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Rodriguez v. Briley

United States Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit
Apr 14, 2005
403 F.3d 952 (7th Cir. 2005)

Summary

holding a prisoner's refusal to conform to prison rules resulting in a loss of meals does not reach the level of a constitutional violation because in essence, the prisoner, "punished himself"

Summary of this case from Peterson v. Jackson

Opinion

No. 04-1554.

Submitted March 21, 2005.

Decided April 14, 2005.

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Amy J. St. Eve, J.

Harry Rodriguez (submitted), Joliet, IL, pro se.

Deborah L. Ahlstrand, Office of the Attorney General Civil Appeals Division, Chicago, IL, for Defendants-Appellees.

Before BAUER, POSNER, and EVANS, Circuit Judges.


Rodriguez, an Illinois state prisoner, appeals from the grant of summary judgment to prison officials whom he had sued under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, claiming that they had inflicted cruel and unusual punishment on him by denying him showers and withholding meals from him. The prison has a rule, the validity of which is not challenged, that when they are outside their cells prisoners must store certain of their belongings in a storage box in the cell; the purpose is to enhance fire safety, facilitate searches of the cell, and in other ways as well promote safety and security. Unless a prisoner complies with the rule, he is forbidden to leave his cell, which means he can't take a shower, or even have a meal, because for the class of prisoners to which Rodriguez belongs meals are served only in the prison cafeteria and not in the inmates' cells. Rodriguez repeatedly refused to comply with the rule and as a result in an 18-month period missed 75 showers and between 300 and 350 meals, with various consequences that included a rash, fatigue, and a loss of 90 pounds. (Not that he needed those 90 pounds, since, before he started skipping meals, he weighed between 250 and 300 pounds and he is only 5 feet 8 inches tall.)

All other objections to this suit to one side (see, e.g., Davenport v. DeRobertis, 844 F.2d 1310, 1316 (7th Cir. 1988), on the significance, or rather lack of significance, of limiting the right to take a shower), we think that deliberate noncompliance with a valid rule does not convert the consequences that flow automatically from that noncompliance into punishment. Rodriguez punished himself. It is not as if the sanction for violating the storage-box rule were to starve the violator or even force him to skip his next meal. Compare Cooper v. Sheriff, 929 F.2d 1078, 1083 (5th Cir. 1991) (per curiam). As soon as Rodriguez puts his belongings in the storage box, he can leave his cell and go to the cafeteria. So he was not punished, and so we need not decide whether, or how many, skipped meals constitute a cruel and unusual punishment for violation of a valid prison regulation. Rather, by failing to comply with a reasonable condition on being allowed to leave his cell, and as a result missing out on meals, Rodriguez punished himself.

Suppose he'd announced that he would skip dinner every day unless he were served champagne and caviar at least once a month. He, not the prison, would be the author of his being denied dinner. A prisoner cannot force the prison to change its rules by going on a hunger strike and blaming the prison for his resulting loss of weight. Talib v. Gilley, 138 F.3d 211 (5th Cir. 1998). He cannot, in short, be permitted to engineer an Eighth Amendment violation. Pearson v. Ramos, 237 F.3d 881, 886 (7th Cir. 2001). The analogy is to civil contempt. A person who is imprisoned for refusing to sign a deed that he is legally obligated to sign, but who can get out of prison just by signing it, cannot complain that he is being punished. E.g., In re Grand Jury Proceedings, 280 F.3d 1103, 1107-08 (7th Cir. 2002); Cox v. Zale Delaware, Inc., 239 F.3d 910, 916 (7th Cir. 2001). It is the same here. As pointed out in Ort v. White, 813 F.2d 318, 324-25 (11th Cir. 1987), there is a critical "distinction, for purposes of applying the eighth amendment in the context of prison discipline, between punishment after the fact and immediate coercive measures necessary to restore order or security."

At some point, refusal to eat might turn suicidal and then the prison would have to intervene. E.g., Matos ex rel. Matos v. O'Sullivan, 335 F.3d 553, 557 (7th Cir. 2003). Likewise if noncompliance with the rule were a product of insanity. Both situations are illustrated by Sanville v. McCaughtry, 266 F.3d 724, 729-34 (7th Cir. 2001). Neither is present here.

