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NEAL v. CLARK

August 21, 1996

KEVIN L. NEAL, Plaintiff,
v.
DWAYNE CLARK, et al., Defendants.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: ALESIA

 Before the court is defendants' Keith Cooper's ("Cooper") and Edward Handy's ("Handy") (collectively, "defendants") motion for summary judgment pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(b). For the reasons that follow, the court grants defendants' motion for summary judgment.

 I. BACKGROUND

 Neal filed a second amended complaint under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging that Handy and Cooper violated Neal's constitutional rights by keeping Neal in a cell with non-functioning plumbing for 20 days. Specifically, Neal alleged that on March 31, 1995, he was assigned to cell 414 in the west segregation block at Joliet Correctional Center. The cell had no hot water; the water in the toilet ran continuously; and Neal had to use a plunger to move waste out of the toilet bowl. Although Neal complained about these conditions, and on April 12, 1995, sent a letter about his cell conditions to Cooper, the prison warden, he was not moved to a different cell until April 20, 1995.

 Cooper and Handy have moved for summary judgment on Neal's claim, contending that the conditions of Neal's cell were not so egregious that they rose to the level of cruel and unusual punishment; and that Cooper and Handy had no personal involvement in the conditions of Neal's cell, and so did not inflict unconstitutional punishment upon Neal.

 II. DISCUSSION

 A. Standard for deciding a motion for summary judgment

 A motion for summary judgment must be granted if "the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law." FED. R. CIV. P. 56(c). The burden is on the moving party to show that no genuine issue of material fact exists. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 256, 106 S. Ct. 2505, 2514, 91 L. Ed. 2d 202 (1986); Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322, 106 S. Ct. 2548, 2553, 91 L. Ed. 2d 265 (1986).

 Once the moving party presents a prima facie showing that he is entitled to judgment as a matter of law, the party opposing the motion may not rest upon the mere allegations or denials in its pleadings but must set forth specific facts showing that a genuine issue for trial exists. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 256-57, 106 S. Ct. at 2514; Celotex, 477 U.S. at 324, 106 S. Ct. at 2553; Schroeder v. Lufthansa German Airlines, 875 F.2d 613, 620 (7th Cir. 1989). All reasonable factual inferences must be viewed in favor of the non-moving party. Holland v. Jefferson Natl. Life Ins. Co., 883 F.2d 1307, 1312 (7th Cir. 1989).

 B. Whether the conditions of Neal's cell violated his constitutional rights

 Neal claims that defendants subjected him to punishment in violation of the Eighth Amendment because of the conditions of the cell in which they kept him for three weeks. An inmate's claim that prison officials inflicted cruel and unusual punishment on him because of the conditions of his confinement has both an objective component and subjective component. First, the claimed deprivation must be sufficiently serious to constitute a constitutional violation -- the objective component. Hudson v. McMillian, 503 U.S. 1, 8, 112 S. Ct. 995, 999, 117 L. Ed. 2d 156 (1992); Wilson v. Seiter, 501 U.S. 294, 298, 111 S. Ct. 2321, 2324, 115 L. Ed. 2d 271 (1991). Second, the defendants must have acted with a sufficiently culpable state of mind -- the subjective component. Hudson, 503 U.S. at 8, 112 S. Ct. at 999; Wilson, 501 U.S. at 298, 111 S. Ct. at 2324. The inmate must establish both elements to succeed on his claim. See Hudson, 503 U.S. at 8, 112 S. Ct. at 999; Wilson, 501 U.S. at 298, 111 S. Ct. at 2324.

 "Prison officials have a responsibility to provide inmates with [the] minima of shelter, sanitation and utilities -- basic necessities of civilized life." Johnson v. Pelker, 891 F.2d 136, 139 (7th Cir. 1989) (citing Harris v. Fleming, 839 F.2d 1232, 1235 n.4 (7th Cir. 1988) (citing Ramos v. Lamm, 639 F.2d 559 (10th Cir. 1980), cert. denied, 450 U.S. 1041, 101 S. Ct. 1759, 68 L. Ed. 2d 239 (1981)); Wells v. Franzen, 777 F.2d 1258, 1264 (7th Cir. 1985)). To amount to a constitutional violation, conditions of confinement must result in "extreme deprivations" of these necessities. Hudson, 503 U.S. at 8-9, 112 S. Ct. at 1000. "Because routine discomfort is 'part of the penalty that criminal offenders pay for their offenses against society,' ... 'only those deprivations denying "the minimal civilized measure of life's necessities" are sufficiently grave to form the basis of an Eighth Amendment violation."' Id. (quoting Rhodes v. Chapman, 452 U.S. 337, 347, 101 S. Ct. 2392, 2399, 69 L. Ed. 2d 59 (1981); Wilson, 501 U.S. at 298, 111 S. Ct. at 2324 (quoting Rhodes, 452 U.S. at 347, 101 S. Ct. at 2399)).

 In reviewing Neal's claim, the court considers the totality of the conditions of Neal's confinement to determine whether he has been deprived of basic human needs. See Johnson, 891 F.2d at 138 (citing French v. Owens, 777 F.2d 1250, 1252 (7th Cir. 1985), cert. denied, 479 U.S. 817, 107 S. Ct. 77, 93 L. Ed. 2d 32 (1986)). The following facts regarding the conditions of Neal's confinement are uncontested.

 In his deposition, Neal acknowledges that he had his toiletries from the time he arrived in segregation. (Neal Dep. at 6.) Neal had running cold water in his cell, and was able to brush his teeth and wash with the cold water. (Id. at 8, 9, 19.) Neal was able to take showers, with hot and cold water, twice a week while he was assigned to cell 414. (Id. at 10, 14.) Neal was given regular meals, served with coffee and juice ...


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