Boyce v. Johnson et al
MEMORANDUM Opinion and Order Signed by the Honorable Amy J. St. Eve on 11/20/2015:Mailed notice(kef, )
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF ILLINOIS
Anthony Boyce (R52162),
Ada Johnson, et al.,
Case No. 13 C 6832
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
AMY J. ST. EVE, District Court Judge:
Plaintiff Anthony Boyce, an inmate of the Illinois Department of Corrections (“IDOC”),
brought this 42 U.S.C. § 1983 action against correctional officials and health care providers at
Stateville Correctional Center, alleging that Defendants were deliberately indifferent to his safety
and serious medical needs. Before the Court are Defendants’ motions for summary judgment,
one filed by the correctional officials (“IDOC Defendants”), and another filed by the health care
providers, who Wexford Health Sources, Inc. employed (“Wexford Defendants”), and Plaintiff’s
“motion to strike a particular part of pliffs response to defendants summary judgment.” For the
following reasons, the Court grants the Wexford Defendants’ motion in its entirety and dismisses
Defendants Dr. Carter, Mark Hale, and La Tanya Williams as Defendants to this lawsuit. The
Court grants in part and denies in part the IDOC Defendants’ motion for summary judgment.
Plaintiff’s motion to strike is denied as moot because the portions of his responses that Plaintiff
referenced in this motion did not enter into the Court’s summary judgment analysis.
Northern District of Illinois Local Rule 56.1
Local Rule 56.1 “is designed, in part, to aid the district court, ‘which does not have the
advantage of the parties’ familiarity with the record and often cannot afford to spend the time
combing the record to locate the relevant information,’ in determining whether a trial is
necessary.” Delapaz v. Richardson, 634 F.3d 895, 899 (7th Cir. 2011) (citation omitted). Under
Local Rule 56.1(a)(3), the moving party must provide “a statement of material facts as to which the
moving party contends there is no genuine issue.” Petty v. City of Chicago, 754 F.3d 416, 420
(7th Cir. 2014). See also Ammons v. Aramark Unif. Servs., Inc., 368 F.3d 809, 817 (7th Cir. 2004)
(quoting N.D. Ill. L.R. 56.1(a)); see also Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c). The opposing party must then “file
‘a response to each numbered paragraph in the moving party’s statement, including, in the case of
any disagreement, specific references to the affidavits, parts of the record, and other supporting
materials relied upon.’” Cracco v. Vitran, Exp., Inc., 559 F.3d 625, 632 (7th Cir. 2009) (quoting
N.D. Ill. L.R. 56.1(b)(3)(B)). The opposing party may also present a separate statement of
additional facts that requires the denial of summary judgment. See Ciomber v. Coop. Plus, Inc.,
527 F.3d 635, 643 (7th Cir. 2008) (citing N.D. Ill. L.R. 56.1(b)(3)(C)). A court may consider true
any uncontested fact in the movant’s Rule 56.1 Statement that is supported by the record and is not
addressed by the opposing party. Raymond v. Ameritech Corp., 442 F.3d 600, 608 (7th Cir.
2006); see also Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(e)(2); Local Rule 56.1(b)(3)(C).
“District courts are entitled to expect strict compliance with Rule 56.1.” Ciomber, 527 F.3d
at 643 (citations and internal quotation marks omitted). A plaintiff’s pro se status does not
excuse him from complying with these rules. Greer v. Bd. of Educ. of City of Chicago, 267 F.3d
723, 727 (7th Cir. 2001); Cady v. Sheahan, 467 F.3d 1057, 1061 (7th Cir. 2006) (“even pro se
litigants must follow rules of civil procedure”).
Thus, the Court construes his filings liberally.
See Ambrose v. Roeckeman, 749 F.3d 615, 618 (7th Cir. 2014).
The Court notes, however, that
Boyce is an experienced litigant, having brought at least nine other lawsuits here. See Boyce v.
Godinez, No. 12 C 3840; Boyce v. Carter, No. 12 C 5372; Boyce v. Gray, No. 13 C 2967; Boyce v.
Obaisi, No. 13 C 5746; Boyce v. Martella, No. 13 C 6526; Boyce v. Obaisi, No. 13 C 5746; Boyce
v. Obaisi, No. 14 C 418; Boyce v. Madigan, 15 C 7580; and Boyce v. Madigan, No. 15 C 9268.
As contemplated by Local Rule 56.1, the IDOC Defendants and the Wexford Defendants
each filed a statement of uncontested material facts supporting summary judgment in their favor.
(IDOC Defs. Stmt. of Fact, R. 189 (“IDOC SOF”); Wexford Defs. Stmt. of Fact, R. 195,
(“Wexford SOF”). All Defendants also filed and served on Boyce a Local Rule 56.2 Notice,
which explains in detail the requirements of Local Rule 56.1. (R. 191, 196.) The Court also has
previously explained to Boyce i n de t a i l the requirements of the local rule. See Boyce v. Carter,
No. 12 C 5372, 2014 WL 4436384, at *1-2 (N.D. Ill. Sept. 8, 2014).
Boyce filed several documents, which consist of multiple sub-parts, in response to
Defendants’ motions. As is relevant here, Boyce filed responses to both sets of Defendants’
statements of uncontested fact. (“Plaintiff’s Opposition to [IDOC Defendants’] Statement of
Uncontested Facts,” R. 199 at 1-5 (“Pl. Resp. IDOC SOF”); “Plaintiff’s Opposition to Defendant
Material Fact [of Wexford Defendants],” R. 200 at 13-18 (“Pl. Resp. Wexford SOF”)). Plaintiff
also submitted statements of additional facts. (Plaintiff’s Set of Additional Material Facts [as to
IDOC Defendants], R. 199 at 6-10 (“Pl. IDOC SOAF”); Plaintiff’s Set of Additional Material
Facts [as to Wexford Defendants], R. 200 at 18-20 (“Pl. Wexford SOAF”).) In addition, Boyce
submitted two declarations (R. 199, at 11-19, 20-26) and approximately 200 pages of exhibits (R.
200, at 21-221).
Plaintiff admits many of Defendants’ uncontested facts. Specifically, he admits the facts
contained within paragraphs 1-7, 9-10, 12, 16, 18-19, 29-30, and 32-35 of the IDOC Defendants’
statements of uncontested fact.
(Pl. Resp. IDOC SOF.)
As to the Wexford Defendants’
statement of uncontested fact, Plaintiff admits the facts contained in paragraphs 1-7,1 12-14, and
34. (Pl. Resp. Wexford SOF.) The Court, therefore, takes these facts as true.
Plaintiff purports to deny the remainder of Defendants’ uncontested facts. As to these
statements, the Court will not deem a fact uncontested where the Defendants’ statement of that fact
does not comply with the requirements of Local Rule 56.1 or lacks evidentiary support. (See e.g.,
IDOC SOF ¶ 13, 15.) As to Defendants’ compliant statements of fact, Boyce cannot create
genuine issues of material fact by relying upon legal arguments, conclusions or suppositions (e.g.,
Pl. Resp. Wexford SOF ¶¶ 59-69), which do not constitute “facts.” See Judson Atkinson Candies,
Inc. v. Latini-Hohberger Dhimantec, 529 F.3d 371, 382 n.2 (7th Cir. 2008); see also Almy v.
