United States District Court, S.D. Illinois
June 6, 2005.
STEVEN QUALLS, Plaintiff,
ROBERT HERTZ and JOSEPH GULASH, Defendants.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: G. PATRICK MURPHY, Chief Judge, District
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
Plaintiff, currently an inmate in the Graham Correctional
Center, brings this action for deprivations of his constitutional
rights pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff previously was
granted leave to proceed in forma pauperis, and he has tendered
his initial partial filing fee as ordered. In his complaint,
Plaintiff presents a litany of gripes about conditions he endured
in the Madison County Jail from his arrival there in May 2003
through early September 2003, when he filed this action; each of
these gripes is discussed below.
This case is now before the Court for a preliminary review of
the complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, which provides:
(a) Screening. The court shall review, before
docketing, if feasible or, in any event, as soon as
practicable after docketing, a complaint in a civil
action in which a prisoner seeks redress from a
governmental entity or officer or employee of a
(b) Grounds for Dismissal. On review, the court
shall identify cognizable claims or dismiss the
complaint, or any portion of the complaint, if the
(1) is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a
claim on which relief may be granted; or (2) seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is
immune from such relief.
28 U.S.C. § 1915A. An action or claim is frivolous if "it lacks
an arguable basis either in law or in fact." Neitzke v.
Williams, 490 U.S. 319
, 325 (1989). Upon careful review of the
complaint and any supporting exhibits, the Court finds it
appropriate to exercise its authority under § 1915A; parts of
this action are legally frivolous and, thus, subject to summary
PRE-TRIAL DETAINEES GENERALLY
To state a claim under § 1983, a plaintiff must allege the
violation of a right secured by the Constitution and laws of the
United States, and must show that the alleged deprivation was
committed by a person acting under color of state law. West v.
Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 48 (1988). Generally, confinement of
pretrial detainees may not be punitive, because "under the Due
Process Clause, a detainee may not be punished prior to an
adjudication of guilt." Bell v. Wolfish, 441 U.S. 520, 535
(1979). Thus, conditions of pretrial confinement must be
"reasonably related to a legitimate governmental objective."
Id. at 539. See also Murphy v. Walker, 51 F.3d 714, 717
(7th Cir. 1995); Brownell v. Figel, 950 F.2d 1285 (7th
Cir. 1991). At the same time, "[t]he conditions of imprisonment,
whether of pretrial detainees or of convicted criminals, do not
reach even the threshold of constitutional concern until a
showing is made of `genuine privations and hardship over an
extended period of time.'" Duran v. Elrod, 760 F.2d 756, 759
(7th Cir. 1985). Lapses from minimum standards of sanitation
may be excusable where such conditions are temporary and affect
only a few individuals. Lunsford v. Bennett, 17 F.3d 1574, 1580
(7th Cir. 1994); Harris v. Fleming, 839 F.2d 1232 (7th
Cir. 1988). 1. GRIEVANCE PROCEDURE
Plaintiff's first claim involves the handling of grievances at
Madison County Jail. He states that in August 2003, he presented
Hertz and Gulash with a multi-part grievance. In response, Gulash
came to the cell block, briefly reviewed the grievance, and
orally rendered his opinion that the grievance had no merit.
Plaintiff is upset that Gulash would not provide him with a
photocopy of the grievance, nor would Gulash sign it. Plaintiff
alleges that such handling of his grievance constitutes a denial
of due process.
"[A] state's inmate grievance procedures do not give rise to a
liberty interest protected by the due process clause." Antonelli
v. Sheahan, 81 F.3d 1422, 1430 (7th Cir. 1995). The
Constitution requires no procedure at all, and the failure of
state prison officials to follow their own procedures does not,
of itself, violate the Constitution. Maust v. Headley,
959 F.2d 644, 648 (7th Cir. 1992); Shango v. Jurich, 681 F.2d 1091
(7th Cir. 1982). Accordingly, Plaintiff is not entitled to
any particular procedures in the handling of his grievances, and
no constitutional violation occurred when an oral opinion was
rendered. Therefore, Plaintiff's claim regarding the handling of
his grievances is dismissed from this action with prejudice.
Plaintiff states that on two different occasions, he was
"locked down" for no reason, and unspecified privileges were
revoked. He alleges that this treatment constitutes a violation
of his rights to due process.
