Searching over 5,500,000 cases.

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Conner v. Bouzek

United States District Court, W.D. Wisconsin

August 23, 2019




         Pro se plaintiff Adonnis Conner, an inmate incarcerated at Waupun Correctional Institution (WCI), alleges that he injured his back when he slipped and fell on a patch of wet floor inside the prison. He has filed a civil complaint under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, in which he says that prison staff were negligent in failing to post warnings about the wet floor, and that they failed to address his medical needs in the aftermath of the fall by denying him a special mattress, failing to provide him with physical therapy, and giving him ineffective pain medications.

         Conner has paid the filing fee in full, so I can now screen his complaint under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. But before I do so, I will address Conner's motion asking that a magistrate judge handle his case. Dkt. 7. That motion is denied. Under 28 U.S.C. § 636(c)(1), the district court may refer a case to a magistrate judge when all parties agree to do so. The defendants have not yet been served, so they cannot provide their consent. Regardless, I have discretion to retain jurisdiction over a case even when both sides consent to a magistrate judge's jurisdiction. Because Conner provides no reason for seeking reassignment and I see no need for one, I will retain jurisdiction over the case.

         In screening Conner's complaint under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, I must dismiss any portion that is legally frivolous, malicious, fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or asks for money damages from a defendant who by law cannot be sued for money damages. 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915, 1915A. Because Conner is proceeding pro se, I must read the allegations of his complaint generously. Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520-21 (1972). I conclude that Conner has stated Eighth Amendment medical-care claims against defendants Bouzek, York, and the John Doe Special Needs Committee members who denied him a special mattress, as well as a state-law negligence claim against Bouzek. Conner's allegations about failure to train, physical therapy, and pain medications are too vague to state a claim, but I will give Conner a chance to supplement his complaint with clarifying details.


         I draw the following facts from Conner's complaint, Dkt. 1, and accept them as true for purposes of this order.

         At approximately 8:25 a.m. on August 27, 2018, Conner was on his way to the library when he slipped and fell on a patch of wet floor in the northwest cell hall. He landed on his back and heard something pop. After lying on the floor for a while, Conner managed to get up and make his way to the cage, where a sergeant was posted. Conner told the sergeant that “it was probably ok” and that he “was going to try to make it to the library because he had important legal work to get done.” Id. at ¶ 6.

         An hour later, Conner started experiencing sharp pains in his back, so he left the library and returned to the cell hall. He told defendant Bouzek, a sergeant at WCI, that “he was in pain and couldn't take it anymore and needed medical.” Id. at ¶ 8. Bouzek told Conner that he would “look into it” and instructed him to “go lock in.” Id. Conner doesn't know when Bouzek notified the health services unit (HSU) about the injury, but ultimately three hours passed before Conner was called to HSU. In the meantime, Conner was left in pain and in need of medical attention.

         Conner was taken to HSU at approximately 12:30 p.m. Defendant York, a nurse, examined Conner and determined that his injury was serious and that he needed to be taken to the hospital immediately. At the hospital, a doctor determined that Conner had “[m]ild 10% superior endplate T11 and T12 vertebral body compression fractures of indeterminate age.” Dkt. 1-2, at 2.

         In an accident report filed on September 2, 2018, Bouzek provided a summary of the incident in which he said that the floors were slippery because of the humidity, but that yellow signs had been posted on the floor prior to Conner's fall. Dkt. 1-1, at 1. But Conner alleges that, contrary to Bouzek's report, there were no signs out on the tier prior to his fall. It wasn't until 8:40 a.m. that Bouzek ordered that the signs be put out.

         On November 8, 2018, Conner asked the Special Needs Committee to provide him with a medical mattress to accommodate his back injury. The Special Needs Committee denied the request because it determined that there was “no medical indication” and that the request “does not meet Policy and Procedure 300.07 criteria.” Dkt. 1-3. (DOC Health Services Policy and Procedure 300.07 outlines protocols for allowing certain special-needs items, such as double or extra-thick mattresses.)

         At the time he filed this lawsuit on December 12, 2018, Conner had been on the waiting list for physical therapy since August 27-the date of the accident-but hadn't yet seen a physical therapist. Instead, he was being prescribed medication “that is not working.” Dkt. 1, ¶ 21. After complaining about the ineffective medication for months, Conner saw defendant Jeanpierre, a doctor, on November 27, 2018. In her clinical notes from that appointment, Jeanpierre noted that Conner was “currently on ibuprofen and muscle rub” and “on the waiting list for physical therapy.” Dkt. 1-4. Under the section of her notes labeled “assessment/plan, ” Jeanpierre wrote that she would have Conner do “a trial of duloxetine” and would order that Conner receive an ice bag and a low-bunk restriction.


         A. Eighth ...

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.