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Wisconsin Settles State Prisoner’s Lawsuits for $13,000

On February 2, 2017, Wisconsin officials agreed to pay $13,000 to settle two pro se federal lawsuits.

Samuel S. Upthegrove, a Wisconsin state prisoner with mental health issues, filed two suits related to conditions of his confinement. One of his complaints alleged that, while he was incarcerated at the Wisconsin Resource Center (WRC) between 2013 and 2015, psychiatrist Michelle Andrade developed animosity toward him and, due to that animosity, inappropriately cancelled his anti-anxiety medication and had him placed in a straight-jacket-like restraint device for 72 hours.

Andrade also allegedly conspired with other WDC employees to put Upthegrove in an extremely restricted housing area where he was denied access to his personal property – including toothbrushes, flossers, pen and paper – making it impossible to practice proper dental hygiene or write to his family and friends.

WDC staff were also accused of conspiring to place him in an observation cell for weeks and months at a stretch. The observation cell was filthy with blood, feces and dirt, and had no toilet or other sanitary facilities. Upthegrove was denied cleaning supplies, a mattress and toilet paper, and claimed he had to use his bare hands to shove his feces down a hole in the center of the cell.

After Upthegrove was granted permission by the district court to proceed on his claims, state officials agreed to settle the case and another suit for $13,000. However, $10,643.86 of that payment was earmarked to pay Upthegrove’s outstanding debts for victim and witness restitution, DNA surcharges, medical copays, legal loans and court costs. His second lawsuit claimed that staff at the Columbia Correctional Institution had failed to protect him from harming himself when he used part of a pen to repeatedly cut his arm. See: Upthegrove v. Bartow, U.S.D.C. (E.D. Wisc.), Case No. 2:16-cv-00424-JPS and Upthegrove v. Baird, U.S.D.C. (W.D. Wisc.), Case No. 3:15-cv-00509-wmc. 

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Related legal cases

Upthegrove v. Bartow

Upthegrove v. Baird