United States District Court, S.D. Illinois
LEONARD C. COTTON, SR., Plaintiff,
SHERIFF RICHARD WATSON, MAJOR PHILLIP MCLAURIN, and CAPTAIN THOMAS TRICE, Defendants.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
PHIL GILBERT DISTRICT JUDGE
matter comes before the Court on the Motion for Summary
Judgment filed by Defendants Sheriff Richard Watson, Major
Phillip McLaurin, and Captain Thomas Trice (Doc. 45). For the
reasons set forth below, the Motion is GRANTED.
Leonard C. Cotton, Sr., an inmate currently in the custody of
the Illinois Department of Corrections (“IDOC”),
filed this lawsuit pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §1983 alleging
his constitutional rights were violated while he was detained
at the St. Clair County Jail (“the Jail”). In his
complaint, Plaintiff alleges that on February 5, 2015, he was
injured when the bars to his cell closed on his arm.
Plaintiff also alleges that the Jail was not providing toilet
paper to inmates and, as he did not have money to purchase
his own, he was going without and that the showers at the
Jail were contaminated with black mold.
complaint was screened pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §1915A and
he was allowed to proceed on the following claims:
Count One: Excessive force claim against Defendant Walters
for closing the cell bars on Plaintiff's arm and wrist,
Count Two: Unconstitutional conditions of confinement claim
against Defendant Sheriff Watson for adopting a policy that
deprives Plaintiff of toilet paper, and against Defendants
McLaurin and Trice for failing to provide Plaintiff with
toilet paper; and
Count Three: Unconstitutional conditions of confinement claim
against Defendants McLaurin and Trice for subjecting
Plaintiff to health risks from the black-mold contamination
in the showers.
(Doc. 1, p. 2). The Court, however, severed Counts Two and
Three into a separate lawsuit, thereby instituting this
action (id. at p. 7; see Cotton v. Walters,
3:15-cv-364-JPG-DGW). Accordingly, the claims pending in this
lawsuit are Counts Two and Three, the unconstitutional
conditions of confinement claims.
October 28, 2016, Defendants McLaurin, Trice, and Watson
filed a motion for summary judgment asking the Court to enter
judgment in their favor (Doc. 45). In conjunction with the
filing of their motion for summary judgment, Defendants filed
a Notice pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56
informing Plaintiff of the contents of Rule 56 and notifying
him of the perils of failing to respond within the proper
timeframe of thirty days (see Doc. 46).
Defendants' Notice also informed Plaintiff that his
failure to file a response by the deadline may, in the
Court's discretion, be considered an admission of the
merits of the motion pursuant to Local Rule 7.1(c)
(id.). Despite receiving adequate notice, Plaintiff
failed to file a response by the December 1, 2016 deadline
(and there is no response on file as of the date of this
Order). The Court deems Plaintiff's failure to file a
response to be an admission of the merits of the motion.
undisputed evidence reflects that Plaintiff was detained at
the St. Clair County Jail (“the Jail”) from
January 27, 2015 to November 25, 2015 (Deposition of
Plaintiff, Leonard C. Cotton, Sr., Doc. 45-2, p. 3;
see Cell Assignment History and Sentencing Order,
Doc. 45-1). During this time, Plaintiff was housed in several
cell blocks, including H block, AA block, K block, C block, E
block, and J block (Doc. 45-2, p. 4; see Doc. 45-1).
While housed in blocks AA, J, and E, Plaintiff found that the
showers were “really slimy” and there was black
mold along the walls (Doc. 45-2, pp. 4-5). Plaintiff
testified that the showers, particularly those in block AA,
had an “irritating smell … like moldy
clothes” (Id. at 5). Plaintiff attributes the
condition of the showers to an itchy, red rash that developed
while he was at the Jail (Id. at 12-13). Medical
personnel have not been able to discern the cause of the
rash, but Plaintiff testified that some nurses indicated it
could have been caused by the showers at the Jail
(Id. at 14). Plaintiff still develops a rash after
he showers at his current institution, asserting that it also
has moldy showers (Id. at 13). Plaintiff never
complained about the shower conditions or informed Defendants
McLaurin or Trice that said conditions were causing him to
develop a rash (Id. at 12). Indeed, Plaintiff has
never been “face to face with [Defendant McLaurin] at
any time” (Id. at 20).
also testified that in May, 2015, a sign was posted in each
cellblock indicating that the Jail would no longer be
providing toilet paper and detainees would need to buy it
from the commissary (Id. at 15). Plaintiff believes
that this policy was implemented sometime in June, 2015,
likely June 6, 2015 (Id. at 16). Prior to the
implementation of this policy, each detainee was provided
with toilet paper from the Jail (Id. at 17).
Plaintiff indicated that he was not able to purchase toilet
paper from the commissary on any occasion because he could
not afford it, but sometimes an officer would bring him some
upon request (Id. at 17-18). Plaintiff testified
that he wrote Defendant McLaurin about this issue, but never
received a response (Id. at 20). Plaintiff never
spoke with Defendants McLaurin, Trice, or Watson regarding
his lack of toilet paper (Id. at 12, 20).