United States District Court, S.D. Illinois
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
M. YANDLE UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Karnell Nelson and Corey Egner, inmates in the custody of the
Illinois Department of Corrections (“IDOC”),
bring this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for
alleged deprivations of their constitutional rights that
occurred while they were incarcerated at Shawnee Correctional
Center (“Shawnee”). Plaintiffs claim that inmates
with mental health issues incarcerated at Shawnee are
subjected to cruel and unusual conditions of confinement and
are denied adequate mental health treatment. They seek
injunctive relief and monetary damages. (Doc. 1).
case is now before the Court for preliminary review of the
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 or malicious, fails to state a claim upon which
relief may be granted, or requests money damages from a
defendant who by law is immune from such relief must be
dismissed. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b).
Plaintiffs make the following allegations in the Complaint:
The conditions of confinement for inmates on crisis watch at
Shawnee are unsanitary and unhealthy. (Doc. 1, p. 4). Inmates
are placed in cells that are constantly lit, covered in human
waste, and have soiled, old mattresses. Because the windows
are broken, the temperature in the cells becomes unbearably
hot or cold. Inmates on crisis watch are also deprived of
their property and left without shoes to wear or hygiene
products. Jeffry Dennison is the Chief Administrative Officer
at Shawnee and is responsible for the operation and
conditions of the facility. (Id. at 4-5).
mental health needs of inmates at Shawnee are not being
properly met by Wexford Healthcare Providers. (Id.
at 5). They are understaffed and it can take weeks to be seen
by a mental health provider. When an inmate sees a provider,
the meeting lasts under five minutes and there is no therapy.
This is a violation of Plaintiffs' rights under the
Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”). Wexford
Healthcare Providers, Karen Smoot (the health care unit
administrator/ADA coordinator), and Jeffry Dennison (the
Chief Administrative Officer) are involved in the violation.
mental health providers have too much freedom in determining
an inmate's level of mental health functioning. Inmates
that have been designated as having a serious mental illness
(“SMI”) are, without reason, no longer being
designated as such, which can affect the level of treatment
received. Plaintiff Egner was designated SMI from 2016-2018,
but that changed in 2019 despite him experiencing the same
mental health issues. (Id. at 5, 8). Plaintiff
Nelson was designated SMI for many years, but was suddenly
changed despite facing the same mental health issues.
(Id. at 8). Because of the change in designation,
Plaintiffs are not receiving the appropriate level of
treatment and have no restrictions on placement in
segregation or throughout the facility. The SMI designation
is overseen by Mental Health Supervisor Justice and Smoot.
inadequate mental health treatment is an ongoing situation
for Plaintiffs and many other inmates at Shawnee. Plaintiffs
have been placed on crisis watch on a number of occasions.
Director Baldwin is responsible for overseeing IDOC's
operation. Wexford Health Care is responsible for the
treatment of mentally ill inmates.
point, Plaintiffs have been harassed by staff because of
their mental health issues and level of functioning.
(Id. at 9). Plaintiff Nelson has been harassed by
Nurse Casey Lee-Rece, Ms. Smooch, Lt. Browning, and C/O
Anderson. Plaintiff Egner has been harassed by C/O Bernard
and other officers.
on the allegations in the Complaint, the Court finds it
convenient to designate the following Counts:
Count 1: Eighth Amendment claim of unconstitutional
conditions of confinement of inmates on
crisis watch for mental health reasons.
Count 2: Eighth Amendment claim of deliberate
indifference to a serious medical need by
providing inadequate mental health treatment to
Count 3: American with Disabilities Act
(“ADA”) claim for failing to
accommodate inmates with mental health needs by not
providing regular appointments with mental healthcare
Count 4: Eighth Amendment claim against staff for
because of their mental
health and ...