Kickert Sch. Bus Line, Inc., No. 08-cv-2902, 2013 WL 80367, at *2 (N.D. Ill. Jan. 7, 2013)
(“[C]ourts are not required to ‘wade through improper denials and legal arguments in search of a
genuinely disputed fact.’”) (quoting Bordelon v. Chi. Sch. Reform Bd. of Trs., 233 F.3d 524, 529
(7th Cir. 2000)). Further, Boyce may not create genuine issues of material fact through responses
that lack specificity and respond generally to multiple statements of fact without being responsive
As to number 6, although Plaintiff does not dispute factual content, Plaintiff asks that “ex H not be admitted due to
the fact that plaintiff can’t admit or deny evidence that’s not presented or marked.” Plaintiff appears to have
misunderstood Defendants’ citation to their “Exhibit C, at page 3, ¶ (H)” as citing an “Exhibit H.” Defendants’
citation, however, is to paragraph H of Plaintiff’s amended complaint, which is Exhibit C to Defendants’ motion.
to all material facts raised by Defendants. (See, e.g., Pl. Resp. Wexford SOF ¶¶ 35-50, 51-58,
The Court also will disregard denials that conflict with Plaintiff’s sworn deposition
testimony. “[L]itigants ‘cannot create sham issues of fact with affidavits that contradict their
prior depositions.’” Janky v. Lake County Convention & Visitors Bureau, 576 F.3d 356, 362 (7th
Cir. 2009) (quoting Lorillard Tobacco Co. v. A & E Oil, Inc., 503 F.3d 588, 592 (7th Cir. 2007)).
Further, the Court will not consider Boyce’s disagreements with Defendants’ factual assertions
where he states only that a fact is “irrelevant” or “immaterial” or where he fails to provide a record
citation to contradicting evidence. (See, e.g., Pl. Resp. Wexford SOF ¶¶ 11, 16, 23-25, 28-33; Pl.
Resp. IDOC SOF ¶¶ 20-23.) Boyce also may not, without demonstrating some source of contrary
evidence or personal knowledge of the events, counter Defendants’ uncontested facts within their
knowledge. See Fed. R. Evid. 602. Boyce cannot, for example, counter Dr. Carter’s statements
that he did not review any written request for treatment unless he has an evidentiary foundation for
disputing Dr. Carter’s representation. (Pl. Resp. Wexford SOF ¶¶ 51-58.) Finally, Boyce may
not testify as to matters involving medical, technical or other specialized knowledge, see Fed. R.
Evid. 701, 702; (see, e.g., Pl. Resp. Wexford SOF ¶ 21), although he may point to documents or
other evidence by those with such specialized knowledge.
As to the facts Boyce seeks to add to the record to defeat Defendants’ motions, see Local
Rule 56.1(b)(3)(C), he has not followed the Local Rule in several ways.
improperly inserted additional facts into his responses to Defendants’ Local Rule 56.1(a)(3)
statements. (See, e.g., Pl. Resp. Wexford SOF ¶¶ 9-10, 17-19, 21, 27.) Such statements must be
ignored, even where supported by supporting record citations, because the Local Rule requires that
additional facts be raised through a statement of additional facts under Local Rule 56.1(b)(3)(C).
Second, Boyce submits additional facts through his legal briefs. But “facts submitted in a brief
but not presented in a Local Rule 56.1 statement are disregarded in resolving a summary judgment
motion.” Beard v. Don McCue Chevrolet, Inc., No. 09 C 4218, 2012 WL 2930121, at *5 (N.D.
Ill. July 18, 2012). Third, the Court will not consider Boyce’s statements of additional facts as
raising additional facts because Boyce’s statements consist not of factual assertions but of a series
of open-ended legal questions beginning with “whether,” e.g., “whether Hale reviewed the letters
plaintiff sent to his office”; “whether Hale had involvement in drafting the letter plaintiff
received,” (Pl. Wexford SOAF ¶¶ 1-2), “whether Def Hardy, Godinez, Hardy, Johnson, Mahalick,
Burkybile, Loveh, Callous, malicious or evilly tried to harm pliff”; and “whether plaintiff had a
serious medical needs of chest pains, freezing or rash.” (Pl. IDOC SOAF ¶¶ 15-16.)
Where Boyce has pointed to evidence contrary to Defendants’ statements of fact in his
responses to those statements, the Court will consider that evidence. The Court will, in general,
incorporate Plaintiff’s factual assertions to the extent they provide additional facts relevant to the
Court’s analysis, are supported by record evidence, or are such that Plaintiff properly could testify
as to them at trial. The Court further will rely upon Plaintiff’s references to exhibits where they
are relevant to the Court’s analysis and may be admissible at trial. The Court will not, however,
dig through the record to identify disputed issues of fact. See Hemsworth v. Quotesmith.com,
Inc., 476 F.3d 487, 490 (7th Cir. 2007) (“In considering a motion for summary judgment, the
district court is not required to scour the record in search of evidence to defeat the motion; the
nonmoving party must identify with reasonable particularity the evidence upon which the party
relies.”). With these guidelines established, the Court turns to the facts of this case.
Plaintiff Anthony Boyce is an IDOC inmate, who is serving a life sentence for murder and
has also been convicted of attempted solicitation of murder. (Wexford SOF ¶ 1); see also People
v. Boyce, 2013 IL App (1st) 102318-U, ¶¶ 1, 4 (Ill. App. 2013), aff’d 2015 IL 117 (Feb. 2015).
During the relevant time period, Boyce was incarcerated at Stateville Correctional Center
(“Stateville”), (IDOC SOF ¶ 1), and Defendants were officers or employees of IDOC or Wexford
Health Sources, Inc. Salvador Godinez was the Director of IDOC. (IDOC SOF ¶ 33.) The
remaining IDOC Defendants worked at Stateville: Marcus Hardy was Warden; Ada Johnson was
a placement officer; Lydia Dethrow was a prison counselor; John Louch was Acting Chief
Engineer; Mark Mahalik (spelled “Mahailk” in the docket) was an electrician; and Ralph
Burkybile was a correctional officer. (Id. ¶¶ 32, 34, 35, 18-19; R. 161-1, Burkybile Resp. to Pl’s
Interrogatories and Production of Documents ¶¶ 1-2; R. 161-6, Louch’s Resp. to Pl’s
Interrogatories and Production of Documents, ¶¶ 1-2.) Mahalik appears as the “John Doe
electrician” in the amended complaint. (IDOC SOF ¶ 29; R. 142, 143.)
Wexford is a private corporation that has contracted with IDOC to provide medical
services to inmates at various correctional facilities, including Stateville. (Wexford SOF ¶ 5.)
