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Hollins v. LT. Waller

United States District Court, W.D. Wisconsin

November 8, 2019

EMON V. HOLLINS, Plaintiff,



         Plaintiff Emon V. Hollins, appearing pro se, alleges that defendant prison officials violated his rights by keeping him in an unsanitary cell smelling strongly of feces and urine and failing to take action to clean an adjacent cell in which a prisoner had smeared waste. Defendants have filed a motion for summary judgment, contending that Hollins could have cleaned his cell himself, and that they appropriately responded to the neighboring inmate's actions. I conclude that there are genuine disputes of material facts about these issues, so I will deny defendants' motion for summary judgment regarding most of the defendants.


         The following facts are undisputed unless noted otherwise. Plaintiff Emon V. Hollins is a prisoner housed at Waupun Correctional Institution (WCI). At the times relevant to this case, all of the defendants worked at WCI: Shane Waller was a supervising officer. Todd Olig, Trevor Standish, and Zachary Swingen were correctional officers. James Muenchow was an institution complaint examiner.

         On occasion, inmates leave blood, feces, urine, food, or other material in their cells, particularly in the segregation cells at issue in this case. Defendants say that when an inmate is removed from a cell, that cell is cleaned and inspected before any other inmate is placed in the cell. Cells are usually cleaned by inmate workers, typically referred to as “swampers, ” and then inspected by the security staff. Typically, cells are cleaned with cleaning solutions, scrub pads, and mops. If those methods are not enough, or if the cell contains fecal matter, the cell is cleaned with a pressure washer. Hollins says that prison staff often do not ensure that cells are cleaned when inmates are switched.

         Inmates are generally given the opportunity to clean their cells in the segregation unit twice a week. Inmates are provided with a mop, broom, toilet bowl cleaner, toilet brush, rag, and scrub pad. A mop bucket containing hot water and a cleaning solution is brought around to each cell. Defendants say that if an inmate wants cleaning supplies outside of the designated days, unit staff will provide the inmate with the cleaning supplies they request unless the inmate presents a safety threat to themselves or others. Hollins says that staff usually refuse any off-schedule requests.

         On July 9, 2015, Hollins was placed in segregation cell A-222. Hollins could smell feces as he walked down the range hallway. Hollins says that after he was in his cell and his handcuffs were removed, he told defendant Olig that his cell smelled like urine and feces. Hollins noticed streaks of brown particles on his cell's trap, which he believes was feces. Defendants say that the streaks could have been rust.

         Hollins asked to be placed in a different cell. He says that Olig told him that the entire range had the odor problem, and that Olig could not move Hollins to a new cell. Once Olig left, Hollins sniffed the brown particles on his trap and he almost gagged at the smell of the feces. He then began to develop a headache. After inspecting his cell; Hollins discovered dried urine and food particles on the walls and cell door. Olig says that he does not remember Hollins complaining about his cell.

         Over the next few days, Hollins asked defendants Olig, Swingen, and Standish to move him to a different cell, or give him some cleaning supplies; they all refused. Swingen eventually gave Hollins a rag and shampoo, and he told Hollins that he could not give him anything else. The shampoo Swingen gave Hollins was not effective in cleaning the cell or removing the urine and feces smell. Hollins also says that he “used the cleaning supplies [he] was given, but it did not remedy the smell of feces and urine.” Dkt. 55, at 3, ¶ 25. By this I take Hollins to be saying that the cleaning supplies provided twice weekly did not work either. Hollins told Olig, Swingen, and Standish that the supplies did not work, but they did not inspect the cell, move him, or pressure wash the cell.

         Hollins says that the conditions of his cell were exacerbated by the actions of another inmate, Tyrone Carr who was housed in cell A-223. Carr smeared feces on himself and in his cell and urinated on his cell door. The parties dispute whether Carr also urinated out of the trap. Carr also refused to shower or change his clothes. Hollins says that defendants did nothing to clean Carr or his cell for about 10 to 14 days. Defendants say that at some point, they persuaded Carr to take a shower, and that Carr's cell was cleaned with bleach. Hollins says that after this, the hallway no longer smelled, but his cell still did.

         On about July 14, 2015, Hollins submitted an “Interview/Information Request” form stating that the A-range smelled of feces and urine and that there was feces on his trap. I take defendants to be saying that defendant Waller would usually respond to this type of request, but that he did not work the week that Hollins submitted it. Waller did respond much later, on August 20, stating that staff “are always looking to remedy any sanitation issues” and that cells are cleaned before they are occupied. Dkt. 49-2.

         Waller says that he was already aware of Hollins's complaint because Hollins followed the information request with a formal inmate grievance about the problem on July 23. Defendant institution complaint examiner James Muenchow contacted Waller and Waller told him that Hollins should contact Waller with any requests or issues he had regarding his cell conditions. Muenchow told Hollins to talk to Waller. Other than the August 20 response by Waller, neither side explains whether Hollins and Waller had any further communications.

         Hollins spent 46 days in cell A-222. Because of the odor, he suffered dizziness and ...

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