United States District Court, S.D. Illinois
October 21, 2005.
RONNIE L. McATEE, Inmate #B36520, Plaintiff,
DONALD N. SNYDER, ROGER E. WALKER, JONATHAN R. WALLS, EUGENE M. McADORY, WILLIAM SPILLER, DR. F. AHMED, PAM GRUBMAN, MAVIS GROSS, DOUGLAS CRAVENS, ROBERT S. GALES, and E. WINE, Defendants.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: WILLIAM STIEHL, Senior District Judge
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
Plaintiff, an inmate in the Menard 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.
To facilitate the orderly management of future proceedings in
this case, and in accordance with the objectives of Federal Rules
of Civil Procedure 8(f) and 10(b), the Court finds it appropriate
to break the claims in plaintiff's pro se complaint and other
pleadings into numbered counts, as shown below. Although these
counts do not correspond directly to the legal claims as
described by Plaintiff, they are based on the Court's
determination of the claims that arise out of the facts stated in
Plaintiff's complaint. The parties and the Court will use these
designations in all future pleadings and orders, unless otherwise
directed by a judicial officer of this Court. The designation of
these counts does not constitute an opinion as to their merit. COUNT 1: Against defendants Grubman and Ahmed for
deliberate indifference to Plaintiff's serious
medical needs, in violation of the Eighth Amendment.
COUNT 2: Against all defendants for violation of
the Rehabilitation Act
COUNT 3: Against defendants Spiller, Wine, Gales,
Walls, McAdory, Gross, Cravens, and Snyder for cruel
and unusual conditions of confinement in violation of
the Eighth Amendment.
COUNT 4: Against all defendants for violation of
the Equal Protection clause of the Fourteenth
COUNT 5: Against all defendants for violation of
his due process rights in connection with his
long-term confinement in segregation.
This case is now before the Court for a preliminary review of
the complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, which provides, in
(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). After evaluating plaintiff's
claims individually, the Court finds it appropriate to exercise
its authority under Section 1915A to dismiss those claims that
are frivolous before allowing plaintiff to proceed with his
remaining claims. See also House v. Belford, 956 F.2d 711
718-19 (7th Cir. 1992).
Plaintiff states that Defendants Grubman and Ahmed have been
negligent or deliberately indifferent to his serious medical needs. Plaintiff states that
he suffers from "extensive physical and psychological problems"
including depression anxiety, panic disorder, migraine headaches,
and atrophying of body tissue. Plaintiff further states that
Defendants Grubman and Ahmed failed to review Plaintiff's medical
and psychological condition before his was placed in a
restrictive control cell and after he was released from the
control cell, in violation of Illinois administrative rules.
The Supreme Court has recognized that "deliberate indifference
to serious medical needs of prisoners" may constitute cruel and
unusual punishment under the Eighth Amendment. Estelle v.
Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 104 (1976); Farmer v. Brennan,
511 U.S. 825 (1994). This encompasses a broader range of conduct than
intentional denial of necessary medical treatment, but it stops
short of "negligen[ce] in diagnosing or treating a medical
condition." Estelle, 429 U.S. at 106. See also Jones v.