Wexford employed the Wexford Defendants at all relevant times. (Id. ¶¶ 3, 4, 6.) Defendant
Hale, who does not have medical training, was president and chief executive. (Id. ¶¶ 6, 35-36.)
Defendant Imhotep Carter, M.D., was employed as a physician and Medical Director at Stateville.
(Id. ¶ 3.) Defendant La Tanya Williams, P.A., was a physicians’ assistant at Stateville and other
facilities. (Id. ¶ 4.)
Incidents Underlying Boyce’s Claims
Unless otherwise noted, the following facts are undisputed. On February 23, 2012, Boyce
was moved to segregation in Stateville’s F-house, cell 122 (“cell F122”), where he remained until
on or about May 18, 2012. (IDOC SOF ¶¶ 1-3; Wexford SOF ¶ 12; R. 199, Pl. Decl., ¶ 2.)
Plaintiff was dissatisfied with several conditions of cell F122.
First, the window was
dysfunctional. (IDOC SOF ¶¶ 4, 12.) Second, the mattress was soiled. (Id. ¶ 5, 10.) Third, on
February 24, 2012, the day after he moved into cell F122, the electrical socket malfunctioned.
(IDOC SOF ¶¶ 6-7.)
Plaintiff states that he was injured as a result of this malfunction.
(Wexford SOF ¶ 20, Ex. F at 2.)
Boyce now “has reason to believe” that the window in cell F122 “was cracked, it was open,
and also . . . it barely sealed straight. (R. 195-1, Boyce Dep., at 4.) “[I]t barely opened and shut
properly.” (Id.) Cell F122 was therefore “very wintery and cold,” and the window allowed
“outside elements” into the back of the cell. (Id.) During the last week of February, when
Plaintiff first arrived in F122, outdoor temperatures ranged from 30-60 degrees (apparently
Fahrenheit), while the low temperatures varied from 18-36 degrees. (Pl. Resp. IDOC SOF ¶ 13; R.
200 at 65-66.)2 In March, outside temperatures (high or low) went below 32 degrees on only
seven days, no more than four of which were consecutive.
(R. 200 at 66.)
temperatures were above 60 degrees on 22 days (and over 80 degrees on several occasions). (Id.
at 66.) April low temperatures went below freezing on only five days, and high temperatures
were above 60 degrees on all but six days. (Id. at 67.) Boyce wrote letters and grievances to
As Defendants have not raised the issue, the Court makes no findings regarding the admissibility of these exhibits at
IDOC Defendants in which he referenced the broken window. (See, e.g., Wexford SOF ¶ 70; Pl.
Resp. IDOC SOF ¶¶ 31, 41.)
Boyce’s mattress in cell F122 “smelled like feces, ejaculation and urine” and was “nasty.”
(Boyce Dep. at 6.) Boyce appears to have had the same mattress throughout his stay in cell F122.
(Pl. Resp. IDOC SOF ¶ 14; see also R. 59, Am. Compl. ¶ 40.)
On February 24, 2012, the day after Boyce moved into cell F122, an electrical outlet
(which Boyce frequently refers to as an “electrical shocket”) malfunctioned—“[f]ire started
shooting up out of” it. (Boyce Dep. at 5.) Plaintiff suggests, although it is not clearly described,
that this was a spontaneous event, while Defendants assert that the most frequent impetus of a
socket malfunction is when an inmate inserts a foreign object, such as a wire or paperclip, into it.3
(IDOC SOF ¶ 23.) An electrician, who Plaintiff identifies as Mark Mahalik, repaired the socket
on March 15, 2012. (IDOC SOF ¶ 29; R. 142, 143; Am. Compl. ¶ 38.) Although at times
Plaintiff described the malfunction as a fire that continued for 21 days (see Am. Compl. 59 ¶¶ 28,
38; Pl. Resp. IDOC SOF ¶ 15), Plaintiff backtracked from this characterization in his deposition,
saying “at a point, yes, it was flames coming out of the socket. I don’t know what you mean –
define flames.” (Boyce Dep. at 22.) Boyce explained that he did not see flames after that initial
malfunction, just smoke; he simply inferred that, “where there’s smoke, there’s fire,” although he
conceded that he is “not a fire specialist.” (Id. at 6, 22-23; see also id. at 15.) Boyce testified that,
when the malfunction occurred, he burned his hand trying to put out the fire; he did not then see
Any factual dispute regarding the cause of the malfunction is immaterial to Boyce’s claims that Defendants were
deliberately indifferent to the conditions of Boyce’s cell because of the malfunction.
flames, however, and is not sure whether he was burned by “fire . . . or the plastic that dripped off
the thing.” (Id. at 22-23.) Although the socket itself “got burned up” in the initial incident, and
there was soot on the cell walls, no other contents of the cell were burned. (Wexford SOF ¶ 16;
Boyce Dep. at 3, 6.) No inmates in surrounding cells called for help because of the fire or smoke.
(Boyce Dep. at 7.) The outlet continued to smoke until it was repaired on March 15, 2012.4
Boyce states that Ralph Burkybile, apparently shortly after the outlet malfunction, noticed
a smell of “burning tires” coming from cell F122 but did not render assistance. (IDOC SOF ¶ 30.)
Over the next several months, even after the outlet was repaired, Boyce wrote letters and
grievances regarding the outlet. (Pl. Resp. IDOC SOF ¶¶ 31, 36-42; see also Wexford SOF ¶ 70.)
The first grievance of record related to the outlet, however, is dated March 12, 2012, (Wexford
SOF ¶ 70; Boyce Dep. 29-30), just three days before it was repaired. When pressed to explain the
apparent delay in pursuing the available grievance process, Boyce said, “[w]hen you’re faced with
a situation like that, you’re not thinking about a grievance. You’re thinking about your life, . . .
how to stay alive.” (Boyce Dep. at 30.)
An inmate seeking medical care could either submit, in a provided box in the cell house, a
written medical request to the Stateville Healthcare Unit (“HCU”), or make a request of medical
technicians in the cell house. (Wexford SOF ¶ 8.) The inmate would then be scheduled for a
The length of time the outlet malfunctioned appears to be disputed. IDOC Defendants contend that outlets were
“always” repaired within 24 hours (IDOC SOF ¶ 28), but Boyce counters this, citing a work order for electrical work
that states “inmates in cell F122 claim electrical outlet has a tendency to spark up and smoke,” that appears to be dated
March 4, 2012, eleven days before Boyce asserts (without apparent evidentiary contradiction in this record) that his
outlet was repaired. (Pl. Resp. IDOC SOF ¶ 28; see also Boyce Dep. at 6.) For the purposes of this order, the Court
assumes Boyce’s timeline to be correct.
“sick call” visit with a medical professional. (Id.) No one told Boyce he could obtain treatment
by writing to Wexford’s Chief Executive Officer. (Id. ¶ 11.)
