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Thomas v. SGT. Weaver

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

October 4, 2019

FREDERICK THOMAS, #M18843, Plaintiff,
v.
SGT. WEAVER, SGT. MASON, MS. McDONALD, and WARDEN GOINGS, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          Nancy J. Rosenstengel Chief U.S. District Judge

         Plaintiff Frederick Thomas, an inmate in the Illinois Department of Corrections who is currently incarcerated in Lawrence Correctional Center (“Lawrence”), brings this civil rights action pro se pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 to address unconstitutional conditions of confinement at Lawrence. Plaintiff specifically complains about a lack of hot water in his cell. (Doc. 4, pp. 1-9). He requests money damages and injunctive relief.[1] (Id. at pp. 1, 7).

         The Complaint is now before the Court for preliminary review under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, which requires the Court to screen prisoner complaints and filter out non-meritorious claims. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). Any portion of a complaint that is legally frivolous or malicious, fails to state a claim, 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). The factual allegations of the pro se complaint are liberally construed. Rodriguez v. Plymouth Ambulance Serv., 577 F.3d 816, 821 (7th Cir. 2009).

         The Complaint

         Plaintiff makes the following allegations in the Complaint: While housed in Cell R6-C Wing-Lower 5 from May 21-28, 2019, Plaintiff had no access to hot water.[2] (Doc. 4, pp. 1-7). As a result, he was unable to properly shower, wash hands, or clean dishes. (Id. at p. 2). Defendants were aware of Plaintiff's “general needs” and knew, or should have known, that having no hot water violated his rights under the Eighth Amendment. (Id. at pp. 4-7).

         Discussion

          Based on the allegations, the Court deems it appropriate to designate a single count in the pro se Complaint:

         Count 1:

         Eighth Amendment claim against Defendants for denying Plaintiff access to hot water in his cell (#R6-C Wing-Lower 5) from May 21-28, 2019.

         The parties and the Court will use these designations in all future pleadings and orders, unless otherwise directed by this Court. Any claim mentioned in the Complaint but not addressed herein is considered dismissed without prejudice under Twombly.[3]

         In evaluating an Eighth Amendment claim for unconstitutional conditions of confinement, the Court conducts an objective and a subjective inquiry. Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 834 (1994). To satisfy the objective inquiry, the alleged deprivation must be sufficiently serious. Id. at 837. To satisfy the subjective inquiry, the defendants must act with deliberate indifference. Plaintiff's claim satisfies neither requirement.

         Conditions are sufficiently serious if they deprive an inmate of the minimal civilized measure of life's necessities, such as food, clothing, heat, shelter, bedding, cleaning supplies, and hygiene items. Gillis v. Litscher, 468 F.3d 488, 493 (7th Cir. 2006) (collecting cases). The Seventh Circuit has made clear that an “adverse condition of confinement, if endured over a significant time, can become an Eighth Amendment violation even if it would not be impermissible if it were only a short-term problem.” Knight v. Wiseman, 590 F.3d 458, 463 (7th Cir. 2009). But a week without hot water amounts to an inconvenience and nothing more. Prisoners do not have a constitutional right to hot water. Hopkins v. Klindworth, 556 Fed.Appx. 497 (7th Cir. 2014) (district court properly dismissed claim regarding placement in cell lacking hot water) (citing Lopez v. Robinson, 914 F.2d 486, 492 (4th Cir. 1990) (“[T]here is no clearly established, sufficiently contoured, right to hot showers in prison.”)). This condition is simply not serious enough to support a claim.

         Moreover, the allegations do not suggest that Defendants even knew about the lack of hot water in Cell R6-C Wing-Lower 5. Plaintiff makes no allegation that he notified them of the water problem, requested repair of it, or requested repair of any related issue. Absent any allegations of Defendants' actual knowledge or intentional disregard of the water problem, Plaintiff cannot demonstrate that they were deliberately indifferent to it. Pepper v. Village of Oak Park, 430 F.3d 809, 810 (7th Cir. 2005) (individual participation in a constitutional deprivation required for Section 1983 liability to attach).

         Pending ...


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