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Giles v. Hulick

August 10, 2009

BLAKE GILES, PLAINTIFF,
v.
DONALD HULICK, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



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

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

Blake Giles, an inmate in the Centralia Correctional Center, brings this action for deprivations of his constitutional rights pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. 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).

FACTS ALLEGED

While being housed at the Menard Correctional Center, Giles worked in the slaughter house operating a meat grinder. On October 19, 2007 the grinder Giles used to complete his work fell due to unstable conditions. Defendant Pearison, Giles's supervisor in the slaughter house, told Giles to pick up the grinder and place it back on the table. Giles attempted to comply, but once the grinder was placed on the table it fell once more, this time taking the tip of his right index finger with it.

Giles was immediately taken to the Menard infirmary, and then transported to the hospital. Giles was given pain medication, and had surgery to close the wound on his hand from the missing finger tip. After surgery, Giles was taken back to Menard, and placed in a room with no water, no toilet, and little medical attention. Several grievances were filed, but were not answered, and shortly after the accident Giles was transferred to Centralia. Giles claims that the conditions in the slaughter house were a direct cause of his injury, and that the conditions of the room where he was kept after surgery only furthered his suffering.

DISCUSSION

Giles first claims that the dangerous conditions in which the meat grinder was kept, thus allowing it to fall and cause injury, amount to deliberate indifference to his personal safety. Giles suggests that as the slaughter house supervisor, Pearison had access to the area and should have seen that the grinder was unsafe. Further, as warden, Hulick should have ensured that all locations in the prison were safe for inmates.

A cause of action may be found where deliberate indifference to safety is drawn from unsafe surroundings. See Benson v. Cady, 761 F.2d 335, 339-40 (7th Cir. 1985). However, even where surroundings are found unsafe, mere negligence is not enough to establish a claim of deliberate indifference. Steading v. Thompson, 941 F.2d 498, 499-500 (7th Cir. 1991). Instead, prisoners must show that "their custodians either established the conditions to inflict wanton pain or are deliberately indifferent to whether the conditions have these effects... showing a culpable mental state is essential...." Id.

In the complaint there is no allegation that Giles informed prison officials before the fall that the meat grinder was kept in a dangerous position. There is also no allegation that either Pearison or Hulick was aware that the grinder was kept in dangerous conditions and refused to remedy the situation. Without knowledge of the danger, the prison officials cannot beheld to have been deliberately ...


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