Richardson v. Spurlock, et al.

An inmate at the Louisiana State Penitentiary filed a civil rights action against prison officials, alleging that his exposure to secondhand smoke from other inmates’ cigarettes during bus rides to and from work assignments forced him to gas for breath and suffer from nausea.  He alleged that the exposure to secondhand smoke constituted cruel and unusual punishment under the Eight Amendment.  Citing the “discomfort” caused by the smoke, a federal magistrate judge dismissed Richardson’s claim as frivolous. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit affirmed the dismissal, holding that Richardson’s “claim fails to meet the first prong of the Helling test,” that a prisoner prove that he is being exposed to unreasonably high levels of secondhand smoke.  “Richardson does not share living quarters with a smoker, not does he work in a smoke-filled environment,” the court ruled.  See Gyan, J. “Court Rejects Inmate’s Second-hand-smoke Suit,” The Advocate (Baton Rouge, LA), August 16, 2001.

260 F.3d 495, 2001 U.S.App. LEXIS 18183 (U.S.C.A. 5th Cir. 2001).