Although confinement of pretrial detainees may not be punitive,
see Bell, 441 U.S. at 535,
a pretrial detainee can be punished for misconduct
that occurs while he is awaiting trial in a pretrial
confinement status. Notably, the basis for this
punishment is not the underlying crime of which he
stands accused; rather, this punishment is based upon
the detainee's actions while in pretrial confinement.
Rapier v. Harris, 172 F.3d 999
, 1003 (7th Cir. 1999). The
Seventh Circuit has also recognized that, for pretrial detainees,
procedural protections are required prior to the imposition of
any punishment. Rapier, 172 F.3d at 1005; Whitford v.
Boglino, 63 F.3d 527, 531 n. 4 (7th Cir. 1995) (indicating
in dictum that a due process hearing is required). See generally
Wolff v. McDonnell, 418 U.S. 539
Plaintiff alleges that he was accorded no due process at all
before being locked down; therefore, the Court is unable to
dismiss this due process claim at this point in the litigation.
See 28 U.S.C. § 1915A.
Plaintiff states that Madison County Jail does not provide free
haircuts to inmates. Instead, a local barber periodically comes
in to provide services, charging $3-5 per haircut. In the
four-month period covered by the complaint, the barber only came
once; Plaintiff alleges that he was denied a haircut at that
The Court is unaware of any constitutional provision requiring
that an inmate be provided with a free haircut, or with any
haircut at all. Therefore, Plaintiff's claim regarding haircuts
is dismissed from this action with prejudice.
Plaintiff contends that the living area of Madison County Jail
was dirty, and there was significant soap build-up in the shower
area. He alleges that he made daily requests for cleaning
supplies, but those requests were denied.
A detainee has no constitutional right to confinement in
comfort, see Martin v. Tyson, 845 F.2d 1451, 1457 (7th Cir.), cert. denied, 488 U.S. 863
(1988) (detainee has no right to a pillow, new tennis shoes, or
frequent laundry service); cf. Caldwell v. Miller,
790 F.2d 589, 601 (7th Cir. 1986), but he does possess a right to
adequate heat and shelter. Henderson v. DeRobertis,
940 F.2d 1055, 1059 (7th Cir. 1991), cert. denied, 503 U.S. 966
In a case involving conditions of confinement in a prison, two
elements are required to establish violations of the Eighth
Amendment's cruel and unusual punishments clause. First, an
objective element requires a showing that the conditions deny the
inmate "the minimal civilized measure of life's necessities,"
creating an excessive risk to the inmate's health or safety.
Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 834 (1994). The second
requirement is a subjective element establishing a defendant's
culpable state of mind. Id.
Allegations of cobwebs, mold, and soap scum simply do not
present a viable constitutional claim. Therefore, Plaintiff's
claim regarding the cleanliness of Madison County Jail is
dismissed from this action with prejudice.
Plaintiff believes that his daily breakfast of two glazed
doughnuts and a carton of milk is inadequate; he also feels the
same way about his daily dinner of a sandwich served with three
cookies, a portion of soggy chips, and a carton of juice. He
alleges that such a diet constitutes a violation of the County
Jail Act, which provides that
[t]he Warden of the jail shall furnish each prisoner
daily with as much clean water as may be necessary
for drink and personal cleanliness, and serve him
three times a day with wholesome food, well cooked
and in sufficient quantity. The Warden of the jail in
counties of the first and second class shall procure
at the expense of the county, all necessary foods and
provisions for the support of the prisoners confined
in the jail, and shall employ suitable persons to
prepare and serve the food for the prisoners, or
otherwise provide suitable food service.
730 ILCS 125/15.
These allegations, grounded only on an Illinois statute, are
insufficient to support a civil rights claim. That is, Section
1983 imposes liability only for violations of rights which are
protected by the Constitution and the laws of the United States.
West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 49 (1988); Baker v. McCollan,
443 U.S. 137, 146 (1979). Therefore, Plaintiff's claims regarding
the quality of food at the jail are dismissed from this action
Plaintiff claims during his time at Madison County Jail,
Defendants "repeatedly denied [him] recreation." The Seventh
Circuit has noted that a "[l]ack of exercise could rise to a
constitutional violation where movement is denied and muscles are
allowed to atrophy, and the health of the individual is
threatened." Harris v. Fleming, 839 F.2d 1232, 1236 (7th
Cir. 1988); French v. Owens, 777 F.2d 1250, 1255 (7th Cir.
