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Dangerfield v. Waterman

United States District Court, W.D. Wisconsin

May 22, 2019




         Plaintiff Alphoncy Dangerfield, a prisoner at Oshkosh Correctional Institution, alleges that when he was housed at Wisconsin Secure Program Facility (WSPF), prison officials failed to properly treat his diabetes and hyperglycemia and provide him with a yoga mat to perform physician-ordered yoga.

         All of the defendants except Cynthia Griffin are represented by the state, and they have filed a motion for summary judgment. Dkt. 51. I will refer to these defendants as the “state defendants.” Defendant Griffin has filed her own motion for summary judgment. Dkt. 57. Those motions are fully briefed. Dangerfield has renewed his previously denied motion for recruitment of counsel. Dkt. 73.

         For reasons stated below, I will grant aspects of defendants' motions. But because I conclude that Dangerfield is unable to fully litigate his claims about his treatment for hyperglycemia, I will grant his motion for the court's assistance in recruiting him counsel.


         The following facts are drawn from the parties' summary judgment materials and Dangerfield's deposition, Dkt. 50, and are undisputed unless otherwise noted.

         A. Hyperglycemia

         During the events of this case, plaintiff Alphoncy Dangerfield was housed at Wisconsin Secure Program Facility (WSPF). At some point in the past, Dangerfield was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. By the time of the events in question here, Dangerfield was not taking mediation to treat his diabetes because his glucose levels had been kept under control for about a year.

         In late 2015, Dangerfield complained of shoulder pain. He received several types of treatment, including physical therapy and ice. On three occasions, Dangerfield met with defendant Cynthia Griffin, a nurse practitioner at Gundersen Boscobel Area Hospital and Clinics, by “telemedicine”: Dangerfield stayed at WSPF and communicated to Griffin over video on a computer screen. After a January 15, 2016 telemedicine appointment, Griffin prescribed Dangerfield ibuprofen, ice packs, and muscle rub. Dangerfield continued to complain of pain and decreased range of motion. Two weeks later, Griffin referred him for an evaluation by an orthopedic surgeon.

         On March 11, 2016, Dangerfield was taken off-site to Gundersen Hospital to be evaluated by orthopedic surgeon Dr. Edward Riley. Riley examined Dangerfield and diagnosed bilateral rotator cuff disease. He recommended rest, cross-training, and yoga. He also injected Dangerfield in both shoulders with a steroid treatment. Dangerfield says that Riley told him that his glucose levels would be monitored in prison. But Riley did not order that WSPF Health Services Unit (HSU) staff or Griffin monitor Dangerfield's blood-glucose levels.

         By the end of March, Dangerfield started having blurry vision, needed to urinate every 30 minutes, had dry mouth, fatigue, and joint and muscle pain, all of which are symptoms associated with hyperglycemia. Although he submitted a series of health service requests and medication requests about his shoulder pain and other medical issues, he did not submit a request about his hyperglycemia symptoms until early May 2016. Dangerfield says that two or three times before he filed a request, he spoke with defendant Nurse Sonya Anderson at his cell about his symptoms, but she responded only by saying that he was scheduled to see a provider at some point in the future. Anderson says that she does not informally meet with inmates at their cells, and that Dangerfield did not report his hyperglycemia symptoms to her.

         When Dangerfield filed his formal health services request about his hyperglycemia symptoms in early May, Nurse Bethel (who is no longer a defendant) met with him, placed him on the list to see an advanced care provider, and told him to submit a urine sample. That sample resulted in a reading of “1000.” Dkt. 52-1, at 99. No. scale of measurement was included on that document, but I take the parties to agree that it was an exceptionally high reading.

         Griffin saw Dangerfield on May 17, 2016, by telemedicine. Dangerfield mentioned his hyperglycemia symptoms. Griffin checked Dangerfield's blood glucose via finger poke, which showed that his blood glucose was “578, ” a “very high” result. Griffin gave Dangerfield five units of insulin and rechecked his blood sugar twice. One of the recheck results was too high to be measured on the meter. Griffin recommended Dangerfield be sent to the emergency room, and he was. After speaking with the emergency room doctor, Griffin prescribed Dangerfield medication and insulin, and ordered that his blood glucose be measured four times a day. She also discontinued his further shoulder injections.

         In June 2016, Dangerfield filed an inmate grievance, stating that WSPF staff had neglected his hyperglycemia symptoms until he was taken to the ER. After speaking to defendant Health Services Manager Jolinda Waterman, the complaint examiner recommended dismissing the grievance. ...

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