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Goffman v. Boniface Gross

July 6, 1995

PAUL H. GOFFMAN,

PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,

v.

BONIFACE GROSS, DANNY JAIMET, LIEUTENANT MAUE, ET AL.,

DEFENDANTS-APPELLEES.



Appeal from the United States District Court for the Southern District of Illinois, East St. Louis Division.

No. 90 C 3462--William D. Stiehl, Judge.

Before POSNER, Chief Judge, MANION, and KANNE, Circuit Judges.

MANION, Circuit Judge.

ARGUED FEBRUARY 17, 1995

DECIDED JULY 6, 1995

Paul Goffman, an inmate in the Illinois prison system, brought this action for damages and other relief against state officials under 42 U.S.C. sec. 1983, claiming the defendants' refusal to provide him with a non-smoking cellmate constituted deliberate indifference to his immediate medical needs. The matter was referred to a magistrate judge who, following an evidentiary hearing, recommended that judgment be entered against Goffman and in favor of the defendants. The district court, upon a de novo review of the record, accepted the magistrate judge's recommendations and entered judgment for the defendants. We affirm.

I.

Goffman is serving a sentence at Menard Correctional Center, where he has been confined since 1975. The named defendants are various correctional officers at the prison.

In 1988 Goffman was diagnosed with lung cancer. Goffman's attending physician at Menard, Dr. Mugarrab Khan, referred Goffman to Belleville Memorial Hospital for removal of his right lung. The surgery was a resounding success: Goffman shows no evidence of lung cancer in his remaining lung, and is apparently cured--a rare occurrence with lung cancer.

Shortly after his surgery, Goffman requested Dr. Khan issue him a "white card," a medical slip permitting the holder to be housed with a non-smoking cellmate. Dr. Khan testified that he issued such cards to inmates when they requested them, regardless of whether it was medically necessary that the inmate be housed with a non-smoking cellmate. Goffman's request was no exception. Dr. Khan testified that he issued Goffman a white card because Goffman requested one, not because he believed it was medically necessary. Indeed, because Goffman had been cured of his cancer, Dr. Khan was of the opinion that second-hand smoke posed no greater danger to Goffman than to any other inmate.

Despite his receipt of the white card, Goffman was housed with smoking cellmates. In addition, Goffman experienced occasional post-surgery respiratory problems, some of which were severe enough to require hospitalization. Perceiving a link, Goffman filed this sec. 1983 action against the various defendants for violating his Eighth Amendment rights. He claims that their failure to provide him with a non-smoking cellmate constituted deliberate indifference to the effects smoking by his cellmates was having on his medical condition. The matter was referred to a magistrate, who, following an evidentiary hearing, found that Goffman had failed to present evidence establishing either a serious medical need traceable to cigarette smoke or defendants' indifference to it. The magistrate recommended that judgment be entered in favor of the defendants. Following a de novo review of the record, the district court adopted the magistrate's recommendation and entered judgment in favor of the defendants.

Goffman filed a timely notice of appeal from the district court's judgment. Shortly thereafter, Goffman filed a motion for a new trial. Goffman's motion was based upon a press release of a new study conducted by a Dr. Ritchie suggesting that blacks may be more predisposed to develop lung cancer from smoking than whites. Goffman requested the court vacate its judgment and allow him another go 'round so that he could present this study as evidence in support of his claim. The district court denied the motion, observing that Goffman had failed to establish how this "newly discovered" evidence was material to his claim of deliberate indifference, would be credible, or would affect the outcome of the court. Goffman challenges the district court's denial of his Rule 60(b) motion along with the court's original judgment in favor of the defendants.

II.

The main thrust of Goffman's appeal is directed to the district court's conclusion that the defendants were not deliberately indifferent to his medical needs. In rendering its judgment the district court adopted the magistrate judge's findings and conclusions of law. Before addressing Goffman's claims, we think it would be helpful to set out ...


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