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Wallace v. Lakin

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

June 12, 2015

CHRISTOPHER WALLACE, #67368, Plaintiff,
v.
JOHN LAKIN, GARY BOST, ROBERT HALLENBOCH, ROBERT BLAKENSHIP, BARBRA UNFRIED, MARTHA MAJOR, and ALICIA RUSHING, Defendants.

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

NANCY J. ROSENSTENGEL, District Judge.

Plaintiff Christopher Wallace, a pretrial detainee at the Madison County Jail ("Jail"), brings this pro se civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff asserts that Defendants have subjected him to unconstitutional conditions of confinement, failed to provide adequate medical care, refused to respond to detainee grievances, and denied detainees adequate daily nutrition.

Merits Review Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915

Under § 1915A, the Court is required to promptly screen prisoner complaints to filter out nonmeritorious claims. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). 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). 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 the same time, the factual allegations of a pro se complaint are to be liberally construed. See Rodriguez v. Plymouth Ambulance Serv., 577 F.3d 816, 821 (7th Cir. 2009). At this preliminary stage, the Court finds that Plaintiff's complaint passes threshold review.

The Complaint

Plaintiff is a pre-trial detainee at the Madison County Jail ("Jail"). In February 2015, Plaintiff was assigned to Housing Unit B-North at the Jail. (Doc. 1, p. 6). Since that time, he has been exposed to raw sewage on three separate occasions (March 18, March 19, and April 26, 2015) when the sewer drains and toilets on the unit backed up causing sewage to flow "completely everywhere throughout cells and cellblock putting detainees in direct contact with raw sewage waste." Id. at 6-7. Plaintiff contends that detainees were not given any medical attention following their exposure to the raw sewage. Id. Plaintiff further asserts that each of the named Defendants were informed of the ongoing inhumane and unsanitary conditions, yet failed to take action to mitigate the risks to Plaintiff's health and safety.

In addition, Plaintiff maintains that Defendants Bost and Lakin have failed to comply with disciplinary and grievance procedures as required by the Illinois Department of Corrections. Id. at 8. Specifically, Plaintiff complains that grievance forms are not provided by the Jail, and the Jail fails to make copies of handwritten grievances. Id.

Finally, Plaintiff asserts that Defendant Bost and Lakin have adopted a meal schedule at the Jail that forces detainees to wait 15 hours between dinner, which is served at 4:30 p.m., and breakfast, which is served at 7:30 a.m. Id. at 9. He further alleges that the meals are nutritionally inadequate, which causes detainees to suffer both mentally and physically.

Plaintiff has named the following Defendants, in their individual and official capacities: John Lakin (sheriff), Gary Bost (captain), Robert Blakenship (medical doctor), Barbra Unfried (nurse), Martha Major (nurse), and Alicia Rushing (nurse). He asserts that Defendants violated his rights under the First, Fifth, Sixth, Eighth, Thirteenth, and Fourteenth Amendments. Plaintiff seeks monetary damages.

Discussion

"Incarcerated persons are entitled to confinement under humane conditions which provide for their basic human needs.'" Rice ex rel. Rice v. Corr. Med. Servs., 675 F.3d 650, 664 (7th Cir. 2012) (quoting Rhodes v. Chapman, 452 U.S. 337, 347 (1981). Because Plaintiff is a pretrial detainee, his right to be confined under humane conditions is derived from the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment rather than the Eighth Amendment's proscription against cruel and unusual punishment. See Budd v. Motley, 711 F.3d 840, 842 (7th Cir. 2013) (citing Rice ex rel. Rice v. Corr. Med. Servs., 675 F.3d 650, 664 (7th Cir. 2012)). See also Klebanowski v. Sheahan, 540 F.3d 633, 637 (7th Cir. 2008). Nonetheless, the Seventh Circuit has "found it convenient and entirely appropriate to apply the same standard to claims arising under the Fourteenth Amendment (detainees) and Eighth Amendment (convicted prisoners) without differentiation.'" Board v. Farnham, 394 F.3d 469, 478 (7th Cir. 2005) (emphasis in original) (quoting Henderson v. Sheahan, 196 F.3d 839, 845 n.2 (7th Cir. 1999) (citing Cavalieri v. Shepard, 321 F.3d 616, 620 (7th Cir. 2003)). The Court's analysis, therefore, will refer interchangeably to the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments.

The Court finds it convenient to divide the complaint into four 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. In addition to the four counts discussed below, the complaint also refers to violations arising under the First, Fifth, Sixth, and Thirteenth Amendments, but Plaintiff offers no facts to support a claim under these amendments. For that ...


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