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Brakeall v. Stanwick-Klemik

United States District Court, D. South Dakota, Southern Division

December 8, 2017

JENIFER STANWICK-KLEMIK, Associate Warden, individually and official capacity; JOSH KLIMEK, West Crawford Unit Manager, individually and official capacity; DENNIS KAEM1NGK, Secretary of Corrections, individually and official capacity; ROBERT DOOLEY, Director of Prison Operations and Warden, individually and official capacity; KELLY TJEERDSMA, Corporal, individually and official capacity; NICOLE ST. PIERRE, Chapel Activities Coordinator, individually and official capacity; TAMMY MERTENS-JONES, Chapel Activities Coordinator, individually and official capacity; ANNIE ANTROBUS, CBM Food Services Manager, individually and official capacity; UNKNOWN CBM FOOD SERVICES STAFF, individually and official capacity; UNKNOWN DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS STAFF MEMBERS, individually and official capacity; UNKNOWN DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH EMPLOYEES, individually and official capacity; SOUTH DAKOTA DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS,


          Lawrence L. Piersol Judge

         Plaintiff, Winston Grey Brakeall, is an inmate at Mike Durfee State Prison (MDSP) in Springfield, South Dakota. Brakeall filed a pro se civil rights lawsuit pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Brakeall was granted leave to proceed in forma pauperis. Docket 6. The Court has "screened" this case pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. For the following reasons, the court dismisses Brakeall's complaint in part and directs service in part.


         Brakeall alleges several violations of his civil rights occurring at MDSP. In part, Brakeall's claims concern his large size and the prison's failure to accommodate his size. Brakeall also makes claims concerning his ability to practice his religion and compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, The facts as alleged in the complaint are:

         Cruel and Unusual Punishment

         Brakeall stands 6' 9" tall. Id. ¶ 18. He has a body mass index of 37.5 and is morbidly obese. Id. Brakeall requires modifications to his bed to He flat. Id. ¶ 19. In 1997, Brakeall was imprisoned at the South Dakota State Penitentiary (SDSP). Id. At that time, the Department of Corrections (DOC) extended a bed for Brakeall and issued him an extra mattress, blankets, and pillows. Id. ¶ 19. In 2000, Brakeall was transferred to East Hall in SDSP where a second, customized bed was made for him. Id. ¶ 20. Brakeall was again issued additional mattresses and bedding. Id. In 2005, Brakeall was transferred to the Jameson Prison Annex. Id. ¶ 21. The staff was alerted to Brakeall's size and they prepared a medical bed with a one foot mattress extension. Id.

         In November 2014, Brakeall returned to the Jameson Prison Annex on an alleged parole violation. Id. ¶ 22. Brakeall informed staff that he was too tall to sleep in the cells because the bunks are built across the 6' 5" width of the cell. Id. Staff assigned Brakeall the top bunk, which is approximately six feet off the ground. Brakeall was unable to climb into his assigned bed and slept on the floor for six weeks. Id. ¶ 24. Staff witnessed Brakeall duck when going through doorways. Id. ¶ 23. The Jameson Annex staff claimed to have no record of Brakeall's height, weight or past accommodations. Id.

         In December of 2014, Brakeall was transferred to the East Hall at the SDSP. Id. ¶ 24. East Hall staff also claimed to have no record of Brakeall's height, weight or past accommodations. Id. ¶ 25. East Hall also claimed they did not have any orders to keep Brakeall on the first floor, to assign him the bottom bunk, or provide him extra bedding. Id. ¶ 25. Several days later, Brakeall was transferred to the West Hall housing unit after being assaulted. Id. ¶ 26, In West Hall, Brakeall was assigned the middle bunk of a triple stack. Id. The top bunk was approximately twenty inches away from the middle bunk. Id. Brakeall regularly bumped his head and shoulders on the upper bunk. Id.

         Brakeall's parole was reinstated and he was transferred to the Community Transition Program (CTP) at Unit C. Id. ¶ 27. Brakeall was initially assigned the top bunk of a triple stack, but he was allowed to move to a middle bunk and was given additional bedding as a temporary extension. Id.

         In December 2015, Brakeall was detained and placed in East Hall with no height accommodations. Id. ¶ 28. In February of 2016, Brakeall was transferred to West Hall after a second and third assault. Id. In West Hall, Unit Manager Keith Ditmanson provided Brakeall with an extra mattress. Id.

         In January of 2016, Brakeall violated his parole and was transferred to MDSP. Id. ¶ 29. At MDSP, he was assigned to the West Crawford housing unit and Unit Coordinator Britney Ulmer told Brakeall his bed would be modified once he was transferred to a "permanent" room. Id.

         In October of 2016, Brakeall was assigned the bottom bunk in room 118. Id. ¶ 31. The bottom bunk is approximately five inches off the floor. Id. Nine months passed without any modifications to the bed. Id. ¶ 32. Without modifications, Brakeall "is forced to sleep with his feet pushed through the cross bars at the bottom." Id. Additionally, Brakeall's weight causes persistent hip and back pain, which can be accommodated with a second mattress. Id. The bed's close proximity to the floor causes Brakeall constant knee and back pain. Id. ¶ 107.

