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Rivers v. Johnson

United States District Court, E.D. Wisconsin

June 6, 2019

DENZEL SAMONTA RIVERS, Plaintiff,
v.
DOYAL JOHNSON, et al., Defendants.

         ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT AND DISMISSING COMPLAINT AS TO DEFENDANT KAST ONLY (DKT. NO. 49), AND ORDERING DEFENDANT JOHNSON TO SUBMIT SUPPLEMENTAL INFORMATION ADDRESSING SPECIFIC FACTS UNDER FED. R. CIV. P. 56(e)

          HON. PAMELA PEPPER UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Plaintiff Denzel Rivers, 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. Dkt. No. 1. Magistrate Judge William E. Duffin screened the complaint and allowed the plaintiff to proceed with an Eighth Amendment claim that defendants Doyal Johnson and Loison Kast showed deliberate indifference to his health and safety when they failed to respond to his complaints of his suicidal thoughts on April 20, 2017. Dkt. No. 16 at 5. The court grants the defendants' motion for summary judgment as to defendant Kast only, dkt. no. 49, dismisses defendant Kast and orders defendant Johnson to submit supplemental information under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(e).

         I. Facts

         The court takes facts from the defendants' proposed findings of fact, dkt. no. 51, the plaintiff's proposed findings of fact, dkt. no. 65, and the plaintiff's complaint, dkt. no. 1, 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)).

         The plaintiff is an inmate at Waupun. Dkt. No. 51 at ¶1. Loison Kast and Doyal Johnson are correctional officers at Waupun. Id. at ¶2. Kast was “acting Unit Sergeant” on April 20, 2017; Johnson conducted “institution count” and passed out medication that day. Dkt. No. 65 at ¶¶4-5.

         The plaintiff was housed in North Cell Hall cell D-37. Id. at ¶¶1-2. The plaintiff states that he “was under crisis” and having suicidal thoughts. Id. at ¶8. Around 8:22 p.m., the plaintiff asked inmate Scott Meritns to tell Kast that the plaintiff needed to go to the Psychological Services Unit (“PSU”). Id. at ¶9. Meritns told the plaintiff that he had relayed the message. Dkt No. 64 at 1. The plaintiff asserts that he “received no immediate assistance from Defendant Sergeant Kast.” Dkt. No. 65 at ¶10. The plaintiff then placed a sign on his cell door that stated, “Call PSU.” Id. at ¶11.

         About forty minutes later, at around 9:00 p.m., Johnson conducted institution count. Id. at ¶12. The plaintiff loudly told Johnson that he was suicidal and on the verge of cutting himself. Id. at ¶14. Johnson continued conducting institution count. Id. at ¶15.

         After completing institution count, Johnson started to pass out “controlled” medication. Id. at ¶16. The plaintiff told Johnson a second time that he was suicidal. Id. at ¶17. Johnson continued with the medication pass. Id. at ¶19. After completing the controlled medication pass, Johnson began conducting a “non-controlled” medication pass. Id. at ¶19. For a third time, the plaintiff told Johnson that he was suicidal, but Johnson continued with the medication pass. Id. at ¶¶20-21.

         The plaintiff then used his razor “in an attempt to slice his vein three times.” Id. at ¶22. He used his sheet to “construct a noose in an attempt to tie it around his neck to commit suicide.” Id. at ¶23. The parties dispute the severity of the plaintiff's injuries. The defendants assert that the plaintiff inflicted only three “superficial scratches” on his arms. Dkt. No. 51 at ¶¶3-4, 7-8. The plaintiff says that his injuries caused “noticeable” bleeding and took “awhile” to treat. Dkt. No. 67 at ¶¶3-4.

         According to the plaintiff, Officer Alfred N. Wittrien (not a defendant) then told Officer Christopher Winters (not a defendant) about the plaintiff's “crisis.” Id. at ¶24. At around 9:30 pm, Winters went to the plaintiff's cell. Id. at ¶25. The plaintiff states that there was a “noticeable amount” of blood on his forearms, shirt and hands. Id. He told Winters that he heard voices telling him to hurt himself. Id. at ¶26.

         Someone told Dr. Kristina DeBlanc (not a defendant) that the plaintiff had cut himself and had constructed a noose in his cell. Id. at ¶27. Registered Nurse Mark Jensen (not a defendant) treated the plaintiff's injuries. Id. at ¶¶28-29. Dr. DeBlanc placed the plaintiff on observation. Id. at ¶31.

         The following day (April 21, 2017), Dr. DeBlanc examined the plaintiff in observation. Dkt. No. 51 at ¶5. She wrote in her notes that the plaintiff had inflicted “three surface level scratches near the webbing on his hand between thumb and fingers.” Dkt. No. 53-1 at 3. She noted that the plaintiff had become “agitated after being refused to shower, stating that he is approved to shower with other innates who identify as transgendered/Gender Dysphoric.” Id. He also told DeBlanc that he'd cut himself, and that he'd constructed a noose in his cell “though he had not attempted to use it.” Id. He told DeBlanc that he still was feeling suicidal and asked to remain in observation. Id.

         The day after that (April 22, 2017), Dr. Torria Van Buren (not a defendant) examined the plaintiff. Dkt. No. 51 at ¶6. She wrote in her notes that the plaintiff inflicted “three superficial cuts to his left hand.” Dkt. No. 53-1 at 3. She noted that the plaintiff “had engaged in self-harm in order to ‘relieve stress' . . . he had been upset about not getting a shower at the same time as the Transition inmates.” Id. The plaintiff's injuries did not require any follow-up treatment. Dkt. No. 51 at ¶7.

         II. ...


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