United States District Court, S.D. Illinois
JACOB L. BRONAUGH, # 85143, Plaintiff,
CAPTAIN DAVID JOSEPH, MIKE TASSONE, and JOHN LAKIN, Defendants.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
MICHAEL J. REAGAN Chief Judge United States District Court
matter is before the Court to review Plaintiff's First
Amended Complaint pursuant to the requirements of 28 U.S.C.
§ 1915A. Plaintiff filed the amended pleading (Doc. 9)
on May 16, 2016, at the direction of the Court. The original
complaint (Doc. 1) was dismissed on May 9, 2016, for failure
to state a claim upon which relief may be granted (Doc. 8).
Section 1915A requires the Court 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
Amended Complaint (Doc. 9)
November 21, 2015, while Plaintiff was incarcerated at the
Madison County Jail (“the Jail”), the sink pipes
in Cell 4 were clogged, and the sink had a continuous leak
(Doc. 9, p. 8). The leaky sink overflowed and flooded the
cell block. When Defendant Tassone made rounds, he saw the
flood. Plaintiff and several other inmates asked Defendant
Tassone for a mop and other cleaning supplies to clean up the
water, but he turned down their request.
10:25 p.m. that night, Plaintiff was walking from one cell to
another when he slipped in the water and fell. He
“busted [his] left eye open and fractured it” as
a result of the fall. At 10:30 p.m. an officer (Mark Ryan,
who is not a Defendant), came to lock down the unit and saw
that Plaintiff's face was gushing blood. Plaintiff was
taken to the hospital for treatment.
asserts that his injuries could have been prevented if he had
been given cleaning supplies when he requested them. In
addition to Defendant Tassone, Plaintiff sues Defendants
Davis (Captain) and Lakin (Sheriff). He seeks compensatory
damages for his pain, suffering, and permanent disfigurement
(Doc. 9, p. 6).
Review Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A
the original complaint, Plaintiff's amended complaint
does not disclose whether he is confined at the Jail as a
pretrial detainee awaiting adjudication of criminal charges,
or whether he is a prisoner serving a sentence after having
been convicted of a crime. As explained in the Court's
first merits review order (Doc. 8), a pretrial detainee's
claims over the conditions of incarceration arise under the
Fourteenth Amendment's Due Process clause. See Weiss
v. Cooley, 230 F.3d 1027, 1032 (7th Cir. 2000). Claims
brought by convicted prisoners are governed by the Eighth
Amendment's “cruel and unusual punishment”
clause. After reviewing the First Amended Complaint in light
of both standards, the Court concludes that Plaintiff still
fails to state a constitutional claim upon which relief may
be granted. This case shall therefore be dismissed pursuant
to § 1915A.
Seventh Circuit has explained that for conditions of
confinement claims, “a pretrial detainee is entitled to
be free from conditions that amount to ‘punishment,
' Bell v. Wolfish, 441 U.S. 520, 535 (1979),
while a convicted prisoner is entitled to be free from
conditions that constitute ‘cruel and unusual
punishment.' Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825,
832 (1994).” Smith v. Dart, 803 F.3d 304 (7th
Cir. 2015). No matter which constitutional provision applies,
the conditions giving rise to the claim must be
“objectively serious enough to amount to a
constitutional deprivation, and the defendant prison official
must possess a sufficiently culpable state of mind.”
Smith, 803 F.3d at 304. As a general rule, 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) (quoting Henderson v.
Sheahan, 196 F.3d 839, 845 n.2 (7th Cir. 1999)).
Plaintiff's case, the objective condition that resulted
in his injury was a wet, flooded floor in the cellblock.
Plaintiff was fully aware of the problem, because he had
called it to the attention of Jail staff. Defendant Tassone
failed to take steps to correct the condition or allow
Plaintiff to clean it up.
have consistently held that wet, slippery prison floors do
not implicate the Constitution. See Pyles v. Fahim,
771 F.3d 403, 410-11 (7th Cir. 2014) (“slippery
surfaces and shower floors in prison, without more, cannot
constitute a hazardous condition of confinement” in
violation of the Eighth Amendment); Snipes v.
DeTella, 95 F.3d 586, 592 (7th Cir. 1996) (“an
inch or two” of accumulated water in the shower was not
“an excessive risk to inmate health or safety”);
Bell v. Ward, 2004 WL 260284 (7th Cir. 2004)
(affirming the dismissal of a slip-and-fall claim on 1915A
review because accumulation of water on prison floor did not
present a risk of serious injury); LeMaire v. Maass,
12 F.3d 1444, 1457 (9th Cir. 1993) (“slippery prison
floors ... do not state even an arguable claim for cruel and
unusual punishment”); Carroll v. DeTella, 255
F.3d 470, 472 (7th Cir. 2001) (“failing to provide a
maximally safe environment, one completely free from ...
safety hazards, is not [a constitutional violation]”).
case is factually distinguishable from the most recent prison
slip-and-fall case reviewed by the Seventh Circuit,
Anderson v. Morrison, No. 14-3781 (7th Cir. Aug. 26,
2016). The appellate court held that the prisoner in
Anderson should have been allowed to proceed with
his claim, where he was injured after prison guards cuffed
his hands behind his back, then required him to descend a
flight of stairs that was wet and littered with trash and
debris, causing him to fall and be unable to catch himself.
In contrast, Plaintiff was in a cellblock where the wet floor
posed no more than the usual level of risk associated with
such conditions. Objectively, it cannot be said that
Plaintiff was exposed to an “excessive” risk of
harm that would trigger constitutional concern.
the state of mind of Defendant Tassone (the only person who
is alleged to have been aware of the conditions before
Plaintiff fell), the factual summary does not suggest that he
“possess[ed] a purposeful, a knowing, or possibly a
reckless state of mind, ” or intended that Plaintiff
would be harmed, when he failed to give Plaintiff the
requested cleaning supplies. See Kingsley v.
Hendrickson, 135 S.Ct. 2466, 2472 (2015); Davis v.
Wessel, 792 F.3d 793, 801 (7th Cir. 2015). To the
contrary, Defendant Tassone's refusal to provide cleaning
supplies indicates negligence at most.
long been established that negligence alone is not enough to
support a claim of deliberate indifference. See County of
Sacramento v. Lewis, 523 U.S. 833, 849 (1998)
(“liability for negligently inflicted harm is
categorically beneath the threshold of constitutional due
process”); Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825,
837 (1994); Daniels v. Williams, 474 U.S. 327, 332
(1986). While relief in federal court is foreclosed to
Plaintiff, a suit for ...