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Riley El v. Godinez

United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division

August 29, 2016

William D. Riley El #B-03069, Plaintiff,
v.
Salvador Godinez, et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          Joan B. Gottschall United States District Judge

         Plaintiff William D. Riley El, who is currently incarcerated at Pontiac Correctional Center and proceeding pro se, brought this 42 U.S.C. § 1983 action claiming unconstitutional conditions of confinement and deliberate indifference to his medical needs when he was incarcerated at Stateville Correctional Center. Named as Defendants are Darryl Edwards, Marcus Hardy, Salvador Godinez, and Joseph Sheehy (hereafter collectively “IDOC Defendants”) and Dr. Imhotep Carter (hereafter “Defendant Carter”). Both the IDOC Defendants and Defendant Carter have filed motions for summary judgment, which are currently before the Court. Plaintiff has responded. For the reasons that follow, the Court grants both the IDOC Defendants' and Defendant Carter's motions.

         Background

         A. Northern District of Illinois Local Rule 56.1

         Local Rule 56.1 “is designed, in part, to aid the district court, ‘which does not have the advantage of the parties' familiarity with the record and often cannot afford to spend the time combing the record to locate the relevant information, ' in determining whether a trial is necessary.” Delapaz v. Richardson, 634 F.3d 895, 899 (7th Cir. 2011) (citation omitted). Under Local Rule 56.1(a)(3), the moving party must provide “a statement of material facts as to which the moving party contends there is no genuine issue.” Ammons v. Aramark Unif. Servs., Inc., 368 F.3d 809, 817 (7th Cir. 2004) (quoting N.D.Ill. L.R. 56.1(a)); see also Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c). The opposing party must then “file ‘a response to each numbered paragraph in the moving party's statement, including, in the case of any disagreement, specific references to the affidavits, parts of the record, and other supporting materials relied upon.'” Cracco v. Vitran, Exp., Inc., 559 F.3d 625, 632 (7th Cir. 2009) (quoting N.D.Ill. L.R. 56.1(b)(3)(B)). The opposing party may also present a separate statement of additional facts that requires the denial of summary judgment. See Ciomber v. Coop. Plus, Inc., 527 F.3d 635, 643 (7th Cir. 2008) (citing N.D.Ill. L.R. 56.1(b)(3)(C)).

         The parties have generally complied with Local Rule 56.1; both the IDOC Defendants and Defendant Carter each submitted a Statement of Uncontested Facts, (Dkts. 103, 96), to which Plaintiff responded. (Dkt. 107 at pp. 1-19.) Plaintiff also filed the non-movant's optional statement of additional facts, (Dkt. 107 at pp. 20-23), and submitted in support his own declaration with accompanying exhibits (Dkt. 107 at. pp. 24-181), to which he cited throughout his response and statements of additional facts. Neither the IDOC Defendants nor Defendant Carter argue that Plaintiff's responses, additional facts, declaration or attachments fail to comply with the Local Rule.[1]

         The facts are therefore taken from the parties' N.D.Ill. Local Rule 56.1 Statements of Material Facts (“SOF”) and facts included in Plaintiff's responses and supporting declaration, where he is competent to testify as to those facts. See Koszola v. Bd. of Educ. of City of Chi., 385 F.3d 1104, 1109 (7th Cir. 2004) (stating that courts may decide a summary judgment motion based on a factual record established by the parties' Rule 56.1 Statements). The Court will accept as true any undisputed statements of fact from the parties' statements. Where Defendants' statements are properly supported by the cited materials and are not otherwise disputed by evidence Plaintiff raises, including his deposition testimony and declaration, the Court will consider those statements as undisputed. See Local Rule 56. 1(b)(3)(C); see also Almy v. Kickert Sch. Bus Line, Inc., No. 08-cv-2902, 2013 WL 80367, at *2 (N.D. Ill. Jan. 7, 2013) (“[C]ourts are not required to ‘wade through improper denials and legal arguments in search of a genuinely disputed fact.'”) (quoting Bordelon v. Chi. Sch. Reform Bd. of Trs., 233 F.3d 524, 529 (7th Cir. 2000)). The Court has carefully examined each response submitted by Plaintiff for relevancy, evidentiary support, and admissibility in construing the facts of this case and gives deference to Plaintiff's version of the facts where they are properly presented and supported by admissible evidence. The Court will, of course, not consider purely legal arguments, incomplete responses that lack evidentiary support, or responses that are inconsistent with deposition testimony.

         With the above factors in mind, the Court turns to the facts of this case.