In late February and into March, 2012, Boyce wrote letters addressed to various Wexford
Defendants, in which he asks for treatment as to a burn and/or chest pain or tightness. (See, e.g.,
Pl. Resp. Wexford SOF ¶¶ 9, 10, 11, 18 (citing R. 199, Pl. Decl. ¶¶ 2, 4).) The Wexford
Defendants did not personally review any letters or written requests for medical care from Boyce
between February 23 and April 6, 2012. (Wexford SOF ¶¶ 9, 10, 46, 54, 59.) Wexford’s risk
management department responded to one of Boyce’s letters to Hale, advising Boyce to follow
established sick call process and grievance procedures if he sought treatment. (Id. ¶ 48.)
Boyce contends that his then-cellmate, Mark Downs, informed Williams of Boyce’s need
for treatment during Downs’s sick call appointment with Williams on March 9. (Pl. Resp.
Wexford SOF ¶ 10; R. 59 at 13; R. 200 at 21 (Downs Decl.)) Boyce was not present for any part
of this conversation. (Wexford SOF ¶ 17.)5 Williams did not document any encounter with
Boyce between February 23, 2012, and April 5, 2012, although it would have been her practice to
document any such encounter. (Wexford SOF ¶ 61-62.) Williams disclaims any “subjective
knowledge of Plaintiff’s alleged medical conditions at issue in the present lawsuit until April 6,
2012.” (Id. ¶ 60.)
Dr. Carter did not see Plaintiff for any medical evaluation between February 23, 2012 and
May 10, 2012, when Dr. Carter resigned from Stateville. (Wexford SOF ¶ 51.) Boyce never met
Mark Hale, Wexford’s then-president and chief executive officer. (Wexford SOF ¶¶ 6, 41.)
Defendants contend that Downs’s testimony constitutes inadmissible hearsay (R. 194, at 10 n.5), but the Court
disagrees. See Harden v. Marion Cnty. Sheriff’s Dep’t, 799 F.3d 857, 861 (7th Cir. 2015) (“Evidence that is ‘used
only to show notice’ is not hearsay.”) (citations omitted.)
It appears to be undisputed for the purposes of summary judgment that Boyce was not
examined by non-psychiatric medical personnel between February 24, 2012, and April 2, 2012.
(See Wexford SOF ¶ 18.) On April 2, 2012, Plaintiff saw a nurse, who is not a Defendant,
complaining of a burning pain in his chest; she provided him with antacids and scheduled him for
sick call. (Wexford SOF ¶ 18, Ex. F at 1.) The nurse’s progress notes do not reflect that Boyce
sought treatment for a burn. (Wexford SOF ¶ 18, Ex. F at 1.)6 On April 6, 2012, Plaintiff saw
Defendant Williams for a medical evaluation. (Wexford SOF ¶ 19.) Williams’ notes reflect that
Boyce reported “a burning in my chest do [sic] to electrical fire in my cell for 21 days, back in
February” and, also “back in February,” “I got a burn on my L hand do [sic] to sparks.” (Id. ¶ 20,
Ex. F at 2.) Plaintiff further reported that “tummy still bothers from time to time,” but “last meds
you gave helped me.” (Id. ¶ 20, Ex. F at 2.) Finally, Plaintiff stated that he had “pain” in “L
wrist off and on over the past several months or so.” (Id. ¶ 20, Ex. F at 2.) Williams’s
examination revealed no abnormalities; she diagnosed Plaintiff with an “alteration of comfort”
(which the Court understands to mean “discomfort”) in his abdomen and left wrist. (Id. ¶ 21, Ex.
F. at 2.) She prescribed Bentyl, for abdominal discomfort, and Tylenol 325 mg and analgesic
balm, for pain. (Id. ¶ 22, Ex. F at 2.) Williams did not diagnose Boyce with smoke inhalation or
a burn injury. (Id. ¶¶ 21, 64.)
Plaintiff next saw Williams on August 10, 2012, when Plaintiff complained of neck pain,
lower lip pain, and chest pains, after a reported suicide attempt. (Wexford SOF ¶¶ 23-24.)
Williams prescribed Tylenol 325 mg, analgesic balm, and Bentyl, and scheduled Plaintiff for a
chest x-ray that came back negative for abnormalities. (Wexford SOF ¶¶ 26-27.) At Plaintiff’s
Although Plaintiff insists that he told the nurse of his burned hand and attributed his chest pain to smoke inhalation
(Pl. Resp. Wexford SOF ¶ 18), any potential factual disputes regarding these issues are immaterial to whether any
named Defendant was deliberately indifferent to Plaintiff’s serious medical needs.
medical visits in March and June 2013, he did not complain of burning in his chest or a burned
hand. (Wexford SOF ¶¶ 28-31.)
SUMMARY JUDGMENT STANDARD
All Defendants now move for summary judgment in their favor and against Boyce.
Summary judgment is appropriate “if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any
material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(a). A
genuine dispute as to a material fact exists if “the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could
return a verdict for the nonmoving party.” Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248
(1986). The party seeking summary judgment has the burden of establishing that there is no
genuine dispute as to any material fact. See Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986).
After a properly supported motion for summary judgment is made, the party opposing
summary judgment “must set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial.”
Anderson, 477 U.S. at 256. To do so, the opposing party must go beyond the pleadings and
designate specific facts showing the existence of a genuine issue for trial. Hemsworth, 476 F.3d
at 490. Moreover, evidence submitted in opposition to summary judgment must be admissible at
trial under the Federal Rules of Evidence, although attested testimony, such as that found in
depositions or affidavits, also will be considered. Id.; Scott v. Edinburg, 346 F.3d 752, 759-60 &
n.7 (7th Cir. 2003). The Court’s job as to “a summary judgment motion is not to weigh evidence,
make credibility determinations, resolve factual disputes and swearing contest, or decide which
inferences to draw from the facts.” Miller v. Gonzalez, 761 F.3d 822, 827 (7th Cir. 2014).
Although a Court considers facts and reasonable inferences in the light most favorable to the
non-moving party, Zuppardi v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., 770 F.3d 644, 649 (7th Cir. 2014), the
non-movant must show more than disputed facts to defeat summary judgment—disputed facts
must be both genuine and material. Scott v. Harris, 550 U.S. 372, 380 (2007). Summary
judgment is appropriate if, on the evidence provided, no reasonable juror could return a verdict in
favor of the non-movant. Celotex Corp., 477 U.S. at 322; Gordon v. FedEx Freight, Inc., 674
F.3d 769, 772-73 (7th Cir. 2012).
The Wexford Defendants argue that summary judgment in their favor is appropriate, first,
because Boyce failed to exhaust administrative remedies regarding his claim that they were
deliberately indifferent to his medical needs, and, second, because they were not deliberately
indifferent to Boyce’s serious medical needs. The IDOC Defendants7 argue that they are entitled
to summary judgment because: (1) Boyce’s claims regarding the dysfunctional window and soiled
mattress in cell F122 do not rise to the level of constitutional violations; (2) Boyce lacks sufficient
admissible evidence regarding the outlet malfunction, entitling Defendants Burkybile and Mahalik
to summary judgment; and (3) Defendants Hardy, Godinez, Louch, Dethrow and Johnson do not
have sufficient personal involvement to be found liable for a constitutional violation.