1985), cert. denied, 479 U.S. 817 (1986). "Unless extreme and
prolonged, lack of exercise is not equivalent to a medically
threatening situation." Harris, 839 F.2d at 1236.
In this case, Plaintiff does not allege that he was deprived of
all exercise, however, only that he was denied outdoor exercise.
Although space may have been limited, Plaintiff could have
improvised by jogging in place or by doing aerobics in his cell,
thus alleviating his tension, stiffness, and depletion of energy.
See, e.g., Harris, 839 F.2d at 1236. Consequently, Plaintiff's
claim regarding denial of outdoor exercise time is dismissed from
this action with prejudice.
7. LAW LIBRARY
Plaintiff next alleges that he was continually denied access to
the law library to research and investigate case law. He filed a grievance about this situation,
which was denied.
The Seventh Circuit uses a two-part test to decide if prison
administrators have violated the right of access to the courts.
Smith v. Shawnee Library Sys., 60 F.3d 317 (7th Cir. 1995);
Jenkins v. Lane, 977 F.2d 266, 268 (7th Cir. 1992). First,
the prisoner must show that prison officials failed "to assist in
the preparation and filing of meaningful legal papers by
providing prisoners with adequate law libraries or adequate
assistance from persons trained in the law." Jenkins,
977 F.2d at 268 (quoting Bounds v. Smith, 430 U.S. 817, 828 (1977)).
Second, he must be able to show "some quantum of detriment caused
by the challenged conduct of state officials resulting in the
interruption and/or delay of plaintiff's pending or contemplated
litigation." Alston v. DeBruyn, 13 F.3d 1036, 1041 (7th
Cir. 1994); Jenkins, 977 F.2d at 268; Shango v. Jurich,
965 F.2d 289, 291 (7th Cir. 1992); Howland v. Kilquist,
833 F.2d 639, 642-43 (7th Cir. 1987); Hossman v. Sprandlin,
812 F.2d 1019, 1021 n. 2 (7th Cir. 1987). That means that a
detriment must exist, a detriment resulting from illegal conduct
that affects litigation. It does not mean that any delay is a
detriment. Kincaid v. Vail, 969 F.2d 594, 603 (7th Cir.
1992), cert. denied, 113 S. Ct. 1002 (1993). Regardless of the
length of an alleged delay, a prisoner must show actual
substantial prejudice to specific litigation. Kincaid,
969 F.2d at 603.
In this case, Plaintiff does not make a single allegation
suggesting that he suffered any detriment to any ongoing
litigation. Therefore, he has not presented a viable
constitutional claim, and his claim regarding law library access
is dismissed from this action with prejudice. 8. MEDICAL CARE
In this claim, Plaintiff alleges that he suffered from
headaches, nausea, restlessness, and tooth problems during his
stay in Madison County Jail. He states that he was not provided
with prompt, thorough medical evaluations or treatments,
resulting in poorer health and mental anguish. He filed a
grievance about his medical care, but that grievance was denied.
A state official violates the due process rights of a
pretrial detainee when she acts with deliberate
indifference toward the detainee's serious medical
needs. Murphy v. Walker, 51 F.3d 714, 717 (7th
Cir. 1995); Brownell v. Figel, 950 F.2d 1285, 1289
(7th Cir. 1991); Salazar v. City of Chicago,
940 F.2d 233, 239 (7th Cir. 1991). The Seventh
Circuit has observed that "deliberate indifference"
is simply a synonym for intentional or reckless
conduct, and that "reckless" describes conduct so
dangerous that the deliberate nature of the
defendant's actions can be inferred. Brownell,
950 F.2d at 1290. In this sense, the due process standard
is analogous to that utilized in the Eighth Amendment
context, where prison officials may be found liable
for disregarding a substantial risk to an inmate's
health or safety. See Farmer v. Brennan,
511 U.S. 825, 114 S. Ct. 1970, 128 L.Ed.2d 811 (1994). In both
cases, the relevant inquiry is whether the official
actually knew about the plaintiff's condition, not
whether a reasonable official should have known.
Compare Brownell, 950 F.2d at 1291 (applying a
subjective standard in the Fourteenth Amendment
context) with Farmer, 511 U.S. at 837,
114 S. Ct. 1970 (applying a subjective standard in the Eighth
Qian v. Kautz, 168 F.3d 949
, 955-56 (7th Cir. 1999).
