United States District Court, E.D. Wisconsin
TOMMIE E. EVANS, Plaintiff,
SCOTT ROSS and JANE DOE, Defendants.
DECISION AND ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANTS' MOTION
FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT
WILLIAM C. GRIESBACH, CHIEF JUDGE UNITED STATES DISTRICT
Tommie E. Evans, who is currently serving a state prison
sentence at the Wisconsin Secure Program Facility and
representing himself, filed this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983, alleging that his civil rights were violated. In
particular, Evans asserts Defendants Correctional Officer
Scott Ross and Nurse Jane Doe were deliberately indifferent
to his medical needs when they ignored his sling and front
cuff restrictions ordered by the Health Services Unit (HSU).
Presently before the court is Defendants' motion for
summary judgment. For the following reasons, the motion will
be granted and the case will be dismissed.
times relevant, Evans was incarcerated at Waupun Correctional
Institution (WCI), and Ross was a correctional officer at
WCI. On December 3, 2016, Nurse York entered a restriction
into the Wisconsin Integrated Corrections System (WICS) for
Evans to have a “Brace/Immobilizer/Sling/Splint”
for his shoulder. Defs.' Proposed Findings of Fact
(DPFOF) ¶ 5, Dkt. No. 54. Under the special instructions
column, Nurse York added “Sheet folded and used as
[right] arm sling as needed.” Id. at ¶ 6.
Nurse York fashioned a sheet-sling for Evans because he was
in the Restrictive Housing Unit (RHU) and was not allowed to
possess objects containing metal. On December 4, 2016, Nurse
Kaycum saw Evans and noted in his medical records that a
cuff-in-front restriction was issued. Id. at ¶
8. This restriction was not added to WICS until December 20,
December 7, 2016, Ross appeared at Evans' cell door in
RHU and advised him that he needed to be transported to Dane
County for a court appearance. Evans appeared at the door
with a sheet wrapped around his arm as a sling. When Evans
informed Ross of his front-cuff and sling restrictions, Ross
left Evans' cell to contact HSU and verify those
restrictions. At WCI, correctional officers are not permitted
to order or override medical restrictions or treatment
decisions. If an inmate informs an officer that he has a
medical restriction to be handcuffed in the front, the
officer contacts the HSU to verify the restriction. Officers
must verify restrictions with HSU even if an inmate produces
documentation noting the restriction because officers do not
have access to medical records and do not know whether the
purported documentation is valid.
later returned to Evans' cell door and stated that HSU
advised that Evans did not have a sling restriction and that
Ross could cuff him from behind. Ross then directed Evans to
place his hands behind his back. Evans complied, and Ross
placed him in handcuffs and escorted Evans to the sally port,
where Dane County law enforcement waited to take Evans into
their custody for transport. Although Evans concedes that
Ross told him that he called HSU, Evans disputes that Ross
actually called HSU because Evans only saw Ross speak with
another officer on the unit and did not personally see him
call HSU. Evans nevertheless admits that he did not watch
Ross the entire time Ross was away from his cell.
sally port, Evans again mentioned his restrictions and
informed Ross that he was in pain. Ross contacted HSU again
to determine whether Evans could take his sling with him.
Upon Ross' return, he informed Evans that HSU indicated
that Evans does not need a sling or other restrictions. The
Dane County sheriff then took custody of Evans, cuffed him in
front, and transported him to court.
judgment is appropriate when the movant shows that there is
no genuine issue of material fact and the movant is entitled
to judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). In
deciding a motion for summary judgment, the court must view
the evidence and make all reasonable inferences that favor
them in the light most favorable to the non-moving party.
Johnson v. Advocate Health & Hosps. Corp., 892
F.3d 887, 893 (7th Cir. 2018) (citing Parker v. Four
Seasons Hotels, Ltd., 845 F.3d 807, 812 (7th Cir.
