Einwalter, I will deny the motion as moot. The clerk has already entered default against Einwalter, so Stechauner no longer needs to establish Einwalter's liability. See VLM Food Trading Int'l, Inc. v. Illinois Trading Co., 811 F.3d 247, 255 (7th Cir. 2016).

         As for Stechauner's claims against defendants Lavail Jamison, Dana Brown, and Paul Kemper, I will deny the motion because all three claims involve genuine disputes of material fact. Summary judgment is appropriate only when there is “no genuine dispute as to any material fact.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). A “material fact” is one that affects the outcome of the case. Moore v. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., 908 F.3d 1050, 1054 (7th Cir. 2018). When ruling on a motion for summary judgment, I must view all facts and draw all inferences in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party (in this case, the defendants). Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 255 (1986). If no reasonable juror could find for defendants based on the evidence in the record, then summary judgment is appropriate. Martinsville Corral, Inc. v. Soc'y Ins., 910 F.3d 996 (7th Cir. 2018) (citations omitted). But if there is any evidence that would allow a reasonable jury to return a verdict for defendants, then summary judgment is not appropriate. Payne v. Pauley, 337 F.3d 767, 770 (7th Cir. 2003). (citations omitted).

         1. Eighth Amendment claims

         Stechauner contends that defendants Lavail Jamison and Dana Brown were deliberately indifferent to his serious medical needs. To succeed on these claims, Stechauner must prove three elements: (1) he had a serious medical need; (2) defendants were aware of his medical need; and (3) defendants disregarded the risk to Stechauner's health and failed to provide treatment. See Duckworth v. Ahmad, 532 F.3d 675, 679 (7th Cir. 2008).

         The parties genuinely dispute whether defendants were aware of the seriousness of Stechauner's medical needs and whether they disregarded them.

         Stechauner says that on October 8, 2015, he told Jamison that he was suffering from chest pain, but Jamison did not get medical assistance. Jamison says that she called the health services unit after talking to Stechauner, and that a nurse told her that Stechauner would be placed on a list to be seen later that day. Dkt. 64, ¶ 7-8. She says that she did not question the nurse's decision not to see Stechauner immediately, because she saw Stechauner playing basketball and running up and down stairs, even after he complained of pain. Id. ¶¶ 6, 9. Stechauner disputes whether he played basketball that day or ran on the stairs, and he says that a different officer called the health services unit, not Jamison.

         Likewise, Stechauner says that on October 28, 2015, he told Brown that he was very dizzy, had difficulty breathing, and had chest pain, a fast heartbeat, and other aching pain, but Brown did not seek medical attention. Dkt. 42, ¶ 5. Later, Stechauner became unresponsive and needed to be sent to a hospital. Brown agrees that she talked with Stechauner and that Stechauner was sent to the hospital. But she says that he complained only about feeling dizzy, and that she did not contact the health services unit because Stechauner told her that a different officer had already done so. Dkt. 65, ¶ 6-7. Brown says that had she ...

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