Although Plaintiff's claims are not overly specific, the Court
is unable to dismiss his medical claims at this point in the
litigation. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915A.
9. COPIES AND LEGAL FORMS
Plaintiff's final claim is that Defendants refused to make
copies for him; they also refused to provide him with a copy of
his trust fund statement. This claim is similar to his claims
regarding access to the law library, in that Plaintiff does not
make a single allegation suggesting that he suffered any detriment to any ongoing litigation as the result of
Defendants' refusal to provide him with photocopies. Therefore,
he has not presented a viable constitutional claim, and his claim
regarding copies and legal forms is dismissed from this action
IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that Plaintiff's claims regarding (1)
the handling of grievances, (3) haircuts, (4) sanitation, (5)
meals, (6) recreation, (7) law library access, and (9) copies and
legal forms are DISMISSED from this action with prejudice.
The Clerk is DIRECTED to prepare Form 1A (Notice of Lawsuit
and Request for Waiver of Service of Summons) and Form 1B (Waiver
of Service of Summons) for Defendants GULASH and HERTZ. The
Clerk shall forward those forms, USM-285 forms submitted by
Plaintiff, and sufficient copies of the complaint to the United
States Marshal for service.
The United States Marshal is DIRECTED, pursuant to Rule
4(c)(2) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, to serve process
on Defendants GULASH and HERTZ in the manner specified by
Rule 4(d)(2) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Process in
this case shall consist of the complaint, applicable Forms 1A and
1B, and this Memorandum and Order. For purposes of computing the
passage of time under Rule 4(d)(2), the Court and all parties
will compute time as of the date it is mailed by the Marshal, as
noted on the USM-285 form.
With respect to former employees of Madison County Jail who no
longer can be found at the work address provided by Plaintiff,
the County shall furnish the Marshal with that Defendant's
last known address upon issuance of a Court order which states
that the information shall be used only for purposes of
effectuating service (or for proof of service, should a dispute
arise) and any documentation of the address shall be retained
only by the Marshal. Address information obtained from the County pursuant to such order shall not be maintained in
the Court file nor disclosed by the Marshal.
The United States Marshal shall file returned waivers of
service as well as any requests for waivers of service that are
returned as undelivered as soon as they are received. If a waiver
of service is not returned by a Defendant within THIRTY (30)
DAYS from the date of mailing the request for waiver, the United
States Marshal shall:
Request that the Clerk prepare a summons for that
Defendant who has not yet returned a waiver of
service; the Clerk shall then prepare such summons as
Personally serve process upon that Defendant
pursuant to Rule 4 of the Federal Rules of Civil
Procedure and 28 U.S.C. § 566(c).
Within ten days after personal service is effected,
the United States Marshal shall file the return of
service for that Defendant, along with evidence of
any attempts to secure a waiver of service of process
and of the costs subsequently incurred in effecting
service on said Defendant. Said costs shall be
enumerated on the USM-285 form and shall include the
costs incurred by the Marshal's office for
photocopying additional copies of the summons and
complaint and for preparing new USM-285 forms, if
required. Costs of service will be taxed against the
personally-served Defendant in accordance with the
provisions of FED. R. CIV. P. 4(d)(2) unless the
Defendant shows good cause for such failure.
Plaintiff is ORDERED to serve upon Defendants or, if
appearance has been entered by counsel, upon that attorney, a
copy of every further pleading or other document submitted for
consideration by this Court. He shall include with the original
paper to be filed with the Clerk of the Court a certificate
stating the date that a true and correct copy of any document was
mailed to Defendant or his counsel. Any paper received by a
district judge or magistrate judge which has not been filed with
the Clerk or which fails to include a certificate of service will
be disregarded by the Court.
Defendants are ORDERED to timely file an appropriate
responsive pleading to the complaint and shall not waive filing a reply pursuant to
42 U.S.C. § 1997e(g).
Pursuant to Local Rule 72.1(a)(2), this cause is REFERRED to
a United States Magistrate Judge for further pretrial
Further, this entire matter is hereby REFERRED to a United
States Magistrate Judge for disposition, as contemplated by Local
Rule 72.2(b)(2) and 28 U.S.C. § 636(c), should all the parties
consent to such a referral.
Plaintiff is under a continuing obligation to keep the Clerk
and each opposing party informed of any change in his
whereabouts. This shall be done in writing and not later than
seven (7) days after a transfer or other change in address
IT IS SO ORDERED.
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