Fisher v. Overton, et als.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit allowed a 42 U.S.C. sec. 1983 claim against the Michigan Director of Corrections (MDOC) in his official capacity for prospective, injunctive relief.  Fisher sued, alleging that his health has been seriously harmed by his exposure to secondhand smoke caused by MDOC’s failure to enforce federal and state anti-smoking laws.  Claims against other individuals were dismissed since they were not name in Fisher’s grievance procedures. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit reversed “the judgment of the District Court dismissing without discussion the claim against Overton in his official capacity and remand for further consideration.”

Fisher’s claim, which  proceeded at Fisher v. Caruso, 2006 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 67634 (U.S.D.C. E.D. Mich.), continued as the 68-year-old prisoner suffering from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and bronchitis filed a pro se action pursuant to 42 U.S. C. sec. 1983, alleging that the Defendant Caruso  was deliberately indifferent to his serious medical needs in violation of the Eighth Amendment by failing to take appropriate measures to prevent his exposure to secondhand smoke.  One inmate testified that he smoked in a unit that was called “Tobacco-free.” Both sides filed motions for summary judgment.  The court denied both motion for summary judgment, finding that “a reasonable fact finder could determine that Plaintiff has satisfied the objective component of his Eighth Amendment claim,” and also conclude that the Plaintiff has a serious medical need for a smoke-free environment.  The “court believes that there is a genuine issue of material fact with respect to whether the steps taken by Defendant to see that the [no-smoking] policy was enforced have been and continue to be sufficient.”

124 Fed. Appx. 325, 2005 U.S. App. LEXIS 2284 (U.S.C.A. 6th Cir. 2005).