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Bernard Mims (#R-55072 v. Warden Marcus Hardy

June 11, 2012

BERNARD MIMS (#R-55072), PLAINTIFF,
v.
WARDEN MARCUS HARDY, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



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

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Plaintiff, a state prisoner, has brought this pro se civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff claims that Defendants, officials at the Stateville Correctional Center, violated Plaintiff's constitutional rights by subjecting him to cruel and unusual conditions of confinement, because he spent forty-five days in a cell with no working plumbing. Defendants move to dismiss the complaint for failure to state a claim and for lack of personal involvement. For the reasons stated in this order, the motion is granted only as to Defendant Godinez.

I. STANDARD ON A MOTION TO DISMISS

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).

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 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, 678 (2009)). Furthermore, a plaintiff can plead himself or herself out of court by pleading facts that undermine the allegations set forth in the complaint. See, e.g., Whitlock v. Brown, 596 F.3d 406, 412 (7th Cir. 2010) (citations omitted) ("A judicial admission trumps evidence. This is the basis of the principle that a plaintiff can plead himself out of court.").

II. FACTS

Plaintiff Bernard Mims is an Illinois state prisoner, confined at the Stateville Correctional Center. Defendants Marcus Hardy and Darryl Edwards are, respectively, Stateville's warden and assistant warden. Defendant Jose Prado is a correctional sergeant who supervised Plaintiff's housing unit while he was incarcerated at Stateville. Defendant Sytera Sanders was Plaintiff's prison counselor. Defendant Salvador Godinez is the Director of the Illinois Department of Corrections.

Plaintiff alleges the following facts, assumed true for purposes of the motion to dismiss: On June 1, 2011, the water to Plaintiff's cell was turned off so that he had no running water either in his sink or toilet. Plaintiff notified Defendant Prado who promised that a work order would be submitted.

A week later, Plaintiff's plumbing had not been fixed; consequently, he began writing letters to the administration and filing grievances. He was sometimes given ice to quench his thirst; however, the ice was invariably dirty and he had no means of rinsing it off. The ice was so filthy that it turned his drinking water and soda "oily." At night, whenever Plaintiff or his cellmate needed to use the facilities, they had to go through the chain of command for access to a functioning washroom. The process frequently took several hours. He often went without drinking water.

After several more days, Prado furnished Plaintiff with a bucket full of water to pour into the toilet to make it flush. However, the bucket was refreshed only every few days; in the meantime, Plaintiff's waste remained in the toilet bowl. The cell "smelled like an outhouse." Plaintiff felt vulnerable to reprisal by his neighboring inmates, who angrily complained to him about the smell and believed him to have intentionally "hoarded" his human waste. Plaintiff was able to shower three times a week, but he had no opportunity to wash himself between showers.

Despite Pardo's repeated assurances that a work order had been prepared, Plaintiff was still without running water over a month after he had reported the plumbing problems. Plaintiff wrote more letters to each of the named Defendants, none of whom took any action.

On July 1, 2011, Plaintiff submitted an emergency grievance to Defendant Hardy. Hardy declined to treat the grievance as an emergency matter. Defendants still took no steps either to rectify the problem or to reassign Plaintiff to another cell.

Plaintiff remained in a "condemned" cell with no running water from June 1, 2011, to July 14, 2011, a total of forty-five days. Plaintiff had to endure stomach-churning foul odors; he went without drinking water during "some of the hottest days of the year;" and a nurse advised him that his urine was dark yellow ...


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