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Taylor v. Litscher

United States District Court, W.D. Wisconsin

October 31, 2019

GEORGE TAYLOR, Plaintiff,
v.
JON LITSCHER, MICHAEL DITTMANN, ROBERT DOYLE, BRITTANY K. HIBMA, MICHAEL STEPHENS, and THOMAS MITCHELL, Defendants.[1]

          OPINION AND ORDER

          JAMES D. PETERSON, District Judge.

         Pro se plaintiff George Taylor, an inmate at Columbia Correctional Institution, has filed several lawsuits that I have consolidated into this one. Taylor alleges that he received incorrect medication on three occasions under the prison's system of having correctional officers, not medical staff, distribute inmates' medication. I granted Taylor leave to proceed on claims that defendant Correctional Officers Robert Doyle, Michael Stephens, Thomas Mitchell, and Brittany Hibma violated the Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution and Wisconsin negligence law in dispensing his medication or denying him care. Dkt. 5; Dkt. 63; Dkt. 78. I also granted him leave to proceed on claims that defendants Jon Litscher, the former secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Corrections (DOC), and Michael Dittmann, the prison's warden, violated the Eighth Amendment in administering the prison's system of dispensing medication. Dkt. 5.

         There are two related motions before me: defendants' motion for summary judgment, Dkt. 89, and Taylor's motion to incorporate his proposed findings of fact from his prior motion for a preliminary injunction, Dkt. 102. I will grant Taylor's motion to incorporate his previous proposed findings of fact, Dkt. 42, which defendants don't oppose. I will consider defendants' response to that filing, Dkt. 57, as their response here, as they have requested, Dkt. 105, at 1 n.1. Defendants' motion for summary judgment is substantially successful: Taylor hasn't complied with state and federal requirements to move forward with his claims against Mitchell, and he doesn't respond to defendants' arguments regarding his request for prospective relief against Litscher and Dittmann. So I will grant defendants' motion for summary judgment regarding those claims. I will also grant defendants' motion as to Taylor's Eighth Amendment claims against Doyle, Stephens, and Hibma. But the parties haven't adequately briefed Taylor's claims for money damages against Litscher and Dittmann, so I will reserve ruling on those claims as well as on Taylor's state-law negligence claims against Doyle, Stephens, and Hibma.

         UNDISPUTED FACTS

         The following facts are undisputed except where noted.

         The prison and other DOC institutions rely on correctional officers to help distribute medication to inmate patients. Under the distribution system in place until December 2018, DOC policy required correctional officers to do three things before giving medication to a patient: (1) verify the patient's identity; (2) compare the label on the medication against the patient's medication record; and (3) show the medication label to the patient. Dkt. 7-2, at 3. This allowed both the officer and the patient to verify the patient's name, medication, and dose. Id.

         Taylor received and took incorrect medications on three occasions under this system. He alleges that Litscher and Dittmann recklessly administered the prison's system of dispensing medications despite their knowledge that the system was unsafe. I will describe the events surrounding his allegations against the other defendants below.

         A. Robert Doyle

         Correctional Officer Doyle was responsible for distributing Taylor's medication on April 26, 2017. The only prescription that Taylor should have received at that time was for diphenhydramine. When giving medication to Taylor, Doyle looked at the wrong entry in his paper medication log because the pages had been turned without his knowledge. Instead of diphenhydramine, Doyle gave Taylor two tablets of acetaminophen and one tablet of buspirone, which Taylor took. After Taylor took these pills, Doyle noticed that the medication log was turned to the wrong page. He told Taylor about the mistake, informed his supervisor, and contacted the Health Services Unit, which sent a nurse to assess Taylor. Taylor says he experienced drowsiness, stomach pain, lightheadedness, vomiting, depression, and a headache after taking these pills.[2] He also says that he fell and cut his head the next morning because he felt dizzy and drowsy.

         B. Michael Stephens

         Correctional Officer Michael Stephens was responsible for dispensing Taylor's medication on April 1, 2018. Taylor was supposed to receive a dose of propranolol, but Stephens gave him a dose of ACET/ASA/CAFF, a pill containing aspirin, acetaminophen, and caffeine. Shortly after Taylor took the pill, Stephens realized his mistake and contacted a nurse in the Health Services Unit. The nurse told Stephens that the medication wouldn't adversely affect Taylor. Stephens told this to Taylor, who then returned to his unit. Stephens then told his supervisor about the mistake. Afterwards, Taylor reported that he experienced a “massive” headache after taking the medication. Dkt. 94-2, at 13. He also said he experienced dizziness, causing him to fall and hit his head, and that his throat swelled. Id.

         C. Thomas Mitchell

         Taylor alleges that he told Mitchell about the side effects he experienced from the medication given to him by Stephens but that Mitchell refused to help him. A few days later, Taylor filed a complaint against both Stephens and Mitchell. Dkt. 98-1, at 2. Because the complaint raised three distinct issues against two correctional officers, prison staff refused to accept it, directing Taylor to submit separate complaints against the two officers within 10 days if he wished to pursue his grievances. Id. at 1. Taylor submitted a revised complaint against Stephens, but he didn't file one against Mitchell.

         D. ...


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