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Leiser v. Hoffman

United States District Court, W.D. Wisconsin

August 6, 2019

DR. KARL M. HOFFMAN, et al., Defendants.



         Pro se plaintiff Jeffrey Leiser, a prisoner currently incarcerated at Redgranite Correctional Institution (Redgranite), is proceeding in this lawsuit on Eighth Amendment claims related to how three defendants handled his severe back problems. On April 10, 2019, I granted Leiser leave to proceed against Dr. Hoffman and Nurses Toni Johnson and K. Frisk, for their allegedly inappropriate decisions related to Leiser's pain management and the timing of when he saw a doctor. However, I denied Leiser leave to proceed against Nurses L. Dobbert, N. Krahenbukl, and Rink, Health Services Unit (HSU) managers Warner and Baker, as well as an unidentified number of John and Jane Doe correctional officers. (Dkt. 17.)

         Leiser has filed a motion to amend his complaint to include additional allegations as to Krahenbukl, Baker, Rink and the Doe defendants. (Dkt. 18.) I will grant his motion to amend, construe Leiser's allegations in his motion as a supplement to his complaint, and screen these new allegations as required by 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. For the reasons that follow, Leiser's supplemental allegations are sufficient to allow him to proceed on Eighth Amendment claims against Krahenbukl and Baker, but he may not proceed against Rink or any Doe correctional officers.


         I will incorporate by reference the facts from Leiser's original complaint as set forth in the leave to proceed order (dkt. 17, at 2-7), but will provide a summary and repeat the facts relevant to Krahenbukl, Rink, Baker, and the Doe defendants:

         Leiser has severe back problems, for which he had a longstanding prescription for tramadol to relieve his pain. In March of 2018, Dr. Hoffman terminated Leiser's prescription of tramadol because he suspected that Leiser was not taking it as prescribed. Thereafter, Leiser submitted multiple health service requests (HSRs), complaining about withdrawal symptoms.

         On March 8, 2018, Leiser submitted an HSR on March 8, 2018, writing: “I was sent to seg today, I was told that Dr. Hoffman cancelled my tramadol. WHY? I have not abused my meds in any way. My ticket has nothing to do with my meds. Now I will go through withdrawals [due] to sudden stop.” (Comp. (dkt. 1) ¶ 65.)

         On March 9, Nurse Krahenbukl met with Leiser, although it appears this was not in response to Leiser's March 8, HSR. After Leiser described his symptoms, Krahenbuhl contacted the on-call doctor, Dr. Fuller, who prescribed naproxen and an increased Tylenol dose.

         On March 10, 2018, Nurse Rink responded in writing to Leiser's March 8 HSR, explaining that Dr. Hoffman discontinued Leiser's tramadol because Dr. Hoffman suspected misuse. Rink also noted that Leiser already had been seen for withdrawal symptoms, a reference to Leiser's March 9 meeting with Krahenbuhl.

         On March 11, 2018, Leiser submitted another HSR, this time directing it to HSU manager Baker and stating that he had been suffering from chest pain for more than two days. He received a response on March 13 explaining that Dr. Hoffman had discontinued the tramadol and it would not be restarted.

         Leiser's supplemental allegations provide a different context for his complaints about withdrawal symptoms. Specifically, he alleges that on March 9, he told Krahenbukl that he was having “sharp, shooting, stabbing chest pain, ” but she never discussed or followed up with him or with the on call doctor about this chest pain, even though she noted in the treatment record that Leiser had reported these symptoms. (Pl. Exhs. 25, 26 (dkt. 1-2 at 37-38).) Leiser further alleges that his medical chart showed that Dr. Hoffman already had scheduled him for a cardiac catheterization: Exhibit 26 to Leiser's complaint shows a note from Dr. Hoffman, dated March 1, 2018, to schedule Leiser for that procedure. (See Pl. Ex. 26 (dkt. 1-2, at 39).) According to Leiser, these two pieces of information should have prompted Krahenbukl to discuss his chest pains further and alert Dr. Fuller to his report of chest pains. Because she did not do either of these things, Leiser continued to suffer chest pains.

         Leiser further alleges that on April 20, 2018, he was sent to Gunderson Health in La Crosse for his chest pain. A physician named Dr. Brown performed a cardiac catheterization that revealed that Leiser needed two stents due to two 90% blockages. Leiser claims that the sudden discontinuation of tramadol caused him irreversible heart damage. Before leaving Gunderson, Dr. Brown called Dr. Hoffman and ordered Clopidogrel 75 mg, a blood thinner, for Leiser to start taking immediately upon his return to NLCI.

         When Leiser returned to NLCI that evening, Krahenbukl saw him in the HSU. Leiser asked for the medication Dr. Brown ordered; Krahenbuhl responded that she knew nothing about a new medication. Leiser left the HSU without receiving any Clopidogrel, and Krahenbukl did not follow up, leaving Leiser with no blood thinning medication.

         About a week later, Dr. Hoffman met with Leiser, and Leiser reported that he had not been taking the Clopidogrel. Dr. Hoffman allegedly got upset, telling Leiser that he had ordered Leiser to start the Clopidogrel “STAT.” Leiser claims that he overheard Dr. Hoffman yell at Krahenbukl about failing to get Leiser his medication. A week later, Leiser still reported chest pains to Dr. Hoffman, so Hoffman referred him back to Dr. Brown at Gunderson. Dr. Brown had to perform a second ...

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