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Willis v. Fisher

United States District Court, E.D. Wisconsin

September 4, 2019

FELIX DEONTE WILLIS, Plaintiff,
v.
BRANDON FISHER, et al., Defendants.

          DECISION AND ORDER ON DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

          NANCY JOSEPH UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Felix Deonte Willis, a Wisconsin inmate representing himself, brings this lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. He alleges that correctional officers, Brandon Fisher and Patrick Mahoney, failed to double-lock his handcuffs, which resulted in the handcuffs tightening to the point that they cut into his wrist and caused nerve damage. He also alleges that Jennifer Kacyon, a nurse, was deliberately indifferent to his injuries. The defendants have moved for summary judgment. (ECF No. 17.) After duly considering the evidence presented, for the reasons explained below, I will grant defendants' motion for summary judgment.

         RELEVANT FACTS [1]

         Willis is a Wisconsin state prisoner at Waupun Correctional Institution (WCI). (ECF No. 25 at ¶ 1.) Fisher and Mahoney are correctional officers at WCI, and Kacyon is a registered nurse at WCI. (ECF No. 30 at ¶¶ 2-3.)

         At the relevant time, Willis was assigned to the restricted housing unit at WCI. (Id. at ¶ 4.) As a prisoner in the restricted housing unit, Willis was required to be handcuffed whenever he was out of his cell. (Id. at ¶ 5.) On December 4, 2017, Fisher handcuffed Willis before he and Mahoney escorted Willis to a visiting booth for a scheduled visit. (ECF No. 25 at ¶¶ 6-7.) Officers are required to double-lock handcuffs to prevent them from ratcheting closed any further. (Id. at ¶ 9.) Fisher did not double-lock Willis's handcuffs. (Id. at ¶ 8.)

         According to Willis, after he was handcuffed, he told Fisher that the handcuffs were too tight. (ECF No. 30 at ¶ 19.) Fisher responded with something along the lines of, “Shut the fuck up” and “Don't tell me how to do my job.” (Id.) Mahoney did not respond to Willis's statement, and there is no evidence that Mahoney heard Willis's statement. Willis was then escorted to the visiting booth; the walk from Willis's cell to the visiting booth took about one minute. (ECF No. 25 at ¶ 10.) Willis was left handcuffed in the visiting booth. (Id. at ¶ 6.)

         Approximately five to ten minutes after being left in the booth, Willis began to notice that the handcuffs were too tight.[2] (ECF No. 25 at ¶ 11.) He asserts that they continued to tighten with every move he made and began to bite into the back of his hands. (ECF No. 30 at ¶ 21.) He looked through the booth's door for an officer and began to kick the door in an attempt to get someone's attention. (Id. at ¶ 21; ECF No. 25 at ¶ 12.) Fisher and Mahoney assert that they were working in a different part of the unit, so they did not hear Willis banging on the door. (ECF No. 25 at ¶ 13.)

         After about an hour, Mahoney was notified that Willis's visit was over and that he needed to be escorted back to his cell. (ECF No. 25 at ¶ 15; ECF No. 30 at ¶ 22.) Willis informed Mahoney that his handcuffs were too tight, so Mahoney immediately loosened the handcuffs and double-locked them. (ECF No. 25 at ¶ 16.) Mahoney then took Willis to a holding cell, secured Willis, took pictures of Willis's hands, and notified Fisher. (Id. at ¶ 17.)

         At Willis's request, health services was called, and Kacyon examined Willis. (ECF No. 25 at ¶ 18.) She noted that there was no gross deformity and no swelling or bruising, but there were reddened circle patterns around the wrists and “pinpoint size” bleeding on the top of Willis's left hand. (Id. at ¶ 19.)

         A couple of days later, on December 6, 2017, Willis filed an inmate complaint. (ECF No. 22-2 at 6-7.) Willis identified the issue of his complaint as “[d]amage to [his] wrist due to cuffs being too tight and not double locked.” (Id.) He included the following description:

At 800 in the seg visit Booth at 800 Sgt Fisher locked me in cuffs extremely tight on my wrist without cutting [sic] double locking my handcuffs for my safety. I was in the visit booth beating on the door to get help because I could not feel my wrist. Due to being in that state for 30 mins and more my wrist were bleeding, numb, swollen and I could not feel my right [w]rist. Expecting severe nerve damage. CO Mahoney took me out of the visit booth and observed I was in pain. CO II Dorm took photos of the blood and swelling, and Bru[i]ses. Nurse Jennifer Ka[cyon] attended medical help. The nurse and CO Mahoney was su[pposed] to write out an incident report. Most of the incident should be on camera.

(ECF No. 22-2 at 6-7.)

         On December 12, 2017, the inmate complaint examiner recommended that Willis's complaint be affirmed “to the extent to acknowledge the cuffs were not double locked.” (ECF No. 22-2 at 2.) The inmate complaint examiner further noted, “No determination can be made as to how tight the cuffs were placed on inmate Willis and as such, whether it was the initial cuffing or the actions of inmate Willis himself that led to the observations of HSU staff at assessment.” (Id.) Warden Foster accepted the inmate complaint examiner's recommendation a few days later and affirmed Willis's complaint. (Id. at 3.) Willis did not appeal the decision. (ECF No. 25 at ¶ 5.)

         SUMMARY JUDGMENT STANDARD

         Summary judgment is required where “there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a); see also Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 247-48 (1986); Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323-24 (1986); Ames v. Home Depot U.S.A., Inc., 629 F.3d 665, 668 (7th Cir. 2011). When considering a motion for summary judgment, the court takes evidence in the light most favorable to the non-moving party (here, Willis) and must grant the motion if no reasonable juror could find for that party. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248, 255 (1986). “Material facts” are those under the applicable substantive law that “might affect the outcome of the ...


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