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Henderson v. Watson

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

March 26, 2015

WILLIAM HENDERSON, #B83639, Plaintiff,
v.
RICHARD WATSON, S. REID, MEARL JUSTUS, OFFICER LEVI BRIDGES, and LT. NICHOLS Defendants.

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

J. PHIL GILBERT, District Judge.

Plaintiff William Henderson is currently incarcerated in the Lawrence Correctional Center in Sumner, Illinois, but was previously held at the St. Clair County Jail in Belleville, Illinois, from February 2012 to September 2012, and again from February 2014 to April 2014. (Doc. 8 at 1, 5-8.) Proceeding pro se, Henderson has filed an amended petition pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. ( Id. ) Henderson claims that he was exposed to inadequate conditions at the St. Clair County Jail during his two periods of incarceration there. ( Id. at 5.)

This matter is now before the Court for a preliminary review of Henderson's complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. Under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, the Court shall review a "complaint in a civil action in which a prisoner seeks redress from a governmental entity or officer or employee of a government entity." During this preliminary review, the court "shall identify cognizable claims or dismiss the complaint, or any portion of the complaint" if the complaint "is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted" or if it "seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief."

Procedural History

Henderson filed his initial § 1983 complaint in this Court on September 10, 2014, naming Sheriff Richard Watson and the St. Clair County Jail as Defendants. (Doc. 1.) Henderson alleged that he was housed at the St. Clair County Jail once in 2012 and once in 2014, and on both occasions was subjected to unsanitary and inadequate conditions at the jail. ( Id. ) He claimed that he was exposed to urine-contaminated water, that he was refused access to a working restroom, that he could not obtain drinking water on several occasions, and that he was deprived of a bed for several days. ( Id. ) His first complaint was dismissed for want of specific allegations directed against Sheriff Watson or the St. Clair County Jail. (Doc. 6.)

On November 4, 2014, Henderson filed a first amended complaint, this time naming Watson, along with S. Reid, Mearl Justus, Levi Bridges, and Lt. Nichols. (Doc. 8 at 1.) In his first amended complaint, Henderson claims that he was first placed in the St. Clair County Jail on February 18, 2012. ( Id. at 5.) He was initially housed in a holding cell, which had a leaking toilet, a blanket placed underneath the toilet to catch the "foul smelling water from the toilet, " a non-functioning sink, and no drinking water. ( Id. ) Henderson was sent to L-Block "a day or so later, " where he was "subjected to a filthy living area" with guards who "refused to pass out cleaning material, " such as a "broom, mop, bucket, disinfectant, and rags." ( Id. at 5-6.) During his time at L-Block, Henderson also alleges that he was subjected to a "filthy shower" that had "black mold" in it, that the paint was "peeling off the tables and walls, " that "rusty steel with holes in it were in the foundation by the toilets, " and that rodents infested the block. ( Id. )

In March 2012, Henderson was moved from L-Block to the jail's gymnasium, where he was forced to "lay and sleep on a filthy floor in the gym on a plastic mattress from March 2012 to April 2012" with fifty other prisoners. ( Id. at 6.) While he was housed in the gymnasium, there was "one toilet and sink" for all fifty prisoners. ( Id. ) Henderson claims that the toilet was "filthy and smelled of body waste due to the poor plumbing system at the jail, " and the "sink did not work and was [also] filthy." ( Id. ) Henderson was also "denied drinking water" and "went without showers for days" during the time that he was placed in the jail's gymnasium. ( Id. )

In April 2012, Henderson was moved from the gymnasium to J-Block, where he stayed for one week, and then to AA-Block Cell 7 where he stayed until July 2012. ( Id. at 7.) In AA-Block, he was denied cleaning supplies, was exposed to vents that were "covered with black mold" and a cell that had mice in it, and was subjected to "filthy showers" which had "black mold" and "standing foul smelling water." ( Id. ) In July 2012, he was moved back to the gymnasium area, where the conditions were the same as they were from March to April 2012. He remained in the gymnasium area until he was bonded out of jail on September 20, 2012. ( Id. )

On February 27, 2014, Henderson was found guilty of his state court charge and was again sent to St. Clair County Jail. ( Id. ) He was placed in the same holding cell as before with twelve other prisoners. ( Id. ) Henderson claims that the toilet was again leaking, was "dirty and smelled like urine, " and had blankets underneath it catching water. That same day, he was moved to the gymnasium area, where he was "subjected to no bed and forced to sleep on the floor in a plastic boat." ( Id. at 7-8.) According to Henderson, the "sink and toilet" in the area did not work, and there were mice and insects throughout the area. ( Id. ) On March 27, 2014, Henderson was moved to AA-Block, where he was "subjected to the same unsanit[ary] living conditions that he was subjected to when he was put in AA-Block in May 2012." ( Id. at 8.) He remained in AA-Block until he was sent to Menard Correctional Center on April 17, 2014. ( Id. )

Discussion

Henderson's complaint alleges that Watson, Reid, Justus, Bridges, and Nichols exposed him to inadequate conditions during his two incarceration periods at the St. Clair County Jail. ( Id. at 5-8.) Henderson also claims that Defendants had "a policy and practice to not address any complaint about the constitutional violations at the jail" and that they "ignored their own rules to purposely violate" Henderson's rights. ( Id. at 10-11.) He has sued each Defendant in their individual and official capacities, and seeks damages and injunctive relief. ( Id. at 12-13.)

To facilitate the orderly management of this case, and in accordance with the objectives of Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 8 and 10, the Court finds it appropriate to break the claims in Henderson's pro se complaint into numbered counts, as shown below. The parties and the Court will use these designations in all future pleadings and orders, unless otherwise directed by the Court. The designation of these counts does not constitute an opinion as to their merit.

COUNT 1: Reid, Justus, Bridges and Nichols, acting in their individual and official capacities, exposed Henderson to inadequate conditions during his 2012 incarceration at the St. Clair County Jail in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment.
COUNT 2: Watson and Reid, acting in their individual and official capacities, exposed Henderson to inadequate conditions during his 2014 incarceration at the St. Clair ...

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