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STONE-EL v. SHEAHAN

September 20, 1995

JOHN STONE-EL, Plaintiff,
v.
MICHAEL SHEAHAN, JAMES FAIRMAN and JAMES CAREY, in their individual and official capacities, Defendants.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: ASPEN

 MARVIN E. ASPEN, Chief Judge:

 Plaintiff John Stone-El brings this pro se 42 U.S.C. § 1983 action against defendants Michael Sheahan, the Sheriff of Cook County; James Fairman, the Executive Director of the Cook County Department of Corrections (DOC); and James Carey, the Division VI Superintendent at the Cook County Jail (CCJ), in their individual and official capacities. The plaintiff alleges that various conditions of confinement at the CCJ violated his right to due process under the Fourteenth Amendment. Presently before us is the defendants' motion to dismiss. For the reasons set forth below, we grant the motion.

 Stone-El alleges that he was incarcerated as a pretrial detainee in Division VI of the CCJ from July 2, 1992 to July 30, and then again from September 5, 1992, to September 17, 1993. The plaintiff was then transferred to Division I of the CCJ. In November 1993, Stone-El was transferred to Taylorville Correctional Center; ultimately, he was moved to his current placement at Western Illinois Correctional Center. The plaintiff complains that, while incarcerated at the CCJ, he was exposed to unconstitutional conditions in violation of his right to due process.

 Stone-El alleges a catalogue of complaints: (1) overcrowding forced him, for some time, to sleep on the floor without a mattress, and the number of inmates rendered the prison noisy; (2) his personal hygiene suffered from lack of showers, toilet paper, and clothing changes, in addition to dirty showers and restrooms; (3) rats infested the CCJ; (4) the ventilation was poor; (5) he was afforded an inadequate amount of time to exercise; (6) he was subjected to gang intimidation and there was inadequate security; and (7) his health was jeopardized because he was housed with detainees afflicted with HIV and tuberculosis, and because the floor tiles contained asbestos.

 The plaintiff alleges that he spoke personally with Superintendent Carey and Executive Director Fairman regarding these conditions. Complaint at 5; Pl.'s Resp., Addendum at 2. Stone-El also maintains that he wrote grievances reporting each condition. Complaint at 5. However, the complaint does not at all mention Sheriff Sheahan's involvement. The plaintiff seeks compensatory and punitive damages from the defendants. *fn1" The defendants now move to dismiss the complaint under Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6).

 II. Standard for Motion to Dismiss

 A motion to dismiss should not be granted "unless it appears beyond doubt that the 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); see also Richmond v. Nationwide Cassel L.P., 52 F.3d 640, 644 (7th Cir. 1995); Ellsworth v. City of Racine, 774 F.2d 182, 184 (7th Cir. 1985), cert. denied, 475 U.S. 1047, 89 L. Ed. 2d 574, 106 S. Ct. 1265 (1986). We take as true the well-pleaded factual allegations of the complaint and view them, as well as reasonable inferences drawn from them, in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. Cornfield v. Consolidated High Sch. Dist. 230, 991 F.2d 1316, 1324 (7th Cir. 1993) (citing Ellsworth, 774 F.2d at 184). Finally, we liberally construe allegations in pro se pleadings, applying less stringent standards than those applied to professionally drafted pleadings. Kincaid v. Vail, 969 F.2d 594, 598 (7th Cir. 1992), cert. denied, 506 U.S. 1062, 113 S. Ct. 1002, 122 L. Ed. 2d 152 (1993).

 III. Discussion

 The defendants argue that Stone-El has failed: (1) to allege a causal connection between the defendants and the alleged deprivations, a requirement for liability in their individual capacities; (2) to allege a causal connection between a policy, custom, or practice of the Sheriff of Cook County and the alleged deprivations, a requirement for liability in their official capacities; and (3) to allege that the defendants acted with the required state of mind and that the deprivations were sufficiently serious, requirements for finding that the alleged deprivations were in fact violations of the Fourteenth Amendment. We address the arguments in turn.

 A. Individual Capacities--Lack of Causation

 In order to hold the defendants liable in their individual capacities, the plaintiff must allege that the defendants were "personally involved in that conduct. . . . The supervisors must know about the conduct and facilitate it, approve it, condone it, or turn a blind eye for fear of what they might see. They must in other words act either knowingly or with deliberate, reckless indifference." Jones v. City of Chicago, 856 F.2d 985, 992 (7th Cir. 1988) (quoted by Gentry v. Duckworth, 65 F.3d 555, 1995 U.S. App. LEXIS 24370, No. 93-1407, 1995 WL 509248, *5 (7th Cir. Aug. 29, 1995)). That is, there must be "'[a] causal connection, or an affirmative link, between the misconduct complained of and the official sued.'" Estate of Porter by Nelson v. Illinois, 36 F.3d 684, 688 (7th Cir. 1994) (quoting Wolf-Lillie v. Sonquist, 699 F.2d 864, 869 (7th Cir. 1983)).

 In light of the applicable law, we grant the defendants' motion to dismiss. Stone-El does not, and cannot, contend that the defendants personally caused the conditions at the CCJ. The defendants are merely custodians at the CCJ; they cannot limit the number of pretrial detainees assigned there, nor can they appropriate funds to improve the conditions. See Houston v. Sheahan, 62 F.3d 902, 1995 U.S. App. LEXIS 20631, No. 94-3169, 1995 WL 480650, at *1 (7th Cir. Aug. 2, 1995); see 55 ILCS 5/3-15015 (charging Cook County Board of Commissioners, not Sheriff, with duty to fund). Stone-El does not allege, in contrast to other cases, Wilson v. Cook County Bd. of Comm'rs, 878 F. Supp. 1163, 1169 (N.D. Ill. 1995), that the defendants intentionally withheld available resources that could have improved the conditions at the CCJ; without some "affirmative link" between the ...


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