The Wexford Defendants first argue that Plaintiff failed to exhaust his administrative
remedies as to his claims against them, as required by the Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA).
See 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(a); Woodford v. Ngo, 548 U.S. 81, 87, 90 (2006) (citing Pozo v.
McCaughtry, 286 F.3d 1022, 1024 (7th Cir. 2002)). Failure to exhaust is an administrative
Although Defendant Ralph Burkybile’s name does not appear in the title of the summary judgment submissions by
the IDOC Defendants, all filings were made on his behalf. (R. 188, 189, 190, 191.) Frederick Nash, who is no
longer a Defendant (R. 57), is inadvertently named in some of the IDOC Defendants’ filings as well. The Court will
not address any arguments as to Nash.
defense that Defendants must plead and prove. Turley v. Rednour, 729 F.3d 645, 650 (7th Cir.
2013). Exhaustion requirements are set by prison grievance systems in each state, see Jones v.
Bock, 549 U.S. 199, 218 (2007), and “[a] prisoner must comply with the specific procedures and
deadlines established by the prison’s policy.” King v. McCarthy, 781 F.3d 889, 893 (7th Cir.
Illinois’ administrative remedy is set forth in the Administrative Code. 20 Ill. Admin.
Code § 504.800, et seq. Generally, a prisoner first should attempt to resolve any grievance
informally by speaking to a counselor, 20 Ill. Admin. Code § 504.810(a), and, if that does not
resolve his dispute, he may seek review at the institutional level through a written grievance to a
grievance officer, who makes a recommendation to the warden, the chief administrative officer
(CAO) of the facility. Id.; see also Roberts v. Neal, 745 F.3d 232, 235 (7th Cir. 2014); Owens v.
Hinsley, 635 F.3d 950, 955 (7th Cir. 2011). If the CAO’s response does not resolve the issue to
the inmate’s satisfaction, he may appeal to the Administrative Review Board (ARB).
Alternatively, when an inmate believes he is raising an emergency issue, he may bypass the
counselor and grievance officer and submit his grievance directly to the CAO. 20 Ill. Admin.
Code § 504.840; Roberts, 745 F.3d at 236. If the warden agrees that the grievance related to an
emergency, e.g., an issue presenting “a substantial risk of serious personal injury or other serious
irreparable harm to the offender,” the grievance handling is expedited. 20 Ill. Admin. Code §
504.840. If the CAO finds that the grievance does not present an emergency, a prisoner may
appeal that rejection to the ARB. See Thornton v. Snyder, 428 F.3d 690, 694 (7th Cir. 2005); see
also 20 Ill. Admin. Code § 540.840.
The Wexford Defendants here concede that “Plaintiff submitted several grievances” prior
to filing this lawsuit, (Wexford SOF ¶ 70), although they do not identify those grievances or their
substance. Defendants contend that Boyce did not “properly appeal” the grievances because the
ARB responded only by requesting additional documentation and did not reach the substance of
(R. 194 at 6; Wexford SOF ¶¶ 71, 72.)
Boyce did not exhaust,
Defendants assert, “because he did not receive a final determination from the ARB regarding his
grievances” before filing suit.
(R. 194, at 6; Wexford SOF ¶ 73.)
Boyce, also without
specifically identifying the grievances and responses at issue in the record, contends that he
submitted his grievances as emergency grievances to Defendant Hardy and that Hardy found them
to raise non-emergent concerns. (Pl. Resp. Wexford SOF ¶¶ 70-73; R. 200 at 5; R. 199 at 25.)
He then appealed those decisions to the ARB, which he argues fully exhausted the available
administrative remedies. (R. 200, at 5; R. 199 at 25.)
Defendants have not met their burden of pleading and proving Boyce’s failure to exhaust.
The record is disorganized, and the Court cannot determine whether Boyce properly submitted all
required documentation to the ARB (although Boyce’s general description of his exhaustion
efforts seems consistent with the record). (See, e.g., R. 200 at 24-27, 45-49, 68, 70-75, 78-80.)
Therefore, the Court declines the invitation at this stage to find that Boyce has not exhausted his
administrative remedies. For purposes of finality and to conserve the Court’s resources, the Court
will address the merits of the Plaintiff’s claims against the Wexford Defendants. See Fluker v.
County of Kankakee, 741 F.3d 787, 793-94 (7th Cir. 2013) (approving district court’s decision to
reach merits even after determining plaintiff had not exhausted administrative remedies prior to
Deliberate Indifference to Serious Medical Need
The Wexford Defendants next move for summary judgment on the grounds that Boyce has
not provided sufficient evidence that he suffered from an objectively serious medical condition
and that, even if he did, has not shown that Defendants were deliberately indifferent to his
condition. (R. 194 at 6-16.) “A prison official may be found in violation of an inmate’s right to
be free from cruel and unusual punishment if she acts (or fails to act) with ‘deliberate indifference
to [his] serious medical needs.’” Conley v. Birch, 796 F.3d 742, 746 (7th Cir. 2015) (alteration in
original) (quoting Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 104 (1976)). This claim has objective and
subjective components, which require a plaintiff to show (1) that he had an objectively serious
medical condition; and (2) that officials acted with deliberate indifference to his corresponding
medical needs. Sherrod v. Lingle, 223 F.3d 605, 610 (7th Cir. 2000) (citing Reed v. McBride, 178
F.3d 849, 852 (7th Cir. 1999)). The Court addresses these components in turn.
Objectively Serious Medical Need
The Wexford Defendants argue that Plaintiff did not demonstrate an objectively serious
medical condition for the purposes of this claim. (R. 194 at 7-8.) “‘A serious medical condition
is one that a physician has diagnosed as mandating treatment or one that is so obvious that even a
lay person would know that a doctor’s attention was needed.’” Hayes v. Snyder, 546 F.3d 516,
522-23 (7th Cir. 2008) (quoting Greeno v. Daley, 414 F.3d 645, 652 (7th Cir. 2005)). A condition
also may be objectively serious if a “failure to treat it ‘could result in further significant injury or
the unnecessary and wanton infliction of pain.’” Hayes, 546 F.3d at 522 (quotation marks and
citation omitted). Where, as here, an inmate relies upon a delay in treatment to show an
objectively serious medical condition, he must show that the claimed delay had a detrimental
effect on or worsened his condition. See Knight v. Wiseman, 590 F.3d 458, 466 (7th Cir. 2009);
see also Reece v. Groose, 60 F.3d 487, 491-92 (7th Cir. 1995) (stating in dictum that such evidence
“goes to the objective component of the alleged medical-needs violation of the Eighth
Neither a burn nor smoke inhalation is necessarily an objectively serious medical
condition. Generally, minor burns have been held not to constitute a serious medical condition,
whereas more significant burns may be deemed sufficiently serious to implicate the Eighth
Amendment. See Roberts v. Landrum, No. 4:12-cv-129-RS-CAS, 2013 WL 6485308, at *7
(N.D. Fla. Dec. 10, 2013) (collecting cases). Similarly, mild smoke inhalation is generally not
held to be a serious medical need, see Planker v. Christie, No. 13-4464 (MAS), 2015 WL 268847,
at *20 (D.N.J. Jan. 21, 2015) (holding that allegations of failure to treat smoke inhalation
following fire in prison unit “do not rise to the level of a serious medical need”), while other
exposures to smoke that cause severe enough symptoms may be sufficiently serious, at least at the
pleading stage, to state a serious medical need. West v. Walker, No. 06 C 4350, 2007 WL
2608789, at *5 (N.D. Ill. Sept. 4, 2007) (“The court will assume for the purposes of the motion to
dismiss that the plaintiff’s need for treatment of smoke inhalation amounted to a ‘serious’ medical
need,” where plaintiff alleged violent nausea, difficulty breathing, burning in esophagus, and pain
in lungs”); Jones v. Mitchell, No. 93 C 405, 1994 WL 517202, at *5 (N.D. Ill. Sept. 20, 1994)
(“[S]moke inhalation could be a serious medical need.”).
