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Smith v. Groves

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

February 26, 2018

NAZEER SMITH, Plaintiff,
C/O GROVES and C/O BOWERMAN, Defendants.



         Pending before the Court is the Motion for Summary Judgment filed by Defendants James Groves and Richard Bowerman[1] (Doc. 51). On August 23, 2017, Plaintiff Nazeer Smith filed a response (Doc. 59). For the reasons set forth below, the motion is denied.


         The undisputed evidence reveals that Plaintiff Nazeer Smith (“Smith”), an inmate who was incarcerated at the Pinckneyville Correctional Center, was housed in cell R2:B38 from April 13, 2014, to April 27, 2014. From April 22nd to the 27th, the sink and toilet[2] in his cell stopped functioning, and a work order to fix the problem was requested by Correctional Officer Wolze (Doc. 52-2, pp. 56, 65, 76). That work order was completed, and the problem was resolved on April 29, 2014, [3] after Smith had been moved from the cell (Doc. 52-2, p. 54). During this time period, Smith had access to the day room twice per day, in the morning and the evening, for forty-five minutes to an hour where he could use a toilet, a sink, and a water fountain (Doc. 52-2, p. 9-10).[4] He also was able to fill a twelve-ounce cup of water and take it back to his cell, and he was able to access a toilet during yard time, which occurred three times per week (Id.). Smith spent twenty-one hours per day in his cell (Doc. 59, p. 28).

         The following facts are disputed but, for purposes of summary judgment, they are viewed in the light most favorable to Smith. See Apex Digital, Inc. v. Sears, Roebuck & Co., 735 F.3d 962, 965 (7th Cir. 2013). Smith complained about the lack of running water to Defendants Groves and Bowerman, who are both correctional officers, on at least ten occasions beginning on the 22nd or the 23rd (Doc. 52-2, pp. 15, 19, 22-23). Defendants Groves and Bowerman were the officers who were on Smith's housing unit the most often and who the inmates spoke to if they had an issue (Doc. 52-2, p. 15). Smith believed they were his “wing officers” and the persons to whom he should have complained (Id. 16). Smith told Defendants Groves and Bowerman that he had no running water and that he had human waste in his toilet that he could not flush (Doc. 52-2, pp. 20, 23-24). Smith requested the opportunity to fill up his water cup, he requested additional showers, and he requested to be moved (Id.). They said no and told him to wait for dayroom times (Doc. 52-2, p. 21-23), but they may have submitted a work order to rectify the situation (Doc. 52-2, p. 26).

         Defendants Groves and Bowerman do not recall being told that Smith had plumbing or water issues during the relevant time period (Doc. 52-2, p. 46, 50). If they were notified of a plumbing issue, however, they would submit a work order or check to see that one was submitted (Doc. 52-2, p. 47, 51). They have no authority to either direct maintenance to perform work or to move an inmate, and they would not submit multiple work orders (Doc. 52-2, p. 48, 51). Sanitation supplies (disinfectant) were handed out weekly (Doc. 52-2, p. 52), but Smith was not given any such supplies during the time that he had no running water (Doc. 59, p. 28).


         Summary judgment is proper only if the moving party can demonstrate “that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a); Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986). See also Ruffin-Thompkins v. Experian Information Solutions, Inc., 422 F.3d 603, 607 (7th Cir. 2005); Black Agents & Brokers Agency, Inc. v. Near North Ins. Brokerage, Inc., 409 F.3d 833, 836 (7th Cir. 2005). The moving party bears the burden of establishing that no material facts are in genuine dispute; any doubt as to the existence of a genuine issue must be resolved against the moving party. Adickes v. S.H. Kress & Co., 398 U.S. 144, 160 (1970). See also Lawrence v. Kenosha County, 391 F.3d 837, 841 (7th Cir. 2004). A moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law where the non-moving party “has failed to make a sufficient showing on an essential element of her case with respect to which she has the burden of proof.” Celotex, 477 U.S. at 323. “[A] complete failure of proof concerning an essential element of the nonmoving party's case necessarily renders all other facts immaterial.” Id. The Seventh Circuit has stated that summary judgment is “the put up or shut up moment in a lawsuit, when a party must show what evidence it has that would convince a trier of fact to accept its version of the events.” Steen v. Myers, 486 F.3d 1017, 1022 (7th Cir. 2007) (quoting Hammel v. Eau Galle Cheese Factory, 407 F.3d 852, 859 (7th Cir. 2005) (other citations omitted)).

         Smith's sole claim is that Defendants Groves and Bowerman subjected him to unconstitutional conditions of confinement. Inmates are entitled to “humane conditions of confinement; prison officials must ensure that inmates receive adequate food, clothing, shelter, and medical care, and must take reasonable measures to guarantee the safety of the inmates.” Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 832 (1994) (quotations marks and citations omitted). However,

the Eighth Amendment does not provide a fixed formula for determining whether the effect of particular conditions constitutes cruel and unusual punishment, but rather draws its meaning from the evolving standards of decency that mark the progress of a maturing society. Conditions, alone or in combination, that do not, however, fall below the contemporary standards of decency, are not unconstitutional, and to the extent that such conditions are restrictive and even harsh, they are part of the penalty that criminal offenders pay for their offenses against society.

Caldwell v. Miller, 790 F.2d 589, 600 (7th Cir. 1986) (internal editing marks and citations omitted). Thus, the Eighth Amendment is violated when:

(1) there is a deprivation that is, from an objective standpoint, sufficiently serious that it results in the denial of the minimal civilized measure of life's necessities, and
(2) where prison officials are deliberately indifferent to this state of affairs.

Gray v. Hardy, 826 F.3d 1000, 1005 (7th Cir. 2016) (quotation marks and citation ...

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