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Thomas v. Weaver

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

October 15, 2019

FREDERICK THOMAS, Plaintiff,
v.
SERGEANT WEAVER, SERGEANT MASON, MS. McDONALD, and C/O THRASHER, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          NANCY J. ROSENSTENGEL, CHIEF U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Plaintiff Frederick Thomas, an inmate of the Illinois Department of Corrections (“IDOC”) who is currently incarcerated at Lawrence Correctional Center (“Lawrence”), brings this action for deprivations of his constitutional rights pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. In the Complaint, Plaintiff alleges Defendants were deliberately indifferent to the conditions of his cell, in violation of the Eighth Amendment. He seeks monetary damages and injunctive relief.[1]

         This 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, 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).

         The Complaint

         In his Complaint, Plaintiff makes the following allegations: On May 10, 2019, Plaintiff was placed in cell R6-CL-05 at Lawrence. Plaintiff noticed that the toilet was not working and would not flush. He informed Sergeant Weaver that the toilet did not work, but Weaver told him to speak with his gallery officer. (Doc. 1, p. 2). He spoke with Correctional Officer (“C/O”) Thrasher, and Thrasher informed Plaintiff he would put in a work order for the cell but then refused to do so. (Id. at pp. 2-3). On May 13, 2019, he spoke with Lieutenant McDonald about the broken toilet, but she told him there was nothing she could do for him. (Id. at p. 3). He informed McDonald that he and his cellmate had been using the toilet for days without being able to flush it, and it was now filled with urine and feces. She reiterated that there was nothing she could do for him. (Id.). He spoke with Sergeant Mason on May 25, 2019, and informed him of the non-working toilet. (Id. at p. 5). Sergeant Mason told him that if the toilet was a real problem, Plaintiff would be moved out of the cell. It does not appear, however, that Plaintiff was ever moved from the cell, and Plaintiff alleges that Sergeant Mason failed to submit a work order for the toilet. (Id.). Plaintiff alleges that he and his cellmate have been forced to relieve themselves in the stagnant water since being placed in the cell, and they have not been provided with cleaning supplies to clean the cell. (Id. at pp. 4-5). The cell also lacks hot water, and the cold water is on a timer. As a result, Plaintiff is unable to adequately clean himself after using the full toilet. (Id.).

         Discussion

         Based on the allegations in the Complaint, the Court finds it convenient to designate a single count in this pro se action:

Count 1: Sergeant Weaver, Sergeant Mason, Ms. McDonald, and C/O Thrasher were deliberately indifferent to Plaintiff's cell conditions in violation of the Eighth Amendment.

         The parties and the Court will use these designations in all future pleadings and orders, unless otherwise directed by a judicial officer of this Court. Any other claim that is mentioned in the Complaint but not addressed in this Order should be considered dismissed without prejudice as inadequately pled under the Twombly pleading standard.[2]

         The Court finds that Plaintiff states a claim for deliberate indifference to his conditions of confinement for being placed in a cell without a working toilet. Townsend v. Fuchs, 522 F.3d 765, 773 (7th Cir. 2008); Dixon v. Godinez, 114 F.3d 640, 643 (7th Cir.1997) (not only severity but duration of the condition that determines if condition is unconstitutional). Thus, Count 1 will proceed against Sergeant Weaver, Sergeant Mason, Ms. McDonald, and C/O Thrasher.

         Plaintiff also seeks injunctive relief in his Complaint. Accordingly, the Court adds Deanna Brookhart, warden of Lawrence Correctional Center (official capacity only), as a defendant for the sole purpose of carrying out any injunctive relief that is ordered. Gonzalez v. Feinerman, 663 F.3d 311, 315 (7th Cir. 2011). All official capacity claims against Sergeant Weaver, Sergeant Mason, Ms. McDonald, and C/O Thrasher are DISMISSED without prejudice.

         Motion for Counsel

         Plaintiff states in his motion for counsel (Doc. 5) that he has written four attorneys. Unfortunately, however, he fails to state whom he wrote and when he wrote to them. Based on this limited information, the Court cannot determine if Plaintiff has made a reasonable attempt to obtain counsel. Should Plaintiff choose to move for recruitment of counsel at a later date, the Court directs Plaintiff to (1) contact at least three attorneys regarding representation in this case prior to filing another motion, (2) include in the motion the name and addresses of at least three attorneys he has contacted, and (3) if available, attach the letters from the attorneys who declined representation. Plaintiff should also include in his motion a specific statement as to why he believes recruitment of counsel is necessary in his case. Plaintiff's motion for counsel (Doc. 5) is DENIED without prejudice.

         D ...


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