United States District Court, E.D. Wisconsin
DECISION OVERRULING PLAINTIFF'S OBJECTIONS TO
MAGISTRATE JUDGE DUFFIN'S JUNE 6, 2019 ORDER (DKT. NO.
PAMELA PEPPER UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
December, the court referred the plaintiff's case to
Magistrate Judge William Duffin to handle all pretrial
proceedings. Dkt. No. 62. In the next two weeks, the court
received three letters from the plaintiff. Dkt. Nos. 63, 64,
65. Judge Duffin held a telephone hearing on January 4, 2019
to address the plaintiff's concerns. Dkt. No. 66. Two
weeks later, the court received another letter. Dkt. No. 67.
Judge Duffin held another hearing. Dkt. No. 68. Within the
next month, the court received another motion and two more
letters from the plaintiff. Dkt. Nos. 69, 70, 71. At this
point, Judge Duffin issued an order describing what had
happened up to that point and denying the plaintiff's
motion asking to reinstate a defendant, proceed against
additional defendants, compel discovery and appoint counsel.
Dkt. No. 73 (denying plaintiff's motion at Dkt. No. 69).
The plaintiff objected, dkt. no. 75; this court overruled
that objection, dkt. no. 78. The plaintiff, undeterred, filed
another motion to compel the defendants to produce discovery,
arguing that it was his understanding that anything he filed
was filed under penalty of perjury, and that his motions
constituted good-faith efforts to work out his discovery
issues with the defendants. Dkt. No. 79. Judge Duffin held
another hearing, and granted the plaintiff's
motion in part. Dkt. No. 83. Despite that fact, the plaintiff
objected. Dkt. No. 84. He also filed two motions asking the
court to conduct an in camera review of some 1, 700
emails he alleges are involved in three cases. Dkt. Nos. 85,
86. Judge Duffin issued an order granting in part and denying
in part the plaintiff's motions. Dkt. No. 87. The
plaintiff filed another motion to compel-seventeen,
hand-written pages. Dkt. No. 88. Judge Duffin partially
granted that motion. Dkt. No. 90. The plaintiff objected to
that order. Dkt. No. 103. The court addresses that
district court applies a “clear-error standard”
when it reviews a party's objections to a magistrate
judge's order; this standard requires the district judge
to give great deference to the magistrate judge's
decision. Dkt. No. 78. A district judge will modify a
magistrate judge's decision only if he or she is
convinced that the magistrate judge made a mistake.
McGuire v. Carrier Corp., 09-cv-315, 2010 WL 231099,
at *1 (S.D. Ind. Jan. 13, 2010) (citing Weeks v. Samsung
Heavy Indus. Co., Ltd., 126 F.3d 926, 943 (7th Cir.
1997)). The mere fact that a district judge would have come
to a different conclusion is an insufficient basis to modify
the magistrate judge's order. Id.
plaintiff's May 29 motion to compel, the plaintiff
alleged-as he has time and again-that the defendants were
withholding discovery. Dkt. No. 88. Specifically, he detailed
the many obstacles he faced in reviewing his medical file. He
asserted that he had flagged certain records for copying, but
that he never received them. He also explained that he had
very limited time to review the records and was not allowed
to take notes. The plaintiff also believed that the
defendants were withholding relevant emails and that
defendant Regina Henrichs had maintained a file that
contained documents about his diet that were not in his
medical file. The plaintiff also complained that he
hadn't been able to depose the defendants and that they
had not produced their medical licenses or any complaints
that had been made against them during their careers.
Finally, the plaintiff argued that the defendants were
required to produce documents about the water quality issues
at Fox Lake Correctional.
Duffin ordered the defendants to work with the plaintiff to
ensure that he had adequate time to review his medical file
and an opportunity to obtain copies of the records he wanted.
Dkt. No. 90 at 2. He also ordered the defense lawyer to
review Henrichs' file and produce any relevant,
non-privileged documents that the defense had not already
produced or that were not included in the plaintiff's
medical records. Id. at 4.
Judge Duffin denied the plaintiff's request to order the
defendants to respond to his discovery requests about the
water quality at Fox Lake. Id. Judge Duffin
explained that this topic had been addressed at a January
2019 hearing, and repeated his conclusion that water quality
was not at issue in this case, meaning that the defendants
did not have to produce documents related to that issue.
than a week later, the court received the plaintiff's
objections to Judge Duffin's order. Dkt. No. 103. He
raises the following issues: (1) he believes he is entitled
to discovery related to the water issues at Fox Lake
Correctional because, in its screening order, the court
allowed the plaintiff to proceed against defendant Candi
Whitman, the Fox Lake health services manager, “over
the water issue”; (2) he objects to defense
counsel's refusal to respond to his discovery requests-in
particular, her refusal to provide him with copies of
“the 150 HRS forms”; (3) he says that the
Henrichs file is relevant; (4) while it is not clear, he
appears to want the court to require the defendants to
produce all email communication between the
defendants about him; (5) he complains that defense counsel
has refused to provide him with the defendants'
professional licenses and explain whether they ever lost
their licenses or have been sued for violating the rights of
other patients; (6) he complains that the “person
doing” the Health Services Unit records reviews is not
providing him access to all of his records, and says that he
has flagged records for copying that he never received or saw
again; and (7) he asks whether he is not entitled to depose
the defendants, and asserts that he is being taken advantage
of because he does not have a lawyer.