         Brakeall spoke to Unit Manager Josh Klimek about the modifications and an extension. Id. ¶ 33. Klimek repeatedly replied that "he's 'looking into it.' " Id. ¶ 33. Brakeall also kited Klimek several times but received no response. Id. ¶ 34. Brakeall filed a grievance but received no response. Id. ¶ 35. Brakeall signed up to see Klimek during " 'open door' periods at least fifty times in a past months and the only time he has seen Mr. Klimek was in passing at his desk." Id. ¶ 36. Kaemingk, Dooley, and Stanwick-Klemik supervise Josh Klimek. Id. ¶ 107.

         Overcrowding and Excessive Heat

         The MDSP is a former college designed and built in the 1950-60s. Id. ¶ 49. Brakeall wrote to the Bon Homme County zoning and planning for specific design capacity information but received no response. Id. at fn. 1. The rooms were originally designed to accommodate two people. Id. Despite subsequent remodels, "the fundamental two person structure remains." Id. ¶ 50. For example, "There are two desks, two closets, two sets of storage drawers, one window, [and] one fan." Id. Three inmates are housed in the rooms and are expected to divide the use of space themselves. Id. ¶ 51. In some areas, the DOC also destroyed walls creating nine-man rooms, which causes trouble and friction between inmates. Id. ¶ 52. Kaemingk, Dooley, and DOC established these policies and practices at MDSP. Id. at ¶ 110.

         West Crawford is a three-story building where each floor has three shower heads, three toilets, three partition-less urinals, and five sinks. Id. ¶ 53. There are approximately 70 inmates per floor. Id. "The shower heads are arranged so that two shower heads share the same floor space. Id. If the plaintiff is using the shower head on the east wall, the shower head on the south wall sprays his thighs. Functionally, there are only two shower heads on each floor.-" Id. There are daily lines to use facilities. Id. ¶ 54. The restrooms are cleaned once per day but it is insufficient given the volume of use. Id. Furthermore, rules prohibit using the facilities on a different floor. Id.

         On the first floor of West Crawford, the inmate changing area was converted into a handicap shower. When the handicap shower is occupied, the wheelchair blocks the door to the main shower room. Id. ¶ 55. The handicap toilet is a stool on the wall in front of the restroom door with no privacy. Id. ¶ 57. Those passing by the hall can observe any handicapped inmate using the facility. Id.

         There is no ventilation in West Crawford. When inmates shower, the condensation on the ceiling drips on inmates using the toilets, saturates the toilet paper, and wets the floor. Id. ¶ 59. Black mold and mildew grow on the shower ceilings. Id. The ceilings in the shower and toilet area have to be stripped and repainted several times each year due to the constant moisture and fungal growths. Id. Brakeall's respiratory distress is worsened by the mold and requires Brakeall to take medication. Id.

         Inmate laundry is insufficient to accommodate all of the laundry. Id. ¶ 60. Inmate clothing, bedding, and linen is returned still dirty and damp. Id. ¶ 60. The prison previously issued white boxer underwear issued to inmates. Id. The underwear was commonly stained with urine and feces. Id. ¶ 61. The prison frequently reissues used underwear. Id. The prison now issues brown boxers to conceal the stains rather than fix the laundry. Id.

         In September and November of 2016, Brakeall worked in the laundry. Id. ¶ 106. The laundry is excessively hot and humid. Id. Brakeall lost nearly thirty pounds and suffered dizziness, shortness of breath, and profusely sweated. Id. Dooley and the South Dakota DOC maintain these cruel and inhumane conditions. Id.

         Regular library time for inmates is twice per week for 45 minutes, but it is frequently canceled. Id. ¶ 63. Due to the library's capacity and lack of time, Brakeall must sign up multiple times before he can go to the regular library. Id. The regular library times conflict with the law library hours, which forces inmates to choose. Id. Stanwick-Klimek, KJimek, Kaemingk, Dooley, St. Pierre, and DOC interfered with Brakeall's access to the courts. Id. ¶ 113.

         East and West Crawford share a walking area and the residents must take separate turns in the yard area. Id. ¶ 64. Every other building at MDSP has its own yard and inmates are allowed outside almost all day. Id. During the summer, the heat makes the walking areas unusable during the afternoon. Id. ¶ 65. West Crawford has the 2:30 to 4:00 pm time slot but inmates rarely go outside during that time. Id. There is a shaded area with tables, but inmates are not allowed to use it. Id.

         The East and West Crawford units were designed and built with air conditioning but no other ventilation. Id. ¶ 66. The air conditioning unit later broke and was unhooked. Id. In 2010, the East and West Crawford heating systems were rebuilt and new air handling units were installed in each room with outside vents below the windows. Id. ¶ 67. The first floor vents are six inches above the soil. Id. The area below these vents should be concrete or asphalt. Id. Insects crawl through these vents into inmate rooms. Id. The vents provide no air circulation. Id.

         Brakeall's morbid obesity inhibits his body's ability to regulate body temperature. Id. ¶ 68, "As a result of the high heat indices in the building, the excessive heat is damaging his internal organs due to their inability to dissipate heat because of the fat layer." Id. Brakeall sweats excessively and experiences severe cramps in his legs and arms. Id. Brakeall has ...

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