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Boyce v. Johnson

United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division

July 17, 2014

ANTHONY BOYCE, (# R-52162), Plaintiff,
v.
ADA JOHNSON, et al., Defendants.

ORDER

AMY J. ST. EVE, District Judge.

The Court denies the motion to dismiss filed by Defendants Ada Johnson, Marcus Hardy, Lydia Dethrow, James Louch, and Ralph Burkybile [73], which Salvador Godinez joined. Johnson, Hardy, Dethrow, Louch, Burkybile, and Godinez shall answer the amended complaint by August 18, 2014. The Court notes that although it granted Godinez's oral motion to join the motion to dismiss, counsel has not filed an appearance on his behalf. Counsel must do so promptly. Plaintiff Anthony Boyce is reminded that he must identify the Doe Defendants and provide their identity to the Court so they may be served within the statute of limitations.

STATEMENT

Pro se Plaintiff Anthony Boyce alleges that various officials at Stateville Correctional Center violated the Eighth Amendment by placing him in a cell with a window that let in frigid air and a faulty electrical socket that caught fire and burned him, and then were deliberately indifferent to his complaints about the medical care he received for his injuries. He also contends that his mattress was soiled and that he was unable to obtain cleaning supplies for his cell. Before the Court is a motion to dismiss pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) filed by Defendants Johnson, Hardy, Dethrow, Louch, and Burkybile, which Godinez joined. The motion focuses on Boyce's claims about the temperature in his cell, his mattress, the electrical socket fire and the resulting burn, and the care provided for the burn, so the Court will likewise focus on these facts and not address Boyce's allegations about his requests for cleaning supplies. For the following reasons, the Court denies Defendants' motion to dismiss.

BACKGROUND

The Court draws the following facts from Boyce's amended complaint and accepts them as true for purposes of the motion to dismiss. See Cincinnati Life Ins. Co. v. Beyrer, 722 F.3d 939, 946 (7th Cir. 2013). In addition, the Court will construe Boyce's allegations liberally because he is proceeding pro se. See Ambrose v. Roeckeman, 749 F.3d 615, 618 (7th Cir. 2014). Boyce is an Illinois state prisoner who was confined at the Stateville Correctional Center at all times relevant to this action. (R. 59, Am. Compl., ¶ 1.) He filed this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against defendants Ada Johnson (Stateville's "placement officer"), Marcus Hardy (Stateville's warden at the relevant time), Salvador Godinez (Director of the Illinois Department of Corrections), James Louch (an engineer at Stateville), Ralph Burkybile (a Lieutenant at Stateville), Mark Hale (CEO of Wexford Health Sources, which provides medical care at Stateville), Latoya Williams (a doctor at Stateville who treated Boyce), Imohotep Carter (a doctor at Stateville who purportedly received letters from Boyce about Boyce's medical treatment), and three Doe defendants (John Doe counselor, John Doe electrician, and John Doe manufacturer of the electrical sockets used at Stateville). ( Id. at p. 2-3.) Although not listed in the caption of Boyce's amended complaint, the body of the amended complaint and the docket for this case also include Lydia Dethrow (an employee at Stateville) as an additional defendant.

On February 23, 2012, Boyce was moved to a segregation cell in Stateville. (R. 59, Am. Compl., ¶ 1.) The cell had a dirty mattress that was covered with feces and stained with urine, as well as a "dysfunctional window" that did not close and thus allowed cold winter air to enter. ( Id. ¶¶ 2, 3.) Burkybile and unspecified individuals denied Boyce's requests for cleaning supplies. ( Id. ¶¶ 9, 39.) The following day, an electrical socket in the cell caught fire. ( Id. at ¶ 5.) Boyce burned his hand attempting to extinguish the fire. ( Id. ¶ 7.) The complaint does not detail the severity of Boyce's injuries.

Burkybile came to the cell to investigate a burning smell and rejected Boyce's request for medical assistance. ( Id. ¶ 9.) Following the fire, Boyce wrote letters to Hardy complaining about the conditions in his cell and his medical care. ( Id. ¶¶ 13-17.) Subsequently, Boyce asked Hardy to be moved to a different cell in a face-to-face interaction when Hardy was touring Stateville. ( Id. ¶ 25.) Hardy also signed many of the grievances attached to Boyce's complaint in the capacity of a reviewer. Dethrow appears to have handled grievances filed by Boyce about the condition of his cell and the fire that were not resolved to Boyce's satisfaction. ( Id., Ex. 34, 37.) Boyce also alleges that Dethrow told him that she "wasn't gonna testify against staff members" and encouraged him to "stop his grievance process." ( Id. ¶ ¶ 23-24.)

The body of the complaint does not contain any specific allegations about Johnson but Boyce attaches letters to "Sarah Johnson" complaining about the denial of health care and the condition of his cell. ( Id., Ex. 32, 79, and 104.) Boyce wrote letters to Louch complaining about the smoke and cold air in his cell but Louch ignored Boyce's requests for help. ( Id. ¶ 28.) Boyce wrote similar letters to Godinez, who also did not respond. ( Id. ¶ 30, Ex. 23, 97.)

LEGAL STANDARD

"A motion under Rule 12(b)(6) tests whether the complaint states a claim on which relief may be granted." Richards v. Mitcheff, 696 F.3d 635, 637 (7th Cir. 2012). A complaint must include "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). The short and plain statement must "give the defendant fair notice of what the claim is and the grounds upon which it rests." Bell Atlantic v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (citation omitted). Thus, a plaintiff's "factual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level." Id. This means that a complaint must contain sufficient factual content "to allow the court to draw a reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.'" Charleston v. Board of Trs. of Univ. of Ill. at Chicago, 741 F.3d 769, 772 (7th Cir. 2013) (quoting Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009)). Put differently, a complaint "must provide enough details about the subject matter of the case to present a story that holds together." Mehta v. Beaconridge Improvement Ass'n, 432 Fed.Appx. 614, 616 (7th Cir. 2011) (citing Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 93 (2007); Swanson v. Citibank, 614 F.3d 400, 404 (7th Cir. 2010)). The Court asks "whether the story could have happened, not whether it did." Id.

DISCUSSION

I. Hardy, Johnson, Burkybile, and Louch

Burkybile argues that his refusal to take Boyce to the health care unit after Boyce burned his hand does not state a claim for deliberate indifference because a reasonable layperson would not have ...


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