United States District Court, W.D. Wisconsin
ADREAN L. SMITH, Plaintiff,
GARY BOUGHTON, M. KARTMAN, CAPT. PRIMMER, LT. LEFFLER, SGT. BLOYER and SGT. BERGER, Defendants.
OPINION AND ORDER
BARBARA B. CRABB DISTRICT JUDGE.
plaintiff and prisoner Adrean Smith is proceeding on claims
that defendants Gary Boughton, Mark Kartman, Larry Primmer,
Daniel Leffler, Heidi Boyler and Zachary Berger violated his
constitutional rights by depriving him of a regular mattress
for 40 days. On February 8, 2018, I granted defendants'
motion for partial summary judgment with respect to
plaintiff's due process claim. Dkt. #32. Now before the
court is defendants' motion for summary judgment on
plaintiff's remaining Eighth Amendment conditions of
confinement claims. Dkt. #36. Plaintiff has not filed a brief
in opposition to the motion or responded to defendants'
proposed findings of fact.
reviewing the undisputed evidence and defendants'
arguments, I conclude that there is not sufficient evidence
from which a reasonable jury could find in plaintiff's
favor on his Eighth Amendment claims. Therefore, I am
granting defendants' motion for summary judgment and
closing this case.
defendants' proposed findings of fact and the undisputed
facts in the February 2018 order, which I incorporate by
reference, I find the following facts to be material and
times relevant to this case, plaintiff was incarcerated at
the Wisconsin Secure Program Facility in Boscobel, Wisconsin,
where all the defendants worked. Defendant Gary Boughton was
the warden, defendant Mark Kartman was the security director,
defendant Daniel Leffler was a supervising officer,
defendants Heidi Bloyer and Zachary Berger were correctional
sergeants and defendant Larry Primmer was a captain assigned
as the temporary unit supervisor of the Foxtrot unit where
plaintiff was housed.
March 11, 2016, plaintiff was subjected to a random cell
search during which it was discovered that he had a damaged
mattress. Plaintiff was issued a conduct report. Defendant
Leffler reviewed the conduct report and he and defendant
Kartman placed plaintiff on a 10-day high-security mattress
restriction. A high-security mattress is 3/4-inch thick and
made of rubber, whereas a regular mattress is four inches
thick and made of foam with a vinyl cover.
security mattress was not taken away at the end of the 10-day
restriction period. (It is not clear whose responsibility it
was to remove the mattress.) Neither defendant Bloyer nor
defendant Berger recalls plaintiff ever complaining to them
that his 10-day mattress restriction had ended. However,
defendant Primmer remembers that sometime after the mattress
restriction expired, plaintiff told him that he still had a
high-security mattress and wanted his regular mattress back.
Primmer asked plaintiff why he did not raise the issue
earlier but plaintiff did not give him a response. As part of
his duties, Primmer made daily rounds on the unit, so
plaintiff had opportunities to speak with him about the
mattress. Primmer advised staff on his unit to replace
plaintiff's high-security mattress with a regular
mattress, but he does not recall which staff members he
specifically advised. After Primmer told staff to change the
mattress, he did not hear anything about plaintiff's
mattress again until around April 21, 2016, when Institution
Complaint Examiner William Brown contacted Primmer for a
response to an inmate complaint that plaintiff filed on March
27, 2016. Primmer had assumed that staff had followed his
orders and provided plaintiff a regular mattress.
investigated plaintiff's complaint and found that
plaintiff still had a security mattress as of April 21, 2016.
On April 22, 2016, defendant Boughton affirmed
plaintiff's inmate complaint as the reviewing authority,
and plaintiff was given a regular mattress. Before April 22,
2016, Boughton was not aware that plaintiff had any
complaints about his mattress. Boughton does not issue or
review security restrictions that are imposed on an inmate.
had the security mattress instead of a standard mattress for
a total of 40 days, but he had a mattress and bedding during
that entire time.
officials violate the Eighth Amendment if they are
“deliberately indifferent to adverse conditions that
deny ‘the minimal civilized nature of life's
necessities.'” Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S.
825, 834 (1970). For example, lack of heat, bedding, adequate
sanitation or clothing have been found to satisfy this
demanding standard. Gillis v. Litscher, 468 F.3d
488, 493 (7th Cir. 2006); Lewis v. Lane, 816 F.2d
1165, 1171 (7th Cir. 1987). In addition, “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.”
Gray v. Hardy, 826 F.3d 1000, 1005 (7th Cir. 2016)
(citing Dixon v. Godinez, 114 F.3d 640, 643 (7th
succeed on his Eighth Amendment claim, plaintiff must
establish two things: (1) that being forced to sleep on a
thin, hard mattress for 40 days was “from an objective
standpoint, sufficiently serious that it result[ed] in the
denial of ‘the minimal civilized measure of life's
necessities, ”' and (2) defendants were
deliberately indifferent to the adverse conditions.
Gray, 826 F.3d at 1005. “An official is
deliberately indifferent when he is subjectively aware of the
condition or danger complained of, but consciously disregards
it.” Rice ex rel. Rice v. Corrections Medical
Services, 675 F.3d 650, 665 (7th Cir. 2012).
Plaintiff's claim fails with respect to both
alleged in his complaint and previous submissions that the
condition of his confinement was unusually harsh because he
was forced to sleep on a thin, hard security mattress for 40
days. As defendants argue, even though courts have found that
a lack of bedding qualifies as the denial of a basic life
necessity, they have not found that the constitutional
protection applies to uncomfortable mattresses.
E.g., Putney v. Likin, 656 Fed.Appx. 642
(4th Cir. 2016) (“In this case, [the inmate] has so far
failed to explain how the denial of a mattress was anything
more than a discomfort.”); Alfred v. Bryant,
378 Fed.Appx. 977, 980 (11th Cir. 2010) (“Objectively
speaking, sleeping on a steel bed without a mattress for
eighteen days, though uncomfortable, is not so extreme as to
violate contemporary standards of decency.”);
Thomas v. Doe, 2016 WL 3951035, at *1 (C.D. Ill.
July 20, 2016) (“While the thin mattress may have been
uncomfortable, nothing suggests that Plaintiff suffered the
type of extreme deprivation required to state a
constitutional claim.”); Marshall v. Nickel,
2007 WL 5582139, at *9 (W.D. Wis. Jan. 29, 2007) (use of
uncomfortable, rubber mat as mattress for several months
failed to state claim under Eighth Amendment). Plaintiff was
not denied bedding or a mattress or deprived of any essential
need. Rather, his standard mattress was replaced with one
that he found very uncomfortable. Marshall, 2007 WL
5582139, at *9 (noting same). See also Burton v.
Downey, 805 F.3d 776, 786 (7th Cir. 2015)
(unconstitutional conditions of confinement involve
“deprivations of essential food, medical care, or
sanitation” and plaintiff presented no evidence to
support allegation that sleeping on single mattress ...