Kirk Szopinski v. John Koontz


NONPRECEDENTIAL DISPOSITION To be cited only in accordance with Fed. R. App. P. 32.1 United States Court of Appeals For the Seventh Circuit Chicago, Illinois 60604 Submitted December 7, 2020* Decided December 30, 2020 Before FRANK H. EASTERBROOK, Circuit Judge DANIEL A. MANION, Circuit Judge AMY J. ST. EVE, Circuit Judge No. 20-1615 KIRK SZOPINSKI, Appeal from the United States District Plaintiff-Appellant, Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin. v. No. 18-CV-437-JPS JOHN KOONTZ, et al., J. P. Stadtmueller, Defendants-Appellees. Judge. ORDER Kirk Szopinski, a Wisconsin prisoner, swallowed pieces of his eyeglasses after prison staff did not respond to his threats to do so. He sued several nurses and correctional officers, alleging that they violated the Eighth Amendment by failing to prevent his injuries or provide adequate medical care afterward. See 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The district court entered summary judgment for the defendants, and we affirm. *We have agreed to decide this case without oral argument because the briefs and record adequately present the facts and legal arguments, and oral argument would not significantly aid the court. See FED. R. APP. P. 34(a)(2)(C). No. 20-1615 Page 2 We recount the factual record in the light most favorable to Szopinski. Giles v. Tobeck, 895 F.3d 510, 512 (7th Cir. 2018). Szopinski has a history of mental illness and self-harm. While incarcerated, he has swallowed foreign bodies on at least five occasions, including pieces of his eyeglasses once before. Overnight on January 5, 2018, Szopinski’s housing unit at Waupun Correctional Institution was loud and chaotic, and at one point guards dispersed gas to take an inmate from his cell. Szopinski began calling for help while John Koontz, a sergeant, and Gwendoline Vick, a nurse, were administering an inhaler to the prisoner in the adjacent cell. Szopinski shouted that he needed to be placed under observation because he was going to harm himself, but they did not respond. As they were leaving, Szopinski yelled that he was going to hurt himself by swallowing his glasses if he wasn’t put on observation. They again ignored him. (Koontz and Vick deny hearing him, but, like the district court, we construe this fact in Szopinski’s favor.) Shortly after Koontz and Vick left, Szopinski used the emergency call button in his cell to contact the control unit, staffed at the time by correctional officer Michael Lueneburg. Szopinski said that he was going to swallow his glasses and wanted to be placed on observation to ensure his safety. But Lueneburg replied that he “had other issues to deal with,” and unless Szopinski actually hurt himself he “did not care.” Szopinski then swallowed one temple of his glasses. Lueneburg denies that this call occurred, but, again, the district court assumed it did, as do we. About 20 minutes later, correctional officer Abigail Gottschalk walked past Szopinski’s cell. He told her that he had swallowed one of his glasses temples and that he would swallow the other and cut himself if they did not remove him from his cell. …

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