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Lee v. Young

October 4, 2007


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


This matter comes before the Court on Magistrate Judge Wilkerson's Report and Recommendation ("R & R") (Doc.155), in which he recommends that the Court deny in part and grant in part Defendants's Motion for Summary Judgment. (Doc.144). Defendants have objected to various parts of the R & R. (Doc. 156). For the following reasons, the Court will ACCEPT IN PART AND REJECT IN PART Judge Wilkerson's R & R.


The parties have not taken issue with Judge Wilkerson's factual findings, so the Court need not make independent findings or recite the facts with exacting precision. However, a basic understanding of the facts is necessary to understand the substance of Defendants's objection.

Plaintiff Flynt Jules Lee (Lee) is a former inmate of the Illinois Department of Corrections (DOC). He has suffered from chronic asthma since childhood. During the period of his incarceration, his asthma progressed from being classified by his doctors as "mild" to a classification of "severe" or "acute." In 1998, while an inmate at a DOC facility not named in this suit, Lee was hospitalized for respiratory failure. During the period of time in issue, Lee was prescribed a variety of medications to control his asthma, and participated in an asthma clinic.

Over the years, Lee has repeatedly complained that exposure to second-hand smoke, or environmental tobacco smoke (ETS), exacerbates his asthma. Upon his placement in Shawnee Correctional Center (SCC) in January 2001, Medical Director, Dr. Alphonso David, determined that he should be placed in the medical wing for "medical reasons." In July of that same year, a medical doctor reviewing Lee's chart found no medical problem "which would necessitate special housing placement." Lee repeatedly complained of the effects of the ETS to his doctors and at the asthma clinic. However, after July 2001 no doctor ever recommended special housing placement for Lee or recommended that Lee be medically transferred to another facility.

When he moved out of the medical wing, Lee requested and obtained placement in a non-smoking cell. Shawnee allows inmates to request placement in non-smoking cells (cells 12-24 of each housing unit), but does not have a non-smoking wing.

Lee filed repeated complaints through SCC's grievance process complaining that his cellmate smoked in their non-smoking cell, that the exhaust fans on his wing were not functioning properly, and that ambient smoke from nearby smoking-permitted cells was invading his cell, thus denying him a truly smoke-free environment. Repairs were made to the exhaust fans and Defendant Cagle issued a disciplinary ticket to Lee's cellmate for smoking in a non-smoking cell. However, SCC refused to implement a non-smoking wing, or approve a transfer of Lee to another institution that had a non-smoking wing. SCC also took no steps to stop the commissary from selling tobacco products to inmates who lived in non-smoking cells.

Lee filed this action alleging that SCC violated his Eighth Amendment right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment. Defendants seek summary judgment on the grounds that no Eighth Amendment violations occurred, and on the grounds that they are entitled to qualified immunity from suit. Defendant Snyder requested summary judgment on the grounds that he had done nothing to subject him to individual liability. Judge Wilkerson recommended that summary judgment be granted as to Defendant Snyder in his personal capacity, but be denied on the questions of whether Lee's Eighth Amendment rights were violated and whether Defendants are entitled to qualified immunity.


The Court must review de novo the portions of the R & R to which the parties object.

Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b). After reviewing the R & R, the Court may accept, reject or modify, in whole or in part, the judge's findings or recommendations. Id. In its discretion, the Court may conduct a new hearing, consider the record before the magistrate judge anew or receive any further evidence deemed necessary. Id. "If no objection or only partial objection is made, the district court judge reviews those unobjected portions for clear error." Johnson v. Zema Systems Corp., 170 F.3d 734, 739 (7th Cir.1999).

Defendants did not object to the recommendation that Defendant Snyder be granted summary judgment and be dismissed from the action. The Court finds no clear error and accepts and adopts in ...

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