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Owens v. Lamb

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

November 6, 2017

JAMES OWENS, #K83253, Plaintiff,



         Plaintiff James Owens, an inmate in Lawrence Correctional Center, brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for deprivations of his constitutional rights. In his Complaint, Plaintiff claims the defendants subjected him to unconstitutional conditions of confinement in violation of the Eighth Amendment. (Doc. 1). This case is now before the Court for a preliminary review of the Complaint 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 such relief.

         An 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 of the pro se complaint are to be liberally construed. See Rodriguez v. Plymouth Ambulance Serv., 577 F.3d 816, 821 (7th Cir. 2009).

         Upon careful review of the Complaint and any supporting exhibits, the Court finds it appropriate to allow this case to proceed past the threshold stage.

         The Complaint

         In his Complaint (Doc. 1), Plaintiff makes the following allegations: over the span of 17 months, Plaintiff repeatedly requested to have a leak in the wall between his cell and a shower to be fixed, or to be moved to a cell that has no leak. (Doc. 1, p. 4). His requests were denied. Id. More specifically, on March 5, 2016, Plaintiff was moved to a cell where he found the wall between his cell and the shower leaked, causing water to collect on his cell floor. Id. Because Plaintiff is wheelchair bound, and he had to wheel through the water on the floor of his cell, his hands would become covered in water that had “been in contact with other inmates' bodily fluids which caused [him] to have bouts of diarrhea and constipation, as well as a general lack of energy and psychological stress.” Id.

         On March 15, 2016, “after repeatedly requesting a work order be placed to repair [the leak] to [his] wing officers and the cell house lieutenants, ” Plaintiff sent a request to Defendant Strubhart asking for the leak to be fixed. Id. On March 18, 2016, Strubhart responded that the work order was submitted and that they were waiting on maintenance to fix it. Id. On April 17, 2016, Plaintiff sent another request to Strubhart and to the maintenance department requesting that the leak be fixed, as it had not been repaired yet. (Doc. 1, pp. 4-5). On May 8, 2016, Plaintiff filed a grievance concerning the leak. (Doc. 1, p. 5). On May 9, 2016, Strubhart responded, stating “he spoke to the plumber [defendant John Doe] by phone and was told that due to budgetary problems we do not have the supplies needed to repair the leak.” Id.

         On May 13, 2016, Plaintiff sent the grievance to the grievance officer. Id. On October 14, 2016, he sent it to the Administrative Review Board (“ARB”) after he did not receive a response from the grievance officer. Id. On October 25, 2016, Sarah Johnson of the ARB refused the grievance. Id. On May 21, 2016, Plaintiff spoke to Warden Duncan concerning the leak, and he stated he would look into it. Id. On May 23, 2016, Plaintiff spoke again with Strubhart about it not having been fixed. Id.

         On June 3, 2016, Plaintiff filed another grievance concerning the leak, “as there was now a leak coming from the plumbing closet in addition to the leak from the shower, ” and Plaintiff was concerned the plumbing closet leak was sewage. Id. Plaintiff received no response, so he sent the grievance to the ARB on October 14, 2016. Id. As of the date the Complaint was filed, Plaintiff had not received a response from the ARB to his second grievance. Id.

         On July 7, 2016, Plaintiff spoke to Strubhart about the leak not being fixed. Id. On August 3 and 12, 2016, Plaintiff sent requests to Defendant AWO Goings requesting an interview to discuss the leak, but he never received a response. Id. On November 21, 2016, Plaintiff sent a request to his new counselor, Jackman, requesting the leak be fixed. Id. On December 18, 2016, Plaintiff sent an emergency grievance to Defendant Warden Lamb concerning the leak still not being fixed. Id. He also sent it to the ARB on March 11, 2017, as he had not yet received a response from Lamb. Id. On March 15, 2016, Ann Lahr of the ARB refused the grievance “as PTF.” Id. On February 10, ...

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