United States District Court, S.D. Illinois
JAMES E. WALKER, R02343, Plaintiff,
KIM BUTLER, RICHARD HARRINGTON, SALVADOR GODINEZ, and JOHN R. BALDWIN, Defendants.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
M. YANDLE UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE .
James Walker, an inmate of the Illinois Department of
Corrections (“IDOC”) currently incarcerated at
Lawrence Correctional Center (“Lawrence”), brings
this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983
for alleged unconstitutional conditions of confinement at
Menard Correctional Center
(“Menard”). (Doc. 2). He seeks money damages and
injunctive relief at the close of the case. (Id. at
Complaint is now before the Court for preliminary review
under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, which requires the Court to
screen prisoner Complaints to filter out non-meritorious
claims. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). Any portion of the
Complaint that is legally frivolous or malicious, fails to
state a claim for relief, or requests money damages from an
immune defendant must be dismissed. 28 U.S.C. §
1915A(b). At this juncture, the factual allegations are
liberally construed. Rodriguez v. Plymouth Ambulance
Serv., 577 F.3d 816, 821 (7th Cir. 2009).
makes the following allegations in the Complaint (Doc. 2, pp.
1-4): During his incarceration at Menard,  Plaintiff endured
deplorable conditions in a facility he describes as
“uninhabitable.” (Id.). In 2012, he
filed grievances regarding the small cell size, excessive
heat exposure,  lead-tainted water, peeling paint, lack of
cleaning supplies, and denial of exercise opportunities in
Menard's North One Cell House. (Id. at p. 2). In
2013, he filed complaints about constant lockdowns, dirty
cells, broken plumbing, pest infestations, foul odors,
uncontrolled noise, a lack of cleaning supplies, and the
denial of hygiene items in Menard's East Cell House.
(Id. at pp. 2-3). In 2014 and 2015, he filed
grievances about the small cells, dirty linens, broken
plumbing, vermin infestation, poor ventilation, exposure to
extreme cold, and lack of cleaning supplies in Menard's
North II Segregation. (Id. at p. 3). Plaintiff
suffered from unspecified physical and emotional harm as a
result of these conditions. (Id. at p. 4). He
asserts a claim for unconstitutional conditions of
confinement against two former wardens (Richard Harrington
and Kim Butler) and two former IDOC directors (Salvador
Godinez and John R. Baldwin). Plaintiff alleges these
defendants were aware of the conditions but “condoned,
authorized, and tolerated” them in accordance with
general policy and practice. (Id.).
Court finds it convenient to designate a single Count in the
pro se Complaint:
Amendment claim against Defendants for subjecting Plaintiff
to unconstitutional conditions of confinement at Menard from
other claim that is mentioned in the Complaint but not
addressed herein is considered dismissed without prejudice as
inadequately pled under
evaluating a claim of unconstitutional conditions of
confinement, the Court conducts both an objective and a
subjective inquiry under the Eighth Amendment. Farmer v.
Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 834 (1994). The objective inquiry
requires the Court to consider whether the alleged
deprivation is “sufficiently serious.”
Id. This standard is satisfied where a condition
results in “the denial of the minimal civilized measure
of life's necessities.” Knight v. Wiseman,
590 F.3d 458, 463 (7th Cir. 2009). Inadequate shelter,
bedding, cleaning supplies, and hygiene items are among the
deprivations described in the Complaint and also among
life's necessities. The objective component of this claim
is therefore satisfied at screening.
subjective inquiry focuses on whether the defendants acted
with deliberate indifference. Farmer, 511 U.S. at
837. This standard is satisfied where an official knows of
and disregards an excessive risk to inmate health or safety.
Id. Here, all of the defendants were high-level
Menard and IDOC officials during the relevant time period.
Although high-ranking officials normally cannot be held
liable for localized violations, they “are expected to
have personal responsibility for systemic conditions.”
Antonelli v. Sheahan, 81 F.3d 1422, 1428-29 (7th
Cir. 1996). Plaintiff can show deliberate indifference on the
part of these officials by demonstrating that he fell victim
to a “general, obvious risk to inmate safety posed by
the problem” and where the pervasive nature of the
condition would “lead to the inference that Defendant
had actual knowledge of [its] substantial risk.”
Potts v. Manos, 2013 WL 5968930, at *4 (N.D. Ill.
2013) (quoting Byron v. Dart, 825 F.Supp.2d 958,
963-64 (N.D. Ill. 2011)). Plaintiff's allegations suggest
that Defendants may have been aware of and deliberately
indifferent to deplorable conditions at Menard. Therefore,
Count 1 will receive further review against all Defendants.
for Recruitment of Counsel
Motion for Recruitment of Counsel (Doc. 6) is denied without
prejudice pursuant to Pruitt v. Mote, 503 F.3d 647,
654 (7th Cir. 2007) (articulating two-part test for
recruitment of counsel). Plaintiff refers to a Motion for
Recruitment of Counsel he filed four years ago in Walker
v. Unknown Party, No. 15-cv786-MAB (S.D. Ill. 2015)
(Doc. 3). He also attaches test scores, transcripts, and
affidavits that address his cognitive function. He provides
no updated information about his efforts to locate counsel in
this particular case or current barriers to
self-representation. Given that he successfully ...