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Young v. Melvin

United States District Court, C.D. Illinois, Rock Island Division

July 26, 2017

BRYAIN YOUNG, Plaintiff,
v.
MELVIN, et al. Defendants.

          MERIT REVIEW ORDER

          SARA DARROW UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Plaintiff, proceeding pro se and presently incarcerated at Pontiac Correctional Center, brings the present lawsuit pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §1983 alleging violation of his Eighth Amendment right against cruel and unusual punishment. The matter comes before this Court for merit review under 28 U.S.C. §1915A. In reviewing the complaint, the Court takes all factual allegations as true, liberally construing them in Plaintiff's favor. Turley v. Rednour, 729 F.3d 645, 649 (7th Cir. 2013). However, conclusory statements and labels are insufficient. Enough facts must be provided to “state a claim for relief that is plausible on its face.” Alexander v. U.S., 721 F.3d 418, 422 (7th Cir. 2013) (internal citations omitted).

         ALLEGATIONS

         Plaintiff was, at all relevant times, incarcerated at Pontiac Correctional Center (“Pontiac”) located in Pontiac, Illinois. Defendants were employed at Pontiac in the following capacities: Defendant Melvin was the warden; Defendant Prentice was a correctional major; Defendant Meister was a correctional sergeant; Defendant Tilden was the medical director; Defendants Jade and Tracey were nurses; and, Defendant Chrissie was a medical techinician.

         Plaintiff alleges the showers at Pontiac contained insects, mildew, lime soaps (“soap scum”), trash, human saliva, urine, and excrement. In addition, he alleges the showers did not drain properly because the drains were covered with blankets and replete with hair and debris. (Doc. 1 at 27-29). Plaintiff alleges the showers were seldom, if ever, cleaned between 2015 and 2017, despite Pontiac's policy requiring both the use of bleach solution to clean all high-traffic areas and the availability of spray bottles with the bleach solution to clean showers between uses. (Doc. 1 at 10, 29).

         Plaintiff alleges that prisoners, on multiple occasions, brought their sanitation concerns to the attention of prison officials to no avail. (Doc. 1 at 24-25, 27, 30-31). Plaintiff alleges that when he and other prisoners requested spray bottles to clean the showers themselves, prison officials told them that there were none or to file a grievance. (Doc. 1 at 6, 24). Plaintiff also filed grievances about the conditions, but the process yielded no results.

         Plaintiff alleges he developed fungal infections on his feet and groin, blackened toenails, and dry feet as a result of the alleged shower conditions.[1] When he sought medical treatment in December 2016, Plaintiff alleges Defendant Jade prescribed tolnaftate powder, an anti-fungal medication.[2] Plaintiff applied the medication to no avail. Plaintiff alleges Defendant Tracey then prescribed tolnaftate cream; the results were the same.

         On February 21, 2017, Plaintiff alleges Defendant Chrissy referred him to Defendant Tilden. Plaintiff alleges Defendant Tilden prescribed him tolnaftate cream for three months and informed Plaintiff that he should have been prescribed the same regimen initially. Plaintiff alleges he received his tolnaftate prescription monthly-but only enough to last a week.

         ANALYSIS

The Eighth Amendment, applicable to the states through the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, protects prisoners from prison conditions that cause ‘the wanton and unnecessary infliction of pain, ' Rhodes v. Chapman, 452 U.S. 337, 347 (1981), including both hazardous prison conditions, see Farmer v. Brennan, 411 U.S. 825, 832 (1994), and grossly inadequate medical care, see Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 103-04 (1976).

Pyles v. Fahim, 771 F.3d 403, 409 (7th Cir. 2014) (internal citations and quotations omitted). Plaintiff alleges hazardous prison conditions and inadequate medical care against certain Pontiac staff.

         I. Hazardous Conditions of Confinement

         Plaintiff alleges that Defendants Melvin, Prentice, and Meister violated his Eighth Amendment rights by ignoring the filthy condition of Pontiac's showers, or otherwise allowing the conditions to persist. To implicate a violation of the Eighth Amendment for hazardous conditions of confinement, a plaintiff must allege that the prison officials “deliberately ignored a prison condition that presented an objectively, sufficiently serious risk of harm.” Id. at 409 (citing Townsend v. Fuchs, 522 F.3d 765, 773 (7th Cir. 2008)). That is, the official must “know of and disregard[] an excessive risk to inmate health or safety; the official must both be aware of facts from which the inference could be drawn that a substantial risk of serious harm exists, and he must also draw the inference.” Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 837 (1994).

         Plaintiff's allegation that the showers contained human excrement and urine for approximately two years allows for a plausible inference that he was subjected to an objectively serious risk of harm. See Morris v. Ley, 331 F. App'x 417, 420 (7th Cir. 2009); Norfleet v. Stroger, 297 F. App'x 538, 540 (7th Cir. 2008); see also DeSpain v. Uphoff, 264 F.3d 965, 974 (10th Cir. 2001) (“Exposure to human waste…evokes both the ...


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