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Gabbb v. Geier

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

March 29, 2018

TYRONE GABB, Plaintiff,


          NANCY J. ROSENSTENGEL, United States District Judge.

         Now pending before the Court is a Motion for Summary Judgment filed by Defendants Mike Geier[1] and Stephen Duncan (Doc. 30). For the reasons set forth below, the motion is granted.

         Factual Background

         Plaintiff Tyrone Gabb, an inmate at Lawrence Correctional Center (“Lawrence CC”), brings this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Gabb asserts that Defendants subjected him to unsanitary conditions in his cell when his toilet stopped working and Defendants failed to fix it for eleven days (Doc. 33-1, p. 17, Tr. 21:1-4).[2]

         Specifically, Gabb claims that the toilet in his cell stopped working on the morning of June 26, 2015 (Doc. 33-1, p. 17, Tr. 21:1-4). Gabb testified at his deposition that he informed gallery Officer Boyer that day, and Officer Boyer responded that he would put in a work order for the plumber (Doc. 33-1, p. 17, Tr. 21:20-23). Subsequently, Gabb notified correctional staff during each shift about the problem (Doc. 33-1, p. 17, Tr. 22:9-23) and was told multiple times that a work order had been submitted (Doc. 33-1, p. 17, Tr. 23:10-16).

         It was not until eleven days later that the toilet was fixed by Defendant Geier, the plumber (Doc. 33-1, p. 18, Tr. 27:6-9). Lawrence CC was on lockdown during this time, so Gabb and his cellmate were unable to leave their cell to use a different toilet (Doc. 33-1, p. 15, Tr. 14:22-15:1). Over the eleven days, the toilet filled up with urine and feces (Doc. 33-1, p. 15-16). Nonetheless, Gabb was forced to sleep and eat all of his meals in his cell with the non-working toilet (Doc. 33-1, p. 15-16, Tr. 16:25-17:2).

         Geier states in his affidavit that he reviewed the log book and could not find any work order relating to Gabb's toilet until July 6, 2015 (the same day that he fixed the toilet) (Doc. 33-1, p. 24). That work order was written by Geier himself, and Geier explained that he would write up his own work orders when he was contacted verbally correctional staff (Doc. 33-1, p. 24).

         Gabb further testified that, on July 1, 2015 (after going six days without a working toilet), he filed an emergency grievance (Doc. 33-1, p. 18, Tr. 25:3-20). The emergency grievance was not returned to Gabb until a week later, on July 8, 2015 (Doc. 33-1, p. 18, Tr. 27:1-5; Doc. 33-1, p. 30). At this point, the toilet was already fixed, so Defendant Duncan, the warden, marked the grievance “emergency not substantiated” (Doc. 33-1, p. 31). Duncan produced an affidavit from Sharon Pierce, a Casework Supervisor at Lawrence (Doc. 33-1). In the affidavit, Pierce states that emergency grievances are typically forwarded on the same day they are received (Doc. 33-1, p. 29). She further states in her affidavit that Gabb's emergency grievance, dated July 1, 2015, was not logged as received until July 6, 2015 (Doc. 33-1, p. 29). No explanation for the delay is provided.


         The standard applied to summary judgment motions under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56 is well-settled and has been succinctly stated as follows:

judgment is appropriate where the admissible evidence shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. A “material fact” is one identified by the substantive law as affecting the outcome of the suit. A “genuine issue” exists with respect to any such material fact . . . when “the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party.” On the other hand, where the factual record taken as a whole could not lead a rational trier of fact to find for the non-moving party, there is nothing for a jury to do. In determining whether a genuine issue of material fact exists, we view the record in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party.

Bunn v. Khoury Enterprises, Inc., 753 F.3d 676, 681 (7th Cir. 2014) (citations omitted).

         Gabb's sole claim in this case is that Geier and Duncan subjected him to unconstitutional conditions of confinement when he was forced to live in a cell with a toilet filled with urine and feces for eleven days. Two elements are required to establish a violation of the Eighth Amendment due to unconstitutional conditions of confinement. First, the prisoner must show the conditions deny the inmate “the minimal civilized measure of life's necessities, ” creating an excessive risk to the inmate's health or safety. Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 834 (1994). This first prong is objective. Id. Second, a plaintiff must establish the defendants had a subjectively culpable state of mind; specifically, that they were deliberately indifferent to a substantial risk of serious harm to the inmate from those conditions. Id. at 837, 842.

         As to the first objective prong, prison officials have a duty to provide the “basic necessities of civilized life, ” which include sanitation and utilities. See Johnson v. Pelker, 891 F.2d 136, 139 (7th Cir. 1989); see also Jackson v. Duckworth, 955 F.2d 21, 22 (1989) (objective prong may be met by evidence of inadequate plumbing, vermin, smell of human waste, inadequate heating/light, lack of clean water, and other issues); see also Vinning-El v. Long, 482 F.3d 923, 924 (7th Cir. 2007) (objective prong may be met with evidence ...

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