James A. Lewis, Plaintiff-Appellant,
Angela McLean, et al., Defendants-Appellees.
April 20, 2017
from the United States District Court for the Western
District of Wisconsin. No. 14 CV 280 - James D. Peterson,
Manion and Rovner, Circuit Judges, and Coleman, District
ROVNER, Circuit Judge.
Lewis, a Wisconsin prisoner, claimed in this action under 42
U.S.C. § 1983 that staff at the The Honorable Sharon
Johnson Coleman, of the Northern District of Illinois,
sitting by designation.
Wisconsin Secure Program Facility violated the Eighth
Amendment by delaying medical attention for a painful back
condition and then using excessive force when eventually
taking him to the hospital. Lewis also claimed that two of
the defendants, a nurse and a physician, committed
malpractice under state law. The district court granted
summary judgment for the defendants on the constitutional
claims and relinquished supplemental jurisdiction over the
state-law claim, and Lewis appeals. We conclude that a jury
reasonably could find that two of the defendants were
deliberately indifferent to Lewis's serious medical need.
facts are largely undisputed, and we recount them, as we must
at this stage of the proceedings, in the light most favorable
to Lewis, noting disputes where relevant. In February 2014,
Lewis was an inmate in the Wisconsin Secure Program Facility
in Boscobel, Wisconsin. On February 8, he woke up at
approximately 5:15 a.m. and experienced a sharp pain shooting
from the base of his neck to his tailbone when he attempted
to get out of bed. On account of the pain, he could neither
lie back down or stand up. He remained immobilized by pain
until approximately thirty minutes later, when at 5:39 a.m.,
he leaned forward just far enough to press the emergency call
button on the wall of his cell. Lewis was housed in
segregation (the reason is not disclosed in the record and
when asked at oral argument the state did not know), and the
guard who answered the call looked at the live video feed
from the security camera in Lewis's cell and saw him
sitting on the bed. The guard asked what the emergency was,
and Lewis replied that he was suffering from extreme pain in
his back that left him unable to move.
guard relayed this information to Lieutenant Joseph
Cichanowicz, a security supervisor. After some time passed,
Cichanowicz went to Lewis's cell, where Lewis explained
that he was in terrible pain and could not stand up or lie
back down. Lewis told Cichanowicz that he needed a nurse.
After another ten or fifteen minutes passed and no nurse
appeared, Lewis carefully eased himself forward again to push
the emergency call button and request medical assistance.
Sometime thereafter, Cichanowicz visited Lewis's cell
with Nurse Angela McLean. According to McLean's progress
report, she visited Lewis's cell at approximately 6:05
a.m., although in her answers to interrogatories she claimed
that she went to his cell at 6:30 a.m. When Lewis saw McLean
he told her that he was experiencing "terrible pain in
his back" and "couldn't move." Prison
policy discourages staff from examining an inmate in his
cell, so McLean told Lewis that guards would escort him to
the infirmary after head count, which was typically conducted
at 6:15 a.m. McLean and Cichanowicz added, however, that
Lewis would first have to stand with his back to the cell
door so that he could be cuffed from behind through a slot in
the door. Lewis again told them that he was in terrible pain
in his back and neck and that he could not move or stand.
Cichanowicz replied that he must be able to stand because he
had pressed the emergency call button. Lewis then
demonstrated that he could lean forward slightly to press the
call button, and told them yet again that he was unable to
stand or move.
Cichanowicz warned Lewis that if correctional officers had to
be sent into the cell without first shackling Lewis that they
would throw him to the ground and cuff him from behind, but
that if he would come to the cell door they could cuff him
from the front through the slot in the door. When Lewis
replied that he was unable to stand or to reach the slot,
Cichanowicz told him to get on his knees and crawl to the
door. Lewis again told them he was in severe pain and unable
to move. McLean reiterated to Lewis that if he wanted help he
needed to follow Cichanowicz's orders, and then they
walked away. The head count occurred as scheduled at
approximately 6:15 a.m., but no one came to check on Lewis or
take him to the infirmary.
Cichanowicz and McLean left Lewis's cell, Cichanowicz
viewed the video footage from Lewis's cell. Around 6:40
a.m., Cichanowicz told McLean that Lewis had not moved from a
seated position on his bed since 5:15 a.m., but she still did
nothing. Close to an hour later, Sergeant Wayne Primmer heard
from other staff that Lewis was complaining about being in
pain and unable to stand. Primmer checked the live video feed
from Lewis's cell and saw him edge himself off the bed,
fall to the floor on his knees, and then fall over onto his
side on the floor. Lewis then cried out and pulled a blanket
over himself. Primmer contacted Lieutenant Joni
Shannon-Sharpe and briefed her about Lewis's earlier
encounter with Cichanowicz and his continuing complaints of
pain and inability to stand or walk. Primmer added that Lewis
now was lying on the floor.
went to Lewis's cell at approximately 7:30 a.m. Like
Cichanowicz, she told Lewis that guards could not enter the
cell to take him to the infirmary unless he was restrained.
Lewis repeated that he could not reach the door because of
excruciating pain in his back, and also told her that
Cichanowicz told him no one would help him unless he crawled
to the cell door and that being on the floor was increasing
his pain. Shannon-Sharpe then conferred with McLean, and
someone (we are not told who) directed McLean to contact the
on-call physician, Dr. Meena Joseph.
telephoned Dr. Joseph around 7:40 a.m.-over an hour and a
half after Lewis had told her and Cichanowicz that he was in
severe pain and could not move. Dr. Joseph directed that
Lewis be taken to a hospital, and Shannon-Sharpe gathered
five guards, two of them with medical training, to transport
Lewis. They entered his cell at 7:58 a.m., restrained him,
placed him in a wheelchair, searched him with a handheld
metal-detector (after abandoning the effort to force him into
a standing position for a search when Lewis screamed that
they were causing him extreme pain), lifted him into a van,
and drove him to a local hospital. Lewis was admitted to the
emergency room at 8:53 a.m. Doctors gave him morphine for his
back pain, Ativan for his agitation, and diagnosed him with
muscle spasms of the neck and upper back and myalgia (muscle
pain). An hour later, Lewis was able to stand and walk again.
He was prescribed ibuprofen and a muscle relaxant, and was
discharged from the hospital at 10:24 a.m.
filed this suit two months later, naming as defendants
Lieutenants Cichanowicz and Shannon-Sharpe, Nurse McLean, Dr.
Joseph, and the five guards who removed him from his cell. He
claimed that all of the defendants had shown deliberate
indifference to his severe back pain by delaying his access
to medical care, and that Shannon-Sharpe and the five guards
had been indifferent to his pain because they restrained him
and did not take him to the hospital on a stretcher. Lewis
also claimed that Shannon-Sharpe and the guards had used
excessive force ...