Case: Freeman v. Berge

3:03-cv-00021 | U.S. District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin

Filed Date: Feb. 13, 2003

Closed Date: 2006

Clearinghouse coding complete

Case Summary

On February 13, 2003, a prisoner in the Wisconsin Department of Corrections (DOC), filed a suit in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the DOC. The plaintiff, pro se at the time of the filing, asked the court for injunctive relief and damages, alleging that the employees of the DOC violated his constitutional rights. Specifically, the plaintiff alleges that the employees of the DOC violated his rights, under the Due Process Clause and th…

On February 13, 2003, a prisoner in the Wisconsin Department of Corrections (DOC), filed a suit in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the DOC. The plaintiff, pro se at the time of the filing, asked the court for injunctive relief and damages, alleging that the employees of the DOC violated his constitutional rights. Specifically, the plaintiff alleges that the employees of the DOC violated his rights, under the Due Process Clause and the 8th Amendment, by subjecting him to unreasonable strip searches, depriving him of food, exposing him to extreme temperatures, and placing him on paper restrictions.

By order dated February 13, 2003, the District Court (Judge Barbara B. Crabb) ruled that Plaintiff could proceed with his claim that defendants violated his 8th Amendment rights to be free from cruel and unusual punishment when they denied him food, subjected him to extreme cell temperatures, conducted unreasonable strip searches and subjected him to sensory deprivation and social isolation. Judge Crabb dismissed, as legally frivolous, the plaintiff's claim that the DOC violated his Due Process rights by placing him on paper restriction.

On June 3, 2003, Judge Crabb dismissed the plaintiff's claim against the DOC regarding unreasonable strip searches, stating that the plaintiff failed to exhaust his administrative remedies with respect to his claim. The court also dismissed plaintiff's claim that the defendants deprived him of social interaction because the defendants had qualified immunity against liability for damages. The court further stated that injunctive relief was unnecessary in regards to the lack of social interaction because a previous class action suit against the DOC and the prison, of which the Plaintiff was a class member, resulted in a settlement agreement that addressed the issue.

Defendants moved for summary judgment on the Plaintiff's two remaining claims. On December 17, 2003, the court denied summary judgment on Plaintiff's food deprivation claim, but granted summary judgment on his claim that he was subject to extreme temperatures, stating that there was not enough evidence to prove his claim to the jury.

On June 6, 2004, Plaintiff was assigned private counsel. On July 30, 2004, Plaintiff filed a second amended complaint, alleging that the DOC's practice of depriving Plaintiff of food for multiple days in a row when he refused to comply with prison policy constituted cruel and unusual punishment and exposed his health to serious harm. Plaintiff sought injunctive relief, compensatory and punitive damages, and attorney's fees.

The case proceeded to trial and, on December 21, 2004, a permanent injunction was granted enjoining the defendants from withholding meals from Plaintiff in response to any rule violation that does not constitute an imminent security risk. The jury also found the defendants liable for violating the plaintiff's constitutional rights and awarded plaintiff $50,000 in compensatory damages and $400,000 in punitive damages against each of the individually named defendants.

On March 21, 2005, the 7th Circuit ruled that prisoners who miss meals because of rule violations were never subject to punishment, but rather were punishing themselves and therefore could not sustain cruel and unusual punishment claims. Rodriguez v. Briley, 403 F.3d 952 (7th Cir. 2005). In response to the 7th Circuit ruling, Judge Crabb vacated the judgment and instructed the clerk of the court to enter judgment in favor of all defendants on all claims.

Plaintiff's petition for writ of certiorari to the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit was denied.

Summary Authors

Ashley Grolig (11/13/2014)

People


Judge(s)

Crabb, Barbara Brandriff (Wisconsin)

Crocker, Stephen L. (Wisconsin)

Deininger, David (Wisconsin)

Dykman, Charles P. (Wisconsin)

Easterbrook, Frank Hoover (Illinois)

Higginbotham, Paul B. (Wisconsin)

Lundsten, Paul (Wisconsin)

Manion, Daniel Anthony (Indiana)

Posner, Richard Allen (Illinois)

Rovner, Ilana Kara Diamond (Illinois)

Judge(s)

Crabb, Barbara Brandriff (Wisconsin)

Crocker, Stephen L. (Wisconsin)

Deininger, David (Wisconsin)

Dykman, Charles P. (Wisconsin)

Easterbrook, Frank Hoover (Illinois)

Higginbotham, Paul B. (Wisconsin)

Lundsten, Paul (Wisconsin)

Manion, Daniel Anthony (Indiana)

Posner, Richard Allen (Illinois)

