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Angel Stead v. Sergeant Thomas Skinner and Captain

September 2, 2011


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge Virginia M. Kendall


For the last few days of 2008 and first few days of 2009, plaintiff Angel Stead was a pre-trial detainee at Cermak Hospital, the medical wing of the Cook County Jail. She sued Sergeant Thomas Skinner and Captain Martha Anderson (together, "Defendants"), two correctional officers working at Cermak Hospital while Stead was held there, for providing her unconstitutional conditions of confinement. While detained at the jail, Stead was housed in a "self-contained" cell with a shower and a phone, not in the general population. According to Stead, Defendants violated her substantive due process rights in three ways: (1) for the first five days of her detention, she was menstruating but she could not wash herself because the shower and sink in her cell had no running water; (2) she did not receive enough maxi pads; and (3) she had insufficient access to a phone because the phone in her cell was broken as well.*fn1 For the below reasons, the Court grants Defendants' motion for summary judgment in its entirety (Doc. 32) because the conditions that Stead complains of were not sufficiently serious to violate Stead's constitutional rights.


Stead was a pre-trial detainee at the Cook County Jail from December 27, 2008 through January 5, 2009. (Pl. 56.1 Resp. ¶ 1.) When she arrived at the jail, officials put her in Cermak Hospital, rather than the general population,for her protection because she was a former Cook County correctional officer. (Id. ¶¶ 4-5.) Sergeant Skinner and Captain Anderson were Cook County employees who worked at Cermak Hospital at various times while Stead was detained there. (Id. ¶¶ 2-3, 13-14; Def. 56.1 Resp. ¶ 68.) Though the parties dispute whether Stead told Defendants that her sink, shower and telephone were broken, or that she needed more maxi pads, the parties agree that Stead only spoke to Sergeant Skinner and Captain Anderson briefly one time each. (Pl. 56.1 Resp. ¶¶ 36, 40-41; Stead Dep. at 145.) Plaintiff suffered no physical injuries as a result of her detention. (Pl. 56.1 Resp. ¶ 64.)

The cells on the tier where Stead was detained are "self-contained," meaning that each cell has its own bed, sink, toilet, shower, telephone and television that may be used by the detainee without restriction. (Id. ¶ 7.) These cells have more amenities than the general population area. (Pl. 56.1 Resp. ¶ 11, citing Stead Dep. at 49-50.) Though the parties dispute whether the shower, sink and telephone worked in Stead's cell, they agree that the toilet worked and that she had toilet paper, and that the other available cells on the tier had working showers and phones. (Pl. 56.1 Resp.¶ 19; Def. 56.1 Resp. ¶ 57.) Stead also had access to a working sink and toilet during trips to court on December 29, 2008, December 30, 2008, December 31, 2008 and January 5, 2009. (Pl. 56.1 Resp.

¶¶ 25-27.)*fn2 The detainee request slips that Stead filled out while detained did not mention the issues with her sink and shower, only that she wanted a phone call. (Id. ¶ 55.) She did not submit any grievance forms. (Id. ¶¶ 52-53.)

When she arrived at Cermak Hospital, Stead received a clean uniform and a maxi pad because she had started menstruating the day before. (Id. ¶ 16; Def. 56.1 Resp. ¶ 69.) The jail's policy with respect to maxi pads is to only give them out upon request because inmates use them as weapons*fn3 , as well as to jam locks and to block air flow under doors, among other problematic uses. (Pl. 56.1 Resp. ¶¶ 17-18; Def. 56.1 Resp ¶ 71.) While at the Maywood courthouse on the second day of her detention, she bled through her jail uniform pants. (Def. 56.1 Resp. ¶ 75.) A few days after she arrived at the jail, Stead received another maxi pad. (Pl. 56.1 Resp.¶ 22; Def. 56.1 Resp. ¶ 79.) On January 2, 2009, an employee of the Department of Women's Justice ("DWJ"), a treatment facility within the Cook County Jail, summoned Stead to the DWJ. (Id. ¶ 44.) There, Stead was able to take a shower and received various toiletries, as well as a new uniform, underwear, socks, shoes and two maxi pads, though by then her period was almost over. (Id. ¶ 50.) Stead's tier at Cermak Hospital had a nurse available to her at all times, but Stead never requested to see a nurse while she was detained. (Id. ¶¶ 23-24.)

