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McDonald v. Lovell

United States District Court, Southern District of Illinois

February 7, 2014

JIMI P. MCDONALD, Plaintiff,
v.
ROBERT LOVELL and ALAN DALLAS, Defendant.

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

STEPHEN C. WILLIAMS United States Magistrate Judge

I. Introduction

Before the Court is a Motion for Summary Judgment (Docs. 43 & 44) filed by Defendants Robert Lovell and Alan Dallas. Defendants argue that they are entitled to summary judgment in this case because they were not deliberately indifferent to Plaintiff’s health or safety. Plaintiff has filed a Response (Doc. 52) in opposition to Defendants’ motion. Based on the following, the Court GRANTS Defendants’ motion for summary judgment (Docs. 43 & 44).

II. Findings of Fact

The events which form the basis of Plaintiff’s Complaint occurred while Plaintiff was housed at Lawrence Correctional Center (Doc. 44 Ex. A at p. 19). When Plaintiff arrived at Lawrence, he received inmate orientation from Defendant Lovell. At the orientation, inmates are told all the rules, all the job assignments, and all the educational programs that are available at the prison (Id. at p.20). He testified that they are required to sign forms that acknowledge that they received training, but the inmates do not receive any training and specifically do not receive any caustic training (Id. at p. 20). Inmates face disciplinary action if they do not sign the forms (Id. at p.21). Plaintiff testified that he was told he would receive training on dealing with chemicals when he started his job, but he did not receive any training (Id.). Plaintiff did state that at orientation, inmates are informed that they will come into contact with chemicals and they have to sign a form so that they can clean their rooms (Id. at p. 22). Plaintiff testified that he had no further interactions with Lovell after the orientation (Id. at p. 56). He also acknowledged that Lovell did not know Plaintiff would be working in dietary at the time of the orientation (Id. at p. 57).

Within two months of Plaintiff arriving at Lawrence, he was hired as a dietary worker (Doc. 44 Ex. A at p. 25). Plaintiff had cooked and worked in several dietaries within the Illinois Department of Corrections and he was originally placed as a line worker at Lawrence but quickly went to work in the main kitchens (Id. at pp. 26-27, 29). He did not receive any training when he started working in the kitchen (Id. at p. 27). At the time that Plaintiff received his injuries on July 14, 2010, he was working in the kitchen as a cook (Id. at p. 28).

Plaintiff testified that when working as a cook, he was sometimes responsible for cleaning the vats that they cook the food in (Doc. 44 Ex. A at p. 29). Plaintiff cleaned vats approximately once per week (Id. at p. 32). When preparing to clean, an inmate would fill the vat with water to let it soak and then request cleaning product from the supervisor (Id.). The supervisor would provide the inmate with a white bucket with cleaning materials in it and a scrub pad (Id.). Mrs. Walker was one of his supervisors at the time of his incident (Id. at p. 33). The cleaning agent used in the kitchen at the time was Citral Green, a cleaning chemical the prison had only recently started using (Id. at p. 34).

On the day that Plaintiff was injured, he had been cooking in a vat and after he was finished he went to his supervisor for some soap (Doc. 44 Ex. A at p. 36). Plaintiff retrieved a white bucket and the supervisor poured green soap into his bucket and instructed him to put water in the bucket and clean (Id. at pp. 36-37). Plaintiff could not recall if Mrs. Walker gave him the soap but he knows he spoke with the other supervisor, Mr. Walker, about his injuries (Id. at pp. 36-38). As he was cleaning, the water splashed on his shirt and pants (Id. at p. 37). An hour after cleaning, his skin felt like it was on fire and he informed his supervisor, Mr. Walker, about the problem (Id.). Mr. Walker allowed him to leave. Plaintiff testified that in the past, the green soap had splashed on him while cleaning and he had developed a rash on his arms, a sunburned type rash, but not like the rash he received on July 14, 2010 (Id. at pp. 38-39). Plaintiff also indicated that they usually had rubber gloves and plastic aprons to protect them when cleaning but the prison no longer had any due to budgetary issues (Id. at p. 39). When cleaning, he usually did get some of the product on him and it was not uncommon to be wet from either hosing down the area or sweat (Id. at p. 40).

Plaintiff indicated that his skin felt enflamed and it was on his arms, chest, and legs (Id. at p. 42). He had extreme irritation, and the skin was red and painful (Id.). It was not bad enough, however, that he felt like he needed to go to the hospital. He asked to take a shower and get some dry clothes (Id. at p. 43). He knew that it was a reaction to the soap because he has had a rash develop before and has seen other inmates in the kitchen get similar rashes (Id.). Mr. Walker gave him permission to leave and he went and took a shower and changed clothes (Id. at p. 44). He also put Vaseline on his body and laid in front of the fan for the rest of the day (Id.).

The following day, Plaintiff went back to work. He was working around the ovens and it was extremely warm (Id. at p. 45). He worked for two to three hours and then saw that his skin was glowing (Id.). His skin was also painful. Plaintiff tried to finish preparing the meal because he didn’t want to leave in the middle of work (Id. at p. 46). However, Plaintiff’s skin continued to look red and he saw that it was peeling off like when a person has a bad sunburn (Id.). He also noticed that his shirt was covered in blood as his nipples were irritated and bleeding (Id.). His skin on his legs was raw (Id.).

Plaintiff went to his supervisor and asked to go to the hospital or to see a nurse, but his supervisor informed him that he had to ask permission from the Lieutenant, Defendant Dallas. Plaintiff showed Dallas his shirt and peeling arms and Dallas told him it was not life-threatening, but told him to go take a shower, put on clean clothes, and put in a nurse sick call (Doc. 44 Ex. A at p. 47). Plaintiff spoke for two minutes with Dallas and showed him his skin and bloody shirt (Id. at p. 49-50). Plaintiff indicated that his shirt had two baseball size circles of blood from his nipples (Id. at p. 50). Plaintiff indicated that he knew the nurse sick call was a six to seven day wait, but he followed Dallas’ orders and returned to his unit (Id. at p. 47).

Upon returning to his unit, Plaintiff filed a sick call slip (Id. at p. 51). Plaintiff saw the nurse on July 21, 2010 (Id. at p. 52). Plaintiff showed the nurse his skin and told her that he was still in a bit of pain. She gave him ointment and told him that she thought it was clearing up fine (Id. at pp. 52-53). By the time Plaintiff saw the nurse, he indicated that he was not suffering from any symptoms (Id. at p. 53). Plaintiff indicated that from the time of his injury to July 21, 2010 when he saw the nurse, his condition continued to improve. He compared his injury to a severe sunburn that hurts but if a person stays dry and clean, it gets better (Id. at p. 53). Plaintiff indicated that within that six day period he treated himself was Vaseline and ibuprofen (Id. at pp. 53-54). Plaintiff was allowed back to work approximately two weeks after his injury. Plaintiff did not speak to Defendant Dallas after his initial encounter with him (Id. at p. 59).

III. Conclusions of Law

A. Summary Judgment Standard


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