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Deangelo M Jones (B-23005 v. Marcus Hardy

April 4, 2012


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge Joan B. Gottschall


Plaintiff Deangelo Jones, an Illinois inmate currently incarcerated at the Menard Correctional Center, initiated this 42 U.S.C. § 1983 suit in January 2011 against Stateville Correctional Center officers and numerous Illinois Department of Corrections officials. Plaintiff alleges that the conditions in Stateville's F-House, where he was housed in 2009, were so deplorable that they amounted to a violation of his Eighth Amendment right against cruel and unusual punishment. On July 11, 2011, the Court conducted a preliminary review of Plaintiff's amended complaint and determined that Plaintiff could proceed with that complaint against Stateville Warden Marcus Hardy and Stateville Officers Lieutenant Michel, and Sergeant Wiles, the supervisors of F-House.

Defendants Hardy, Michel, and Wiles have filed a Motion to Dismiss, to which Plaintiff has responded. For the following reasons, the Court grants in part and denies in part the motion. Plaintiff is allowed to proceed with some of his claims, but other claims are dismissed.


When considering a motion to dismiss, a court assumes to be true all well-pleaded allegations and views the alleged facts, as well as any inferences reasonably drawn therefrom, in a light most favorable to the plaintiff. Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 93 (2007); Marshall-Mosby v. Corporate Receivables, Inc., 205 F.3d 323, 326 (7th Cir. 2000). The purpose of a motion to dismiss is to test the sufficiency of the complaint, not to decide the merits, or determine a plaintiff's ultimate ability to succeed on his claims. Weiler v. Household Finance Corp., 101 F.3d 519, 524 n.1 (7th Cir. 1996).

Under the notice pleading requirement, a complaint need only state a federal claim and provide the defendant with sufficient notice of the claim, including the grounds upon which the claim rests. Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). The complaint, however, must at least "plausibly suggest that the plaintiff has a right to relief, raising that possibility above a 'speculative level.'" E.E.O.C. v. Concentra Health Services, Inc., 496 F.3d 773, 776 -77 (7th Cir. 2007). If a plaintiff pleads facts demonstrating that he has no claim, a court may dismiss the complaint. McCready v. eBay, Inc., 453 F.3d 882, 888 (7th Cir. 2006).


Plaintiff's amended complaint alleges the following claims. He was housed in F-House at Stateville from February to December 2009. Plaintiff states that the atmosphere in F-House was extremely hostile with insufficient security; there were many fights between inmates; one inmate was killed by his cellmate; and Plaintiff feared for his safety. (Am. Compl. at 12.) Allegedly, Plaintiff requested to be moved, but Defendants Wiles and Michel, the supervisors of F-House, told him that the only way to be moved was to be involved in a fight. (Id.)

Plaintiff then alleges the following conditions. The water at Stateville was contaminated with radium and rust, prison employees did not drink it, and Plaintiff experienced diarrhea and nausea as a result. (Id. at 14.) The ventilation in F-House was extremely poor, causing stifling conditions in hot weather or when cells are overheated. (Id. at 15.) F-House was allegedly infested with roaches, spiders, and other bugs, as well as birds and mice. (Id.) Cleaning supplies were not handed out weekly, but instead twice a month, and inmates had to tear towels to create rags in order to clean. (Id. at 16.) Meals were served cold and were brought to cells on trays used for transporting trash. (Id. at 17.) Bright lights in the hallway outside his cell were kept on 24 hours of day, which disrupted Plaintiff's sleep. (Id. at 18.) Inmates were not given season-appropriate clothing. (Id.) Adequate grievance procedures were not followed. (Id.) Lastly, inmates were not given sufficient gym or yard time and had very limited access to the library and their legal boxes. (Id. at 13.)

Plaintiff states that he suffered migraines, loss of sleep, stress, high blood pressure, stomach pains, and sinus problems as a result of the above-described conditions. (Id. at 20.)

III. Defendants' Motion to Dismiss

Defendants argue that Plaintiff's amended complaint fails to state a claim because (1) there is no indication that Warden Hardy was personally involved in the conditions, and (2) the conditions were not so deficient to amount to a constitutional violation.

As to Warden Hardy, Defendants correctly state that § 1983 liability against Hardy in his individual capacity requires direct, personal involvement. See Palmer v. Marion County, 327 F.3d 588, 594 (7th Cir. 2003). There is no respondeat superior theory of liability for civil rights actions, and "§ 1983 lawsuits against individuals require personal involvement in the alleged constitutional deprivation." Id. Plaintiff need not allege "direct participation," but there must be at least some indication "that the [Warden] acquiesced in some demonstrable way in the alleged constitutional violation." Id.

The conditions Plaintiff alleges, for the most part, appear to have been broad problems throughout Stateville's F-House (pest infestation, poor ventilation, bright lights in hallways, food being delivered on trays that also carry trash, inadequate security, inadequate yard and library time). "Defendants such as the Sheriff . . . of the Jail [and here, the Warden of a Prison] can realistically be expected to know about or participate in creating system[ic] jail conditions." Sanders v. Sheahan, 198 F.3d 626, 629 (7th Cir. 1999) (citing Antonelli v. Sheahan, 81 F.3d 1422, 1429 (7th Cir. 1996)). Additionally, in response to the motion to dismiss, Plaintiff asserts that Hardy concurred with the denial of Plaintiff's grievances about F-House conditions, thus "making him aware of the problems." (Doc. #32, Pl.'s Memorandum in Response at 2.) A "prison official's knowledge of prison conditions learned from an inmate's communications can, under some circumstances, constitute ...

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