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Donelsonn v. Atchison

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

December 4, 2017

CHARLES DONELSON, Plaintiffs,
v.
MICHAEL ATCHISON, et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          STACI M. YANDLE, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Pending before the Court is Defendants Michael Baker, Kevin Cartwright, and George Holton's Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. 276). For the following reasons, the Court DENIES summary judgment with respect to Count 4 but GRANTS Defendants' motion in all other respects.

         On November 25, 2014, Plaintiff commenced an action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging several constitutional violations (Docs. 1, 18). On January 29, 2015, the Court severed Plaintiff's claims into separate actions. The instant action pertains to Plaintiff's claim that Defendants violated his Eighth Amendment and First Amendment rights at Menard Correctional Center by denying access to the yard and failing to remedy the conditions of his confinement.

         Specifically, Plaintiff's claims are as follows:

Count 1: Eighth Amendment claim against Defendants Holton and Cartwright for denying Plaintiff access to the yard, thus preventing him from engaging in physical activity necessary to maintain his health;
Count 2: Eighth Amendment claim against Unknown (John Doe) Defendants and Defendants Baker and Cartwright, for placing Plaintiff in unsanitary cells and/or failing to remedy the cell conditions in response to Plaintiff's complaints;
Count 3: First Amendment claim against Unknown (John Doe) Defendants, for housing Plaintiff in the cell contaminated with black mold in November 2012, in retaliation for his complaints and grievances over the denial of yard;
Count 4: First Amendment claim against Defendant Baker, for refusing to remedy the unsanitary conditions in Plaintiff's cell in June 2013 (contamination with feces and urine), in retaliation for Plaintiff's grievances over his staff assaulter classification.

(Doc. 18.)

         Factual Background

         From July 18, 2012 to October 19, 2013, Plaintiff was incarcerated at Menard Correctional Center (“Menard”) (Doc. 277-2). Defendants Holton, Cartwright, and Baker served as correctional officers at Menard. From November 3, 2012 to February 1, 2013, Plaintiff was in disciplinary segregation (Id.; Doc. 277-1 at 17, 18).

         The following facts are drawn from Plaintiff's deposition unless otherwise indicated. Plaintiff was not allowed to exercise from September 2012 to April 2013 (Doc. 277-1 at 10). During this time, the limited confines of his assigned cells prevented him from exercising inside his cell (Id. at 20).

         In September 2012, the facility implemented a policy by which inmates classified as staff assaulters could only attend yard in a designated area (Box 16) (Id. at 11). Following the implementation of this policy, Defendant Holton refused to allow Plaintiff to attend yard with general population or Box 16, by stopping Plaintiff as he attempted to go to yard with the other inmates, instructing other correctional officers not to take Plaintiff to yard and telling him that he could not go (Id. at 13-14).

         In or around December 2012, Defendant Cartwright replaced Defendant Holton as the cell house lieutenant (Id. at 14). Cartwright refused to allow Plaintiff to attend yard with general population or Box 16, by stopping Plaintiff as he attempted to go to yard with the other inmates, instructing other correctional officers not to take Plaintiff to yard, and telling him that he could not go (Id.).

         After filing grievances, Plaintiff was told that he could go to the gym, but despite his requests, he was never allowed to go to the gym (Id. at 14). He was also told that he could attend the yard used by the inmates in disciplinary segregation, but he only went one time (Id.). On September 25, 2012, Plaintiff submitted a grievance, complaining that he was told he had to attend yard in the segregation yard, which had no phones or recreational items (Doc. 5 at 6-7). He complained that the segregation yard was dangerous and that he could not go to the segregation yard because the inmates in disciplinary segregation used that yard (Id.).

         On October 9, 2012, Plaintiff submitted a grievance in which he complained that he was told he had to attend yard in the segregation yard and requested access to a telephone that day (Id. at 8). In Plaintiff's Declaration, he attests that the disciplinary segregation yard was not designed for general population inmates as it lacked telephones and weight lifting equipment (Doc. 293-1 at 54).

         Plaintiff suffered from spasms and pain in his foot, back, and stomach due to the lack of physical activity (Doc. 227-1 at 16). He experienced the spasms and pain prior to September 2012, but the lack of physical activity exacerbated his symptoms (Id.). Plaintiff also gained weight (Id.).

         On February 1, 2013, Plaintiff was assigned to Cell 722 (Doc. 277-2). When he arrived at Cell 722, it had an unpleasant odor, feces and urine, and the mattress inside the cell was stained and also had an unpleasant odor (Doc. 2771 at 27). Plaintiff slept on the mattress only after wrapping it in several blankets, some of which he obtained from other inmates (Id. at 31-32). Plaintiff received cleaning supplies from other inmates later that day (Id. at 30, 43). The sink did not have hot water and the cold water had weak water pressure, which made it difficult for Plaintiff to bathe in his cell (Id. at 32-33, 42). Plaintiff told Defendants Cartwright and Baker about the issues with Cell 722, but they did nothing to remedy the issues (Id. at 34, 42). ...


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