Caldwell v. Horn, et al.

A nonsmoker suffering from asthma sued under 42 U.S.C. sec. 1983, seeking damages for exposure to secondhand smoke during his incarceration at Pennsylvania’s State Correctional Institution at Graterford.  Plaintiff filed many grievances complaining about his exposure to smoke and the effect it had on his health.  Plaintiff and the Defendants filed for summary judgment.  The Court rejected the argument that Plaintiff’s injury was de minimis and thus, impossible as a matter of law to rise to the level of cruel and unusual punishment.  The Court also rejected Defendants’ summary judgment arguments based on qualified immunity and failure to respond to Plaintiff’s grievances.  The Court did, however, allow Defendants summary judgment as to Plaintiff’s Equal Protection claim.  Ruling that there are disputes regarding issues of material fact as to both the objective and subjective prongs of the Helling test to establish his Eighth Amendment claim, Plaintiff’s motion for summary judgment was denied.

1997 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 21000 (U.S.D.C. E.D. Pa. 1997).