United States District Court, S.D. Illinois
BYRON E. ADAMS, Plaintiff,
RICHARD HARRINGTON and BRADLEY J. STIRNAMAN, Defendants.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
J. ROSENSTENGEL United States District Judge
pending before the Court is the Motion for Partial Summary
Judgment filed by Defendant Richard Harrington on August 29,
2016 (Doc. 110). For the reasons set forth below, the motion
is granted in part and denied in part.
Byron Adams is an inmate in the Illinois Department of
Corrections (“IDOC”) who was formerly
incarcerated at Menard Correctional Center. He alleges that
he suffered second degree burns on the bottoms of his feet
from the floor of his cell, which was dangerously hot because
of deteriorating steam pipes that ran underneath the floor.
Adams asserted claims against Richard Harrington, the former
warden at Menard, for deliberate indifference to his serious
medical needs and for unconstitutional conditions of
confinement (Doc. 34). Adams sued Warden Harrington in both
his individual and official capacities (Doc. 34).
conditions of confinement claim was later dismissed because
Adams failed to exhaust his administrative remedies prior to
filing suit (Doc. 78). Warden Harrington has now moved for
summary judgment on the deliberate indifference claim (Doc.
110). Adams concedes that summary judgment should be granted
on the portion of the claim directed at Warden Harrington in
his official capacity, because any claim for money damages is
barred by sovereign immunity, and the request for injunctive
relief is moot (Doc. 115, p. 2, n.1). Thus the only issue
before the Court is whether summary judgment is appropriate
on the deliberate indifference claim against Warden
Harrington in his individual capacity.
following facts are undisputed except where noted. Byron
Adams was incarcerated at Menard Correctional Center from
January 9, 2013 to June 11, 2014 (Doc. 111-1). For most of
that time period, Defendant Richard Harrington was the warden
uses a steam heating system to heat the prison in the winter
(Doc. 115-1). Some of the pipes that carry the steam run
underneath the concrete floors of the South Lowers Cell House
at Menard (Doc. 115; Doc. 115-1). Those pipes have
deteriorated, which allows steam to escape (Doc. 115; Doc.
115-1). Because there is no insulation in the floors of the
South Lowers, the steam makes the floors hot during the
winter months, particularly in gallery one, where Adams was
housed (Doc. 115; Doc. 115-1; Doc. 115-2). According to
Adams, the floor of his cell were extremely hot-“hot
enough to cook a pot of beans on” or to heat water
(Doc. 111-1). In evidence previously submitted to the Court,
another inmate named Ronald Turner corroborated Adams's
statements (Doc. 111-1; Doc. 54-3). Mr. Turner also stated
that inmates in gallery one had to put their food in bags and
hang them on the wall along with their laundry bags so that
their belongings were not damaged (Doc. 54-3). He also stated
that officers in charge of gallery one previously distributed
fans, to help the inmates cope with the heat, and blankets,
so the inmates could move around their cells and prop up
their property boxes to prevent their belongings from being
ruined (Id.). Finally, he stated that other inmates
have been burned by the floors and have filed grievances
about the temperature of the floors (Id.). Prison
officials deny knowledge of these claims (Doc. 111-3; Doc.
November 2013, the Chief Stationary Engineer at Menard began
to consider a large scale maintenance project to replace the
plumbing and porcelain fixtures in the South Lowers and to
fully repair the condensate piping (Doc. 115; Doc. 115-1).
Given the scope of the project and the estimated cost-$5.7
million-the warden's approval was required for the
project (Doc. 115; Doc. 115-1). The project was expected to
begin in October 2014, but was put on hold because of the
Illinois budget crisis (Doc. 115; Doc. 115-1). Instead, as a
temporary fix, the Chief Stationary Engineer shut off the
steam flowing through the condensate piping in late 2014 or
early 2015, which remains off to this day (Doc. 115; Doc.
fix, however, came too late for Adams. Sometime in January
2014, Adams was transferred to cell 118 of the South Lowers
(Doc. 111-1). Unfortunately, Adams has diabetes and suffers
from various medical complications as a result of that
disease, including diabetic neuropathy (Doc.
111-1). Because of the neuropathy, Adams was
unable to feel the temperature of the floor through his feet
(Id.). On January 27th, while watching TV in his
cell, Adams noticed blood and pus in his socks
(Id.). The next morning when he took his sock off,
Adams saw “a big blister on the bottom of my foot and
the skin was hanging off” (Id.). His cellmate
called for help, a medtech and a lieutenant responded, and
they immediately took Adams to the Health Care Unit
(Id.). Adams was diagnosed with second degree burns
(Doc. 130). Adams testified that he told a nurse in the
Health Care Unit that the “floors burnt my feet”
(Doc. 111-1). He spent a total of thirty-seven days in the
Health Care Unit being treated for his burns (Doc. 130).
was discharged from the Health Care Unit on March 5, 2014,
and taken back to the South Lowers and placed in cell 114
(Doc. 111-1). He claims the floor in cell 114 was as hot as
the floor in his previous cell (Doc. 111-1). Within a couple
of days, he had again burned his feet on the floor
(Id.). He returned to the Health Care Unit for
treatment on March 11th and remained there until he was
transferred out of Menard in June 2014 (Id.).
the January incident, an incident report was filled out
indicating that Adams was taken to the Health Care Unit with
burns on his feet (Doc. 111-2). Warden Harrington admitted
that he signed the incident report (Id.). Warden
Harrington claims the incident report did not mention
Adams's claim that the burns came from the floor of his
cell (Doc. 111, pp. 4, 7). Regardless, Adams testified that a day
or two after he was admitted to the Health Care Unit, an
Internal Affairs officer came to speak to him about his
injury, which Warden Harrington does not dispute
(see Doc. 111). Adams testified that he told the
officer that he burned his feet on the floor of his cell, and
the officer then went to the cell to check the floor himself
(Id.). Adams said the officer returned to the Health
Care Unit and confirmed that the floor was, in fact, very hot
also testified that following the January incident he wrote
three or four letters to Warden Harrington (Doc. 111, p. 4
¶28; Doc. 111-1, p. 48). In these letters, Adams talked
about the burns to his feet and the incident involving
Defendant Bradley Stirnaman (Doc. 111-1, p. 49). He also
mentioned that he was diabetic (Id.). Warden
Harrington, of course, denied seeing these letters (Doc.
also submitted an emergency grievance on March 18, 2014 (Doc.
1-1, p. 3; Doc. 111, p. 5 ¶30; Doc. 115, p. 6 ¶21).
Under the IDOC's grievance procedures, an emergency
grievance is supposed to go straight to the warden (Doc.
111-2). The grievance states that he burned his feet on the
hot floor in cell 118 on January 27, 2014, that he is a
diabetic and has neuropathy, and that he burned his feet
again in cell 114 on March 5, 2014 (Doc. 1-1, pp. 3-4). Adams
requested “a special shoe to wear” and to be