2017)). The party opposing the motion for summary judgment
must “submit evidentiary materials that set forth
specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for
trial.” Siegel, 612 F.3d at 937 (citations
omitted). “The nonmoving party must do more than simply
show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material
facts.” Id. Summary judgment is properly
entered against a party “who fails to make a showing to
establish the existence of an element essential to the
party's case, and on which that party will bear the
burden of proof at trial.” Austin v. Walgreen
Co., 885 F.3d 1085, 1087-88 (7th Cir. 2018) (citing
Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986)).
asserts that Correctional Officer Ross and Nurse Jane Doe
were deliberately indifferent to his medical needs when they
failed to acknowledge his medical restriction requiring the
use of a sling and front handcuffs. As an initial matter, on
September 18, 2018, the court ordered Evans to identify the
Jane Doe defendant in this case by December 1, 2018, or she
would be dismissed from this case. Dkt. No. 36 at 2. To date,
Evans never properly identified Nurse Jane Doe. In light of
the fact that Evans has not identified Jane Doe in a timely
manner, his claims against her will be dismissed. The court
will now address Evans' claim against Ross.
Eighth Amendment prohibits “cruel and unusual
punishments.” U.S. Const. amend. VIII. It imposes a
duty on prison officials to take reasonable measures to
guarantee an inmate's safety and to ensure that inmates
receive adequate medical care. Farmer v. Brennan,
511 U.S. 825, 832 (1994). A prison official's
“deliberate indifference” to a prisoner's
medical needs or to a substantial risk of serious harm
violates the Eighth Amendment. Id. at 828;
Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 104-05 (1976). An
inmate's claim for deliberate indifference must establish
“(1) an objectively serous medical condition; and (2)
an official's deliberate indifference to that
claim.” Gomez v. Randle, 680 F.3d 859, 865
(7th Cir. 2012). In this case, Ross does not dispute that
Evans had an objectively serious medical condition. As a
result, the court will address whether Ross was deliberately
indifference requires more than negligence or even gross
negligence; it requires that Ross knew of, yet disregarded,
an excessive risk to Evans' health or safety.
Farmer, 511 U.S. at 835, 837; see also Figgs v.
Dawson, 829 F.3d 895, 903 (7th Cir. 2016) (“A
state officer is deliberately indifferent if he does nothing
. . . or when he takes action that is so ineffectual under
the circumstances that deliberate indifference can be
inferred.”). It is not enough to show that the
defendant merely failed to act reasonably. Gibbs v.
Franklin, 49 F.3d 1206, 1208 (7th Cir. 1995). The
plaintiff must demonstrate that the defendant was
“aware of facts from which the inference could be drawn
that a substantial risk of harm exists” and that the
defendant actually drew that inference. Greeno v.
Daley, 414 F.3d 645, 653 (7th Cir. 2005).
case, Evans has failed to present sufficient evidence that
Ross' conduct exhibited a “total unconcern”
for his welfare and safety. See Rosario v. Brawn,
670 F.3d 816, 821 (7th Cir. 2012) (noting that deliberate
indifference standard imposes “a high hurdle on
plaintiffs because it requires a ‘showing as something
approaching a total unconcern for the prisoner's welfare
in the face of serious risks'” (citation omitted)).
Though Evans advised Ross that he had a sling and front cuff
restriction, WCI policy required that Ross verify these
restrictions with HSU to ensure that they were accurate and
had not expired. After Ross contacted HSU, he told Evans that
HSU advised that Evans did not have a sling restriction and
that Ross could cuff him in the back. While Evans disputes
that Ross contacted HSU before his transport to the sally
port, he concedes that Ross did call HSU once they arrived at
the sally port and that HSU advised that Evans did not have a
sling or other restrictions. It was not improper for Ross to
act on the information he had received from HSU, even if that
information was inaccurate. See Hayes v. Snyder, 546
F.3d 516, 527 (7th Cir. 2008) (noting “the presumption
that non-medical officials are entitled to defer to the
professional judgment of the facility's medical officials
on questions of prisoners' medical care”). Evans
asserts that Ross had access to his medical information and
restrictions through the computer and should have verified
the restrictions on his own. But even if Ross ...