United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, South Bend Division
ARTHUR G. BOYD, Plaintiff,
DAVID LANE, et al., Defendants.
OPINION AND ORDER
JAMES T. MOODY, District Judge.
Arthur G. Boyd, a pro se prisoner, filed an amended complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 alleging that he was injured as a result of being subjected to hazardous conditions at the Porter County Jail. He also alleges that he was denied medical treatment for those injuries. "A document filed pro se is to be liberally construed, and a pro se complaint, however inartfully pleaded, must be held to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers." Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007) (quotation marks and citations omitted). Nevertheless, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, the court must review the merits of a prisoner complaint and dismiss it if the action is frivolous or malicious, fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such relief.
A complaint must contain sufficient factual matter to "state a claim that is plausible on its face." Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). "A claim has facial plausibility when the pleaded factual content allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556). "Factual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level, on the assumption that all the allegations in the complaint are true (even if doubtful in fact)." Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555 (quotation marks, citations and footnote omitted). "[W]here the well-pleaded facts do not permit the court to infer more than the mere possibility of misconduct, the complaint has alleged-but it has not shown-that the pleader is entitled to relief.'" Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679 (quotation marks and brackets omitted). Thus, "a plaintiff must do better than putting a few words on paper that, in the hands of an imaginative reader, might suggest that something has happened to her that might be redressed by the law." Swanson v. Citibank, N.A., 614 F.3d 400, 403 (7th Cir. 2010) (emphasis in original). "In order to state a claim under § 1983 a plaintiff must allege: (1) that defendants deprived him of a federal constitutional right; and (2) that the defendants acted under color of state law." Savory v. Lyons, 469 F.3d 667, 670 (7th Cir. 2006).
In December 2012, Boyd was housed in the C-3 Pod of the Porter County Jail. He observed that shower water flowed out into the dayroom where the floor was not slip resistant. He complained about this hazard. In response, it was explained that the inmates needed to use the provided mop and bucket to clean up the water. On April 22, 2013, Boyd slipped and fell while walking through the water. The first set of claims that Boyd raises involve the construction of the jail and the hazard posed by the standing water in the dayroom.
A violation of the Eighth Amendment's cruel and unusual punishments clause consists of two elements: (1) objectively, whether the injury is sufficiently serious to deprive the prisoner of the minimal civilized measure of life's necessities, and (2) subjectively, whether the prison official's actual state of mind was one of "deliberate indifference" to the deprivation. Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 834 (1994). Here, Boyd's slip and fall claim does not satisfy either prong of this test.
"[N]ot every deviation from ideally safe conditions constitutes a violation of the constitution. The eighth amendment does not constitutionalize the Indiana Fire Code. Nor does it require complete compliance with the numerous OSHA regulations." French v. Owens, 777 F.2d 1250, 1257 (7th Cir. 1985) (quotation marks and citations omitted.)
Conditions of confinement must be severe to support an Eighth Amendment claim; "the prison officials' act or omission must result in the denial of the minimal civilized measure of life's necessities.'" Farmer [ v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 834 (1994)] (quoting Rhodes v. Chapman, 452 U.S. 337, 347 (1981)). See also, Lunsford v. Bennett, 17 F.3d 1574, 1579 (7th Cir. 1994) (the Eighth Amendment only protects prisoners from conditions that "exceed contemporary bounds of decency of a mature, civilized society."); Jackson [ v. Duckworth, ] 955 F.2d [21, ] 22 [(7th Cir. 1992)].
Morissette v. Peters, 45 F.3d 1119, 1123 (7th Cir. 1995) (parallel citations omitted). "An objectively sufficiently serious risk is one that society considers so grave that to expose any unwilling individual to it would offend contemporary standards of decency." Christopher v. Buss, 384 F.3d 879, 882 (7th Cir. 2004) (commas, quotation marks, and citations omitted). However, as the Tenth Circuit has explained, "while the standingwater problem was a potentially hazardous condition, slippery floors constitute a daily risk faced by members of the public at large. Federal courts from other circuits have therefore consistently held that slippery prison floors do not violate the Eighth Amendment." Reynolds v. Powell, 370 F.3d 1028, 1031 (10th Cir. 2004) (collecting cases).
Moreover, Boyd has not plausibly alleged that anyone was deliberately indifferent to the standing water problem. Deliberate indifference is "something approaching a total unconcern for [the plaintiff's] welfare in the face of serious risks, or a conscious, culpable refusal to prevent harm." Duane v. Lane, 959 F.2d 673, 677 (7th Cir. 1992). This total disregard for a prisoner's safety is the "functional equivalent of wanting harm to come to the prisoner." McGill v. Duckworth, 944 F.2d 344, 347 (7th Cir. 1991).
[C]onduct is deliberately indifferent when the official has acted in an intentional or criminally reckless manner, i.e., the defendant must have known that the plaintiff was at serious risk of being harmed and decided not to do anything to prevent that harm from occurring even though he could have easily done so.
Board v. Farnham, 394 F.3d 469, 478 (7th Cir. 2005) (quotation marks, brackets, and citation omitted).
Negligence on the part of an official does not violate the Constitution, and it is not enough that he or she should have known of a risk. Instead, deliberate indifference requires evidence that an official actually knew of a substantial risk of serious harm and consciously disregarded it nonetheless.
Pierson v. Hartley, 391 F.3d 898, 902 (7th Cir. 2004) (citations omitted). It is not enough to show that a defendant merely failed to act reasonably. Gibbs v. Franklin, 49 F.3d 1206, 1208 (7th Cir. 1995). Even incompetence does not state a claim of deliberate indifference. Walker v. Peters, 233 F.3d 494 (7th Cir. 2000).
Here, the inmates in C-3 Pod were provided with a mop and bucket so that they could clean up the floor. Boyd notes that though these cleaning supplies were routinely picked up from other Pods, they were left in C-3 so the standing water could be cleaned up. The inmates were told about the issue and instructed what to do to solve it. Though there may have been other solutions to the hazard posed by the standing water, selecting this option does not demonstrate ...