Talal v. White, et al.

A nonsmoking prisoner filed a pro se action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. sec. 1983 against prison officials.  Talal alleged, inter alia,  that the defendants “violated the Eighth Amendment by smoking  in the non-smoking inmate housing areas” at the prisons where he was confined, allowed inmates to smoke in the non-smoking areas and provided them with tobacco and placed smoking and non-smoking inmates in the same cells.  Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. sec. 1915A(b)(1), the district court dismissed Talal’s claim, concluding that, since the prison had no-smoking pods, the prison officials could not have been deliberately indifferent to his medical condition..  The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit concluded that the district court’s dismissal of this claim “was erroneous.”  The Court of Appeals concluded that Talal satisfied the objective component of such an Eighth Amendment claim by showing that he has a medical condition that is sufficiently serious and that he satisfied the subjective component by providing allegations of specific incidents of deliberate indifference by prison officials.  Talal provided evidence that “prison officials were aware of Talal’s allergy, …that officers at [the prison] smoked and allowed prisoners to smoke in the non-smoking units.”  The Court of Appeals also ruled that “contrary to the district court’s opinion, the mere existence of non-smoking pods does not insulate a penal institution from Eighth Amendment liability where, as here, a prisoner alleges and demonstrates deliberate indifference to his current medical needs and future health.”

403 F.3d 423, 20.2 TPLR 2.84, 2005 U.S. App. LEXIS 5127 (U.S.C.A. 6th Cir. 2005).