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WALTON v. FAIRMAN

September 27, 1993

JOHNNY WALTON, ANTHONY MCNEAL, EDDIE BAINES, MAURICE GRANT, RODNEY PARKER, ALTON LOGAN, FRED REED, CLARENCE HAYES, JAMES GARLAND, CARL PAGE, LINNEL HARDING, LORENZO GUYE, Plaintiffs,
v.
J.W. FAIRMAN, SHERIFF MICHAEL SHEAHAN, SUPT. CALDWELL, COOK COUNTY DEPT. OF CORRECTIONS, Defendants.


ALESIA


The opinion of the court was delivered by: JAMES H. ALESIA

Johnny Walton, Anthony McNeal, Eddie Baines, Maurice Grant, Rodney Parker, *fn1" Alton Logan, Fred Reed, Clarence Hayes, James Garland, Carl Page, Linnel Harding, and Lorenzo Guye ("plaintiffs") bring this pro se action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against J.W. Fairman, Executive Director of the Cook County Department of Corrections ("CCDOC"); Michael Sheahan, Sheriff of Cook County; and Benny Caldwell, Superintendent of Division I of CCDOC ("defendants"). Plaintiffs, pretrial detainees at Cook County Jail, allege that the conditions of confinement at Cook County Jail violate the Eighth Amendment's prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment. *fn2"

 Defendants have filed a motion to dismiss to which plaintiffs have responded.

 I. Standard of Review

 Under Rule 12(b)(6) Fed.R.Civ.P., a claim may be dismissed if as a matter of law "it is clear that no relief could be granted under any set of facts that could be proved consistent with the allegations." Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 327, 104 L. Ed. 2d 338, 109 S. Ct. 1827 (1989) (quoting Hishon v. King & Spalding, 467 U.S. 69, 73, 81 L. Ed. 2d 59, 104 S. Ct. 2229 (1984)).

 II. Facts

 Plaintiffs allege that they have informed defendants about rats and other rodents making nests on F-1 Division one. They claim that defendants have not made any attempts to exterminate the vermin and have not responded to any of their grievances or letters. McNeal alleges a rat bit him on March 12, 1992, as he got out of bed. Garland avers that he had a rat bite on April 3, 1992, and the inmates caught the rat. Logan relates that a swarm of mice attacked him on April 29, 1992, as he lay in bed. Walton states that a rat which had climbed on his bed bit him on the base of the neck on May 4, 1992. Plaintiffs claim they found a live mouse in their food trays on May 7, 1992, which prompted them to file this complaint. Plaintiffs claim they have informed defendants about these conditions through grievances, letters, and personally informing Fairman, Caldwell, and a high-ranking sheriff's representative on May 7, 1992.

 A. Individual Capacity

 Defendants argue that they cannot be held liable in their individual capacities. It is well established that liability under § 1983 must be based on personal involvement in a constitutional deprivation. Rascon v. Hardiman, 803 F.2d 269, 273 (7th Cir. 1986); Wolf-Lillie v. Sonquist, 699 F.2d 864, 869 (7th Cir. 1983). Absent direct responsibility for the conduct complained of, liability will not lie against a supervisory official. Rascon, 803 F.2d at 273. There also must be an affirmative link or causal connection between the misconduct complained of and the official sued. Id. The doctrine of respondeat superior also does not apply in a § 1983 action. See Jones v. City of Chicago, 856 F.2d 985, 992 (7th Cir. 1988).

 Defendants argue that the defendants have supervisory positions in the hierarchy of the CCDOC and plaintiffs have not alleged that defendants are responsible for the day-to-day activities of individual tiers at the CCDOC, and that the complaint lacks any explanation of how and when defendants received personal knowledge about the rat problem prior to the last alleged incident. To the contrary, plaintiffs have attached copies of letters and grievances, including a letter to Sheahan and Fairman, dated 4-3-92, and a grievance to Shennan [sic], Fairman, and Caldwell, dated 3/10/92. These attachments indicate that plaintiffs have tried to bring the conditions to the attention of those in authority. The court accordingly declines to grant defendants' motion to dismiss them in their individual capacity.

 B. Official Capacity

 Defendants argue that defendants cannot be held liable in their official capacities. It is well established that Suits against governmental officials in their official capacity are actually suits against the governmental entity for which they work. Kentucky v. Graham, 473 U.S. 159, 164, 87 L. Ed. 2d 114, 105 S. Ct. 3099 (1985). Governmental entities cannot be held liable unless an official policy caused the constitutional violation asserted in the complaint. Monell v. Dept. of Social Services, 436 U.S. 658, 691-92, 56 L. Ed. 2d 611, 98 S. Ct. 2018 (1978); Thompson v. Duke, 882 F.2d 1180, 1187 (7th Cir. 1989), cert. denied, 495 U.S. 929, 110 S. Ct. 2167, 109 L. Ed. 2d 496 (1990).

 The court has carefully examined all of plaintiffs' pleadings and determines that plaintiffs have not alleged any kind of policy or custom on the part of officials at CCDOC to allow rats or any other four-legged vermin to roam the jail freely. The court accordingly ...


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