Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Barnes v. Godinez

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

November 1, 2016

ANTHONY BARNES, Plaintiff,
v.
SALVATORE GODINEZ, et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          John Robert Blakey, Judge

         Anthony Barnes (“Plaintiff”), an inmate in the custody of the Illinois Department of Corrections, alleges that correctional personnel Antionette Hinton, Andrew Brantley, Emmanuel Ibarra, Gregory Stroud, and Jake Jorgensen (collectively, “Defendants”) violated his Eighth Amendment rights by confining him in a cell with an inoperable toilet and no drinking water. Defendants recognize that Plaintiff's “claim regarding the operation of his toilet . . . raises a question of fact to be determined by a jury.” [59] at 3. Nevertheless, Defendants have moved for partial summary judgment on the grounds that “Plaintiff's claim regarding his access to adequate fluids fails to establish a violation of his constitutional rights under the Eighth Amendment.”[1] Id. As further explained below, Defendants' motion is denied.

         I. Background[2]

         On September 4, 2013, Plaintiff was transferred to the Northern Reception and Classification Center (“NRC”), where Defendants worked as correctional officers. [60] at 2. Shortly after entering his cell at NRC, Plaintiff realized that there was no running water in the sink and the toilet would not flush. [65] at 3. Plaintiff and his cellmate, Mr. Darius Bailey, both testified that they complained to Defendants regarding the conditions in their cell from September 4, 2013 through September 10, 2013 (the “Relevant Period”), when the plumbing was eventually fixed. [68] at 4, 8. Defendants alternatively testified that they do not recall Plaintiff, Mr. Bailey, or any complaints regarding the conditions of their cell. Id. at 5.

         During the Relevant Period, Plaintiff left his cell on only four occasions: to go to the exercise yard (where he used the water fountain); to use a different restroom; to take a shower; and to attend a court hearing. [65] at 8. The amount of water consumed by Plaintiff during these excursions remains an unclear question of fact. The parties also dispute the amount of potable liquid given to Plaintiff at meal times during the Relevant Period. Defendants claim that Plaintiff received some milk and juice with breakfast, while Plaintiff and Mr. Bailey testified that they only received milk. Id. at 9. Defendants also assert that Plaintiff received a four-ounce serving of juice with his dinner, while Plaintiff insists that he occasionally did not receive a drink with dinner. Id. The parties agree that at some point during the Relevant Period Defendant Jorgenson also provided Plaintiff with one 20-ounce bottle of drinking water. Id. at 10.

         II. Legal Standard

         Summary judgment is appropriate if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Spurling v. C & M Fine Pack, Inc., 739 F.3d 1055, 1060 (7th Cir. 2014). A genuine dispute as to any material fact exists if “the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party.” Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). The party seeking summary judgment has the burden of establishing that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact. See Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). In determining whether a genuine issue of material fact exists, this Court must construe all facts and reasonable inferences in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. See CTL ex rel. Trebatoski v. Ashland Sch. Dist., 743 F.3d 524, 528 (7th Cir. 2014).

         III. Analysis

         While “inmates cannot expect the amenities, conveniences and services of a good hotel, ” they are entitled to constitutionally adequate conditions of confinement. Harris v. Fleming, 839 F.2d 1232, 1235-36 (7th Cir. 1988). To determine if Plaintiff's conditions were constitutional, the Court must look to “the evolving standards of decency that mark the progress of a maturing society.” Id. at 1236 (internal quotation omitted).

         As a doctrinal matter, Eighth Amendment claims based upon a prisoner's conditions of confinement have an objective and a subjective component. McNeil v. Lane, 16 F.3d 123, 124 (7th Cir. 1994); see also Wilson v. Seiter, 501 U.S. 294, 302 (1991). To satisfy the objective prong, Plaintiff must establish that the conditions of his confinement were sufficiently serious to result “in a denial of the minimal civilized measure of life's necessities.” Townsend v. Fuchs, 522 F.3d 765, 773 (7th Cir. 2008) (citing Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 834 (1994)). The subjective prong focuses on whether Defendants were aware of facts supporting an inference that a substantial risk of serious harm existed and actually drew that inference. Farmer, 511 U.S. at 834; Olson v. Morgan, 750 F.3d 708, 713 (7th Cir. 2014). Plaintiff must establish that Defendants “acted with the equivalent of criminal recklessness.” Grieveson v. Anderson, 538 F.3d 763, 777 (7th Cir. 2008) (quoting Borello v. Allison, 446 F.3d 742, 747 (7th Cir. 2006)). That is, “a plaintiff must establish that the official knew of the risk (or a high probability of the risk) and did nothing.” Pope v. Shafer, 86 F.3d 90, 92 (7th Cir. 1996).

         A. Objective Prong

         There “is no constitutional right to running water in a prison cell.” Downs v. Carter, No. 13-cv-3998, 2016 WL 1660491, at *8 (N.D. Ill. Apr. 27, 2016). Accordingly, “a lack of running water in an inmate's cell is not a constitutional violation where the inmate has access to drinking water in other prison areas.” Williams v. Collins, No. 14-cv-5275, 2015 WL 4572311, at *1 (N.D. Ill. July 29, 2015); see also Mims v. Hardy, No. 11-cv-6794, 2013 WL 2451149, at *9 (N.D. Ill. June 5, 2013) (a short-term breakdown of cell's plumbing does not amount to a constitutional violation if the inmate is “otherwise provided with food, beverages, access to showers, and access to toilets”). At the same time, however, “an inmate's lack of drinking water may state an objectively unconstitutional condition where the deprivation endures for an extended period.” Williams, 2015 WL 4572311, at *4. As a general rule, “a week in a cell with broken plumbing is ‘an inconvenience, ' not a constitutional violation, if the inmate receives three meals a day, each of which is accompanied by beverages.” Downs, 2016 WL 1660491, at *8 (quoting Muhammad v. Wilson, No. 05-cv-743, 2006 WL 2413710, at *2 (N.D. Ill. Aug. 16, 2006)).

         Defendants argue that the “undisputed evidence demonstrates that the temporary breakdown of the water in Plaintiff's cell did not amount to an objectively cruel condition under the Eighth Amendment, ” such that summary judgment is appropriate. [59] at 7. This argument elides several disputed factual questions noted above, and misconstrues controlling precedent. Muhammad and its progeny establish that depriving an inmate of running water in their cell for one week is acceptable only if “the inmate receives three meals a day, each of which is accompanied by beverages.” Downs, 2016 WL 1660491, at *8 (citing Muhammad, 2006 WL 2413710, at *2) (emphasis added). Here, Defendants claim that NRC always provided Plaintiff with beverages at two (not three) meals a day, namely, breakfast and dinner. See supra at *2. Plaintiff contends, however, that he only received milk with breakfast, supplemented by juice with dinner “more often than not.” Id. On this disputed record, the Court “cannot find as a matter of law that the liquids that [Plaintiff] says he received (which the court must rely on at the summary judgment stage) satisfy the Eighth Amendment.” Downs, 2016 WL 1660491, at *9.

         B. ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.