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Pierce v. Hertz

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

April 30, 2015

CHRISTOPHER PIERCE, No. 86722, Plaintiff,
v.
ROBERT HERTZ, GARY BOST, CAPTAIN BUNT, SGT. DOVER, JOHN LAKIN, DON MCNAUGHTON, ROBERT BLANKENSHIP, and NURSE MARTY, Defendants.

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

MICHAEL J. REAGAN, Chief District Judge.

Plaintiff Christopher Peirce is a pretrial detainee housed in the Madison County Jail. 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).

The Complaint

According to the complaint, on six separate occasions between August 16 and December 27, 2014, the sewer and/or toilets backed up and flooded Unit B-North where Plaintiff is housed at the Jail. Consequently, Plaintiff was exposed to raw sewage, including: feces, urine, semen, saliva, blood, sweat, hair, parasites, bacteria, e-coli, salmonella, bacillus-coccus, organisms, fungi, acids, hepatitis, herpes and other sexually transmitted diseases, infections and viruses. Each time, Plaintiff was denied medical treatment for this exposure. He was also denied clean drinking water. Plaintiff also takes issue with the failure to permanently correct the plumbing problem.

Plaintiff further alleges that on June 4, 2014, Captain Bost and Sheriff Lakin and Sheriff Hertz denied him access to a law library, and denied him an administrative grievance procedure-presumably so Plaintiff could not register complaints about the conditions of his confinement.

Based on the allegations in the complaint, the Court finds it convenient to divide the pro se action into the following counts. The parties and the Court will use these designations in all future pleadings and orders, unless otherwise directed by a judicial officer of this Court. The designation of these counts does not constitute an opinion as to their merit.

Count 1: On August 16, 2014, Defendants Hertz and Bost exposed Plaintiff to raw sewage, denied him medical treatment, and denied him clean drinking water, all in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment;
Count 2: On September 4, 2014, Defendants Hertz, Bost, Court, along with Deputy Hare, Sgt. Foster and Deputy Reickhart, exposed Plaintiff to raw sewage, denied him medical treatment, and denied him clean drinking water, all in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment;
Count 3: On September 6, 2014, Defendants Hertz, Bost and Blankenship exposed Plaintiff to raw sewage, denied him medical treatment, and denied him clean drinking water, all in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment;
Count 4: On September 17, October 24 and December 27, 2014, Defendants Hertz, Lakin, Bost, Dover, McNaughten and Blankenship, along with Lt. Hill, exposed Plaintiff to raw sewage, denied him medical treatment, and denied him clean drinking water, all in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment;
Count 5: On June 4, 2014, Defendants Hertz, Lakin and Bost denied Plaintiff access to an administrative grievance process, in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment; and
Count 6: On June 4, 2014, Defendants Hertz, Lakin and Bost denied Plaintiff access to a law library, in violation of the First and Fourteenth Amendments.

The complaint generally asserts that Plaintiff's rights under the First, Fifth, Eighth, Thirteenth and Fourteenth Amendments have been violated, and that he has been denied due process and equal protection ( see Doc. 1, p. 6). Nevertheless, in recognition of Plaintiff's pro se status, and for reasons explained below, the constitutional violations recognized by the Court have been limited to the most obvious proper constitutional claims.[1] Any ...


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