Simek, 193 F.3d 485, 489 (7th Cir. 1999); Steele v. Choi,
82 F.3d 175, 178 (7th Cir. 1996), cert. denied,
519 U.S. 897 (1996).
A prisoner raising an Eighth Amendment claim against
a prison official therefore must satisfy two
requirements. The first one is an objective standard:
"[T]he deprivation alleged must be, objectively,
`sufficiently serious.'" Farmer, 511 U.S. at ___,
114 S.Ct. at 1977. As the Court explained in
Farmer, "a prison official's act or omission must
result in the denial of the minimal civilized measure
of life's necessities." Id. The second requirement
is a subjective one: "[A] prison official must have a
`sufficiently culpable state of mind,'" one that the
Court has defined as "deliberate indifference." Id;
see Hudson v. McMillian, 503 U.S. 1, 5,
112 S.Ct. 995, 998, 117 L.Ed.2d 156 (1992) ("[T]he appropriate
inquiry when an inmate alleges that prison officials
failed to attend to serious medical needs is whether
the officials exhibited `deliberate indifference.'");
Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 104, 97 S.Ct. 285,
291, 50 L.Ed.2d 251 (1976) ("[D]eliberate
indifference to serious medical needs of prisoners
constitutes the `unnecessary and wanton infliction of
Vance v. Peters, 97 F.3d 987, 991-992 (7th Cir. 1996),
cert. denied, 520 U.S. 1230 (1997). However, the Supreme Court
stressed that this test is not an insurmountable hurdle for
inmates raising Eighth Amendment claims: [A]n Eighth Amendment claimant need not show that a
prison official acted or failed to act believing that
harm actually would befall an inmate; it is enough
that the official acted or failed to act despite his
knowledge of a substantial risk of serious harm. . . .
Whether a prison official had the requisite
knowledge of a substantial risk is a question of fact
subject to demonstration in the usual ways, including
inference from circumstantial evidence, . . . and a
factfinder may conclude that a prison official knew
of a substantial risk from the very fact that the
risk was obvious.
Farmer, 511 U.S. at 842.
The Seventh Circuit's decisions following this standard for
deliberate indifference in the denial or delay of medical care
require evidence of a defendant's actual knowledge of, or
reckless disregard for, a substantial risk of harm. The Circuit
also recognizes that a defendant's inadvertent error, negligence
or even ordinary malpractice is insufficient to rise to the level
of an Eighth Amendment constitutional violation.
Neglect of a prisoner's health becomes a violation of
the Eighth Amendment only if the prison official
named as defendant is deliberately indifferent to the
prisoner's health that is, only if he `knows of and
disregards an excessive risk to inmate health or
Williams v. O'Leary, 55 F.3d 320, 324 (7th Cir.), cert.
denied, 516 U.S. 993 (1995); see also Steele, 82 F.3d at 179
(concluding there was insufficient evidence of doctor's knowledge
of serious medical risk or of his deliberate indifference to that
risk; emphasizing that even malpractice is not enough proof under
Farmer); Miller v. Neathery, 52 F.3d 634, 638-39 (7th
Cir. 1995) (applying Farmer mandate in jury instruction).
However, a plaintiff inmate need not prove that a defendant
intended the harm that ultimately transpired or believed the harm
would occur. Haley v. Gross, 86 F.3d 630, 641 (7th Cir.
Based on these standards, Plaintiff has not stated a claim of
deliberate indifference. Plaintiff has not made sufficient
allegations under the subjective requirement outlined above.
Plaintiff has not stated how Defendants Grubman and Ahmed were
aware of a risk to his health, but ignored it. In fact, Plaintiff himself states that their conduct was
negligent. "Mere negligence or even gross negligence does not
constitute deliberate indifference." See Snipes v. DeTella,
95 F.3d 586, 590 (7th Cir. 1996). Furthermore, Plaintiff states
later in the complaint that when he receives psychological or
psychiatric counseling he is chained to a bolt in the floor. This
statement belies his assertion that he did not receive
psychological counseling while in segregation. Ultimately,
without allegations indicating that Defendants Grubman and Ahmed
were aware of the risks to Plaintiff as a result of his medical
condition and then that they deliberately ignored them, Plaintiff
has not stated a claim of constitutional dimension. Accordingly,
this claim is DISMISSED from the action with prejudice. See
28 U.S.C. § 1915A.
Plaintiff states that a serious medical need in that he is
suffering from "a mental and physical disability." Plaintiff
states that Defendants knew of this condition, but discriminated
against him in violation of the Rehabilitation Act in the
following ways. Defendants denied him adequate psychological
treatment, an alternative to prolonged segregation in the form of
a work assignment, an opportunity to participate in vocational,
rehabilitative, and educational programs, yard privileges, an
opportunity to participate in a religious congregation, telephone
privileges, psychotherapy, and art supplies and other personal
property that could enrich his quality of life.