AFFIRMED.


Summaries of

Rodriguez v. Briley

United States Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit
Apr 14, 2005
403 F.3d 952 (7th Cir. 2005)

holding a prisoner's refusal to conform to prison rules resulting in a loss of meals does not reach the level of a constitutional violation because in essence, the prisoner, "punished himself"

Summary of this case from Peterson v. Jackson

holding a prisoner's refusal to conform to prison rules resulting in a loss of meals does not reach the level of a constitutional violation because in essence, the prisoner, "punished himself"

Summary of this case from Craig v. Watson

holding a prisoner's refusal to conform to prison rules resulting in a loss of meals does not reach the level of a constitutional violation because in essence, the prisoner, "punished himself"

Summary of this case from Craig v. Watson

holding a prisoner's refusal to conform to prison rules resulting in a loss of meals does not reach the level of a constitutional violation because in essence, the prisoner, "punished himself"

Summary of this case from Thomas v. Commonwealth

concluding that meal denials deriving from an inmate's refusal to follow valid prison rules did not violate the Eighth Amendment

Summary of this case from Jones v. Stidham

granting summary judgment for defendants because defendant's denial of showers and meals was attributable to plaintiff's refusal to comply with prison rules

Summary of this case from Roberts v. Bailey

rejecting a prisoner's claim of inhumane treatment in violation of the Eighth Amendment where his refusal to stow his personal items upon exiting his cell resulted in denial of over three hundred meals over the course of eighteen months

Summary of this case from Erickson v. Kendall Cnty. Deputy Hansen

rejecting a prisoner's claim of inhumane treatment in violation of the Eighth Amendment where his refusal to stow his personal items upon exiting his cell resulted in denial of over three hundred meals over the course of eighteen months

Summary of this case from Sanders v. Salemi

In Rodriguez, the Seventh Circuit found no Eighth Amendment violation where an inmate was denied meals and showers for refusing to comply with a prison rule.

Summary of this case from Foster v. Runnels

reasoning that a prisoner cannot be permitted to "engineer" an Eighth Amendment violation by willingly going on hunger strike and then blaming his captors when the foreseeable medical complications arise

Summary of this case from Rabbani v. Trump

In Rodriguez v. Briley, 403 F.3d 952, 952 (7th Cir. 2005), the Seventh Circuit found no Eighth Amendment violation where a prisoner missed 300-350 meals in an eighteen-month period because he refused to store certain of his belongings in a storage box before leaving his cell.

Summary of this case from Cavaness v. Ledbetter

In Rodriguez v. Briley, 403 F.3d 952, 952 (7th Cir. 2005), the Court found no Eighth Amendment violation where a prisoner missed 300-350 meals in an eighteen-month period because he refused to store certain of his belongings in a storage box before leaving his cell.

Summary of this case from McDaniel v. Meisner

In Rodriguez, the Seventh Circuit said, "[w]e think that deliberate noncompliance with a valid rule does not convert the consequences that flow automatically from that noncompliance into punishment.

Summary of this case from Love v. Brown

stating that prison's policy that forbid inmate to leave his cell if he refused to follow the rule requiring him to stow certain items while outside his cell did not constitute cruel and unusual punishment even when inmate missed meals due to failure to follow rule

Summary of this case from Randolph v. Wetzel

In Rodriguez the Court held that "deliberate noncompliance with a valid rule does not convert the consequences that flow automatically from that noncompliance into punishment."

Summary of this case from Watford v. Miller

In Rodriguez, the court of appeals had no reason to decide whether an inmate might have an actionable Eighth Amendment claim if he could show that he had suffered serious harm that did not rise to the level of being "suicidal" or to any other "substantial risk of serious harm" because that issue was not present in the suit.

Summary of this case from Freeman v. Berge
Case details for

Rodriguez v. Briley

Case Details

Full title:Harry RODRIGUEZ, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. Kenneth R. BRILEY, et al.…

Court:United States Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit

Date published: Apr 14, 2005

Citations

403 F.3d 952 (7th Cir. 2005)

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