United States District Court, S.D. Illinois
GARRION J. McKENNEY, # 465878, Plaintiff,
C/O GERMAIN, C/O HARRIS, C/O REID, and SGT. COLLINS, Defendants.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
GILBERT UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
is a pretrial detainee, currently incarcerated at the St.
Clair County Jail (“the Jail”). He has brought
this pro se civil rights action pursuant to 42
U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff claims that Defendants were
deliberately indifferent to a serious risk to his health from
being exposed repeatedly to exhaust fumes. This case is now
before the Court for a preliminary review of the Complaint
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. § 1915A(b).
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).
Although 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). Additionally, Courts “should not
accept as adequate abstract recitations of the elements of a
cause of action or conclusory legal statements.”
Id. At the same time, 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).
these standards, the Court finds that Plaintiff's claims
survive threshold review under § 1915A.
February 2018, Plaintiff was housed in the Jail's
L-Block. On February 1, 2018, he noticed hazardous fumes
coming into the housing area from a box truck with a bad
exhaust leak, which was parked outside. (Doc. 1, p. 5).
Plaintiff complained to C/O Harris, who explained that an air
handler was pulling the outside air into the cellblock.
Harris apparently did nothing to turn off the air handler
device or otherwise mitigate the problem.
one week later (February 8, 2018), exhaust fumes again came
back into the cellblock because the same box truck was parked
in the same location. Plaintiff asked for help, but officers
February 15, 2018, exhaust fumes again poured into the
cellblock. Harris opened the door to give the area some
circulation. The same thing happened on a weekly basis, with
Plaintiff and other inmates being exposed to the noxious
fumes for an hour each time. (Doc. 1, p. 5). Germain refused
to do anything to help, even though he said he smelled the
fumes. When another inmate blocked the door and screamed for
help, Collins and Reid responded, but apparently took no
action. Another officer (Miller, who is not a Defendant)
offered to open a door.
complained verbally and through captain complaints about the
repeated exposure to the fumes for over a month, but nothing
was done. Nobody responded to his captain complaints. He
suffered respiratory distress, dizziness, headaches, and
nausea. Sgt. Collins learned about the problem, but allowed
the exposure to continue. Finally, some time in March 2018,
all the prisoners on the cellblock were moved to a different
location. (Doc. 1, p. 5).
seeks monetary damages. (Doc. 1, p. 6).
Review Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A
on the allegations of the Complaint, the Court finds it
convenient to characterize the pro se action in a
single count. The parties and the Court will use this
designation in all future pleadings and orders, unless
otherwise directed by a judicial officer of this Court. The
designation of this count does not constitute an opinion as
to its merit. Any other claim that is mentioned in the
Complaint but not addressed in this Order should be
considered dismissed without prejudice.
Count 1: Defendants exposed Plaintiff to
harmful exhaust fumes in his housing unit, in violation of