United States District Court, S.D. Illinois
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
J. Rosenstengel Chief U.S. District Judge.
matter is before the Court for preliminary review of the
Third Amended Complaint (Doc. 17) filed pursuant to 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983 by Plaintiff Robert Adams, an inmate in the
custody of the Illinois Department of Corrections
(“IDOC”) who is currently detained at Shawnee
Correctional Center (“Shawnee”). Plaintiff claims
that Shawnee officials denied him winter clothing before
releasing him into dangerously cold conditions. (Doc. 17, pp.
6-8). He brings an Eighth Amendment claim for money damages
against the defendants. (Id. at p. 9).
case is now before the Court for preliminary review of the
Third Amended Complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A.
Under Section 1915A, the Court is required to screen prisoner
complaints to filter out non-meritorious claims. See
28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). Any portion of a 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 must be
dismissed. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b).
makes the following allegations in the Third Amended
Complaint (Doc. 17, pp. 6-9): Plaintiff was released from
custody without any winter clothing or gear in January 2018.
(Doc. 17, p. 6; Doc. 15, p. 7). Before his release, Plaintiff
complained of subzero temperatures outside and requested a
winter coat, boots, gloves, hat, and scarf. (Id. at
p. 6). Pursuant to IDOC policy, he was supposed to receive
many of these items when he was taken into custody.
(Id. at p. 7). But the items were never issued or
confiscated before his release. Plaintiff's request for
appropriate winter clothing was denied by Shawnee's
clothing room supervisor (“John Doe 1”), a
correctional officer (“John Doe 2”), and the
warden (“Warden Doe”). (Id. at p. 6).
Plaintiff was then transported to Chicago and released into
dangerously cold and snowy conditions wearing a
“summer” shirt, pants, and cloth shoes.
(Id. at pp. 7-8). He suffered from what appears to
have been prolonged exposure to these conditions and
developed symptoms of frostbite and a cold. (Id.).
Plaintiff claims that the defendants' failure to provide
him with appropriate clothing while still in IDOC custody
violated his right to be free from cruel and unusual
Third Amended Complaint focuses on a single claim, which the
parties and the Court will use in all future pleadings and
Count 1: Defendants violated Plaintiff's
constitutional rights by denying him adequate winter clothing
and gear during his incarceration and just before releasing
him from custody in January 2018, resulting in symptoms of
frostbite and a cold from prolonged exposure to frigid, snowy
other claim that is mentioned in the Third Amended Complaint
but not addressed in this Order should be
considered dismissed without prejudice as inadequately pled
under the Twombly pleading
Eighth Amendment prohibits prison officials from depriving an
incarcerated person of the “minimal civilized measures
of life's necessities” including adequate heat and
shelter. Rhodes v. Chapman, 452 U.S. 337 (1981);
Dixon v. Godinez, 114 F.3d 640 (7th Cir. 1997).
Deliberately disregarding conditions that pose a substantial
risk of serious harm to an inmate's health and safety
violate the amendment. Townsend v. Fuch, 522 F.3d
765, 773 (7th Cir. 2008). This includes conditions that pose
a substantial risk of present harm and possible
future harm to an inmate's health or safety. See,
e.g., Helling v. McKinney, 509 U.S. 25, 36 (1993)
(Eighth Amendment claim stated under future health rubric for
exposure to environment tobacco smoke posing an unreasonable
risk to inmate's future health).
that said, Eighth Amendment protections do not extend to the
“usual discomforts of winter.” Mays v.
Springborn, 575 F.3d 643, 648 (7th Cir. 2009). A
plaintiff bringing a claim for exposure to cold conditions
must show that he suffered from something more than the usual
discomforts of the season, such as particularly cold
conditions or prolonged exposure to them. Hurt ears, numb
hands, and feelings of frostbite-absent allegations of
prolonged exposure-are not enough. See id.
(dismissing similar claim at summary judgment); but see
Gillis v. Litscher, 468 F.3d 488, 490 (7th Cir. 2006)
(Eighth Amendment claim stated where inmate was forced to
sleep naked in a cold cell and walk around for 14 hours per
day to keep warm); Dixon, 114 F.3d at 642-44 (Eighth
Amendment claim arose where inmate denied clothing or bedding
necessary to keep warm in cell with average temperature of
allegations in the Third Amended Complaint suggest that
Plaintiff may have suffered from prolonged and extreme
exposure to cold conditions because John Doe 1, John Doe 2,
and/or Warden Doe knowingly denied him adequate winter
clothing and gear during intake and/or release from
confinement. Count 1 shall proceed against these defendants
once they are identified.
cannot pursue a request for money damages against the IDOC or
Shawnee because they are not “persons” subject to
suit under Section 1983. Will v. Mich. Dep't of State
Police, 491 U.S. 58, 71 (1989) (“[N]either a State
nor its officials acting in their official capacities are
‘persons' under § 1983.”); Wynn v.
Southward, 251 F.3d 588, 592 (7th Cir. 2001) (Eleventh
Amendment bars suits against states in federal court for
money damages). Further, Plaintiff does adequately allege
that a policy of the IDOC or prison resulted in the
deprivation of his rights. His claim focuses on the conduct
of the individual defendants who denied his request for
appropriate clothing. The IDOC and Shawnee shall therefore be
dismissed from this action with prejudice.