The Wexford Defendants argue that, here, there is no objective medical evidence verifying
that Boyce had a serious medical need from a burn or smoke inhalation. (R. 194, at 8.)
Defendants emphasize that Williams’s examination revealed no abnormalities, and her diagnoses
included an alteration of comfort in his abdomen and left wrist, not smoke inhalation or a burn.
(Wexford SOF ¶¶ 21, 22, 64, Ex. F at 2.) Moreover, a chest x-ray in August 2012 was “negative”
for any abnormalities.
(Wexford SOF ¶ 27.)
Although Boyce’s arguments regarding the
seriousness of his conditions are largely conclusory, (R. 200 at 1-2), he appears to pin this
component of his claim on Williams’s notes from his examination on April 6, 2012. (See Pl.
Resp. Wexford SOF ¶ 21.) Plaintiff suggests that Williams’s notations, i.e., “a burning in my
chest do [sic] to electrical fire in my cell for 21 days, back in February” and, also “back in
February,” “I got a burn on my L hand do [sic] to sparks,” (Wexford SOF ¶ 20, Ex. F at 2), reflect
Williams’s “clinical findings” that he was in a 21-day fire that caused a burn and chest pains. (See
Pl. Resp. Wexford SOF ¶ 21.)
The notations at issue appear on the left portion of Williams’ notes regarding Boyce’s
examination, in an area of the form that calls for both subjective and objective findings.
(Wexford SOF Ex. F. at 2.) Given the wording of the notations, which are in the first person and
use “I” and “my” in describing Boyce’s conditions, no reasonable juror could find that Williams
was doing anything other than transcribing Boyce’s reported symptoms, exactly as he reported
them to her. Accordingly, these notes of Boyce’s subjective complaints do not provide “verifying
medical evidence that shows that his condition worsened because of the delay.” See Knight, 590
F.3d at 466.
Boyce points to no objective medical evidence tending to verify that he had a serious
medical condition from either a burn or smoke inhalation at all, much less that any delay in
treatment worsened any such condition. Without such evidence, Boyce has not demonstrated that
he had an objectively serious medical condition. See id.; see also Gonzalez v. Hardy, No. 11 C
8578, 2015 WL 6528112, at *6 (N.D. Ill. Oct. 27, 2015) (granting summary judgment to defendant
doctor where plaintiff had produced only his own opinion that new shoes should give him less
pain, without any supporting medical evidence); Padilla v. Bailey, No. 09 C 8068, 2011 WL
3045991, at *6 (N.D. Ill. July 25, 2011) (“[B]ecause [plaintiff] did not introduce ‘verifying
medical evidence that shows that his condition worsened because of the delay,’ his claim fails.”)
(quoting Knight, 590 F.3d at 466)); Powell v. King, No. 5:03-CT-102-H, 2004 WL 3396206, at *2
(E.D.N.C. Aug. 10, 2004) (“The reports of medical professionals do not support Plaintiff’s claim
that he suffered serious injury as a result of smoke inhalation.”).
judgment will be granted to the Wexford Defendants.
Because, absent a serious medical
condition, any claim that the IDOC Defendants were deliberately indifferent to Boyce’s serious
medical needs also must fail, any such claims against the IDOC Defendants are likewise
Deliberate Indifference of Wexford Defendants
Although the Court is granting summary judgment as to all Defendants on this claim
because Boyce had no objectively serious medical needs, the Court will, for judicial economy,
address the subjective component of Boyce’s claims as to the Wexford Defendants. For this
component, neither negligence nor a bad result stemming from “a reasonable medical judgment”
suffices to meet Boyce’s burden. Sherrod, 223 F.3d at 611. Instead, a plaintiff must show that
each defendant was aware of and consciously disregarded his medical need. See Farmer, 511
U.S. at 837; Rowe v. Gibson, 798, F.3d 622, 627 (7th Cir. 2015). The defendant therefore must
know of “a significant risk to inmate health or safety,” and nevertheless “administer ‘blatantly
inappropriate’ medical treatment,” “act in a manner contrary to the recommendation of
specialists, or delay a prisoner’s treatment for non-medical reasons, thereby exacerbating pain or
suffering.” Perez v. Fenoglio, 792 F.3d 768, 777 (7th Cir. 2015) (internal citations omitted).
Boyce here does not argue that Williams did not appropriately treat him on April 6—he
contends that he should have been evaluated sooner. (See R. 200, at 3 (“why did it take pliff to
April 6, 12 to see Williams with severe burns and chest cardio pains which extremely hurts”).
Plaintiff asserts that he wrote letters and grievances to and regarding Defendants Williams, Hale,
and Dr. Carter, which put them on notice of his request for treatment long before he was treated on
April 6, 2012. (See, e.g., Pl. Resp. Wexford SOF ¶¶ 9, 10, 11, 18 (citing R. 199, Pl. Decl. ¶¶ 2,
4).) Boyce has not, however, refuted with competent evidence these Defendants’ statements that
they did not personally review any written request for treatment by him between February 23 and
April 5, 2012. (Wexford SOF ¶¶ 46, 54, 59.)
Boyce points to no other evidence that Dr. Carter or Hale8 knew of his requests for medical
treatment. The Court, therefore, also grants summary judgment as to Defendants Carter and Hale
on this issue, because there is no evidence that they had notice of Boyce’s medical issues, much
less responded in a deliberately indifferent manner. See Johnson v. Snyder, 444 F.3d 579, 584
(7th Cir. 2006) (noting that plaintiff had no evidence that defendant knew of plaintiff’s conditions
and communications because evidence showed that defendant “d[id] not review inmate
correspondence related to grievances” but “delegated [that task] to subordinates”).
