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Hardy v. Rauner

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

April 20, 2018




         Plaintiff Nedrick Jeffrey Hardy, an inmate of the Illinois Department of Corrections (“IDOC”) currently housed at Menard Correctional Center, brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 seeking injunctive relief and damages for deprivations of his constitutional rights. The case is now before the Court for a preliminary review of the complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, which provides:

(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 such relief.

         An 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).

         Upon careful review of the complaint and any supporting exhibits, the Court finds it appropriate to exercise its authority under § 1915A; portions of this action are subject to summary dismissal.

         The Complaint

         Plaintiff filed this action on December 14, 2017. (Doc. 1). On April 6, 2018, the Court determined that some of Plaintiff's claims were not transactionally related to others and dismissed Counts 12-23 without prejudice as improperly joined. (Doc. 14). This screening order now addresses the remaining Counts 1-11 against Rauner, the IDOC, Baldwin, Butler, and Lashbrook, as well as some motions filed by Plaintiff.

         Plaintiff alleges that Menard is overcrowded and that the State of Illinois knows about the problem. (Doc. 1, pp. 5-6). Plaintiff arrived at Menard in 2014. (Doc. 1, p. 7). As a result of the overcrowding, Plaintiff has been housed in double-man cells that were designed to house one inmate. (Doc. 1, p. 19). Plaintiff has been unable to exercise in his cell, and this has caused him arthritis, knee pain, back pain, headaches, and constipation. Id. Specifically, Plaintiff was assigned to the North 1 Upper Cell House, the South Uppers, and the South Lowers during his time at Menard. (Doc. 1, p. 31).

         Plaintiff also was inappropriately placed in a cell with an inmate with a history of violence. (Doc. 1, p. 19). Plaintiff's cellmate threatened Plaintiff's life in front of an unnamed officer, and the officer stated that he would take no action. (Doc. 1, pp. 19-20). Plaintiff wrote a grievance and was moved. (Doc. 1, p. 20).

         Plaintiff also alleges that he is being denied access to the courts. (Doc. 1, p. 21). Menard only permits inmates to visit the law library once a week. Id. Plaintiff's visits with his attorneys are non-contact visits, and when his lawyers have documents for him to inspect, a guard must be present. Id. On ten different occasions, Plaintiff has made a privileged phone call with his attorney in a space where he could be overheard by others. (Doc. 1, p. 22). Plaintiff also objects to the use of a “runner system” in the segregation units, in which other inmates carry legal documents to the law library. Id. Plaintiff alleges that the system permits inmates to read his privileged legal documents. Id. Plaintiff's legal mail has been opened outside of his presence on more than eighty different occasions between 2014 and 2017. Id. His legal mail was also held for up to a week. Id.

         Plaintiff alleges that he only got to exchange his clothes once every calendar year, despite having holes in his underwear. (Doc. 1, p. 23).

         Menard serves inmates soy products due to budget cuts, which has caused Plaintiff to experience stomach cramps, constipation, straining, and a hernia. Id. Plaintiff alleges that he notified Defendants about these conditions, and they were on notice of the conditions from other lawsuits. (Doc. 1, pp. 23-24).

         Plaintiff alleges that the grievance process is insufficient to address problems with staff conduct. (Doc. 1, pp. 24-25). The State of Illinois, the IDOC, Rauner, Baldwin, Butler, and Lashbrook are violating their “carceral burden” in ignoring all of the above issues. (Doc. 1, p. 25).

         Menard has no ventilation system, and Plaintiff was subjected to extreme heat temperatures when he was housed in segregation and placed behind a steel door. (Doc. 1, p. 26). At an unspecified time, Plaintiff was not given his fan. Id. He alleges that Defendants knew that the segregation cells were dangerous because other inmates have died. Id. Plaintiff wrote medical staff and spoke to them face-to-face about his heat sensitivity due to his medications. Id. Medical staff told Plaintiff he was not heat sensitive. (Doc. 1, p. 27).

         There was also black mold in segregation, and specifically in Plaintiff's cell, for three months. Id. Plaintiff developed several sinus infections from the black mold. Id. There was also black mold in the showers of multiple cell houses. Id. The showers in the South Uppers have a sign on the door warning people not to close the door all the way, suggesting that “they” know there is mold in the shower. (Doc. 1, p. 31). Plaintiff caught an upper respiratory infection from this mold and had to be taken to an outside hospital for an IV and antibiotics. (Doc. 1, p. 27).

         Plaintiff was placed in a cell with blood and feces on the wall without adequate cleaning supplies. Id. He also fell as a result of being assigned to the top bunk, which lacks a ladder, and he hurt his back. (Doc. 1, p. 28).

         Plaintiff further alleges that Menard has “ping-pong” toilets which do not adequately flush and constitute a harm to Plaintiff's health. Id.

         The water on the exercise yard is turned off in the winter, and Plaintiff is not able to bring a water bottle out with him, causing him to be without water for up to three hours, which is bad for his high blood pressure. Id.

         Defendants do not give Plaintiff the hour of exercise mandated by the Illinois Administrative Code. Id. This causes Plaintiff back pain, headaches, and constipation. Id.

         The cell house is infested with vermin. Id. As a result of the mice, roach, ants, black flies, and gnat infestation, Plaintiff has lost commissary food. Id. The vermin has also gotten in his face and property boxes. Id. The kitchen is also infested with pests, including roaches, mice, birds, flies, and gnats. (Doc. 1, p. 29).

         There are cracks in the walls. Id. The water in the sinks and showers frequently smells bad; Plaintiff believes the sewer lines are backing up into the sinks and showers. Id. As a result, Plaintiff has itchy skin. Id.

         The meal trays are falling apart and unsanitary. (Doc. 1, p. 30). Plaintiff choked on a piece of plastic once and showed it to the corrections officer, but he just laughed. Id. Likewise, the cups that the inmates use are not properly cleaned; Plaintiff once got diarrhea from drinking out of a cup. Id.

         In the winter, the heating system does not distribute the air evenly, and cold air blows in through broken windows, cracks in the windows, and doors. Id. The maintenance men will not fix these issues. Id.

         When Plaintiff was housed in the East and West cell houses at Menard, he was discriminated against because the administration did not allow these cell houses to go to night yard, and their commissary purchases were subjected to a dollar amount limit. (Doc. 1, p. 31).

         Plaintiff has had to sleep on bedframes on several occasions that were bent, dented, filthy, and/or lumpy causing him back pain, and numbness in his legs and feet. (Doc. 1, p. 32). When Plaintiff is sent to ...

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