         B. Facts

         1. Parties

         Plaintiff William Riley is an IDOC inmate, who during the time period relevant to this lawsuit, was incarcerated at Stateville Correctional Center. (Dkt. 103, IDOC SOF at ¶ 4.) During the relevant time period, Defendant Sheehy was a Correctional Medical Technician at Stateville, Defendants Edwards and Hardy were the Assistant Warden and Warden, respectively, at Stateville, and Defendant Godinez was the Director of the IDOC. (Id. at ¶¶ 2-5.) Defendant Carter is a licensed physician in Illinois and served as the Medical Director of Stateville from July 25, 2011 through May 10, 2012. (Dkt. 96, Carter SOF at ¶ 2.)

         2. Claims

         Plaintiff raises two claims in this lawsuit. (Dkt. 103, IDOC SOF at Ex. A.) First he claims that from 2003 through 2012, Defendants Edwards, Hardy, and Godinez were deliberately indifferent to unconstitutional conditions of his confinement at Stateville, specifically that the prison's drinking water was systemically contaminated with radium and lead. (Id.) He second claims that all the IDOC Defendants and Defendant Carter were deliberately indifferent to his medical needs arising after he allegedly became ill from one instance of drinking the contaminated water in January 2012. (Id.)

         3. January 5, 2012 Incident

         On January 5, 2012, Plaintiff drank water from the sink in his cell. (Dkt. 103, IDOC SOF at ¶ 17.) Upon drinking it, Plaintiff realized it was brownish in color, had a salty taste, and foul smell. (Id.; Dkt. 107, Pl.'s Decl. at ¶ 2.) About five to ten minutes later, Plaintiff started having sharp stomach pains that he had never had before. (Dkt. 107, Pl.'s Decl. at ¶ 2.) Approximately one hour later, Plaintiff was seen by Defendant Sheehy. (Dkt. 103, IDOC SOF at ¶ 18.) Plaintiff told Defendant Sheehy that he was having sharp stomach pains from drinking the water. (Dkt. 107, Pl.'s Decl. at ¶ 2.) Defendant Sheehy took Plaintiff's vitals and provided Plaintiff with Amalgam and Milk of Magnesia for his upset stomach. (Dkt. 103, IDOC SOF at ¶ 18.) Plaintiff asked Defendant Sheehy to see a doctor. (Dkt. 107, Pl.'s Decl. at ¶ 2.) This was Plaintiff's only interaction with Defendant Sheehy regarding the January 5, 2012 incident. (Dkt. 103, IDOC SOF at ¶ 21.) Starting the following day, Plaintiff began to have diarrhea. (Dkt. 103, IDOC SOF at ¶ 20.)

         Plaintiff filed a grievance at the prison regarding the incident, which is dated the same day, January 5, 2012. (Dkt. 96, Carter SOF at ¶ 10.) The grievance describes the incident, the stomach pains that resulted from drinking the water, and Plaintiff's interactions with Sheehy. (Dkt. 96, Carter SOF at Ex. 5 at pp. 3-4.) It also states that his stomach was still hurting, and Plaintiff requested to be provided with drinkable water and to be seen by a doctor. (Id.) The grievance was denied, and Plaintiff unsuccessfully appealed it to the Administrative Review Board. (Id. at pp. 1-2.)

         4. Plaintiff's letters to Defendants

         Plaintiff testified at his deposition that he wrote two letters regarding the January 5, 2012 incident to each of Defendants Edwards, Hardy, and Godinez, but he describes only one such letter to each of these Defendants in his Declaration and has submitted copies of only one such letter to each Defendant. (Dkt. 103, IDOC SOF at ¶ 14 and at Ex. A, pp. 15-20; Dkt. 107, Pl.'s Decl. at ¶¶ 30, 32, 33.) Plaintiff's letters to Edwards, Hardy, and Godinez are dated January 30, 2012, February 5, 2012, and February 15, 2012, respectively. (Dkt. 107, Pl.'s Decl. at ¶¶ 30, 32, 33; IDOC SOF at Ex. A, pp. 15-20.) Each letter describes the incident and asks the Defendant to “do something about the unsafe drinking water”. (Id.) Each letter also states that Plaintiff is continuing to experience severe stomach pains and diarrhea (and also headaches), that he wrote to Dr. Carter informing him of the situation but has not heard anything in response, and that he needs to be seen by a doctor. (Id.)

         Plaintiff wrote one letter to Defendant Carter as well. (Dkt. 96, Carter SOF at¶ 19; Dkt. 107, Pl.'s Decl. at ¶ 29; IDOC SOF at Ex. A, p. 14.) The letter is dated January 15, 2012 and states that Plaintiff is having severe stomach pains, headaches, and diarrhea from having drunk the dirty water on January 5, 2012. (Dkt. 107, Pl.'s Decl. at ¶ 29; IDOC SOF at Ex. A, p. 14.) Plaintiff requests in the letter that he be seen by Dr. Carter for treatment. (Id.) Plaintiff had not tried to communicate with Defendant Carter about his problems related to the drinking water prior to sending this letter. (Dkt. 96, Carter SOF at¶ 19.) Dr. Carter testified that he did not receive the January 15, 2012 letter or any other letters from Plaintiff concerning his stomach problems. (Id. at 22.)