As for the telephone in Stead's cell, the parties dispute whether Stead told Defendants that it was broken, and whether Stead requested to use a phone for the tier nurse not normally accessible to detainees because it has an unrestricted outside line.*fn4 They agree, however, that Stead was able to make several phone calls using free outside lines (not collect calls) while at DWJ on January 2, 2009. (Id. ¶ 49; Def. 56.1 Resp. ¶ 83.)


Summary judgment is proper when "the pleadings, the discovery and disclosure materials on file, and any affidavits show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(a). In determining whether a genuine issue of material fact exists, the Court must view the evidence and draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the party opposing the motion. See Bennington v. Caterpillar Inc., 275 F.3d 654, 658 (7th Cir. 2001); see also Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 255, 106 S. Ct. 2505, 91 L. Ed. 2d 202 (1986). However, the Court will "limit its analysis of the facts on summary judgment to evidence that is properly identified and supported in the parties' [Local Rule 56.1] statement." Bordelon v. Chicago Sch. Reform Bd. of Tr., 233 F.3d 524, 529 (7th Cir. 2000). Where a proposed statement of fact is supported by the record and not adequately rebutted, the court will accept that statement as true for purposes of summary judgment. An adequate rebuttal requires a citation to specific support in the record; an unsubstantiated denial is not adequate. See Albiero v. City of Kankakee, 246 F.3d 927, 933 (7th Cir. 2001); Drake v. Minnesota Mining & Mfg. Co., 134 F.3d 878, 887 (7th Cir. 1998) ("'Rule 56 demands something more specific than the bald assertion of the general truth of a particular matter[;] rather it requires affidavits that cite specific concrete facts establishing the existence of the truth of the matter asserted.'").


A. Constitutional Standards for Conditions of Confinement for Pre-Trial Detainees Stead asserts that the conditions of her confinement at Cermak Hospital violated her substantive due process rights. State pre-trial detainees like Stead are protected by the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. See Bell v. Wolfish, 441 U.S. 520, 535 n. 16 (1979); Tesch v. Cty. of Green Lake, 157 F.3d 465, 472-73 (7th Cir. 1998). The Due Process clause prohibits the state from punishing a pre-trial detainee and requires jail officials to "provide humane conditions of confinement" for detainees. Henderson v. Sheahan, 196 F.3d 839, 844-45 (7th Cir. 1999). That obligation includes providing adequate food, clothing, shelter, protection and medical care. Id.

"To demonstrate a constitutional violation for the conditions of [her] confinement," a pre-trial detainee "must prove both the objective component of [her] substantive due process (Did the conditions amount to punishment?) and the subjective or state of mind component (Did the officials act with a sufficiently culpable state of mind?)." Tesch, 157 F.3d at 473.*fn5 The subjective component requires the detainee to show that the jail official "knew of a substantial risk of serious injury to the detainee but nevertheless failed to take reasonable measures to prevent that harm from occurring." Id.; Antonelli v. Sheahan, 81 F.3d 1422, 1428 (7th. 1995) ("A prison official violates the constitutional rights of a pretrial detainee only when he acts with deliberate indifference. Conduct is deliberately indifferent when the defendant acts in an intentional or criminally reckless matter."); Tesch, 157 F.3d at 475-76 (finding that this "deliberate indifference" test applied in Eighth Amendment cases brought by convicted prisoners also applies to a pre-trial detainee's allegations that the defendants failed to attend to her medical needs.)

To satisfy the objective component, "the deprivation alleged must be objectively, 'sufficiently serious.'" Henderson, 196 F.3d at 845 (quoting Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 834 (1994)). To be sufficiently serious, the jail official's "act or omission must result in the denial of the minimal civilized measure of life's necessities . . . extreme deprivations are required to make out a conditions-of-confinement claim." Henderson, 196 F.3d at 845 (internal citations omitted); Christopher v. Buss, 384 F.3d 879, 882 (7th Cir. 2004) ("[a]n objectively sufficiently serious risk . . . is one that society considers so grave that to expose any unwilling individual to it would offend contemporary standards of decency.") (emphasis in original); Tesch, 157 F.3d at 476 ...

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