The Seventh Circuit has found that the Rehabilitation Act
applies to prisons, following the Supreme Court's reasoning in
Pennsylvania Department of Corrections v. Yeskey, 524 U.S. 206
(1998) (the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA),
42 U.S.C. § 12101 et seq., applies to prisons). Stanley v. Litscher,
213 F.3d 340, 343 (7th Cir. 2000). Contrary to ADA claims, which
must be pursued in state court, an individual plaintiff may
pursue claims in federal court under the Rehabilitation Act.
As for the Rehabilitation Act, 29 U.S.C. § 794: we
agree with Kilcullen v. New York State Department of
Labor, 205 F.3d 77, 79-80 (2d Cir. 2000), and
Garrett v. University of Alabama, 193 F.3d 1214,
1218 (11th Cir. 1999), cert. granted on a different
issue, ___ U.S. ___, 120 S.Ct. 1669, 146 L.Ed.2d 479
(2000), that the ADA and the Rehabilitation Act are
identical for purposes of § 5. But the Rehabilitation
Act also is a condition on the receipt of federal
funds, and legislation under the spending power is
not affected by Kimel [v. Florida Board of Regents,
528 U.S. 62 (2000)]. See Oak Park Board of Education
v. Kelly E., 207 F.3d 931, 935 (7th Cir. 2000). The
Rehabilitation Act is no different in this respect
from the IDEA, which Oak Park held adequate to
support litigation against states in federal court.
Accord, Little Rock School District v. Mauney,
183 F.3d 816, 831-32 (8th Cir. 1999). We therefore agree
with the fourth, ninth, and eleventh circuits that
the Rehabilitation Act is enforceable in federal
court against recipients of federal largess. Litman
v. George Mason University, 186 F.3d 544, 553 (4th
Cir. 1999); Clark v. California, 123 F.3d 1267,
1271 (7th Cir. 1997); Sandoval v. Hagan,
197 F.3d 484, 493-94 (11th Cir. 1999).
Stanley, 213 F.3d at 344. Therefore, the only remaining
threshold question is whether plaintiff is an "individual with a
disability" as defined in 29 U.S.C. § 705(20).
Except as otherwise provided in subparagraph (B), the
term "individual with a disability" means any
(I) has a physical or mental impairment which for
such individual constitutes or results in a
substantial impediment to employment; and
(ii) can benefit in terms of an employment outcome
from vocational rehabilitation services provided
pursuant to subchapter I, III, or VI of this chapter
[29 U.S.C.A. §§ 720 et seq., 771 et seq., or 795 et
29 U.S.C. § 705(20).
Plaintiff states that he is an individual with a disability of
a "physical or mental impairment" and that he has been denied
opportunities for rehabilitation in violation of the
Rehabilitation Act. However, the claim is flawed in that
Plaintiff does not specifically name defendants who deprived him
of the programs guaranteed in the Rehabilitation Act. Plaintiff
states generally that "the defendants" deprived him, but nowhere
does he name specific defendants responsible for the
deprivations. This failure to identify by name the individuals
responsible for the deprivations dooms Plaintiff's claim. Accordingly, this claim is DISMISSED without
prejudice to Plaintiff's amending the complaint to identify
defendants by name.
The greatest part of Plaintiff's complaint centers around the
harsh conditions of confinement in disciplinary segregation.
Although Plaintiff couches these allegations in terms of
violations of due process, the Court finds that they are more
appropriately analyzed under the line of cases dealing with cruel
and unusual conditions of confinement.
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.
[P]risoners who contest the conditions of their
confinement under the eighth amendment must establish
that their custodians either established the
conditions to inflict wanton pain or are deliberately
indifferent to whether the conditions have these
effects. The eighth amendment is concerned with
"punishment", and . . . showing a culpable mental
state is essential in establishing that conditions of
confinement are part of the "punishment".
Steading v. Thompson, 941 F.2d 498
, 499-500 (7th Cir. 1991),
citing Wilson v. Seiter, 111 S.Ct. 2321 (1991).
Plaintiff states that in segregation at Menard he is confined
to his cell for 24 hours a day, seven days a week, except for
five hours of recreation per week and one 15 minute shower.
