United States District Court, W.D. Wisconsin
KEVIN E. SIERRA-LOPEZ, Plaintiff,
ANGELA MINK, et al., Defendants.
OPINION AND ORDER
WILLIAM M. CONLEY DISTRICT JUDGE
se plaintiff Kevin E. Sierra-Lopez filed this lawsuit
against seventeen defendants, most of whom are employees of
the Wisconsin Department of Corrections (“DOC”),
employed at the Wisconsin Secure Program Facility
(“WSPF”). On June 13, 2019, Sierra-Lopez filed a
proposed amended complaint. (Dkt. #24.) While normally at
this stage the court would screen his amended complaint
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2), 1915A, his
amended complaint, outlining two unrelated groups of claims
and defendants, violates Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 20.
Accordingly, Sierra-Lopez will be required to choose which
lawsuit he would like to proceed on under this case number,
and indicate whether he wishes to open another lawsuit to
pursue his other claims.
Kevin Sierra-Lopez was incarcerated at WSPF during the time
when his claims arose. He names 17 defendants, who were
either WSPF or DOC employees during the relevant time period.
They are: Angela Mink, Mary Taylor, Correctional Officer Eck,
Craig Tom, Michael Kemerling, Daryl Flannery, Scott
Rubin-Asch, Stacey Hoem, Jaeger, Cathy Jess, Gary Boughton,
Catherine Knuteson, Lacey Dickman, P. Fredrich, William
Brown, Lebbeus Brown, and Ellen Ray.
July 30, 2018, Attempt at Self-Harm
30, 2018, Sierra-Lopez reported to several correctional
officers that he was having serious problems with his
depression which were making him feel unstable. Those
officers reported his symptoms to Mink, who responded that
Sierra-Lopez should write his problems in a Psychological
Service Request (“PSR”). This response worsened
his condition, causing Sierra-Lopez to overdose on pills.
While he was taken to Gunderson-Boscobe Hospital, apparently
no one from WSPF informed the correctional officers handling
his transport, or any personnel at the hospital, that
Sierra-Lopez was having mental health problems or that he
should be observed to prevent another incident of self-harm.
As a result, defendants Taylor and Eck allowed Sierra-Lopez
to bite his I.V. out of his arm in a second effort to harm
Sierra-Lopez was returned to WSPF, neither Taylor, Eck nor
Craig Tom (the supervising officer at WSPF at the time)
notified any mental health staff at WSPF that he had tried to
harm himself again. Sierra-Lopez claims that Kemerling, a
nurse, and Flannery, a supervisor, also knew about the
self-harm incident but failed to inform PSU staff as well.
Sierra-Lopez is vague about what happened next, but it
appears he received a conduct report for the events that took
place on July 30, 2018, charging him with acting out for
attention. Allegedly to ensure that Sierra-Lopez was found
guilty of the charges, on August 3, 2018, a PSU staff member,
Stacey Hoem, completed a report omitting Sierra- Lopez's
self harm incidents, and on September 6, 2018, Mink and
Rubin-Asch “fabricated” Sierra-Lopez's mental
health observation report by failing to include all of his
self-harm attempts. On September 18, 2018, a disciplinary
hearing was held to determine whether Sierra-Lopez was
genuinely suffering from mental health problems on July 30.
He claims that he not afforded an unbiased decision-maker as
a result of several defendants' false reports leading up
to the hearing, and he was found guilty and punished with 120
days in segregation, restitution requiring him to pay the
costs associated with his hospital visit, and security
restrictions on his prescription pills.
appealed, but Jaeger affirmed the determination from the
disciplinary hearing, even though Jaeger allegedly knew about
Hoem's misrepresentations in her report. Relatedly,
Sierra-Lopez claims that his more limited access to his pain
medication -- he could only receive it every five hours
during the first and second shifts of the day, rather than
possessing his pain medication in his cell -- amounted to
cruel and unusual punishment because he was unable to take
pain medication as needed.
claims that Jess, the DOC Secretary at the time, and Warden
Boughton were responsible for the policies that allowed these
constitutional violations to take place. In particular, he
claims that they both were aware of his complaints about
Mink, Taylor, Eck, Tom, Kemerling, Rubin-Asch, Hoem and
Jaeger, but failed to intervene. Finally, Sierra-Lopez claims
that on January 9, 2019, defendant Knuteson, the director of
the Bureau of Offender Classification and Movement, ignored
his serious mental health needs by failing to require that he
be evaluated. He also claims that Knuteson gave him false
instructions related to how he should exhaust his
administrative remedies related to his claims, apparently to
shield DOC employees from liability.
2019 Confiscation of Legal Materials
also challenges prison policies related to prisoner legal
correspondence, which is allegedly tied to Jess's 2012
decision to require prisoners to use the U.S. postal service
to send correspondence to other DOC prisoners. The details
about what Jess actually did are unclear, but he alleges that
in 2019, wardens at maximum security prisons were given the
power to “do whatever they want” with prisoner
legal correspondence, which led WSPF to treat prisoners in
general population more favorable than prisoners in
segregation. Specifically, while prisoners in general
population were allowed to exchange legal correspondence
during law library and recreation periods, prisoners in
segregation, who do not have access to either the library or
recreation, had no method of exchanging correspondence
besides paying for mail.
claims that this policy led to the destruction of his legal
materials related to pending litigation in early 2019.
Specifically, on February 15, 2019, a jailhouse lawyer's
cell was searched, and Sierra-Lopez's legal materials
were confiscated, apparently because Sierra-Lopez did not use
authorized channels to send the jailhouse lawyer his
materials. Sierra-Lopez claims that Fredrich, a property
officer, and Dickman, who recorded the cell search, both
failed to properly classify his materials as legal
correspondence, thus allowing them to be destroyed.
Sierra-Lopez claims that Boughton failed to implement
policies that would prevent this type of abuse and
harassment, and that Unit Manager Lebbeus Brown and Sergeant
Ward were involved in the plot to implicate the jailhouse
lawyer. Finally, he claims that ...