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Kimble v. Hoem

United States District Court, W.D. Wisconsin

August 26, 2019

BOBBY KIMBLE, Plaintiff,
DR. HOEM, Defendant.


          STEPHEN L. CROCKER Magistrate Judge

         Pro se plaintiff Bobby Kimble, a prisoner at the Wisconsin Secure Program Facility (“WSPF”), is proceeding on an Eighth Amendment claim against defendant Dr. Hoem related to her alleged failure timely to respond to Kimble's complaints about his mental state. Specifically, Kimble claims that Dr. Hoem was deliberately indifferent to his serious mental health need because she failed to respond to his May 22, 2017 request for psychological services until May 26, 2017. Dr. Hoem has filed a motion for summary judgment. (Dkt. 46.) A discussed below, the evidence of record does not support a finding that Hoem was deliberately indifferent to Kimble's request for mental health care. Therefore, I am entering judgment in Dr. Hoem's favor and closing this case.


         I. Parties

         At all relevant times, plaintiff Bobby Kimble was incarcerated at the Wisconsin Secure Program Facility (WSPF), where defendant Dr. Stacy Hoem, a licensed psychologist, worked part time. Dr. Hoem's responsibilities included performing mental health screening; conducting brief individual counseling; mental health monitoring; providing crisis intervention and prevention; and providing individual psychotherapy and psychological assessments to inmates needing mental health services. Dr. Hoem worked at WSPF 20 hours per week, spread out over three business days.

         II. WSPF's Handling of Physical and Mental Health Requests

         WSPF inmates seeking routine medical or mental health care are to submit a Health Service Request (HSR) to the Health Services Unit (HSU), or a Psychological Service Request (PSR) to the Psychological Services Unit (PSU). Prisoners who need immediate physical or mental health care are instructed to contact security staff (the correctional offices), who then reach out to the appropriate personnel to respond to the reported need. If an immediate response is needed after hours and HSU and PSU staff are not on-site, then WSPF has on-call providers available to address a prisoner's immediate needs.

         Incoming HSRs and PSRs are routed to an HSU nurse who conducts an initial processing. The screening nurse triages the requests, then re-routes them to the appropriate department. During triage, if the screening nurse is concerned that an inmate needs immediate mental health attention, then the nurse is to directly contact PSU to expedite a response. If no one is available in the PSU to respond to the screening nurse's report of an immediate mental health need, then the screening nurse is to contact a security supervisor about the prisoner's request. If, during triage, the HSU nurse does not identify an immediate need for treatment, then the screening nurse simply routes the request to PSU for a response in the ordinary course of business.

         When the PSU receives PSRs in the ordinary course of business, an office operations associate reviews them. If he is not available, then another PSU staff member reviews the incoming PSRs. Each PSR is assigned to a member of PSU and place in their mailbox. That staff member then would determine the proper course of action, which could include providing a prisoner with information, scheduling a PSU appointment for the prisoner, or referring the prisoner to some other appropriate resource. When possible, a staff member who has worked with a prisoner in the past will handle his subsequent PSRs. If a prisoner's “assigned” PSU clinician is not available to respond to a PSR, then the PSR is routed to another available staff member. Kimble had an assigned PSU clinician-Ms. Lemieux-but in May 2017, she was out on maternity leave.

         III. Kimble's May 2017 Request for Mental Health Care

         In 2016, Kimble was transferred to WSPF after having violently attacked a staff member at his previous institution. Apparently, Kimble went straight into Administrative Confinement (AC), where he remained at all times relevant to this lawsuit. AC is a non-punitive but highly restrictive status for prisoners whom WSPF's security staff have deemed inappropriate for placement in the general population, either because they pose a high risk of violence, or because they pose a threat to institution security. Kimble had been placed in AC because he violently attacked a staff member at a previous institution while in general population.

         Prisoners in AC have may attempt to earn their way into WSPF's general population by participating in the High Risk Offender Program (“HROP”). The HROP is organized into three phases - Red, Yellow and Green - that require the inmate to make progress in a number of areas in order to proceed to the next phase. Restrictions lessen as an inmate progresses through each phase. A multi-disciplinary team makes recommendations about phase placement, which then are approved or rejected by WSPF's Security Director and Warden.

         PSU staff are involved in HROP placement only to the extent that they may report to the multi-disciplinary unit team any issues or concerns related to an inmate's psychological adjustment and participation in available programming. Kimble went through a review of his placement on a monthly basis and was repeatedly unsuccessful in his efforts to move to the Green phase.

         PSU staff share the responsibility of conducting rounds for inmates in WSPF's restrictive housing, includes inmates in AC. During rounds, PSU staff stop and check in with each prisoner to ask if they have mental health concerns or need to speak with someone, and to provide written materials for cognitive stimulation.

         As noted above, Kimble was not one of the patients on Dr. Hoem's assigned case load in May of 2017: he was assigned to Ms. Lemieux, who was out on maternity leave at that time.[2] Nevertheless, on May 12, 2017, Dr. Hoem visited Kimble as part of her rounds on his unit in AC. The parties dispute whether Dr. Hoem and Kimble actually interacted at that time: Kimble claims that he was asleep and that no one spoke with him, while Dr. Hoem claims that Kimble was awake, she spoke ...

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