Some courts have imposed a requirement of pleading specific acts by
senior governmental officials establishing a policy or custom for
purposes of the Monell case. See Smith v. Ambrogio, supra, 456 F. Supp. at
1137. This court recently rejected the stringent pleading requirement of
Smith v. Ambrogio when Judge Shadur applied the more liberal requirements
of Rule 8(a), Fed. R.Civ.P. Thompson v. Village of Evergreen Park,
Ill., 503 F. Supp. 251, 252 (N.D.Ill. 1981). This court finds that the
allegations in Counts II and III are sufficient to state a claim under
the pleading requirements of Rule 8(a), Fed.R.Civ.P.
Claims against City of North Chicago
Counts IV and V are directed against the City of North Chicago. Count
IV, like Count III, alleges that Sgt. Stickler had been the subject of
several complaints of abusive conduct towards citizens. In spite of
having notice of Stickler's complaint records, the City "by its policy of
failing to properly supervise police employees permitted and encouraged"
Stickler's conduct, failed to assign him to a position where he would not
have the opportunity to mistreat citizens, and failed to prevent him from
engaging in such conduct.
Municipalities can be sued for damages under § 1983 when "the
action that is alleged to be unconstitutional implements or executes a
policy statement, ordinance, regulation, or decision officially adopted
and promulgated by that body's officers" or is "visited pursuant to
governmental `custom' even though such a custom has not received formal
approval through the body's official decision-making channels." Monell v.
Department of Social Services, 436 U.S. 658, 690, 98 S.Ct. 2018, 2046, 56
L.Ed.2d 611 (1978). The ascertainment of an unarticulated policy of a
town is similar to the inquiry concerning the liability of supervisory
officials accused of responsibility for unconstitutional conduct taken by
subordinates. Smith v. Ambrogio, supra, 456 F. Supp. at 1135; Magayanes
v. City of Chicago, 496 F. Supp. 812, 814 (N.D.Ill. 1980). As Judge
Marshall has stated, a governmental body may be held liable for a
pervasive pattern of constitutional abuses by its employees, if the
entity's inaction or ineptitude in supervising those employees is so
great that it evidences deliberate and conscious indifference to a
substantial probability that constitutional violations will result. Mayes
v. Elrod, supra, 470 F. Supp. at 1194. In Count IV, as in Count III,
plaintiff alleges that Sgt. Stickler had compiled a record of complaints
for abusive conduct that was known to the town. Unlike the complaint in
Magayanes v. City of Chicago, supra, Count IV of the complaint at bar is
predicated on a pattern of misconduct which suggests that the town
implicitly authorized such violations.
Count V, which is similar to Count II, alleges that "it was the custom
and policy" of the town to "maintain its lock-up in such an unclean and
unsanitary manner" as to endanger the health of its prisoners. Plaintiff
claims that such conditions substantially contributed to his illness. As
stated in Estelle v. Gamble, supra, "a prisoner must allege acts or
omissions sufficiently harmful to evidence deliberate indifference to
serious medical needs." Id. 429 U.S. at 106, 97 S.Ct. at 292.
Identification of the primary or proximate cause of plaintiff's illness
is a factual question which cannot be resolved at this stage of the
proceedings; it is enough at this point that plaintiff has charged the
town with a continuing pattern of constitutional violations, a custom or
policy which caused these violations, and a causal link between those
violations and plaintiff's illness. See Mayes v. Elrod, supra, 470 F.
Supp. at 1195.
For the foregoing reasons, the motion of the defendants to dismiss the
First Amended Complaint is denied.
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