The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hon. Joan H. Lefkow
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
The plaintiff, a state prisoner, has brought this pro se civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The plaintiff claims that the water supply at the Stateville Correctional Center is "toxic," undrinkable, and has caused him health problems. This matter is before the court for ruling on the defendants' motion to dismiss the amended complaint for failure to state a claim. For the reasons stated in this order, the motion is denied.
It is well established that pro se complaints are to be liberally construed. Kaba v. Stepp, 458 F.3d 678, 681, 687 (7th Cir. 2006). Pro se submissions are held to a less stringent standard than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers. Bridges v. Gilbert, 557 F.3d 541, 546 (7th Cir. 2009). Rule 8(a)(2) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure requires only "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief," in order to " 'give the defendant fair notice of what the . . . claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.' " Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (quoting Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 47 (1957)); Windy City Metal Fabricators & Supply, Inc. v. CIT Tech. Fin. Servs., Inc., 536 F.3d 663, 667 (7th Cir. 2008).
To satisfy the notice pleading requirements of Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2), the plaintiff must only state his basic legal claim and provide "some indication . . . of time and place." Thompson v. Washington, 362 F.3d 969, 971 (7th Cir. 2004). In addition, when considering whether to dismiss a complaint for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted, the court assumes all factual allegations in the complaint to be true, viewing all facts--as well as any inferences reasonably drawn therefrom--in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. Parish v. City of Elkhart, 614 F.3d 677, 679 (7th Cir. 2010); Bell Atlantic Corp., 550 U.S. at 563 (citing Swierkiewicz v. Sorema N.A., 534 U.S. 506, 514 (2002)). A well-pleaded complaint may proceed even if it appears "that actual proof of those facts is improbable, and that a recovery is very remote and unlikely." Bell Atlantic Corp., 550 U.S. at 556.
Nevertheless, the factual allegations in the complaint must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level. Bell Atlantic Corp., 550 U.S. at 555. While a complaint challenged by a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss does not need detailed factual allegations, a plaintiff's obligation to provide the grounds of his entitlement to relief requires more than mere labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do. Bell Atlantic Corp., 550 U.S. at 555 (citations omitted). The court "need not accept as true legal conclusions, or threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements." Brooks v. Ross, 578 F.3d 574, 581 (7th Cir. 2009). "The complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Bonte v. U.S. Bank, N.A., 624 F.3d 461, 463 (7th Cir. 2010) (citing Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 129 S. Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009)).
The plaintiff is an Illinois state prisoner, confined at the Stateville Correctional Center at all times relevant to this action. Defendant Marcus Hardy is Stateville's warden. Defendant Gladyse Taylor is the acting director of the Illinois Department of Corrections.
The plaintiff alleges the following facts, assumed true for purposes of the motion to dismiss:
Stateville's water is polluted with "dangerous toxins" and "dirty and filthy substances." The water is routinely rusty, brown, and malodorous, looking and smelling like "sewer water." Sometimes the water smells as if it has been over-treated with chlorine.
The plaintiff has filed multiple grievances complaining that the water is dirty, filthy, and unsafe to drink. All of the grievances have been denied, leaving the plaintiff and other inmates with no choice but to drink the water unless they can afford bottled water. Stateville employees and visitors, in contrast, do not drink the water. The prison, along with towns in the Joliet area, issue occasional "boil orders;" however, inmates do not have the capacity to boil their water.
A December 2003 warden's bulletin advised staff and inmates that Stateville's water exceeded maximum allowable levels of radium that year (as set by the federal Environmental Protection Agency). According to the memo, radium in the concentrates present in Stateville's water is linked to bone cancer "in a very small portion of the population." (Warden's Bulletin No. 2003-118, Unmarked Exhibit to the Amended Complaint.) A water fountain was removed from the visiting room; in addition, the warden has expressly directed prison employees not to drink the water.*fn1
In the years since the plaintiff has been incarcerated, he has suffered a stroke and a heart attack; he also has gastro-intestinal issues and is currently taking medication for acid reflux disease and high blood pressure.
On November 18, 2010, the plaintiff took his morning medication with tap water. The water was sandy and gritty, as well as "dirty and nasty," and caused a burning sensation in the plaintiff's mouth when he drank it. For the next three days, the plaintiff suffered from diarrhea and ...