Cell lacks emergency button, prisoner claims in suit

Steve Gonzalez Jun. 21, 2006, 7:12am

A Menard Penitentiary inmate serving 20 years in prison for second degree murder claims his constituional rights were violated because his cell was not equipped with an emergency button.

Eric Ware, convicted in Cook County in 2000, claims he was unable to yell for help because he was breathless from an asthma attack on Dec. 17, 2005.

According to Ware's handwritten complaint filed in federal court, fellow inmates heard him struggling and began yelling for help, however officials did not respond for 20 minutes. Ware claims he suffered chest pains when a breathing treatment would have prevented a full asthma attack.

Ware claims the warden, Alan Uchtman, refused to have emergency buttons installed and a special setting for inmates with asthma.

He claims suffered another asthma attack on Jan. 16 due to his cell's ventilation system being clogged with dust. Ware claims his cell temperature was 49 degrees and the medical team took five to 10 minutes to respond while he lay gasping for air.

Ware claims on April 18, he was in segregation behind a steel door with temperatures near 80 when he suffered yet another asthma attack due to the lack of ventilation.

On March 22, while he was in segregation, Ware claims he asked a corrections officer for his asthma pump because he was having breathing complications. Ware claims the officer refused to get the medical team because he had made a smart remark to the officer earlier.

Ware claims that four hours after his request a nurse supplied him with a new asthma pump. But, he claims, he was lucky enough to be able to use another inmate's asthma pump so he did not suffer and die.

He also claims the warden allowed him to suffer from extremely cold temperatures in his cell where he developed hypothermia, fever, regurgitation, flu, asthma attacks, headaches, arthritis and sore throats.

"One particular morning it was so cold that a thin layer of ice rested in plaintiff's toilet, and there was no thermostats and no heat at all,' Ware wrote in his June 15 complaint.

Ware also claims the law librarian, Krista Schorn, began yelling at him because she was angry that he filed suit against her in Randolph County and because he misspelled her name on the suit.

He claims Schorn would not allow him to copy legal documents which caused him to miss several court deadlines which caused two of his civil appeals for cruel and unusual punishment to be dismissed.

Ware also alleged Schorn lied to prison officials by falsely telling them he cursed her out which caused him to be placed in segregation once again.

He also alleges that Menard counselor Regina Summers refused to allow him to make a phone call to his attorney.

Ware claims he had a court deadline and had recently won a small settlement but his family stole the money and he wanted his attorney to seek criminal charges against them.

Ware is seeking $20,000 in compensatory damages from Alan Uchtman plus $5,000 in punitive damages, $15,000 each from the officer who denied him his asthma pump and the law librarian and $2,000 from the counselor for a total amount of $57,000.

The case has been assigned to Chief District Judge G. Patrick Murphy.

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