United States District Court, W.D. Wisconsin
PAUL D. AMMERMAN, Plaintiff,
KALEB SINGLETON, ET AL. Defendants.
OPINION AND ORDER
WILLIAM M. CONLEY DISTRICT JUDGE.
se plaintiff Paul Ammerman brought this claim under 42
U.S.C. § 1983, alleging that six current and former
employees of the Wisconsin Department of Corrections violated
his First and Eighth Amendment rights during his
incarceration at New Lisbon Correctional Institution
(“NLCI”). Now before the court is the
defendants' motion for summary judgment. (Dkt. # 65.) For
the reasons that follow, that motion will be
Overview of the Parties
Paul Ammerman was incarcerated at NLCI from February 2016
until July 2016, after which he was transferred to Columbia
Correctional Institution (“CCI”). Plaintiff named
six defendants, all of whom were employed during all relevant
times by the Wisconsin Department of Corrections at NLCI.
Three of the defendants were employed as security staff:
Larry Fuchs was Security Director; Tim Crapser was a captain;
and Shane Hinton was a lieutenant. The remaining three
defendants were employed as psychological staff: Denise
Romanow was a psychologist; and Kaleb Singleton and Samuel
Murphy were psychological associates. For ease, the court
will refer to these two groups of defendants as the
“security staff defendants” and the
“psychological staff defendants, ” respectively.
Facts Relating to Plaintiff's Eighth Amendment
to his incarceration at NLCI, Ammerman had been treated for
mental health issues and had been diagnosed with dysthymic
disorder in 2012. During his six-month stay at NLCI,
Ammerman was seen multiple times by psychological staff,
which was more frequent than other inmates with similar
clinical psychological needs during that period.
to defendants, psychological staff cannot prescribe
medication; only Health Services Unit (“HSU”)
psychiatrists can do so. (Reply to Pl.'s Resp. to
Defs.' PFOF (dkt. #81) ¶ 27.) Even so, the
evidence cited by plaintiff suggests that HSU staff may
sometimes review PSU notes in deciding whether to prescribe
medicine. (Id.) And defendants admit that PSU staff
may refer patients to see an HSU psychiatrist. (Id.)
Therefore, the court considers it undisputed that PSU staff
cannot formally prescribe medication, but that they may refer
a patient to HSU for a possible medical prescription.
April 12, 2016, Ammerman was seen by Psych. Assoc. Samuel
Murphy. This was Murphy's first contact with Ammerman.
During the appointment, Ammerman reported having anger issues
and requested medication. Murphy discussed
“non-medicated techniques” with Ammerman and
provided him with handouts on the topics of anxiety,
depression, sleep and relaxation. However, Murphy neither
prescribed medication nor reached a diagnosis.
four weeks later, on April 29, 2016, Ammerman had an
appointment with Psychologist Denise Romanow. Not
Ammerman's regular clinician, this was the only direct
contact Romanow had with Ammerman, who apparently brought
along to that appointment a psychological report that he had
received from another doctor before his incarceration at
NLCI. In response to Ammerman's request that she review
his previous psychological records, Romanow declined to
consider the specific report he had with him, but she did
give him a release form so that all his records could be
obtained. During that appointment, Ammerman also reported
that he was taking Gabapentin and was experiencing
“blurred vision” and “moodiness, ”
prompting Romanow to follow up with an HSU nurse regarding
Ammerman's complaints. In response, Romanow was
apparently told that Ammerman had an HSU appointment
regarding the symptoms scheduled in June. Finally, Romanow
encouraged Ammerman to review the materials he had previously
received from PSU and to contact PSU if necessary in the
was again treated by Murphy on June 3, 2016, and reported
having “anger issues and depression.” (Murphy
Decl. (dkt. # 71) ¶ 18.) At that appointment, Murphy
again declined to prescribe medication or reach a diagnosis,
but he did schedule a follow up appointment for June 20,
2016, to be seen by Psych. Assoc. Kaleb Singleton, who was
Ammerman's primary mental health care provider at the
time. Singleton diagnosed Ammerman with antisocial
personality disorder and discussed coping skills with him.
Although Ammerman also believed himself to be depressed,
Singleton did not diagnose him with depression.
few days later, on June 24, 2016, Ammerman sent a complaint
to Security Director Larry Fuchs, which Fuchs received on
June 27, 2016. In that letter, Ammerman complained about the
treatment he was receiving from PSU. The day after Fuchs
received the complaint, he responded by instructing Ammerman
to continue to work with the clinical staff.
26, 2016, Ammerman also submitted a Psychological Services
Request for depression medication, to which Singleton
responded by directing Ammerman to submit a Health Services
Request form. Ammerman apparently did so, but the
psychiatrist on duty declined to prescribe any medication,
again instructing Ammerman to work on non-medical ways of
dealing with his mood and anxiety.
Facts Relating to Plaintiff's First Amendment Retaliation
Ammerman's June 20 appointment with Singleton, he also
made specific threats to stab two correctional officers.
Singleton not only reported those threats, but also authored
a conduct report against Ammerman on June 22, 2016. After
admitting his guilt, Ammerman was disciplined. This was
actually the second conduct report Ammerman received at NLCI,
having been written up and disciplined for threatening to
assault an inmate in March 2016.
29, 2016, Singleton authored yet another conduct report
against Ammerman for conduct that allegedly occurred on June
28, 2016. (Singleton Decl., Ex. 1004 - 000021 (dkt #68-3).)
That report was ultimately reviewed by Lieutenant Shane
Hinton, who determined that it should be processed as a minor
conduct report. There appears to be a genuine dispute as to
the factual events underlying this third conduct report at
NLCI. Defendants allege that Ammerman said, “Fuck you
Singleton. Fuck your bitch ass. I'll get you when I get
out of here!” (Singleton Decl. (dkt. #69) ¶ 26.)
Plaintiff disputes this, citing to a declaration by Philip
Novak, another inmate, which states, “I heard that Mr.
Ammerman received a conduct report for threatening Dr.
Singleton. I am here to bear witness that Mr. Ammerman did no
such thing.” (Novak Decl. (dkt. #76).) However, this
dispute need not be resolved, since it is not material to the
motion before the court for reasons explained below.
June 29, 2016, the Institution Complaint Examiner
(“ICE”) received a complaint from Ammerman
against Singleton, Murhpy and “Jane Doe” (likely
Romanow) regarding his medical treatment. In investigating
that complaint, the examiner interviewed Singleton and
reviewed the two conduct reports he authored against
point after the three conduct reports were filed, Fuchs
approved a “Special Placement Needs”
(“SPN”) for Ammerman. The SPN was removed,
however, after Warden Strahota had reviewed it and determined
that it did not meet the SPN policy requirements. (Fuchs
Decl. (dkt. # 72) ¶ 18.) Even so, the SPN triggered an
early review of Ammerman's custody level by the Program
Review Committee (“PRC”). (Singleton Decl., Ex. 1006 -
000008 (dkt. #69-5) 8.) The members of the PRC (none of whom
are defendants in this case) unanimously ...