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ROACH v. SHEAHAN

July 7, 2004.

DUANE ROACH, Plaintiff,
v.
SHERIFF MICHAEL SHEAHAN, SUPT. HOLMES, CHIEF VIVADO and JOHN MAUL, Defendants.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: REBECCA PALLMEYER, District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Plaintiff Duane Roach, currently a pretrial detainee at the Cook County Jail, brought this pro se civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. ยง 1983. Roach claims that Defendants, the Sheriff of Cook County and three Cook County Jail officers, violated his constitutional rights by denying him outdoor recreation and imposing other unlawful conditions of his confinement. Defendants have moved to dismiss the complaint pursuant to FED. R. CIV. P. 12(b)(6). For the reasons stated below, the motion is granted in part and denied in part.

DISCUSSION

  Standard of Review

  In applying Rule 12(b)(6), the issue is not whether a plaintiff will ultimately prevail but whether the claimant is entitled to offer evidence to support his claims. "This simplified notice pleading standard relies on liberal discovery rules and summary judgment motions to define disputed facts and issues and to dispose of unmeritorious claims." Swierkiewicz v. Sorema, N.A., 534 U.S. 506, 512 (2002). All well-pleaded facts are accepted as true, and all reasonable inferences are drawn in plaintiff's favor. Leatherman v. Tarrant County Narcotics Intelligence and Coordination Unit, 507 U.S. 163 (1993); Swofford v. Mandrell, 969 F.2d 547, 549 (7th Cir. 1992). Additionally, as long as they are consistent with the allegations of the complaint, a party may assert additional facts in his or her response to a motion to dismiss. Travel All Over the World, Inc. v. Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, 73 F.3d 1423, 1428 (7th Cir. 1996); Highsmith v. Chrysler Credit Corp., 18 F.3d 434, 439-40 (7th Cir. 1994). Where, as in this case, the plaintiff is not represented by counsel, the court will employ a more liberal standard of review than would be used where an attorney prepared the complaint. Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519 (1972); Whitford v. Boglino, 63 F.3d 527, 535 (7th Cir. 1995).

  FACTS

  As alleged in his complaint, on July 27, 2002, Plaintiff was assigned to the protective custody ("PC") unit of the Cook County Jail ("Jail"). That afternoon, while his unit was on outdoor recreation, two other PC inmates engaged in a fight in which one of the two was stabbed. (Complaint, page 7.) From that day until August 2, 2003,*fn1 jail officials suspended all outdoor recreation for the PC unit. During that year without outdoor recreation, PC inmates, including Plaintiff, were kept in their cells for 23 hours and allowed outside their cells for only one hour per day. He claims that "at my age, my body needs to receive oxygen from nature. My back hurt from not being able to exercise properly; even all my joints as well as my neck are stiff from not exercising." (Id. at 6.) Apart from this stiffness and pain, Plaintiff cites no other injuries. Although Defendants cited safety concerns as the reason for the recreation suspension, Plaintiff suggests this is pretextual; he alleges that there are other times when PC inmates are mixed with general population inmates, such as when being transported to court or to medical clinics in a van, or while waiting for treatment at Cermak Hospital, the jail's medical facility. (Id. at 7A.) In addition to the outdoor recreation claim, Plaintiff asserts that during very hot weather in June of 2003, the heat inside his cell was extreme, "[d]ue to the fact that instead of cool air it was winter heat." (Id.) The heat, coupled with improper ventilation, smoke from other cells where inmates were cooking (using milk cartons as fuel), and smoke from cigars smoked by some jail officials, combined to create a health hazard. (Id.)

  Plaintiff seeks injunctive relief and damages. Apart from the stiffness and pain he experienced from the lack of outdoor recreation, he cites no specific injuries. Nor has he explained what role the three supervisory officers (Acting Director John Maul, Superintendent M. Holmes, and Chief of Security S. Vivado) played in the alleged deprivations. Although Plaintiff has named Sheriff Michael F. Sheahan in the caption, his complaint makes no mention of the role, if any, that Mr. Sheahan played in the alleged wrongdoing.

  DISCUSSION

  Plaintiff was a pretrial detainee in the Cook County Jail; therefore, his claims regarding the conditions of his confinement are analyzed under the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment rather than the Eighth Amendment. See Tesch v. County of Green Lake, 157 F.3d 465, 473 (7th Cir. 1998), citing Bell v. Wolfish, 441 U.S. 520, 535 n. 16 (1979). Under either of these provisions, the standard for determining whether the conditions of confinement are punitive is the same, Salazar v. City of Chicago, 940 F.2d 233, 239-240 (7th Cir. 1991): Punishment in the constitutional sense requires allegations of extreme deprivations over an extended period of time. Hudson v. McMillian, 503 U.S. 1, 9 (1992); Bell, 441 U.S. at 542. Only those deprivations denying the minimal civilized measure of life's necessities are sufficiently grave to form the basis of an Eighth Amendment violation. Wilson v. Seiter, 501 U.S. 294, 298 (1991). Further, to establish a constitutional violation, Plaintiff must establish not only a grave deprivation, but also that defendant jail officials were deliberately indifferent to, or intended to subject him to harm. See Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 837 (1994).

  Heat and Smoke

  With respect to Plaintiff's allegations concerning heat and smoke, the court concludes that the conditions he describes do not constitute punishment in the constitutional sense. The heat extended over a two-week period; while the circumstances were undoubtedly unpleasant, Plaintiff has not identified any extraordinary impact on his own health, nor has he identified any specific physical injury. The court is uncertain whether the smoke exposure occurred only over the same two-week period or over a longer period of time; regardless of the time frame, however, Plaintiff has not alleged that the smoke exposure resulted in any specific harm. Indeed, it is not even clear from Plaintiff's complaint that any of the individuals he has named as Defendants were aware of the heat or smoke, let alone that such individuals were deliberately indifferent to it. Because Plaintiff has failed even to allege that the conditions were an extreme deprivation or that the jail officials acted with deliberate indifference to his basic human needs, see Wilson, 501 U.S. at 298-302 (1991), his claims regarding heat and smoke are dismissed.

  Restrictions on Outdoor Recreation

  In addition to the heat and smoke in June 2003, Plaintiff's complaint challenges the deprivation of outdoor recreation over a one-year period. As the Seventh Circuit has recognized in Antonelli v. Sheahan, 81 F.3d 1422 (7th Cir. 1996), "[l]ack of exercise may rise to a constitutional violation in extreme and prolonged situations where movement is denied to the point that the inmate's health is threatened." Id. at 1432. Case law makes it clear that a prisoner seeking to establish a threat to his health from the lack of exercise has a difficult burden, however. See Harris v. Fleming, 839 F.2d 1232, 1236 (7th Cir. 1988) ("Unless extreme and prolonged, lack of exercise is not equivalent to a medically threatening situation"). The fact that prisoners were confined indoors may not be sufficient to state a claim; even severe restrictions on outdoor exercise do not violate due process where the pretrial detainee has an opportunity for indoor activities. See Thomas v. Ramos, 130 F.3d 754, 764 (7th Cir. 1997) (no deprivation where prisoner had room in his cell to do push-ups, sit-ups, step-ups, and jogging in place); Stewart v. McGinnis, 800 F. Supp. 604, 616 (N.D. Ill. 1992), aff'd, 5 F.3d 1031 (7th Cir. 1993) (no constitutional deprivation where inmates were not permitted to exercise outdoors during an 85-day lockdown period but were permitted to leave their cells, use the day room, visit other cells, and go to the bathroom at any time; citing Martin v. Tyson, 845 F.2d 1451, 1456 (7th Cir. 1988) for ...


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