United States District Court, S.D. Illinois
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
M. YANDLE DISTRICT JUDGE
Ted Knox, an inmate who is currently incarcerated at Menard
Correctional Center (“Menard”), brings this civil
rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. (Doc. 2).
Plaintiff originally brought his claims in Knox v.
Butler, et al., Case No. 17-cv-00494-SMY (S.D. Ill.)
(“prior action”) on May 10, 2017. However, the
Court severed that action into several separate cases
pursuant to a Memorandum and Order dated May 31, 2017. (Doc.
1). The instant case addresses the claims designated as Count
4, which includes an Eighth Amendment deliberate indifference
claim and a First Amendment retaliation claim against
Defendants Butler, Watkins, Susler, Best, Brooks, Trost, and
Lashbrooks for exposing Plaintiff to environmental tobacco
smoke between April 2015 and December 2016. (Doc. 2, pp.
matter is now before the Court for a preliminary review of
Count 4 pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, which provides:
(a) Screening - The court shall review,
before docketing, if feasible or, in any event, as soon as
practicable after docketing, a complaint in a civil action in
which a prisoner seeks redress from a governmental entity or
officer or employee of a governmental entity.
(b) Grounds for Dismissal - On review, the
court shall identify cognizable claims or dismiss the
complaint, or any portion of the complaint, if the complaint-
(1) is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim on
which relief may be granted; or
(2) seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from
action or claim is frivolous if “it lacks an arguable
basis either in law or in fact.” Neitzke v.
Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325 (1989). Frivolousness is an
objective standard that refers to a claim that any reasonable
person would find meritless. Lee v. Clinton, 209
F.3d 1025, 1026-27 (7th Cir. 2000). An action fails to state
a claim upon which relief can be granted if it does not plead
“enough facts to state a claim to relief that is
plausible on its face.” Bell Atlantic Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). The claim of
entitlement to relief must cross “the line between
possibility and plausibility.” Id. at 557. At
this juncture, the factual allegations in the pro se
complaint are to be liberally construed. See Rodriguez v.
Plymouth Ambulance Serv., 577 F.3d 816, 821 (7th Cir.
alleges that he was moved to Menard's North-2 Cell House
on February 20, 2015, which he describes as a disciplinary
housing unit. (Doc. 2, p. 14). This was despite his
classification as an A-grade, medium security, and low
aggression inmate. Id. He was placed in Cell #123 on
1-Gallery. Id. He was also informed that the gallery
was reclassified for general population housing. Id.
officials allegedly subjected Plaintiff to “extreme
hand-cuffing” procedures in the North-2 Cell House.
(Doc. 2, p. 14). Plaintiff was cuffed every time he left the
cell. Id. This procedure was not used in other units
where Plaintiff was previously housed. Id.
around April 1, 2015, Plaintiff first noticed the strong odor
of environmental tobacco smoke (“ETS”). (Doc. 2,
p. 14). The windows in the North-2 Cell House were opened on
that date. Id. One of these windows was located
directly across from Plaintiff's cell, and he could see
prison guards smoking outside of the window. Id.
Fumes filled the air. Id.
filed regular complaints about the ETS with various Menard
officials, including Defendants Butler, Watkins, Susler,
Best, Brooks, Lashbrooks and Trost. (Doc. 2, p. 14).
Plaintiff notified these officials that ETS entered his cell
through the window and lingered. Id. He also
informed them that his right lung once collapsed and remained
partially collapsed after surgery. Id. He worried
that ETS exposure would aggravate his respiratory condition
in the future. Id.
22, 2015, Plaintiff told Defendant Butler that ETS was
entering his cell through the open window and vents in his
cell, and that it was allegedly causing him to suffer from
severe headaches, dizziness and shortness of breath. (Doc. 2,
p. 15). Plaintiff asked Defendant Butler to move him to
another cell located in a smoke-free environment.
Id. Defendant Butler told Plaintiff that she did not
have time to discuss a move. Id. She explained that
the North-2 Cell House would be empty if she moved everyone
who had complaints about it. (Doc. 2, pp. 14-15).
14, 2015, Plaintiff again complained directly to Defendant
Butler. (Doc. 2, p. 15). He indicated that the ETS was
placing his future health in danger. Id. Plaintiff
also informed Defendant Butler that Illinois Department of
Correction's rules and regulations require the prison to
be a smoke-free environment. Id. Defendant Butler