United States District Court, C.D. Illinois
MERIT REVIEW ORDER
BILLY McDADE UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
proceeding pro se, files a claim under 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983, alleging that, due to unconstitutional
conditions of confinement at the Pontiac Correctional Center
(“Pontiac”), he was injured in the course of his
prison employment. The case is before the Court for a merit
review pursuant to 28U.S.C. § 1915A. In reviewing the
Complaint, the Court accepts the factual allegations as true,
liberally construing them in Plaintiff's favor.
Turley v. Rednour, 729 F.3d 645, 649-51 (7th Cir.
2013). However, conclusory statements and labels are
insufficient. Enough facts must be provided to “state a
claim for relief that is plausible on its face.”
Alexander v. United States, 721 F.3d 418, 422 (7th
Cir. 2013)(citation and internal quotation marks omitted).
While the pleading standard does not require “detailed
factual allegations”, it requires “more than an
accusation.” Wilson v. Ryker, 451 Fed.Appx.
588, 589 (7th Cir. 2011) quoting Ashcroft v. Iqbal,
556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009).
prior to the events at issue, Plaintiff had a job working in
the dining room of the Pontiac Medium Security Unit where he
is confined. On December 27, 2018, Officer Deal, not a party,
told him that he was being reassigned to work as a
dishwasher. Plaintiff was unhappy with the assignment and
complained to an unidentified kitchen supervisor. The kitchen
supervisor told him that Defendant Dietary Manager Danny
Hobart had made the change. On January 2, 2019, Plaintiff
reported to the kitchen where he spoke with supervisor Susie
Hobart. Plaintiff informed Ms. Hobart that he did not want to
work in the dish room where he would have to carry hot water.
Ms. Hobart believed that a mistake had been made but
indicated that Plaintiff would have to work in the dish room
until the matter was sorted out.
Hobart also told Plaintiff that there had been no hot water
in the kitchen sink for over four months. She told Plaintiff
that she had personally placed 10 or more work orders and
that the other food supervisors had done the same. As there
was no hot water, Plaintiff had to carry water from large
kettles setting on the floor. Plaintiff estimates that each
kettle held 65 to 70 gallons of water. Plaintiff had to dip
buckets, some without handles, into the boiling water and
carry the water 40-50 feet to the sink. Plaintiff asserts
that the floor in front of the kettles had missing tiles and
there were divots in the concrete flooring underneath, some 4
to 5 inches deep.
hours later, while Plaintiff was carrying a 5-gallon bucket
of boiling water, his boot became stuck in a divot on the
floor. Plaintiff fell onto his back, spilling boiling water
onto the lower portion of his left arm. Plaintiff alleges
that he sustained second and third degree burns to his lower
arm and well as injury to his legs and back, from the fall.
Hobart responded, and ran to get the First Aid kit mounted on
the wall only to find it was empty. Plaintiff states, without
explaining the basis for this belief, that the First Aid kit
had been empty for many years. Defendant Susie Hobart called
an emergency code and left the unit to inform the overseeing
officer of the medical emergency. Plaintiff indicates that he
was eventually seen by a nurse and immediately taken to the
alleges that Warden Teri Kennedy, Dietary Manager Danny
Hobart, Food Supervisors Mr. Harbarger and Susie Hobart, and
a Doe Maintenance Supervisor all had direct knowledge of the
conditions in the kitchen and that “an accident would
eventually occur…” He asserts that, despite this
knowledge, Defendants “implemented, enforced, created,
and authorized policies and practices requiring the Plaintiff
to carry boiling hot water from the kettles to the
sink…”. He also asserts a claim against the
identified Defendants and an additional Doe Health Care
Employee for the delay in treating his burns due to the lack
of equipment in the First Aid kit.
prevail on an Eighth Amendment claim based on inadequate
conditions, a prisoner must show that (1) the conditions in
the prison were objectively “sufficiently serious so
that a prison official's act or omission results in the
denial of the minimal civilized measure of life's
necessities, ” and (2) prison officials acted with
deliberate indifference to those conditions. Shannon v.
Stegemiller, No. 16-01725, 2018 WL 3753496, at *3 (S.D.
Ind. Aug. 8, 2018). (internal citations omitted).
“Deliberate indifference” requires a showing of
the official's subjective awareness of the risk.
Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 829 (1994). This
is, that “Defendants were aware of the harm and
deliberately indifferent to [plaintiff's] health and
safety.” Haywood v. Hathaway, 842 F.3d 1026,
1031 (7th Cir. 2016) (per curiam).
speaking, “slip-and-fall accidents almost never support
a constitutional claim.” Pyles v. Fahim, 771
F.3d 403, 410 at n. 25 (7th Cir. 2014). This is so as
“[a]n accident is not punishment because it is
unintentional. Only injury resulting either from a
defendant's intentional actions or his or her deliberate
indifference-conscious disregard of a known, serious risk to
the prisoner-can be considered punishment. Blankenship v.
Kittle, No. 03-3573, 2003 WL 22048712, at *1-2 (N.D.
Ill. Aug. 6, 2003) (internal citations omitted). Here,
however, Plaintiff claims that, despite his protests, he was
required to carry boiling water in a 5-gallon bucket across a
divoted and uneven floor. This is enough to state a colorable
deliberate indifference claim at this stage. See
Shannon, 2018 WL 3753496, at *4 (summary judgment denied
where Defendants were aware of defect in machinery used in
plaintiff's prison job and did not take reasonable
measures to prevent the harm).
however, names Food Supervisors Harbarger and Hobart who
apparently submitted multiple work orders to have the problem
fixed. Plaintiff does not assert that either had the
authority or expertise to fix the sink, or otherwise indicate
what action they could have taken. See Jackson v.
Duckworth, 955 F.2d 21, 22 (7th Cir. 1992) (emphasis in
original) (to be liable defendants must have had
“actual knowledge of impending harm
easily preventable.”) See also, McGill v.
Duckworth, 944 F.2d 344, 348-49 (7th Cir. 1991) (prison
employees not to be taxed “with the effects of
circumstances beyond their control”). Defendants
Harbarger and Susie Hobart are DISMISSED.
unclear whether Dietary Manager Danny Hobart or the Doe
Maintenance Supervisor had the authority to remedy the
situation, but they may reasonably be expected to have had
knowledge of the problem. This particularly, as it is
presumed that the series of work orders had been directed to
the Doe Maintenance Supervisor. These two Defendants will
remain, pending a more fully developed record.
also names Warden Teri Kennedy but does not establish that
she had personal knowledge of these conditions. He, in fact,
appears to implicate Warden Kennedy only due to her
supervisory position. The doctrine of respondeat
superior (supervisor liability), however, does not apply
to actions filed under 42 USC §1983. Pace ...