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Lindsey v. Davis

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

July 22, 2015

BRANDON A. LINDSEY, # M-38201, Plaintiff,


MICHAEL J. REAGAN, Chief District Judge.

This matter is before the Court for a preliminary review of the First Amended Complaint (Doc. 8), pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. Plaintiff filed the amended pleading at the direction of the Court, after his original complaint was dismissed without prejudice for failure to state a claim (Doc. 7). Under § 1915A, the Court is required to review the complaint, and to dismiss any claims that are frivolous, malicious, fail to state a claim on which relief may be granted, or seek monetary relief from an immune defendant.

Plaintiff's claims arose during his incarceration at Vienna Correctional Center ("Vienna"). He complains that Defendants have subjected him to unsanitary conditions of confinement in violation of the Eighth Amendment. Specifically, he states that he arrived at Vienna on August 9, 2013, and was placed in Building 19 (Doc. 8, p. 5). He was moved to another unit on September 28, 2013, but was moved back to Building 19 on April 21, 2014, and remains there. The conditions in Building 19 include infestation with rodents, spiders, and other bugs. Plaintiff has awakened from sleep to find bugs crawling on him and in his hair. Windows near Plaintiff's bunk are broken and have no screens; Plaintiff has to cover these windows with cut up boxes to keep warm. The building has mold, pipes are rusted out, water drips from the bathroom ceiling onto Plaintiff's head, and the shower drain clogs so that he must stand in "sewer water" full of bacteria and hair. Id. He is exposed to lead paint in the bathrooms and stairwells. There are only four working toilets for 104 inmates in the unit. The building has asbestos, which causes Plaintiff to fear for his health. His mattress is old, stained, and "rusted out." Id. The filthy conditions extend to the dining hall, where on September 14, 2014, the cereal served to inmates contained bugs. The day room lacks sufficient seating, so inmates must sit on boxes.

Plaintiff says that former warden Defendant Davis, current warden Defendant Hilliard, and assistant warden Defendant Love, were all made aware of the living conditions in Building 19, but have done nothing to correct the problems. Plaintiff's grievances have been denied and not taken seriously by the Defendants.

Plaintiff seeks money damages, as well as an order to close the building until all repairs are made and require the prison to limit the number of inmates housed there to 925, which he claims is the institution's capacity (Doc. 8, p. 6).

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

In a case involving conditions of confinement in a prison, two elements are required to establish a violation of the Eighth Amendment's cruel and unusual punishments clause. First, an objective element requires a showing that the conditions deny the inmate "the minimal civilized measure of life's necessities, " creating an excessive risk to the inmate's health or safety. Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 834 (1994). The second requirement is a subjective element - establishing a defendant's culpable state of mind, which is deliberate indifference to a substantial risk of serious harm to the inmate from those conditions. Farmer, 511 U.S. at 837, 842.

Prison officials violate the Eighth Amendment when they show deliberate indifference to adverse conditions that deprive inmates of adequate sanitation and the ability to maintain personal hygiene. Budd v. Motley, 711 F.3d 840, 842 (7th Cir. 2013) (citing Farmer, 511 U.S. at 834; Rice ex rel. Rice v. Corr. Med. Servs., 675 F.3d 650, 664 (7th Cir. 2012); Gillis v. Litscher, 468 F.3d 488 (7th Cir. 2006); Vinning-El v. Long, 482 F.3d 923, 924 (7th Cir. 2007)). The alleged vermin infestation of Plaintiff's living area, especially when combined with the other unhealthy and dangerous conditions prevailing in Building 19, may give rise to an Eighth Amendment claim even if Plaintiff has not suffered specific physical harm. See Thomas v. Illinois, 697 F.3d 612, 614-15 (7th Cir. 2012) (depending on severity, duration, nature of the risk, and susceptibility of the inmate, prison conditions may violate the Eighth Amendment if they caused either physical, psychological, or probabilistic harm). "[C]onditions of confinement, even if not individually serious enough to work constitutional violations, may violate the Constitution in combination when they have a mutually enforcing effect that produces the deprivation of a single, identifiable human need.'" Budd, 711 F.3d at 842 (citing Wilson v. Seiter, 501 U.S. 294, 304 (1991); Gillis, 468 F.3d at 493; Murphy v. Walker, 51 F.3d 714, 721 (7th Cir. 1995)).

Unlike in the original complaint, Plaintiff has alleged in the First Amended Complaint that he made each Defendant aware of the problems in Building 19, but they took no steps to remedy these problems. Therefore, Plaintiff will be allowed to proceed with his deliberate indifference claims against Defendants Davis, Love, and Hilliard. Further factual development will determine whether he can sustain his allegations that the Defendants knew about the risks to Plaintiff's health, yet failed to take appropriate remedial action.

In the original threshold order (Doc. 7), the Court dismissed Defendant Illinois Department of Corrections ("IDOC") from the action with prejudice. Nonetheless, Plaintiff included the IDOC as a named Defendant in the caption of the First Amended Complaint. He did not mention the IDOC elsewhere in the document. Plaintiff is REMINDED that the IDOC as a separate entity is no longer a party to this case, and he should omit the former Defendant IDOC from any future pleadings or motions he may file.

Pending Motion

Plaintiff's motion for recruitment of counsel (Doc. 3) shall be referred to the United States Magistrate Judge for disposition.


The Clerk is DIRECTED to again TERMINATE the Illinois Department of Corrections as a party to this case, according to the order (Doc. 7) ...

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