Plaintiff is never allowed outside the segregation building. When
allowed visitors, the conditions are uncomfortable and
humiliating. The cell in which he is confined is only 4.5 feet
wide by 8 feet long. It has no window making it impossible to regulate temperature and
allow for air circulation. The door to the cell is solid steel
and contains a food slot/handcuff port. Plaintiff is allowed a
mattress, pillow, pillow case, blanket, two sheets, and only a
sparse amount of personal property. Plaintiff is not allowed to
leave his cell without being handcuffed and when he receives
counseling he is chained to a bolt in the floor. He receives no
educational programs, he is allowed no audio visual equipment, he
is not allowed to attend religious services, he has no phone
privileges, and he is allowed no programmed recreation. Plaintiff
states that at the time he was placed in segregation, he
requested cleaning supplies, but Defendant Wine denied them.
Plaintiff states that he is subjected to "filthy" living
conditions in his restrictive control segregation cell. He is
forced to sleep on a stained, worn-out mattress that has an
overpowering odor. The cell has an inadequate cooling ventilation
system. The cell is infested with "toilet and sink bugs" due to
lack of proper cleaning. The paint is peeling, the toilet leaks,
the bed frame is rusty, and the air in the cell smells of urine,
feces, and vomit. Plaintiff states that these conditions pose a
serious risk to his health. Plaintiff states that he has
repeatedly asked for cleaning supplies, but his requests have
Plaintiff states that Defendants Spiller, Wine, Gales, Walls,
and McAdory were aware of the "deplorable" living conditions, but
disregarded the excessive risk to Plaintiff's health and safety.
Plaintiff also states that Defendants Gross and Cravens, who
denied Plaintiff's grievances, were also aware of the harsh
conditions, but did nothing to remedy them.
Based on Plaintiff's allegations and the standards listed
above, this claim cannot be dismissed at this point in the
litigation. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915A.
Plaintiff nominally states that defendants have deprived him of
equal protection of the laws in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment.
Racial discrimination by state actors violates the Equal
Protection Clause of the Fourteenth amendment unless it is
narrowly tailored to serve a compelling state interest. See
DeWalt v. Carter, 224 F.3d 607, 618 (7th Cir. 2000). To
state an equal protection claim, a plaintiff must establish that
a state actor has purposely treated him differently than persons
of a different race. Id.
Plaintiff makes no specific allegations that would support an
equal protection claim. He does not state that he was treated
differently because of his race. Accordingly, this claim is
DISMISSED from the action with prejudice.
Plaintiff states that his due process rights are being violated
by his continued and long-term confinement in disciplinary
segregation because the conditions there present "atypical and
significant hardship." When a plaintiff brings an action under §
1983 for procedural due process violations, he must show that the
state deprived him of a constitutionally protected interest in
"life, liberty, or property" without due process of law.
Zinermon v. Burch, 494 U.S. 113, 125 (1990). Plaintiff vividly
describes the harsh conditions in segregation (see Count 3,
above), and these allegations might state a claim that he has
been deprived a protected liberty interest by his confinement in
segregation. However, Plaintiff's due process claim is fatally
flawed in that nowhere in the complaint does he allege how he
was denied due process. Without such allegations Plaintiff has
not stated a claim of denial of due process.
In Wolff v. McDonnell, 418 U.S. 539 (1974), the Supreme Court
set out the minimal procedural protections that must be provided
to a prisoner in disciplinary proceedings in which the prisoner
loses good time, is confined to a disciplinary segregation, or
otherwise subjected to some comparable deprivation of a constitutionally protected liberty
interest. Id. at 556-572.
Wolff required that inmates facing disciplinary
charges for misconduct be accorded  24 hours'
advance written notice of the charges against them;
 a right to call witnesses and present documentary
evidence in defense, unless doing so would jeopardize
institutional safety or correctional goals;  the
aid of a staff member or inmate in presenting a
defense, provided the inmate is illiterate or the
issues complex;  an impartial tribunal; and  a
written statement of reasons relied on by the
tribunal. 418 U.S. at 563-572.