considering these objections, it helps to recount the claims
on which this court allowed the plaintiff to proceed. The
court allowed him to proceed on a claim that Nurse Dawn P.,
Nurse Truen, Nurse Practitioner Frank and Dr. Larson were
deliberately indifferent to his serious medical needs when
they ignored or minimized his complaints about his medical
condition, refused to provide him with pain relief and
refused or delayed a physical examination. Dkt. No. 48 at 8.
The court allowed the plaintiff to proceed on a deliberate
indifference claim against Henrichs (based on his allegations
that she denied him a special diet even though she
acknowledged that he needed one), Whitman (based on his
allegations that she denied his request for bottled water
despite independent information that people with his
condition should not drink tap water), Floeter (based on his
allegations that she delayed scheduling his surgery even
after Frank reminded her to schedule it), Nurse Jane
and CO DeBrees (based on his allegation that they refused
to allow him the use of a private area to self-administer two
enemas) and Hepp (based on his claim that even though the
plaintiff complained about HSU's alleged inadequate
response, Hepp did not intervene). Id. at 8-9.
Water Quality at Fox Lake Correctional
hearing on January 4, 2019, the plaintiff told Judge Duffin
that he saw staff at Fox Lake taking water samples from the
fire hydrants and sending them to the Department of Natural
Resources, claiming they were independently tested when they
were not. Dkt. No. 66 at 3. The plaintiff told Judge Duffin
that Fox Lake got its water from fire hydrants, and argued
that this was one of the claims in his case. Id.
Defense counsel responded that in December 2018, the
plaintiff had made a discovery demand for water samples, but
she had not provided such samples (and did not plan to)
because she did not understand the plaintiff's case to
involve a challenge to the quality of the water at Fox Lake.
Id. Defense counsel said she had understood that the
plaintiff had made claims about his medical treatment and his
diet. Id. Judge Duffin encouraged the plaintiff to
stay focused on the issues relating to his medical care.
Id. at 4. When the plaintiff asked whether he had to
prove what caused his medical issues, Judge Duffin responded
that the plaintiff's deliberate indifference claims were
not about his health before he got to prison, or any health
problems he developed while he was in prison; his claims were
about the medical care that he did or did not receive while
in prison. Id.
June 6, 2019 order, Judge Duffin was more direct. Dkt. No.
90. He stated that he agreed with defense counsel at the
January 4, 2019 hearing that discovery requests about the
water quality at Fox Lake were not relevant to the
plaintiff's claims. Id. at 4. He stated,
“Despite Adams's characterizations to the contrary,
whether the water quality at Fox Lake was adequate is not an
issue in this case.” Id.
objection, the plaintiff says that Judge Duffin was wrong,
and that this court-Judge Pepper-explicitly told him that it
would allow him to proceed against the Health Services
Manager at Fox Lake, “over the water issue.” Dkt.
No. 103. At 1. He also says that he made allegations about
the quality of the water at Fox Lake in the amended
complaint. Id. He asserts that for someone with
advanced liver disease (like the plaintiff), drinking water
with high levels of certain heavy metals is toxic.
Id. at 2. He argues that defendant Whitman gave
bottled water to inmates who came to the HSU for their meds,
and asks why she did that if there was nothing wrong with the
court did not allow the plaintiff to proceed on a
claim regarding the water quality at Fox Lake. It is true
that in his amended complaint, the plaintiff described what
he believed to be the poor quality of the water at the
institution. Dkt. No. 33 at 10. The plaintiff assumed that
the “logical cause” of his chronic persistent
diarrhea was the water; he alleged that Whitman would have
been aware of the water problems because Fox Lake was being
sued in the federal court for the Western District on the
basis of the water quality. Id. He asserted that he
had “filed administrative complaints about . . .
Whitman's refusal to provide [him] with bottled
screening order, the court recounted the facts this way:
The plaintiff also alleges that, after he saw an article in
the prison legal news about tainted water at Fox Lake and the
dangers it imposed, he made requests to defendant Candi
Whitman that he be permitted to receive bottled water.
[citation omitted] The plaintiff asserts that Whitman denied
his request, telling him that “magnesium is good for
you.” [citation omitted] The plaintiff says he told
Whitman that the issue was manganese, and that he
asked to be tested for heavy metal poisoning, but that
Whitman said there was no evidence for it. [citation omitted]
No. 48 at 8. In the analysis section of the court's
order, the court stated that it would allow the plaintiff to
proceed “on a deliberate indifference claim against . .
. Whitman, based on his allegations that she denied his
request for bottled water despite independent ...