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Civil Rights — cruel and unusual punishment

United States Court of Appeals For the Seventh Circuit


Civil Rights — cruel and unusual punishment

A prisoner need not suffer physical harm to state a claim under the Eighth Amendment.

“The judge said that ‘a successful complaint of pest infestation can be distinguished [from an unsuccessful one only] by an allegation of “significant physical harm” arising from the pests.’ But as we emphasized in the Washington case, physical injury is not the only type of injury actionable in a prisoner’s civil rights suit. It is true that because ‘no Federal civil action may be brought by a prisoner confined in a jail, prison, or other correctional facility, for mental or emotional injury suffered while in custody without a prior showing of physical injury,’ 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(e), a prisoner cannot obtain compensatory damages without proving a physical injury. But ‘physical injury . . . is not a filing prerequisite for the federal civil action itself,’ Calhoun v. DeTella, supra, 319 F.3d at 940, because the prisoner can still obtain injunctive relief, nominal damages, and punitive damages. Id. at 940-41; Washington v. Hively, supra, 2012 WL 3553419, at *2; Smith v. Peters, 631 F.3d 418, 421 (7th Cir. 2011).”


12-2095 Thomas v. State of Illinois

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Southern District of Illinois, Murphy, J., Posner, J.

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