For the same reasons, the Court grants summary judgment on this issue as to Williams for
any claim based on a written request by Boyce for treatment. The facts are disputed, however, as
to whether Williams may have gained knowledge of Boyce’s alleged requests for medical
Because Hale did not have medical training, it is unlikely that Boyce’s communications would, in any case, have put
him on notice as to any deficiency in Boyce’s care or treatment. (See Wexford SOF ¶¶ 36-39.)
treatment from other sources as early as March 9, 2012. (See Wexford SOF ¶ 60 (“Williams had
no subjective knowledge of Plaintiff’s alleged medical conditions at issue in the present lawsuit
until April 6, 2012.”); Pl. Resp. Wexford SOF ¶¶ 59-69 (citing Pl. Decl., R. 199, at 20, ¶ 2
(referring to Declaration of Boyce’s cellmate, Mark Downs, who stated that, during a March 9
examination with Williams, he informed her of Boyce’s need for treatment for smoke inhalation)).
Deliberate Indifference to Cell Conditions—IDOC Defendants Only
The IDOC Defendants argue that the Court should grant summary judgment as to
Plaintiff’s claims that they were deliberately indifferent to his health and safety due to the
conditions of cell F122. (R. 188, 190.) An Eighth Amendment violation based on the conditions
of an inmate’s confinement occurs when two conditions are met: (1) the harm imposed by the
conditions of confinement was “sufficiently serious” to deprive a prisoner of “the minimal
civilized measure of life’s necessities”; and (2) a prison official acted with “deliberate
indifference” to the inmate’s health and safety resulting from those conditions. See Farmer, 511
U.S. at 834. “[C]onditions of confinement, even if not individually serious enough to work
constitutional violations, may violate the Constitution in combination when they have a ‘mutually
enforcing effect that produces the deprivation of a single, identifiable human need.’” Budd v.
Motley, 711 F.3d 840, 842 (7th Cir. 2013) (quoting Wilson v. Seiter, 501 U.S. 294, 304 (1991)).
Plaintiff states that cell F-122’s conditions included a urine-, feces-, and ejaculation-ridden
mattress, a window that did not close and caused his cell to be cold, and an electrical socket that
“burned for 21 days, from February 24, 2012 until March 15, 2012.” (Dkt. 190, at 1-2.) The
IDOC Defendants contend that the conditions of the window and mattress, as described by
Plaintiff, are insufficient to implicate the Constitution. (Id. at 4-5.) The IDOC Defendants further
argue that “the testimony of a Mark Mahalik proves” that, contrary to Plaintiff’s version of events,
Plaintiff’s socket could not have burned for 21 days. (Id. at 5-7.) Finally, these Defendants
argue that Defendants Hardy, Godinez, Louch, Dethrow and Johnson do not have sufficient
personal involvement to be found liable for a constitutional violation. (Id. at 8-10.) The Court
will take Defendants’ arguments in turn.
Sufficiently Serious Condition
A claim based on low cell temperature requires consideration of factors such as: (1) the
severity of the cold; (2) the duration of the cold temperatures; (3) whether the inmate has
alternative means to protect himself from the cold; (4) the adequacy of any such alternative means;
and (5) whether he must endure additional uncomfortable conditions in addition to the cold.
Dixon v. Godinez, 114 F.3d 640, 644 (7th Cir. 1997). Enduring temperatures cold enough to
freeze water and to prevent simple daily tasks for multiple winters are sufficient to meet this
standard. Id. at 644. Similarly, inside temperatures nearing freezing and outside wind chills
reaching well into the negative double digits, combined with non-functioning heaters or a lack of
clothing are sufficient. See id.; Del Raine v. Williford, 32 F.3d 1024, 1031, 1035-36 (7th Cir.
1994); Henderson v. DeRobertis, 940 F.2d 1055, 1056-60 (7th Cir. 1991). Nonetheless, mere
discomfort or the mere fact that a prisoner must “bundle up indoors during the winter does not
mean that prison conditions violate the Eighth Amendment.” Dixon, 114 F.3d at 644; see also
Mays v. Springborn, 575 F.3d 643, 648 (7th Cir. 2009) (“Mays did not show that he was forced to
be in the cold for long periods of time or that he suffered anything more than the usual discomforts
Here, the record contains little evidence responsive to the above factors. No party
describes actual indoor temperature readings in or around Plaintiff’s cell. The IDOC Defendants
argue that Plaintiff “does not allege what the temperature in his cell was” or assert “that it was
anything more than just chilly.” (R. 190, at 5; see also IDOC SOF ¶ 13.) Plaintiff vigorously
disputes this characterization, pointing to his submissions of outside weather temperatures and his
own declaration, in which he states that the cell was “very cold blowing in cell” and that he had “no
blanket.” (Pl. Resp. IDOC SOF ¶ 13 (citing Plaintiff’s supporting declaration.)) On this record,
Plaintiff has raised a disputed issue of fact regarding whether the broken window led to cold that
was sufficiently serious. See Hopkins v. Klindworth, 556 F.App’x 497, 499 (7th Cir. 2014)
(finding plaintiff’s allegations of cold air seeping into cell through broken window for two weeks
during frigid winter where guards ignored requests for repair of window sufficient to state claim)
(citing Antonelli v. Sheahan, 81 F.3d 1422, 1433 (7th Cir. 1999); Murphy v. Walker, 51 F.3d 714,
721 (7th Cir. 1995); Walker v. Schult, 717 F.3d 119, 127-28 (2d Cir. 2013)). The Court denies
summary judgment is denied as to this claim.
“[A] lack of sanitary conditions, including clean bedding, may qualify as a denial of the
minimal civilized measure of life’s necessities.” Townsend v. Fuchs, 522 F.3d 765, 774 (7th Cir.
2008) (quotation marks and citations omitted). Although bedding that is uncomfortable or merely
used is insufficient to state a constitutional claim, see Burton v. Downey, -- F.3d --, No. 14-3591,
2015 WL 5894126, at *8 (7th Cir. Oct. 8, 2015) (finding no evidence that failure to provide second
mattress amounts to deprivation of constitutional magnitude); Barbosa v. McCann, No. 08 C
5012, 2011 WL 4062469, at *7 (N.D. Ill. Sept. 12, 2011), having bedding that is foul-smelling
or contaminated with bodily fluids may be sufficient. See Townsend, 522 F.3d at 774 (finding
sound the parties’ shared assumption that inmate having “wet, moldy, foul smelling mattress” for
59 days was sufficiently serious to implicate Eighth Amendment); see also Moore v. Harrington,
No. 15-CV-092-JPG, 2015 WL 758489, at *5 (S.D. Ill. Feb. 23, 2015) (holding that 90 days with
“filthy mattress and pillow which exposed [plaintiff] to the odor of urine; the dirty cell, toilet, and
sink, and lack of any supplies to clean them; and the inadequate water supply,” combined,
“satisfies the first element of an Eight Amendment claim”) (citing Jackson v. Duckworth, 955 F.2d
21, 22 (7th Cir. 1992)); Hempstead v. Spiller , No. 15-CV-278-JPG, 2015 WL 1594064, at *3
(S.D. Ill. Apr. 7, 2015) (holding that knowingly placing plaintiff in contaminated cell with
unsanitary mattress and bedding for thirty days stated claim). Where, however, an inmate is
provided with adequate cleaning supplies or other means to alleviate unsanitary conditions, the
Constitution will not be implicated. See Thomas v. Winters, No. 04-3186, 2006 WL 2547961, at
*8 (C.D. Ill. Aug. 31, 2006) (finding no Eighth Amendment violation where soiled mattress was
covered by clean sheet weekly); see also Myrick v. Anglin, 496 F.App’x 670, 675-76 (7th Cir.