Hewitt v. Helms, 459 U.S. 460
, 466 n. 3 (1983). The Supreme
Court has also held that due process requires that the findings
of the disciplinary tribunal must be supported by some evidence
in the record. Superintendent v. Hill, 472 U.S. 445
(1985); McPherson v. McBride, 188 F.3d 784
, 786 (7th Cir.
Ascertaining whether this standard is satisfied does
not require examination of the entire record,
independent assessment of the credibility of
witnesses, or weighing of the evidence. Instead, the
relevant question is whether there is any evidence in
the record that could support the conclusion reached
by the disciplinary board.
Hill, 459 U.S. at 455-56.
Plaintiff may have stated conditions that impose an atypical
and significant hardship that would trigger due process
protection. But, it is not the significance of the deprivation
alone that denies due process. It is a deprivation coupled with
inadequate process in imposing the conditions. Plaintiff makes no
allegations regarding the process he was given that put him in
segregation. He does not state that he received an unfair
hearing, that he was not given adequate notice, or that he was
not allowed to call witnesses in his defense. Without an
allegation of inadequate process in the procedure that led to his
prolonged confinement in segregation, Plaintiff has no due
Plaintiff does state that he was entitled, by state regulation,
to physical and mental examinations prior to being confined in
segregation, and that he did not receive these. Prior to the Supreme Court's holding in Sandin v. Conner, 515 U.S. 472
(1995),*fn1 this type of deprivation might have created a
liberty interest, but denial of those procedures, unless they do
not comport with Wolff, is not relevant to the inquiry as to
what type of procedure was employed to put Plaintiff in
segregation. If a procedure used to put a prisoner in segregation
comports with Wolff, due process is not violated, regardless of
the significance of the deprivation imposed. As such, Plaintiff
has not stated a claim. Accordingly, this claim is DISMISSED
from the action with prejudice.
A final word regarding Plaintiff's allegations of the denial of
due process is in order. Plaintiff states that the date upon
which he is to be released from disciplinary segregation is later
than his projected outdate based on his criminal sentence. This
type of claim is not cognizable in a 42 U.S.C. § 1983 action.
Claims regarding the fact or duration of an inmate's confinement
in state custody must be brought in a petition of habeas corpus
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. See Montgomery v. Anderson,
262 F.3d 641, 643 (7th Cir. 2001). Accordingly, this aspect of
his due process claim is DISMISSED without prejudice to the
filing of a petition for habeas corpus based on the allegation.
Plaintiff also lists former Illinois Department of Corrections
Director Donald N. Snyder and current Director Roger E. Walker as
defendants in the caption of his complaint. However, the
statement of claim does not include any allegations against these
defendants. "A plaintiff cannot state a claim against a defendant
by including the defendant's name in the caption." Collins v.
Kibort, 143 F.3d 331, 334 (7th Cir. 1998). See also Crowder
v. Lash, 687 F.2d 996, 1006 (7th Cir. 1982) (director of state correctional agency not personally
responsible for constitutional violations within prison system
solely because grievance procedure made him aware of it and he
failed to intervene). Accordingly Donald N. Snyder and Roger E.
Walker are DISMISSED as defendants.
The only claims against Defendants Grubman and Ahmed have been
dismissed from the action. Accordingly, Defendants Grubman and
Ahmed are also DISMISSED as defendants.
SUMMARY AND CONCLUSION
In summary, Plaintiff is allowed to proceed on Count 3 against
Defendants Walls, McAdory, Spiller, Gross, Cravens, Gales, and
Wine. All other counts of the complaint are DISMISSED from the
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 WALLS, McADORY, SPILLER,
GROSS, CRAVENS, GALES, and WINE. 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 WALLS, McADORY, SPILLER, GROSS, CRAVENS, GALES,
and WINE 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
With respect to former employees of Illinois Department of
Corrections who no longer can be found at the work address
provided by Plaintiff, the Department of Corrections shall
furnish the Marshal with the 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 I.D.O.C. pursuant to this order shall
not be maintained in the court file, nor disclosed by the
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 and a copy of this Order
upon the 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 the 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 Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 4(d)(2)
unless the defendant shows good cause for such
Plaintiff is ORDERED to serve upon defendant 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 pre-trial
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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