A federal prisoner, appearing pro se and in forma pauperis, sued the Bureau of Prisons and prison officials alleging, inter alia, that they demonstrated a deliberate indifference to his medical needs in violation of his Eighth Amendment rights by exposing him to environmental tobacco smoke against his will. The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas (Folsom, J.) dismissed the claims. The Court of Appeals held that Whitley’s in forma pauperis Bivens claim for monetary damages against prison officials was not dismissible as “frivolous” under the in forma pauperis statute. He had identified himself as a nonsmoker, requested nonsmoking living quarters when he was processed into the prison, soon thereafter requested a transfer to a nonsmoking unit because the smoke was making him sick. Furthermore, the prison doctor issued a medical report saying that Whitley needed nonsmoking quarters. The Court of Appeals ruled that “the district court’s dismissal of Whitley’s Eighth Amendment claim that prison officials demonstrated a deliberate indifference to his medical needs by exposing him to environmental tobacco smoke is reversed, and the cause remanded for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.”
158 F.3d 882 (5th Cir. 1998).