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King v. Lawrence

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

August 11, 2016

BYRON E. LAWRENCE and AMY HARRIS Executor of the Estate of WILLIAM HARRIS, Defendants.


          Michael J. Reagan United States District Judge

         I. Introduction

         In May 2014, Marshall King filed a pro se civil rights complaint in this Court under 42 U.S.C. 1983. Then confined at Pinckneyville Correctional Center, King named three Defendants -- Warden Donald Gaetz and correctional officers Byron Lawrence and William Harris. King alleged that he was subjected to deplorable conditions of confinement and deprived of due process. Specifically, King alleged that he was housed in a cell that contained insects, dust in the ventilation, stains on the wall, and a filthy toilet and sink; that he was denied cleaning supplies despite multiple requests; and that Warden Gaetz violated due process in connection with a May 2012 disciplinary hearing.

         On threshold review under 28 U.S.C. 1915A, the undersigned dismissed the due process claim against Gaetz but found that King had stated a colorable claim for unconstitutional conditions of confinement in violation of the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution against Lawrence and Harris (Doc. 8, p. 3).

         The case is now before the Court on a June 3, 2016 motion for summary judgment, filed with supporting memo (Docs. 86 and 87) by Lawrence and Harris.[1] King filed a brief in opposition (Doc. 89). Provided with the materials supporting the motion is the transcript of Plaintiff King’s deposition, taken on January 29, 2016 at Western Correctional Center, where King is now incarcerated (Doc. 87-1). Provided with the brief opposing summary judgment is King’s sworn declaration (Doc. 89-1), an affidavit from a former Pinckneyville Correctional Center inmate who was housed on R4-D Wing during parts of 2011 and 2012 (Doc. 89-2), and Defendants’ answers to King’s interrogatories (Doc. 89-1). For the reasons stated below, the Court partially grants and partially denies the motion.

         II. Summary of Allegations and Evidence

         Marshall King was housed at Pinckneyville Correctional Center from June 25, 2010 to December 3, 2014. He was housed in the cell at issue in this case, cell R4-D-62, from June 4, 2011 to August 18, 2013 (Doc. 87-1, pp. 11, 13, 19). When King was placed in the cell, the vent was fully covered with dust, and the inside of the toilet bowl was encrusted with feces and urine (Id. p. 14-15). The toilet and sink did function (Id., p. 18). The cell had flying insects which bit King’s arms, chest, and legs (Id., p. 15). The bugs were mostly mosquitos, June bugs, or ladybugs (Id., p. 16). King was on the top bunk, and at night the insects would swarm the light and bite him (Id.). There were spider webs in the corners of the cell and under the bunks (Id. at p. 17).

         An exterminator also mentions ants and mice. The comment section of the exterminator notes for the prison (not necessarily King’s cell) indicates the presence of ants in February through June 2012 and again in September 2012 (Doc. 89-3, pp. 28-35). Mice were noted on February 15, 2012 (Doc. 89-3, p. 28).

         King testified that he was kept in the cell 22 hours a day (Doc. 87-1, p. 18). He was able to leave his cell three times a day for meals until the prison went to a two-meal schedule (Doc. 87-1, pp. 24-25). He went to the prison yard three times a week and went to the law library weekly (Id. at pp. 25-26). Although the dayroom was open for 45 minutes in the morning and 90 minutes in the evening, King would only go to the dayroom during one of those periods (Id., p. 27; Doc. 89-1, p. 19).

         King experienced similar unsanitary conditions in another cell, R4-D-64, through 2014 when the prison started passing out cleaning supplies, at least partly due to King’s complaints (Id., pp. 19-20; Doc. 89-1, p. 4).

         As a result of these dirty conditions, King testified that he experienced medical issues. King claims that he developed a cough and allergies from the dusty vents and developed inflammation, scars, and pock marks on his arms, leg, and chest as a result of the bug bites (Doc. 89-1, p. 3). King admitted, however, that a nurse diagnosed the inflammation as psoriasis and gave him cream which helped (Doc. 87-1, p. 35, 41).

         King also testified that he had mental suffering due to aggravation from the guards refusing to distribute cleaning supplies (Id., pp. 36-37). King testified that the officers just wanted to hang out in the foyer all day and not be bothered by the inmates; they just ignored the inmates (Id.). King stated that there were outbreaks of staph and MRSA in the prison which King believes were due to the cells not being clean. King testified that he did not have any of those conditions (Doc. 89-1, p. 4; Doc. 87-1, p. 47).

         King testified that when he first arrived in the cell, for the first two days he asked for cleaning supplies daily (Doc. 87-1, pp. 22, 35). He made the request to the wing officer while in the day room (Id., pp. 22, 36). Throughout the time he was in the cell, King continued to request cleaning supplies, but he eventually gave up (Id.). He was told by the counselor that cleaning supplies were passed out on the weekends, but King never had access to supplies (Id., p. 23; Doc. 89-2, p. 39). Records from the prison indicate that the assistant warden ordered that cleaning supplies be made available to inmates for cleaning their cells every Saturday starting in September 21, 2012 (Doc. 89-1, p. 16). Inmate porters also had access to cleaning supplies, but King testified that they only cleaned the common areas -- not the individual cells (Doc. 87-1, p. 23).

         While King was in R4-D-62, maintenance personnel came and vacuumed the dust out of the vent and called an exterminator for the insects (Doc. 89-1, p. 21). An exterminator arrived and sprayed for insects (Id.). The exterminator came once while King was in cell D-62 and once while he was in cell D-63 (Id., p. 22). King stopped getting insect bites for a while after the exterminator came (Doc. 87-1, p. 32). King said the maintenance person and exterminator only came after King voiced complaints and filed grievances (Doc. 89-1, p. 4)

         King testified that he spoke to Defendant Harris on one occasion on a weekend and asked for cleaning supplies (Doc. 87-1, p. 39). This was after King received a counselor’s response saying that cleaning supplies were passed out on weekends, so King checked with Harris about the cleaning supplies (Id., pp. 39-40, 50). Harris said that he was not passing out cleaning supplies and that he could not move King to a different cell (Id.). This conversation took place while Harris was in the dayroom on the 7-to-3 shift (Id.). Harris did not see King’s cell (Id., p. 41). King showed Harris his bug bites but did not ask Harris for medical attention for the bites, just cleaning supplies (Id.).

         King testified that he spoke with Defendant Lawrence, who was the primary wing officer Monday through Friday, at least four or five times (Doc. 87-1, p. 42, 51). King eventually stopped talking to Lawrence because Lawrence had an attitude (Id.). The first time King spoke with Lawrence about cleaning supplies, Lawrence just looked at King strangely (Id., p. 43). King repeatedly asked Lawrence for cleaning supplies in the following days and Lawrence responded, as King described it, flippantly (Id., p. 43; Doc. 89-1, p. 3). King did not recall the exact words that Lawrence used to deny cleaning supplies (Id., p. 43). King specifically told Lawrence that he wanted to clean the sink and toilet in his cell, because the toilet had urine and feces on the inside and the sink had calcium stains (Id.). King tried to show Lawrence his cell, but Lawrence made it clear that he did not want to talk to King (Id., pp. 44-45). King later testified that Lawrence saw his cell (Id., ...

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