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Williams v. Anderson

United States District Court, W.D. Wisconsin

December 4, 2019




         Plaintiff Roosevelt M. Williams, appearing pro se, is an inmate at Waupun Correctional Institution. Williams alleges that defendant prison officials discontinued a prescription for ice used to treat his gout. Williams bring claims under the Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution and under Wisconsin-law negligence and infliction-of-emotional-distress theories.

         Defendants have filed a motion for summary judgment on all of Williams's claims. I will grant that motion regarding Williams's Eighth Amendment claims because Williams fails to show that any of the defendants acted with conscious disregard toward his gout treatment. I also conclude that most of Williams's Wisconsin-law claims are barred by his failure to comply with the state's notice-of-claim law, and I will relinquish jurisdiction over his remaining state-law medical malpractice claim. So the entire case will be dismissed.

         Williams has also filed a motion to compel discovery that I will deny.


         After filing his brief opposing defendants' motion for summary judgment, Williams filed a motion to compel defendants to produce their personnel files, work-discipline history, and all inmate grievances filed against them. Dkt. 33. Defendants objected, stating that Williams sent the discovery request directly to the court instead of defendants, and that Williams jumped the gun on filing his motion to compel, waiting only two weeks after he filed the discovery request to file his motion to compel. Defendants added that they were “in the process of responding” to the request. Dkt. 35, at 2. Williams filed a reply after he received a response from defendants, adding what I take to be a request for entry of summary judgment in his favor under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(f). Dkt. 39. Williams appears to quote sections of defendants' response to his discovery requests, and he attaches copies of defendants' attempt at generating lists of the inmate grievances filed against each defendant by searching for the defendants' names in the summary field of the grievance database. Williams says that defendants told him that there is no surefire way to generate a comprehensive list of grievances against a particular employee without manually sifting through all of the extremely voluminous records. Much of the lists is redacted, although Williams appears to have agreed to redaction of other inmates' names and numbers. See Dkt. 38-1.

         Williams's decision to file a motion to compel before defendants' response deadline and his failure to submit a complete record of defendants' eventual response are reasons enough to deny his motion. I can't tell exactly what issues the parties are disputing, and it is Williams's duty to explain why defendants' responses and objections are inadequate. Another reason to deny the motion would be that-at least on the fragmented record of the discovery process that Williams provides-there is no reason to think that the extremely broad requests he made are relevant to his claims or proportionate to the needs of this case, which is about a single instance of the denial of medical ice. The parties have the relevant grievance records directly about the incidents at issue here. Williams does not explain what purpose defendants' personnel records or grievance history would serve. So I'll deny his motion to compel.

         As for Williams's request for entry of summary judgment in his favor, his motion does not add anything to what was already discussed in his summary judgment opposition. For reasons explained below, I will grant summary judgment to defendants on Williams's federal claims and dismiss his state-law claims. I will deny Williams's motion for summary judgment.


         A. Undisputed facts

         The following facts are undisputed unless noted otherwise.

         Plaintiff Roosevelt Williams was incarcerated at Columbia Correctional Institution (CCI) during the events of this lawsuit. Defendants all worked at CCI: Shane Zahrte was a correctional officer, Lucas Wogernese was a captain, and Trisha Anderson was a registered nurse.

         Williams has been diagnosed with gout, a condition causing extremely painful inflammation of his joints. During the events of his lawsuit, Williams received several types of treatment. Doctors gave him prescriptions for allopurinol to decrease his uric acid level, chlorthalidone to treat the high blood pressure that often accompanies gout, and ibuprofen to treat inflammation and pain; a medical assignment to a lower bunk so that he would not have to climb to a top bunk; and orders to receive “medical ice” to help with pain, inflammation, and fluid buildup. Williams was prescribed ice in early April 2016 (for three months) and late May 2016 (for six months).

         The “Special Handling Summary” document stated that Williams should use ice four times a day on his left foot and big toe “as needed.” Dkt. 27-1, at 20. It also stated that Williams was required to get the ice during medication-pass times. Williams attempts to dispute this requirement by saying that he was allowed to get ice four times a day or as needed. But that is not a reasonable interpretation of the doctor's prescriptions for ice bags using the Latin abbreviations “QID PRN, ” which mean “four times a day” and “as needed.”[1] Dkt. 27-1, at 18, 19. The only reasonable interpretation of those orders is that Williams should use ice up to four times a day if he needed to do so to combat his symptoms. I infer from the parties' materials that inmates obtain medical ice by using bags that they are given for that purpose. The parties do not explain how large the bags are or how many bags an inmate may fill at one time.

         Aside from Williams's medical-ice prescription, the prison handbook states that prisoners are allowed to take ice back to their cells during dayroom hours and after meals, limited to one tumbler of 22 ounces at a time. Williams says that defendant Zahrte and non-defendant Kim Carl would not let him obtain any ice-during medication pass or dayroom time or after ...

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