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Hayes v. Dixon

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

March 10, 2015

EMANUEL W. HAYES, No. N38177, Plaintiff,
v.
ROBERT HILLARD, LARUE LOVE, and K. DIXON, Defendants.

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

MICHAEL J. REAGAN, Chief District Judge.

Plaintiff Emanual W. Hayes is an inmate currently housed in Building 19 at Vienna Correctional Center. Pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, Plaintiff brings this action for deprivations of his constitutional rights with respect to the conditions of his confinement.

This case is now before the Court for a preliminary review of the complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. The Court is required to dismiss any portion of the complaint that is legally frivolous, malicious, fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or asks for money damages from a defendant who by law is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b).

An action or claim is frivolous if "it lacks an arguable basis either in law or in fact." Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325 (1989). Frivolousness is an objective standard that refers to a claim that "no reasonable person could suppose to have any merit." Lee v. Clinton, 209 F.3d 1025, 1026-27 (7th Cir. 2000). An action fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted if it does not plead "enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). The claim of entitlement to relief must cross "the line between possibility and plausibility. Id. at 557. At this juncture, the factual allegations of the pro se complaint are to be liberally construed. See Rodriguez v. Plymouth Ambulance Serv., 577 F.3d 816, 821 (7th Cir. 2009).

Analysis

Plaintiff Hayes takes issue with the conditions of his confinement in Building 19 at Vienna Correctional Center, where he has been housed since June 11, 2014. Among the pages of unsanitary and unhealthy conditions described in the complaint: Building 19 is extremely overcrowded; there are only two working toilets for 124 inmates, resulting in waits averaging 30 minutes; Plaintiff is being exposed to asbestos-covered pipes and mold; there are no screens in the windows, so bugs-including roaches-enter the area freely; the plumbing leaks; it is too hot in the summer and too cold in the winter; and the lights are left on 24 hours per day.

It is further alleged that Plaintiff asked Officer K. Dixon to fix a broken toilet seat and leaking pipes ( see Doc. 1, pp. 6, 10). Although Dixon said "Ok, " nothing was fixed. Although Warden Hillard and Assistant Warden of Operations Love are named as defendants, there is no mention of them in the narrative of the complaint.

Plaintiff seeks injunctive relief and compensatory damages.

The alleged conditions of confinement, alone or in combination, are actionable Eighth Amendment claims. See Vance v. Rumsfeld, 701 F.3d 193, 205-06 (7th Cir. 2012) (citing Wilson v. Seiter, 501 U.S. 294, 304 (1991) (holding that conditions of confinement may establish an Eighth Amendment violation in combination, even if each would not suffice alone; this would occur when they have "a mutually enforcing effect that produces the deprivation of a single, identifiable human need such as food, warmth, or exercise")). However, that does not end the analysis.

Section 1983 creates a cause of action based on personal liability and predicated upon fault; thus, "to be liable under [Section] 1983, an individual defendant must have caused or participated in a constitutional deprivation." Pepper v. Village of Oak Park, 430 F.3d 809, 810 (7th Cir. 2005) (citations omitted). Consequently, the respondeat superior doctrine-supervisor liability-is not applicable to Section 1983 actions. Sanville v. McCaughtry, 266 F.3d 724, 740 (7th Cir. 2001) (quoting Chavez v. Ill. State Police, 251 F.3d 612, 651 (7th Cir. 2001)). However, allegations that senior officials were personally responsible for creating the policies, practices and customs that caused the constitutional deprivations may suffice to demonstrate personal involvement for purposes of Section 1983 liability. See Doyle v. Camelot Care Centers, Inc., 305 F.3d 603, 615 (7th Cir. 2002).

Warden Hillard and Assistant Warden Love, they are only listed in the case caption and there are no allegations of personal involvement. Merely naming a defendant in the caption is insufficient to state a claim. See Collins v. Kibort, 143 F.3d 331, 334 (7th Cir. 1998). Consequently, Assistant Warden Love will be dismissed without prejudice. Warden Hillard, in his individual capacity, will be dismissed without prejudice. Hillard will remain as a named defendant in his official capacity for purposes of injunctive relief only. See Delaney v. DeTella, 256 F.3d 679, 687 (7th Cir. 2001) (the warden of the facility is the proper defendant to answer for claims regarding conditions of confinement and to carry out any injunctive relief granted).

The allegation that Officer Dixon said he would submit a work order, and the fact that the repair work was never completed, as pleaded, does not state a viable Eighth Amendment claim. Prison officials can violate the Eighth Amendment's proscription against cruel and unusual punishment when their conduct demonstrates "deliberate indifference." Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 104 (1976). As a general matter, a prison official may be liable "only if he knows that inmates face a substantial risk of serious harm and disregards that risk by failing to take reasonable measures to abate it." Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 847 (1994). Proving deliberate indifference requires more than a showing of negligent or even grossly negligent behavior. Id. at 835. Rather, the corrections officer must have acted with the equivalent of criminal recklessness. Id. at 836-37. Officer Dixon indicated he would file a work slip, which does not suggest deliberate indifference, and Plaintiff acknowledges in the complaint that he is only "guessing" that Dixon did not submit the work slip ( see Doc. 1, p. 6). It is equally possible that Dixon submitted the work request and the repairman did not follow through. The claim against Dixon fails to satisfy the Twombly pleading standard and will be dismissed without prejudice.

Because no Defendant remains in the case in his individual capacity, the request for compensatory damages will be dismissed. The Eleventh Amendment, however, bars official capacity claims for monetary ...


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