2012) (noting that plaintiff did not allege that provided cleaning supplies were insufficient to clean
his cell, although plaintiff did not receive other requested supplies).
Here, Defendants characterize the mattress in cell F122 as merely “dirty” and state that
“Plaintiff does not allege how long the mattress was in his cell, or even whether Plaintiff used the
mattress.” (R. 190, at 5; IDOC SOF ¶ 11.) As an initial matter, Defendants’ assertion is
incorrect; in his amended complaint, Plaintiff stated that he had to “sleep with the mattress over
him” and says the conditions persisted “for almost 85 days.” (R. 59 ¶ 40). Moreover, Plaintiff
did not rely upon his allegations in disputing Defendants’ argument but pointed to evidence in the
record. (Pl. Resp. SOF ¶ 11 (citing Pl. Decl.); R. 199, at 12, ¶ 4 (“[P]laintiff was forced to keep
this matter [sic] for 85 days.”)) Defendants’ motion is denied as to this claim.
Defendants do not contend that enduring a sparking or smoking outlet could not be
sufficiently serious to implicate the Constitution. Instead, they argue that “Plaintiff provides no
evidence of this claim of a 21 day fire,”9 and that a declaration from Mark Mahalik “proves
otherwise.” (R. 190, at 5; see IDOC SOF ¶ 15.) Defendants rely upon Mahalik’s statements
that: (1) when an electrical socket at Stateville shorts out, it causes all outlets in a four-cell group
to short out until the malfunctioning outlet is repaired; (2) when an outlet shorts out, the plastic
covering may melt and smoke, but electricity is cut off within seconds; and (3) damaged sockets
were generally repaired the day they shorted out, but “always” within 24 hours.
(R. 190, at 6-7.)
Thus, Defendants conclude, any claim that “the electrical socket in [Boyce]’s cell burned for 21
days” is impossible, entitling Defendants to summary judgement. (Id. at 7.) The Court agrees
with Defendants up to a point—their evidence undermines the already-dubious claim that there
was a 21-day “fire” in cell F122.
Boyce has not successfully created a genuine factual dispute regarding whether his cell
was on fire from February 24 through March 15, 2012. Boyce again relies on Williams’s notes
from her April 6, 2012, examination of Boyce as support that she found that he was in a 21-day
fire. (Id.) The Court has already found, however, that no reasonable juror could agree with
Boyce’s interpretation of these notes. Boyce’s claims of a “21-day fire” also conflict with his
This is puzzling, as Plaintiff was deposed and testified as to his observations. It is unclear why Defendants deem
this not to be evidence.
deposition testimony that, after an initial flame spurt, he saw only smoke coming from the outlet.
(Boyce Dep. 6, 22-23.) In any case, no reasonable juror could find that Boyce’s cell was “on
fire” for 21 days. Compare Jones, No. 93 C 405, 1994 WL 517202, at *6 (“It is difficult to
believe that a ‘big fire’ could be started by inmates and burn in a prison for two hours.”).
Defendants are entitled to summary judgment on this issue. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(g).
Although there is no genuine dispute as to whether flames continued to threaten Boyce
after the initial outlet malfunction, there is evidence that: (1) the outlet malfunctioned; (2) the
malfunction happened days before it was repaired; and (3) the outlet may have continued to smoke
(potentially for days or weeks) beyond the initial malfunction. First, Boyce testified that the
outlet malfunctioned and then smoked until its repair. (Boyce Dep. at 6, 15, 22-23.) Second,
Boyce cites record evidence suggesting the electrical socket was not repaired within 24 hours—a
maintenance form, purportedly written by a non-defendant correctional officer on March 4, 2015,
requesting repair of the socket in F122. (Pl. Resp. IDOC SOF ¶ 28.) The IDOC Defendants
offer no explanation for this form.
Finally, Boyce has consistently asserted (without
contravention from the IDOC Defendants) that the outlet was repaired on March 15, well over 24
hours after the date of the malfunction and form. (Boyce Dep. at 6.) A reasonable jury could
find that the outlet smoked for days and posed enough of a risk of harm to Boyce to implicate the
Constitution. Summary judgment as to that issue is denied.
The IDOC Defendants finally contend that Defendants Hardy, Godinez, Louch, Dethrow
and Johnson lack sufficient personal involvement with the cell conditions to be found liable for a
constitutional violation. (R. 190, at 8-10.) Section 1983 is premised on the wrongdoer’s
personal responsibility. Therefore, an individual cannot be held liable in a § 1983 action unless
he caused or participated in an alleged constitutional deprivation. Kuhn v. Goodlow, 678 F.3d
552, 556 (7th Cir. 2012) (citations omitted). The doctrine of respondeat superior (blanket
supervisory liability) does not apply to actions filed under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. See, e.g., Kinslow v.
Pullara, 538 F.3d 687, 692 (7th Cir. 2008).
The IDOC Defendants first argue that an officer’s mere denial of a grievance is
insufficient for liability. (R. 190, at 9.) However, “[w]hile the denial alone is insufficient to
establish liability, ignoring or failing to conduct an investigation of an inmate’s grievance can
indicate personal involvement in a constitutional violation. Hoddenback v. Chandler, No. 11 C
50348, 2013 WL 5785598, at *3 (N.D. Ill. Oct. 28, 2013) (citing Santiago v. Walls, 599 F.3d 749,
758–59 (7th Cir. 2010)). Plaintiff here cites to grievances (and letters) that he appears to have
written to Defendants about his cell conditions, and it appears to be undisputed that the CAO
denied the emergency nature of Plaintiff’s claims. (See Pl. Resp. IDOC SOF ¶¶ 31, 37-42.)
This evidence is sufficient to create a genuine issue of fact as to Defendant Hardy’s personal
Defendants also argue that Plaintiff has no evidence that Defendants received Plaintiff’s
letters or otherwise knew of the conditions of cell F122. But, again, Plaintiff has submitted and
cited to the written communications, and the IDOC Defendants have provided no evidence that
they did not receive them. The IDOC Defendants’ motion for summary judgment on this issue is
For the reasons stated in this Memorandum Opinion and Order, the Court dismisses
Plaintiff’s claims of deliberate indifference to his serious medical needs as to all named
Defendants. The Wexford Defendants’ motion for summary judgment  is granted in its
entirety, and Defendants Hale, Williams and Carter are dismissed. The IDOC Defendants’
motion for summary judgment  is granted in part and denied in part. Plaintiff’s “motion to
strike a particular part of pliffs response to Defendants summary judgment”  is denied as
moot, as the portions Plaintiff seeks to strike did not enter into the Court’s review of the merits the
summary judgment motions.
Dated: November 20, 2015
AMY J. ST. EVE
United States District Court Judge
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