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Apkarian v. McAllister

United States District Court, W.D. Wisconsin

September 9, 2019

QUENTIN APKARIAN, Plaintiff,
v.
OFFICER MCALLISTER, ED WALL, MS. KRUEGER, DOUG CURTIS, JAMES SCHMIDT, DUSTIN MEUNIER, JOHN OURADA, BRUCE SUNDE, PAUL WESTERHAUS, JOHN DOE OFFICERS #3 and #5, and JEFF JAEGER, Defendants.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          JAMES D. PETERSON DISTRICT JUDGE

         Plaintiff Quentin Apkarian, appearing pro se, alleges that while he was housed at Lincoln Hills School, state officials violated his constitutional rights by physically and sexually abusing him when they responded to a fight and failing to provide him with follow-up medical care, and that state and county officials failed to take action to stop a pattern of abuse at the facility.

         Both the state defendants and defendant Lincoln County Sheriff Jeff Jaeger have filed motions for summary judgment. Dkt. 100 and Dkt. 105. Both sets of defendants move for summary judgment on the substance of Apkarian's claims, and the state defendants also contend that certain claims should be dismissed because Apkarian has failed to properly identify some of the defendants. I will grant the state defendants' motion in part and Sheriff Jaeger's motion in its entirety. But there are genuine disputes of material fact over whether state officials physically and sexually abused Apkarian and failed to provide him medical care, so I will deny the state defendants' motion in part and the case will proceed to trial on those claims. Because there are problems with the identification of several defendants, I will strike the remaining schedule to give the parties more time to identify those defendants.

         UNDISPUTED FACTS

         In September 2014, plaintiff Quentin Apkarian was a juvenile detainee at Lincoln Hills School, in Irma, Wisconsin. On September 10, Apkarian was housed in Dubois Cottage at the facility. That day, Apkarian was in a physical altercation with his roommate. After the altercation, Apkarian got on the ground and put his hands behind his back.

         Apkarian says that the following events then occurred: defendant officers James Schmidt and Doug Curtis beat him “viciously.” Dkt. 109, at 1-2, ¶ 4. Then, as Apkarian was being transported to Krueger Cottage, a more secure housing unit, defendant Officer McAllister entered the transport van and assaulted Apkarian by punching, elbowing, and choking him and by throwing him on the ground and against the van. In the course of transporting Apkarian to segregation, defendant Dustin Meunier punched him, slammed his face against the wall, and choked him to the point that he thought he was going to pass out. Then Meunier and John Doe No. 3[1] physically and sexually assaulted Apkarian by “battering” him, touching his testicles and buttocks in a sexual way, and making jokes about his penis. Defendant Schmidt says that he has never witnessed or participated in a beating or a strip search like Apkarian described in his complaint.

         After these assaults, Apkarian says that he made complaints requesting to be seen by health unit staff, but no one helped him. Apkarian says that defendant Ms. Krueger, the unit manager, told him that she did not think health staff needed to see him because he had only minor injuries. Defendants produce a medical rounds log, Dkt. 89-7, at 1, stating that Apkarian was seen by medical staff on September 12 and 19, 2014, that Apkarian was responsive, had no complaints, had no signs of injury or illness, and presented no mental health concerns. Apkarian met with medical staff on September 30, and he did not seek medical care for injuries from the alleged abuse. Apkarian says that this is because his injuries had “visibly healed, ” he had already started complaining about the abuse through other channels, and he did not think that medical staff would help because they had already ignored the problem.

         Apkarian says that he attempted to report the abuse, but that defendant John Ourada, the Lincoln Hills superintendent, threatened Apkarian with harsh punishments if he continued to report abuse at the facility. About a year after the alleged abuse, defendants Ourada and DOC Director of Juvenile Corrections Paul Westerhaus received a letter from Apkarian about his abuse, which they forwarded to other DOC employees, who in turn sent the letter to the Lincoln County Sheriff's Office. Over the course of the next two years, a detective interviewed Apkarian, other inmates who also complained about staff abuse, and several Lincoln Hills staff members, including defendants Schmidt and McAllister. The detective sent investigatory materials to the district attorney, stating that he did not believe that there was enough evidence to charge staff with a crime.

         ANALYSIS

         Apkarian brings the following claims:

• Defendant officers Doug Curtis, James Schmidt, McAllister, Meunier and John Doe officer Nos. 3 and 5 beat Apkarian following an altercation between him and another inmate.
• Meunier and Doe No. 5 “verbally and physically humiliated” him during a strip search.
• He did not receive medical care following these events, at least in part because defendant Ms. Krueger, the segregation unit manager, stated that she did not want medical staff involved.
• Supervisory officials, including defendants Superintendent John Ourada, Security Director Bruce Sunde, DOC Director of Juvenile Corrections Paul Westerhaus, and DOC Secretary Ed Wall, were all aware of numerous physical and sexual assaults occurring at Lincoln Hills, but they did nothing to address the safety concerns.
• Defendant Lincoln County Sheriff Jeff Jaeger was also aware of the abuse at Lincoln Hills, but he did not investigate those incidents or refer facility staff to the district attorney to be charged.

         Two sets of defendants-the state defendants and Sheriff Jaeger-have each filed a motion for summary judgment. To succeed on a motion for summary judgment, defendants must show that there is no genuine issue of material fact and that they are entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c); Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986). “A genuine issue of material fact arises only if sufficient evidence favoring the nonmoving party exists to permit a jury to return a verdict for that party.” Brummett v. Sinclair Broad. Grp., Inc., 414 F.3d 686, 692 (7th Cir. 2005). All reasonable inferences from the facts in the summary judgment record must be drawn in the nonmoving party's favor. Baron v. City of Highland Park, 195 F.3d 333, 338 (7th Cir. 1999). If the nonmoving party fails to establish the existence of an essential element on which that party will bear the burden of proof at trial, summary judgment should be granted to the moving party. Celotex, 477 U.S. at 322.

         A. Proper ...


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