         Plaintiff also dropped two sick call requests in the box, one on January 5, 2012 and one on January 15, 2012, requesting treatment for his stomach pain from drinking dirty water. (Dkt 103, IDOC SOF at Ex. A at pp. 12-13.)

         5. Plaintiff's access to water

         After the January 5, 2012 incident, Plaintiff never drank the water from his sink again. (Dkt. 103, IDOC SOF at ¶ 19.) Plaintiff had access to milk and water at the dining hall twice a day during lunch and dinner, but he declined to drink it because he believed that the plastic cups used to serve the water were not thoroughly cleaned. (Dkt. 103, IDOC SOF at ¶ 19 and at Ex. B. 40: 4-18.) Plaintiff instead drank bottled water; he received approximately 40-45 bottles of water per month, either by purchasing them from the commissary or by trading for them with other inmates in exchange for other commissary items. (Dkt. 103, IDOC SOF at ¶ 19 and at Ex. B. 40: 4-18.)

         Plaintiff also testified that the only time he personally had any problems with the water at Stateville prior to January 2012 was “three or four times” when the water in the showers came out brown, but he moved out of the way. (Dkt. 103, IDOC SOF ¶ 16.)

         6. Evidence regarding water contamination

         The IDOC Defendants have submitted an affidavit from Michael Studer, who was a licensed Class B Water Operator at Stateville from 2002 to 2014. (Dkt. 103, IDOC SOF at Ex. B.) As the Water Operator at Stateville, he was responsible for taking samples of the water at Stateville and sending the samples to laboratories for analysis pursuant to the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (EPS) sampling schedule. (Id. at ¶ 3.) Studer testified that in 2004, the City of Crest Hill began supplying water to Stateville. (Id. at ¶ 4.) He also testified that from 2004 to 2014, there were no instances in which the water at Stateville exceeded the EPA standards for copper, lead, or radium. (Id. at ¶ 5.)

         Plaintiff submitted and cited to in his declaration and/or LR 56.1 materials the following evidence:

. Excerpts of EPA reports for the water in both Crest Hill, Illinois and Stateville for the years 2002, 2003, 2004, 2007, 2008, and 2009. (Dkt. 107, at Exs. 3A-3T.)

         The excerpts that Plaintiff submitted show that levels of some contaminants in Stateville's water in 2002, 2003, and as of March 2004 were deemed violations of EPA standards. (Dkt. 107, at Exs. 3A-3C.) The excerpt for 2002 also states that Stateville was working to completely upgrade its system by November 2003 as a means of correcting the violations. (Id. at Ex. 3A.)

         The provided excerpts of the reports for years 2007, 2008, and 2009 show that the Illinois EPA tested Stateville and/or Crest Hill's water for the presence of 14 contaminants each year, and in each of those years found that the levels of all 14 contaminants did not violate EPA standards. (Id. at Ex. 3D-3T.) The provided excerpts for 2007-2009 also each include a section titled “Source Water Assessment”, which note that certain of Crest Hill's wells are not susceptible to contamination, and that certain wells are susceptible. (Id.) Plaintiff provided no EPA reports for the years 2010, 2011, or 2012.

. A May 2008 letter to a warden of Stateville from the Illinois EPA regarding Stateville's 2008 inspection report. (Dkt. 107 at Ex. 4A.)

         This letter notified Stateville officials that, following a routine periodic inspection of Stateville's water supply in April 2008, the Illinois EPA determined that aspects of the water system “may” not comply with certain regulatory standards regarding monitoring, testing, and reporting. (Dkt. 107, Pl.'s at Ex. 4A.) For example, the letter states that in the preceding year the Illinois EPA had not received certain required monthly operating reports from Stateville, and that the Illinois EPA had not received a copy of Stateville's “cross connection control policy”. (Id.).

         The letter provided Stateville 45 days to respond to the potential violations and explicitly states that “it is NOT a violation notice”. (Id.) (emphasis in original).

. A letter dated June 2011 to an inmate at Stateville from the Director of the Water Division of the Illinois EPA. (Dkt. 107, Ex. 8.)

         This letter begins by stating that there is “no straightforward answer to your question about the build-up of contamination in water pipes over time”. (Dkt. 107, Ex. 8.) It explains that pipes “can corrode”. (Id.) The letter also explains that if water shows signs of calcium or lime deposits, “it is possible” that radium could be captured in those deposits. (Id.) The ...


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