The opinion of the court was delivered by: ROBERT W. GETTLEMAN
Twenty-nine years ago, Dr. Karl Menninger described the conditions endured by pretrial detainees in this nation's jails and lockups as "miserable, overcrowded, crime-and-disease-breeding."
Among the jails Dr. Menninger examined was the Cook County Jail (the "Jail," the subject of the instant case), which he toured with the then executive director of the John Howard Association. The superintendent of this institution conceded "that deviate sex practices, beating of inmates by other inmates, smuggling of contraband, and other vicious practices were routine in the Jail."
Dr. Menninger quoted the Commissioner of New York's Riker's Island Prison as saying, "We shouldn't treat cattle the way we have to treat our inmates."
In 1974, a class action was filed in this Court attacking the conditions at Cook County Jail. Duran v. Elrod, 74 C 2949 ("Duran").
Eight years later, a consent decree was entered in Duran which addressed all areas of food service, sanitation, recreation, access to the law library, overcrowding, and other conditions. In 1980, in connection with the enforcement of the consent decree, Judge Shadur appointed the John Howard Association to monitor conditions at the Jail and compliance with the decree. In 1990, the Seventh Circuit held that all claims for equitable relief were subsumed by the consent decree in Duran. Martin v. Davies, 917 F.2d 336, 339 (7th Cir. 1990). Thus, only claims for money damages resulting from conditions at the Jail may be entertained outside Duran.
As demonstrated by the instant case and many others like it, neither Duran nor the passage of time has lessened the number or volume of complaints by inmates of the Cook County Jail. In a report issued last month (the eleventh so far),
the John Howard Association reported that, despite a significant increase in the size of the Jail and increased use of pretrial release procedures, the Jail continues to be grossly overcrowded, with a 1994 daily average of 1455 inmates sleeping on the floor.
In its 148 page report, the John Howard Association details both improvement and deterioration at the Jail in areas of environmental health, personal hygiene, food service, staffing, and other conditions. Taking our cue from the Seventh Circuit in Martin and its progeny, this Court will not indulge any further in examining the conditions at the Jail outside of the specific allegations raised by plaintiff in the instant case. It is difficult to be unmindful, however, of the sad fact that despite the best efforts of the Court, its monitor, counsel, and indeed the administrators of the Cook County Jail, Dr. Menninger's remarks in 1966 are at least as valid today as they were then.
In this historical and precedential context, the court will now examine plaintiff Fred D. Wilson's complaint and the current motion by defendants to dismiss that complaint.
Plaintiff Fred D. Wilson, who at the time he filed his complaint on January 27, 1994, had been incarcerated at the Jail since December 12, 1991,
brings this pro se action for damages pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the Cook County Board of Commissioners (the "Board"), Michael Sheahan, Cook County Sheriff, James W. Fairman Jr., Director of the Cook County Jail, and James M. Carey, Superintendent of Division 6 of the Jail (together, the "Individual Defendants"). Wilson, a pretrial detainee at the Jail, alleges that his conditions of confinement are unconstitutional under the Fourteenth Amendment. He has presented a litany of alleged constitutional violations by defendants: (1) overcrowding; (2) inadequate staffing; (3) inadequate food supply and service; (4) inadequate personal hygiene; (5) inadequate medical treatment; (6) inadequate opportunity for exercise; and (7) inadequate grievance procedures. He seeks $ 500,000.00 in compensatory damages and $ 1,000,000.00 in punitive damages.
The Individual Defendants have moved to dismiss pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6), alleging that Wilson has failed to state a claim upon which relief can be granted because, even if true, Wilson's allegations do not amount to constitutional violations. The Board has also moved to dismiss, claiming that it cannot be held liable under section 1983 for conduct of the Sheriff and his departments.
In ruling on a motion to dismiss, the court must presume all of the well-pleaded allegations of the complaint to be true, Miree v. DeKalb County, 433 U.S. 25, 97 S. Ct. 2490, 53 L. Ed. 2d 557 (1977), and must view those allegations in the light most favorable to plaintiff. Gomez v. Illinois State Bd. of Educ., 811 F.2d 1030, 1034 (7th Cir., 1987). Dismissal is proper only if it appears beyond doubt that plaintiff can prove no set of facts in support of his claim which would entitle him to relief. Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 45-46, 2 L. Ed. 2d 80, 78 S. Ct. 99 (1957). In the case of a pro se litigant, the complaint ...