Jenner & Block

Former Wisconsin Inmate Alleges Cruel and Unusual Punishment

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit recently reversed a lower court’s grant of summary judgment against Jenner & Block pro bono client and former Wisconsin prison inmate Donald Greeno, allowing him to proceed with his lawsuit against several medical care providers who allegedly refused to effectively treat his esophageal ulcer while he was incarcerated.

Despite his worsening condition from 1994 to 1997, prison medical personnel allegedly did not test or effectively treat Mr. Greeno’s symptoms, which included severe heartburn and vomiting blood on a regular basis.  Rather, he claims he was given a dangerous amount of antacids and was told to “learn to live with” his ulcer during that time.  Even after his esophageal ulcer was diagnosed in 1997, he was occasionally refused treatment.  

While still in prison, Mr. Greeno filed a lawsuit in 2000 against numerous medical and administrative personnel in the Wisconsin Department of Corrections, alleging that they had exhibited “deliberate indifference” to his serious medical needs, in violation of the Eighth Amendment’s proscription against cruel and unusual punishment. 

The district court at first dismissed his claims, but the Seventh Circuit reversed and remanded the dismissal in 2001.  On remand, the district court granted summary judgment to the defendants, and, for a second time, the Seventh Circuit reversed the lower court’s decision as to several defendants.  The matter will now go to trial. 

Jenner & Block represented Mr. Greeno in this second appeal to the Seventh Circuit.  Associate Amy K. Trueblood briefed and argued the case, with assistance from Partners John R. Harrington and Barry Levenstam.