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DeBauche v. Wisconsin Department of Corrections

United States District Court, W.D. Wisconsin

September 27, 2019




         Pro se plaintiff David DeBauche, a prisoner at Columbia Correctional Institution (“CCI”), filed these two lawsuits pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, claiming that several dozen defendants have been violating his constitutional rights in a multitude of ways. While DeBauche complains about a variety of issues in both lawsuits, his main focus in Case No. 17-cv-454 (“the ’454 case”) is his continued placement in administrative confinement, and the focus in Case No. 17-cv-524 (“the ’524 case”) is his medical care at CCI. Since filing his complaints, he has filed supplements in both lawsuits, which the court has reviewed along with his complaints for purposes of screening under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. However, both of DeBauche’s complaints are too unwieldy to proceed as one lawsuit each, so DeBauche will be required to submit an amended complaint in each lawsuit that corrects the deficiencies described below.


         DeBauche is presently confined at CCI, where the events comprising his claims in both lawsuits took place.

         I. Case No. 17-cv-454

         A. Defendants

         The following defendants were employed at CCI during the relevant time period: Warden M. Dittman; “Assistant” Warden Rick; Security Director Lucas Weber; Captain Morgan; Unit Manager L. Walker; Program Services Supervisor Neuhauser; Inmate Complaint Examiner (“ICE”) Mary Leiser; Inmate Complaint Supervisor Isaac Hart; Unit Manager Fink A. Bender; Correctional Officers Hunter, Stahl, Price and Kraft; and CCI Administrative Committee members Jane and John Doe. DeBauche also names C. O’Donnell and the Wisconsin Department of Corrections (“DOC”). DeBauche’s allegations span from 2007 to the time he filed his complaint.

         B. False Conduct Reports and Continued Administrative Confinement Status

         DeBauche appears to be challenging his continued placement on administrative confinement, which he claims is premised on false conduct reports. DeBauche blames Walker, Dittman, Ruck, Weber, Morgan and Neuhauser for this status, which he represents has been continuous since 2007.

         DeBauche challenges the December 2016 decision to keep him on administrative confinement, which appears to be memorialized in Exhibits B and C to his complaint. (Pl. Exs. B, C (dkt. #1-1 at 2-4).) DeBauche claims that the individuals that recommended his continued placement made false statements about his willingness to meet with them. He also challenges the May 2017 decision to keep him on administrative confinement status, and references Exhibit A to his complaint, a document that appears to memorialize that placement. (Pl. Ex. A (dkt. #1-1, at 1-2).) That document lists several disciplinary actions taken against DeBauche between 2007 and 2016. DeBauche claims these conduct reports were baseless, but CCI staff since have been citing to those conduct reports to justify his continued placement on administrative confinement status. DeBauche adds that various CCI officials also issued him false conduct reports after he filed another lawsuit, DeBauche v. James, No. 13-cv-553 (W.D. Wis. dismissed Jan. 11, 2016) (“the ’553 case”). He claims that defendant Leiser was appointed to serve as his advocate, but she did nothing to help him.

         C. Complaints about Access to Courts and Handling of Legal Materials

         DeBauche claims that various CCI staff took actions that prevented him from litigating his claims in the ’553 case, as well as other matters. Apparently in 2014, he was moved to a different cell and CO Hunter destroyed all of his legal materials when he was moved. Additionally, when the institution was on lockdown status, he lost access to the law library.

         DeBauche also claims that in 2017, prison staff enforced a policy promulgated by Security Director Weber that essentially forces prisoners to give up time in the day room for time in the law library. He also complains about a policy that began in June of 2017, in which prisoners were more restricted in their law library time and were prohibited from using other prisoners for help in legal matters.

         DeBauche also claims that his inability to access more legal loans has created a barrier to the courts. In particular, CCI’s business office employees have frozen his trust account, denying him the ability to pay filing fees. He further claims that the business office has been inappropriately charging him for legal materials that he never received.

         DeBauche also includes some allegations complaining that his legal mail has been opened outside of his presence, but he does not provide any details about when this has occurred or who opened his legal mail. He adds that his legal mail has previously been held for up to three months before delivery, apparently in an effort to cause him to miss court deadlines. He claims that A. Bender was involved in these events but does not provide any more detail than that.

         D. Inmate Complaints

         DeBauche claims that ICE Leiser has refused to accept numerous inmate complaints he has filed, and that Isaac Hart has participated in her refusal to accept his complaints.

         E. Conditions of confinement

         DeBauche includes several narratives complaining about various aspects of his conditions of confinement, but provides very little detail about when he was subjected to these conditions or who was involved. First, he complains generally about overcrowding and a difficulty accessing clean clothing and bedding. DeBauche alleges that has been unable to purchase necessary health, hygiene, canteen and other items, but he has not provided any details about who he has complained about these problems to, or when he has had these issues. However, he does state that in May of 2017, Unit Manager Walker was aware that inmates were not receiving enough food.

         Second, DeBauche includes allegations related to the condition of meal trays and that the heat in his cell is only turned on from November through March. DeBauche vaguely describes a few instances in October of 2016 when his blanket and warm clothes were removed from his cell and later returned, as well as a point in 2017 when a fire near his unit caused him to have difficulty breathing and an officer just told him to lie down.

         Third, DeBauche adds stray allegations that he has not been able to receive communion on Christmas or Easter because he was in segregation.

         Fourth, in a supplement to his complaint, DeBauche claims he has been harassed by officers Stahl, Price, Kraft and Fink in retaliation for filing this lawsuit. Specifically, on September 5, 2017, the toilet in DeBauche’s cell overflowed, covering his floor and toilet in feces and sewage. After being briefly moved to the showers, DeBauche was moved back to the dirty cell. At one point, he was given a single rag to clean the mess. Officer Stahl allegedly laughed at him and refused to provide additional cleaning supplies. Later, in April of 2018, Unit Manager Fink apparently sent DeBauche to restrictive housing and when he returned, he was missing various items, including his legal materials related to this case. Apparently Fink refused to help find these items, in an effort to prevent him from litigating this case.

         F. Sexual Assault

         DeBauche outlines an incident on March 6, 2017, in which Nurse Walters sexually assaulted him during an examination by needlessly exposing his genitals in front of correctional officers. He claims that his complaints about it were ignored.

         II. Case No. 17-cv-524

         DeBauche’s allegations in this case similarly span several years, from approximately 2012 to 2017. The main theme of this case challenges how CCI staff handled his physical and mental health treatment. However, like in the ’474 case, DeBauche includes various general complaints about the conditions of his confinement, retaliatory conduct since he filed this lawsuit and he repeats the alleged sexual assault by Walters in 2017.

         A. Defendants

         All of the named defendants were employed at CCI during the relevant time period, and include: Drs. Suebke, Suliene, Martin, Stange, Hoffman, Callister, Griffin, and Syed; nurses Dejarden and Walters; Warden Dittman; Sergeant Chattman; CCI Health Services Unit (“HSU”) managers Anderson, Mashak, and Gohde; L. Walker; and correctional officers Stahl, Price and Kraft.

         B. Treatment of Allergies

         Since 2006, DeBauche has suffered from an allergic reaction to the detergent used for laundering his clothes, bedding, and towels. The contact causes him painful eye irritation, a body rash, and severe difficulty breathing because his sinuses swell up. In 2006, Dr. Martin confirmed this allergy and ...

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