Rovner, Ilana Kara Diamond (Illinois)

Wood, Diane Pamela (Illinois)

Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Harth, David J. (Wisconsin)

Walkenhorst, Sarah C. (Wisconsin)

Attorneys(s) for Defendant

Finkelmeyer, Corey F. (Wisconsin)

Hoornstra, Charles D. (Wisconsin)

Lautenschlager, Peggy A. (Wisconsin)

McCambridge, James (Wisconsin)

Urdan, Joely (Wisconsin)

Documents in the Clearinghouse

Document

Docket

April 19, 2006 Docket
1

Order [requiring plaintiff to pay partial filing fee]

2003 WL 23142229

Jan. 23, 2003 Order/Opinion
2

Order [Granting Attorney Fees]

2005 U.S.Dist.LEXIS 2464

Feb. 13, 2003 Order/Opinion
2

Order [Granting in part and dismissing in part claims]

2003 WL 23109671

Feb. 13, 2003 Order/Opinion
9

Order [Denying Motion for Default Judgment]

2003 WL 23167292

March 20, 2003 Order/Opinion
24

Opinion and Order [Granting in part and denying in part defendant's motion to dismiss claims]

283 F.Supp.2d 1009

June 4, 2003 Order/Opinion
28

Order [Denying Plaintiff's Motion for Reconsideration]

2003 WL 23208945

June 20, 2003 Order/Opinion

Order [Affirming Decision]

U. S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit

68 Fed.Appx. 738, 2003 WL 21462603, 2003 U.S.App.LEXIS 12809

June 20, 2003 Order/Opinion
38

Order

2003 WL 23282509

June 30, 2003 Order/Opinion

Per Curiam

State ex rel. Freeman v. Berge

Wisconsin state appellate court

668 N.W.2d 564, 2003 WL 21705992

July 24, 2003 Order/Opinion

Docket

Last updated May 13, 2022

ECF Number Description Date Link

Jams Import Utility Entry (Entered: 05/19/2004)

May 19, 2004

NORTC − NONRANDOM; FEE PAID. (Entered: 05/19/2004)

May 19, 2004
1

JS−44 (Entered: 05/19/2004)

May 19, 2004
2

NOTICE OF REMOVAL (Entered: 05/19/2004)

May 19, 2004
3

MOTION BY PLTF. FOR SANCTION W/RESPONSE IN OPPOSITION TO DEFT. NOTICE OF REMOVAL. (Entered: 05/20/2004)

May 20, 2004
4

RECORD FROM DANE COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT. (Entered: 05/24/2004)

May 24, 2004
5

SUPPLEMENTAL RECORD FROM DANE COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT. (Entered: 05/26/2004)

May 26, 2004

RECORD SENT TO DANE COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT. (Entered: 05/28/2004)

May 28, 2004
7

JUDGMENT ENTERED DISMISSING PLTF. FEDERAL LAW CLAIMS WITH PREJUDICE. (TMO) CC MLD (Entered: 06/15/2004)

June 15, 2004

SUPPLEMENTAL RECORD (CERT. COPY OF #7) SENT TO DANE COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT. (Entered: 06/15/2004)

June 15, 2004

State / Territory: Wisconsin

Case Type(s):

Prison Conditions

Special Collection(s):

Solitary confinement

Strip Search Cases

Key Dates

Filing Date: Feb. 13, 2003

Closing Date: 2006

Case Ongoing: No

Plaintiffs

Plaintiff Description:

Prisoner at the Wisconsin Secure Program Facility Correctional Institution alleges violation of right to be free from cruel and unusual conditions of confinement, right to be free from unreasonable searches and right to due process

Plaintiff Type(s):

Private Plaintiff

Public Interest Lawyer: No

Filed Pro Se: Yes

Class Action Sought: No

Class Action Outcome: Not sought

Defendants

Wisconsin Department of Corrections, State

Defendant Type(s):

Corrections

Case Details

Causes of Action:

42 U.S.C. § 1983

Constitutional Clause(s):

Due Process

Unreasonable search and seizure

Cruel and Unusual Punishment

Availably Documents:

Trial Court Docket

Complaint (any)

Any published opinion

Outcome

Prevailing Party: Defendant

Nature of Relief:

None

Source of Relief:

None

Issues

General:

Assault/abuse by staff

Conditions of confinement

Disciplinary procedures

Food service / nutrition / hydration

Recreation / Exercise

Sanitation / living conditions

Search policies

Solitary confinement/Supermax (conditions or process)

Strip search policy

Totality of conditions

Affected Gender:

Male

Medical/Mental Health:

Self-injurious behaviors

Type of Facility:

Government-run