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Jones v. Baldwin

United States District Court, C.D. Illinois

November 21, 2017

KEDRON JONES JR., Plaintiff,
v.
JOHN R. BALDWIN, IDOC DIRECTOR, et al., Defendants.

          OPINION

          JAMES E. SHADID UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Plaintiff, proceeding pro se, alleges that he was repeatedly exposed to the raw sewage of other inmates during his incarceration in the Western Illinois Correctional Center from June 10, 2015 to May 17, 2017. This allegedly occurred whenever an inmate in the adjoining cell would flush the toilet, causing the contents to travel to the adjoining cell (“cross flushing”).

         Discovery has closed, except for the resolution of Plaintiff's motion to compel. Also before the Court is Defendants' motion for summary judgment.

         After reviewing the record, the Court concludes that more information is necessary to determine whether a disputed material fact exists for trial. Plaintiff's motion to compel seeks some relevant information that should be produced before this case is ready for dispositive motions.

         Plaintiff's Motion to Compel Responses to Plaintiff's First Request for Production of Documents (34)

         1. Plaintiff's Document Request 1: “All inmate grievances dealing with conditions, sanitation, plumbing, toilets backing up, cross flushing, from 2007 to 2017. To include counselors' responses, grievance officers' responses, the administrative review board (ARB) responses and copies of any and all letters written to Western Illinois Correctional Center's Administration, the administration of IDOC at Springfield, the director's office from inmate/offenders, to include the administration's responses thereto, in regards to the above listed documents.”[1]

         Defendants object as “compound, overly broad, and unduly burdensome.” (d/e 36-1, p. 1.) Defendants also maintain that they “would need to examine every grievance ever filed by every inmate in the IDOC” in order to respond. Id.

         Whether other inmates complained about the cross-flushing problem is relevant to the extent of the problem and Defendants' knowledge of the problem. Defendants admit that sometimes cross-flushing does occur because of poor plumbing design, but Defendants maintain that Plaintiff's description of the frequency and extent of the problem is exaggerated. Evidence of complaints by other inmates is arguably relevant to rebut that argument and show that the problem is as bad as Plaintiff claims.

         Defendants do not explain why they have to review every inmate grievance ever filed to find inmate grievances about cross-flushing at Western. Defendants should be able to determine the inmates who lived on Plaintiff's housing unit while Plaintiff lived on that unit, and then review those inmates' master files for grievances about the cross-flushing. In any event, Defendants bear the burden of demonstrating that doing this would be too burdensome, and they have not done so.

         Plaintiff's Document Request 1 is granted as follows: Defendants are directed to produce to Plaintiff grievances about cross-flushing filed by inmates who lived on Plaintiff's housing unit(s) from June 10, 2014[2] to May 17, 2017, along with all the responses to those grievances.

         2. Plaintiff's Document Request 2: “All maintenance logs or copies thereof to include work orders, service notes, sanitation reports, results of any IDOC maintenance inspection reports, results of any and all city or state building code and/or building inspections.”

         Defendants make the same objections as to request 1 and also assert that IDOC policies or directives are irrelevant. Defendants further represent that no such documents exist.

         At least three work orders do exist because, according to Defendants' summary judgment motion, the Chief Engineer responded to three work orders for cells occupied by Plaintiff. (Robinson Aff. ¶ 5, d/e 44-2.) Defendants do not say what kind of inquiry they made to determine whether other work orders, inspections, or reports on the cross-flushing problem exist. Like other inmate grievances, this evidence is arguably relevant to show Defendants' knowledge of the problem and the extent of the problem.

         Plaintiff's Document Request 2 is granted as follows: Defendants are directed to produce all work orders, reports, inspections, and maintenance logs regarding the cross-flushing problem at Western Illinois Correctional Center from June 10, 2014 to May 17, 2017 in the housing unit(s) where Plaintiff resided at Western Illinois Correctional Center. If no such documents exist, Defendants are directed to produce the affidavit of someone with personal knowledge to ...


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