United States District Court, S.D. Illinois
MEMORANDUM & ORDER
MICHAEL J. REAGAN CHIEF JUDGE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT.
Shawn Bowens, an inmate who is currently incarcerated at
Centralia Correctional Center (“Centralia”),
brings this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §
1983 for deprivations of his Eighth Amendment rights at
Vienna Correctional Center (“Vienna”). In the
Complaint, Plaintiff claims that he was subjected to
unconstitutional conditions of confinement at Vienna from
2013-16. (Doc. 1). He seeks declaratory judgment, monetary
damages, and injunctive relief. (Doc. 1, pp. 15-17).
case is now before the Court for preliminary review of the
Complaint (Doc. 1) 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 under this standard.
was incarcerated at Vienna from November 13, 2013, until
October 26, 2016. (Doc. 1, p. 4). During that time, he was
housed on the second and third floors of Building 19.
Id. He describes unconstitutional conditions of
confinement in Building 19 and throughout the prison. (Doc.
1, pp. 4-14).
second floor of Building 19 housed 200 inmates in open
dormitories, which Plaintiff describes as overcrowded. (Doc.
1, p. 4). The dorms contained rows of double bunk beds that
were arranged so close together that Plaintiff could reach
from his bed across the aisle and touch the inmate who was
sleeping in the next row. Id. The second floor was
not designed to house inmates in this fashion. Id.
It lacked basic facilities, such as bathrooms with a
sufficient number of toilets and showers. Id. There
was also a general lack of maintenance and upkeep. (Doc. 1,
p. 5). Plumbing problems resulted, exposing inmates to raw
sewage, flooding, and unclean drinking water. (Doc. 1, p.
13). Spider webs covered the walls, and birds' nests
filled available crevices. (Doc. 1, p. 7).
severe overcrowding on the second floor, Plaintiff was moved
to the third floor and housed in the third wing. (Doc. 1, p.
5). The conditions there were even worse than the second
floor. Id. Roaches, spiders, ants, millipedes, mice,
rats, and other insects infested the entire wing.
Id. Plaintiff witnessed them crawling across walls,
bunks, and inmate property during the daytime. Id.
He also found insects in his clothes, shoes, bed, and
property boxes. Id. Plaintiff discovered cockroaches
in his coffee cup, in his drinking glass, and on his
toothbrush. Id. Mice, rats, and spiders crawled into
Plaintiff's property boxes and ate his food. (Doc. 1, pp.
6-7). At night, Plaintiff was awakened by roaches crawling
across his body, bedding, pillows, clothing, and property.
(Doc. 1, p. 5).
worked in the prison dietary unit, where inmate meals were
prepared. (Doc. 1, p. 6). He frequently observed mice, rats,
and spiders scampering across the floor in the dining hall.
(Doc. 1, pp. 6-7). The mice and roaches also ran
“rampant” in the dietary unit. Id.
Rodent feces could be found in the bread, rice, and grain
unknown dietary supervisors, who are identified generically
as John Doe A, B, C, D, and E, were aware of these problems.
(Doc. 1, pp. 6-7). They nevertheless instructed Plaintiff and
his coworkers to serve contaminated, outdated, and spoiled
food to inmates. Id. Plaintiff witnessed roaches and
spiders crawling through food pans and across serving spoons
as meals were served. Id. He frequently found dead
bugs, rodent droppings, flies, hair, rocks, rubber bands, and
cardboard in the food. Id. The inmates had to pick
and choose what to eat. Id.
19 also lacked adequate ventilation and thus exposed inmates
to extreme temperatures and other weather. (Doc. 1, p. 7).
The air vents were “caked with dust, ” which
constantly circulated through the building and caused
Plaintiff to develop breathing problems. Id. Many
windows were boarded shut, blocking out all light and
preventing the circulation of air. (Doc. 1, p. 8). Other
windows were broken and had no screens. Id. In the
winter, the building became so cold that Plaintiff had to
sleep in all of his clothes and was still cold. Id.
In the summer, Building 19 was unbearably hot. Id.
During storms, water leaked into the building through the
broken windows and cracked ceilings. Id. Rainwater
dripped directly onto Plaintiff's bed and property.
poor ventilation, the prison developed a serious mold
problem. (Doc. 1, p. 8). This problem extended far beyond
Building 19. Id. Mold could be found
“everywhere” at Vienna. Id. It grew on
the walls, ceilings, light fixtures, sinks, drinking
fountains, showers, and toilets. Id. Plaintiff
observed it fall in large chunks from the ceiling onto his
bed and into the shower. Id. No. meaningful steps
were taken to remediate the mold. (Doc. 1, p. 9).
Periodically, maintenance workers painted over it.
made verbal complaints about these conditions directly to
Warden Love and/or Warden Davis, as well as the prison's
chief engineer. (Doc. 1, p. 9). On October 7, 2014, he
stopped making verbal complaints and began submitting written
grievances on a regular basis. Id. Prison officials
routinely rejected or ignored his grievances, in order to
thwart his efforts to exhaust his administrative remedies