United States District Court, S.D. Illinois
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
Phil Gilbert United States District Judge.
case was severed on April 18, 2018 from Teen v. John Doe
#1, Case No. 18-cv-568-JPG-RJD (S.D. Ill.). (Doc. 1). It
contains the claim designated as Count 9 in the original
case, described as follows:
Count 9: Fourteenth Amendment deliberate
indifference claim against Germaine, Zante, and John Doe #3,
for repeatedly exposing Plaintiff to harmful exhaust fumes in
February 2018 and March 2018..
Antrell Teen, a pretrial detainee confined at the St. Clair
County Jail (“the Jail”), filed the original
civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 on
March 13, 2018. This severed action pertains to
Plaintiff's exposure to hazardous fumes and certain
officials' allegedly deficient response to
Plaintiff's complaints regarding the same.
Plaintiff's claims are now before the Court for a
preliminary review pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A.
§ 1915A, the Court is required to screen prisoner
complaints to filter out non- meritorious claims.
See 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). The Court must
dismiss any portion of the Complaint that is legally
frivolous, malicious, fails to state a claim upon which
relief may be granted, or asks for money damages from a
defendant who by law is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C.
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 “no
reasonable person could suppose to have any merit.”
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. Conversely, a complaint is plausible on
its face “when the plaintiff pleads factual content
that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that
the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.”
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009).
the Court is obligated to accept factual allegations as true,
see Smith v. Peters, 631 F.3d 418, 419 (7th Cir.
2011), some factual allegations may be so sketchy or
implausible that they fail to provide sufficient notice of a
plaintiff's claim. Brooks v. Ross, 578 F.3d 574,
581 (7th Cir. 2009). Courts “should not accept as
adequate abstract recitations of the elements of a cause of
action or conclusory legal statements.” Id.
However, the factual allegations of a pro se
complaint are to be liberally construed. See Arnett v.
Webster, 658 F.3d 742, 751 (7th Cir. 2011);
Rodriguez v. Plymouth Ambulance Serv., 577 F.3d 816,
821 (7th Cir. 2009).
Complaint (Doc. 2)
factual allegations relating to Count 9 are as follows.
February 1, 2018, hazardous fumes started pouring into
Plaintiff's cellblock (L-Block) through the ventilation
system. (Doc. 2, p. 8). C/O Taylor (not a Defendant)
discovered that the fumes were coming from a box truck
outside the building that had a bad exhaust leak.
Id. The fumes were particularly strong because
“[t]here is a switch [an air handler] that sucks the
outside air into L-Block” and L-Block “is small,
approximately 30 feet by 10 feet.” (Doc. 2, p. 8; Doc.
2-1, p. 2). Plaintiff compares the experience to being
confined in a “garage with a running car.” (Doc.
2-1, p. 2). Taylor opened a door and placed a fan to remove
the fumes from the block.
wrote a complaint asking the supervisor (Botnak, or possibly
Boujack) to address the problem so it would not
recur. However, nothing was done, and on February 8, 2018,
the same thing happened. (Doc. 2, p. 9; Doc. 2-1, p. 2). This
time, C/O Germain refused to open the door to bring in fresh
air. Plaintiff yelled for a supervisor, but Germain and C/O
Zante again refused to help. Another officer (Miller) finally
opened the door. Again, on February 15, 2018, exhaust fumes
began pouring in through the ventilation system. Plaintiff
suffered headaches, dizziness, difficulty breathing, burning
eyes, and stomach pains from the fumes. Supervisor John Doe
#3 failed to remedy the situation despite Plaintiff's
complaints. (Doc. 1-1, pp. 2-4).
exhibits attached to the Complaint indicate that inmates are
exposed to strong exhaust fumes every Thursday between 7:00
am and 9:00 am for anywhere from 30 minutes to 60 minutes.
(Doc. 2-1, pp. 2-4). The exhibits also suggest that, with few
exceptions, the on-duty correctional officers and supervisors
are aware of the problem but failed to take action.
is a pretrial detainee rather than a convicted prisoner.
Accordingly, Plaintiff's claims derive from the
Fourteenth Amendment's guarantee of due process, not the
Eighth Amendment's right to be free from cruel and
unusual punishment. See Hughes v. Farris, 809 F.3d
330, 334 (7th Cir. 2015). In the past, the Seventh Circuit
applied the deliberate-indifference standard derived from the
Eighth Amendment to conditions claims raised by pretrial
detainees. Burton v. Downey, 805 F.3d 776, 784 (7th
Cir. 2015). The deliberate indifference standard
“includes both an objective and subjective component
and thus is more difficult to satisfy than its Fourth