United States District Court, S.D. Illinois
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
MICHAEL J. REAGAN, United States District Court Chief Judge
Chester O'Quinn, an inmate who is currently incarcerated
in Pinckneyville Correctional Center
(“Pinckneyville”), brings this action for
deprivations of his constitutional rights pursuant to 42
U.S.C. § 1983. (Doc. 1). In his Complaint, Plaintiff
claims that he has been housed in a cell without heat at
Pinckneyville since November 26, 2017. (Doc. 1, p. 5). As a
result, he has developed several medical complications which
he attributes to the cold living conditions. Id.
Plaintiff has asked Warden Jaimet, Assistant Warden Thompson,
and several unknown officers to rectify the situation, but
they have not done so to date. Id. Plaintiff now
sues these defendants for violating his right to be free from
cruel and unusual punishment under the Eighth Amendment.
(Doc. 1). He seeks declaratory judgment and monetary damages
against them. (Doc. 1, p. 6). He has also filed a Motion for
Temporary Restraining Order and/or Preliminary Injunction, in
which he seeks an Order requiring the defendants to
immediately restore and maintain heat in his cell. (Doc. 6).
Because of this request for emergency relief, the Court will
immediately take up the case. See Wheeler v. Wexford
Health Sources, Inc., 689 F.3d 680 (7th Cir. 2012). The
Temporary Restraining Order shall be GRANTED.
matter is now before the Court for a preliminary review of
the Complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, which
(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 of the pro se
complaint are to be liberally construed. See Rodriguez v.
Plymouth Ambulance Serv., 577 F.3d 816, 821 (7th Cir.
2009). The Complaint survives screening and shall receive
alleges that he has had no heat in his cell (i.e., Cell
6A-25) at Pinckneyville since November 26, 2017. (Doc. 1, p.
5). Plaintiff noticed the problem when he transferred into
the cell on that date. Id. For the first time on
December 6, 2017, he informed Assistant Warden Thompson that
the heater in his cell appeared to be broken. Id.
Plaintiff asked Thompson to address the issue, but the
assistant warden ignored his written request. Id.
sent an emergency grievance to Warden Jaimet on December 15,
2017. (Doc. 1, p. 5). The warden was supposed to respond to
the grievance within 7-10 days. Id. However,
Plaintiff received no response. Id. On December 25,
2017, he sent a grievance to the counselor. Id. It
is unclear whether the counselor ever responded. Id.
days later on December 28, 2017, Plaintiff asked a major to
look at the heater in his cell. (Doc. 1, p. 5). The major
agreed to do so. Id. When he did, the major said,
“[Y]ou [are] right[.] It's not on and it's cold
in here.” Id. He instructed a wing officer to
put in a work order for repair of the heater.
was restored to Plaintiff's cell the same day, but only
for thirty minutes, i.e., from 12:30 - 1:00 p.m. (Doc. 1, p.
5). At 1:00 p.m. on December 28, 2017, the heat shut off and
remained off until January 1, 2018. Id. In
preparation for a compliance check on January 1, 2018, an
officer turned the heat in Plaintiff's cell back on from
7:00 - 11:30 a.m. Id. Once the compliance check was
complete, the heat was shut off until the following day.
Id. On January 2, 2018, the heat was turned back on
in his cell from 9:00 - 10:30 a.m. Id. In all,
Plaintiff has had heat in his cell for 6½ hours since
November 26, 2017. Id.
suffers from numerous health issues, including hypertension,
diabetes, nerve damage, degenerative disc disease, and mental
illness, and he claims that the cold temperatures have caused
several related medical issues to develop. (Doc. 1, p. 5).
His legs and feet have become swollen, and he suffers from
pain in his wrists, hands, neck, and back. Id.
Plaintiff fears that he will lose a limb to the cold
temperatures. Id. In addition, he has many scars on
his chest that have begun to bleed. Id. Plaintiff
describes his cell as being so cold that it feels like he is
living outside. Id. He claims that prison officials
are aware of his numerous medical issues and the cold cell
temperatures, but they have taken no action to address the
conditions because they want him to request a cell transfer.
on the allegations, the Court finds it convenient to divide
the claims in the pro se Complaint into the
following enumerated counts:
Count 1 - Defendants subjected Plaintiff to
unconstitutional conditions of confinement in violation of
the Eighth Amendment when they failed to maintain heat in his
cell at Pinckneyville beginning on November 26, 2017.
Count 2 - Defendants exhibited deliberate
indifference to Plaintiff's serious medical needs when
they disregarded symptoms of swelling, pain, and bleeding
allegedly caused by the cold temperatures in his ...