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$32,000 Settlement for Failure to Provide Insulin to Diabetic Wisconsin Prisoner

In federal court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin on October 6, 2023, state prisoner Carl F. Self stipulated to dismissal of his medical neglect claims against the state Department of Corrections (DOC), after he accepted a $32,000 settlement.

A diabetic, Self was incarcerated at Green Bay Correctional Institution when his insulin prescription expired on June 28, 2021. He usually received six to eight units of insulin several times a day based on his blood sugar levels. Self filed a refill request and spoke with nurse Angela Linsen, but she refused to renew the prescription because there was a “no order” on the computer system used by the medical department.

Two days later, on June 30, 2021, Self’s glucose level was recorded at 450—normal is 70 to 100—and he began experiencing extreme dizziness and sweating. Even after hearing the high reading, though, Linsen still failed to provide Self with insulin. She also instructed staff to stop checking his blood sugar.

Unsurprisingly, Self passed out in his cell the next day and fell, striking his head, which opened a gash and caused extreme pain in his jaw. His cellmate tried to summon help with an emergency call button, but it didn’t work. Once a guard arrived and notified medical staff, Self’s glucose level was checked, and it indicated that he needed insulin, as well as showing elevated blood pressure. No insulin was provided, however, as the computer still had a “no order” for renewing his prescription. He was returned to his cell with no medical treatment.

It wasn’t until Self’s attorney contacted the warden’s office the next day that the prescription was manually refilled. By that point, Self had gone without insulin for five days. Prison officials later acknowledged that a glitch in the computer system—it wasn’t being monitored by medical staff for possible errors—had been at fault.

Self filed suit pro se in April 2022, raising a claim of deliberate indifference to his medical needs against Warden Dylan Radtke, the prison’s health services manager and three nurses. Citing Ortiz v. City of Chicago, 656 F.3d 523 (7th Cir. 2011) and Williams v. Hertz, 43 Fed.Appx. 964 (7th Cir. 2002), he noted that diabetes is deemed a “serious medical condition” for Eighth Amendment purposes. His claim against Warden Radtke also alleged that the non-working emergency call buttons in cells “put all inmates in danger.”

The parties then proceeded to reach their settlement, under which the state agreed to make its payment to Self, which included costs and fees for the attorney who represented him in mediation, Vanessa K Eisenmann of Biskupic & Jacobs SC in Mequon. See: Self v. Utter, USDC (E.D. Wisc.), Case No. 22-cv-0511.  

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Related legal case

Self v. Utter