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Antoine v. Walker

July 27, 2009


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Herndon, Chief Judge


Plaintiff Nathan Antoine brings this action for deprivations of his constitutional rights pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983.


In January 2005, Antoine was placed in the Segregation Housing Unit in the Menard Correctional Center for the improper use and possession of a typewriter. Though he was eventually cleared of the charges, Antoine was placed into segregation for the first of three times during the investigation. Antoine asserts that this incident began a chain of events that culminated in medical indifference and due process violations, all done in retaliation against him.

Antoine's lengthy complaint and voluminous exhibits can be boiled down into repeated assertions concerning conditions of confinement, medical indifference, retaliation, and conspiracy. Antoine now seeks injunctive, compensatory, and punitive relief from twenty different defendants. 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 the complaint into numbered counts, as shown below. 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 Walker, Uchtman, Martin, Ramos, McDaniel, Gladson, Grubman, Gerdes, Mueller, Spiller, Ohlau, Goforth and Murray for exposing him to hazardous environmental conditions, in violation of his rights under the Eighth Amendment.

COUNT 2: Against Defendants Walker, Martin, Condor, Gladson, Grubman, Gerdes, Mueller and Ohlau for not ensuring proper medical treatment, in violation of his rights under the Eighth Amendment.

COUNT 3: Against Defendants Uchtman, Ramos, Mitchell, Robertson, Mueller, Spiller and Ohlau for unjustified disciplinary actions, in violation of his rights under the Fourteenth Amendment.

COUNT 4: Against Defendants Walker, Uchtman, Ramos, McDaniel, Petite, Robertson, Bradley, Mueller, Spiller, Ohlau and Thomas for taking retaliatory action against him, in violation of his rights under the First Amendment.

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 governmental entity.

(b) Grounds for Dismissal.-- On review, the court shall identify cognizable claims or dismiss the complaint, or any portion of the complaint, if the complaint--

(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). An action fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted if it does not plead "enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 1974 (2007). Upon careful review of the complaint and any supporting exhibits, the Court finds it appropriate to exercise its authority under § 1915A; portions of this action are subject to summary dismissal.


Antoine's first claim is that he was exposed to hazardous environmental conditions in the North Cellhouse, which led to nose bleeds, coughing up blood, and unspecified heart problems.*fn1 His first grievance over these conditions was sent directly to Defendant Walker on March 7, 2005 (¶¶ 6, 8).*fn2 A copy of that grievance was forwarded to Defendant Mueller on April 11, 2005 (¶ 10). Subsequently, on orders from Defendants Walker and Uchtman, personnel assigned to that cellhouse were directed to clean up the areas complained of by Antoine (¶ 11). On April 29, Antoine received a response to his original grievance that was sent to Walker; he was directed to follow the proper grievance procedure through the institution (¶ 15). On July 13, Antoine forwarded a letter to Defendant Murray, the grievance officer (¶ 17). On July 21, Murray returned the grievance to Antoine without a response; Antoine then sent that response to the Administrative Review Board, claiming that the institution refused to address the issue (¶ 18). On July 22, Antoine filed a grievance against Defendants Murray and Goforth, charging that they had failed to provide an adequate response to his grievance over the hazardous conditions; that grievance was sent to Defendants Mueller and Spiller (¶ 19).

On August 3, Defendant Grubman reported in a letter that Defendant Gerdes had found the cellhouse to be medically acceptable (¶ 21). On August 7, Antoine sent a second letter directly to Defendant Walker regarding the hazardous conditions, as well as the indifference exhibited by staff members regarding these conditions (¶ 22-23). On August 18, Antoine filed a grievance against Mueller and Spiller for failing to address his prior grievance about the hazardous conditions (¶ 26). On September 2, he filed yet another grievance against Mueller and Spiller, this time charging them with destruction of his prior grievances; this grievance was sent to Defendant Ohlau (¶ 30). On September 4, Antoine filed a grievance against Defendants Grubman, Gerdes, Martin, Ramos and McDaniels for their collective failure to address the environmental conditions (¶ 31). On September 15, Antoine filed a grievance against Defendant Ohlau for misplacing or destroying the September 4 grievance (¶ 35). On September 22, Antoine wrote to the Grievance Officer in an attempt to locate his first and second grievances about the environmental conditions (¶ 38). On September 30, Antoine filed his fourth grievance over the environmental conditions (¶ 42). On October 29, Antoine filed a grievance against Defendants Grubman, Gladson, Gerdes and Martin, asserting that they had made false representations to Defendant Murray about the environmental conditions (¶ 47).

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 ...

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