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K.L. v. EDGAR

December 12, 1996

K.L., L.F., and R.B., on behalf of themselves and all persons similarly situated, Plaintiffs,
v.
JIM EDGAR, Governor of the State of Illinois, and ANN PATLA, Director of the Illinois Department of Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities, Defendants.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: ALESIA

 Before the court are defendants' motions to dismiss plaintiffs' second amended complaint and to strike paragraphs 27, 28, 29, and 30 of the second amended complaint. For the reasons that follow, the court denies defendants' motions.

 A. Motion to dismiss

 Defendants have moved to dismiss plaintiffs' second amended complaint, contending that it fails to allege adequately that a system-wide policy of defendants has deprived plaintiffs of a constitutional right, or that the named class representatives have been deprived of a right as a result of a system-wide policy of defendants. Both contentions are meritless.

 As defendants note, "'a cause of action will lie only for those injuries caused by faults "systemic in nature."'" Strauss v. City of Chicago, 760 F.2d 765, 770 (7th Cir. 1985) (quoting Powe v. City of Chicago, 664 F.2d 639, 651 (7th Cir. 1981)). The pattern of misconduct must flow from "a deliberate plan," or at least "deliberate indifference." See Rizzo v. Goode, 423 U.S. 362, 375, 96 S. Ct. 598, 606, 46 L. Ed. 2d 561 (1976); City of Canton v. Harris, 489 U.S. 378, 388-89, 109 S. Ct. 1197, 1204-05, 103 L. Ed. 2d 412 (1989). *fn1"

 Plaintiffs' second amended complaint complies with the foregoing. Plaintiffs allege that they are denied adequate care and treatment "as a result of a system-wide failure to provide adequate management of the mental health system, adequate resources, and adequate numbers of trained and qualified staff for its operation." (Second Am. Compl. P 10 (emphasis added).)

 Plaintiffs allege that a "pattern of abuse and neglect" has existed for many years with defendants' knowledge. (Id. P 11 (emphasis added).) Plaintiffs allege that the Department of Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities (DMHDD) "has repeatedly and knowingly ignored professional standards in the design of the institutional system," and that defendants have "recklessly" failed to provide necessary resources. (Id. PP 12, 13 (emphasis added).)

 Plaintiffs allege that the conditions and practices described in the complaint are "system-wide, affecting and originating from every one of the institutions." (Id. P 31 (emphasis added).) Finally, plaintiffs allege that defendants "directly participated in the conduct, conditions and practices" alleged in the complaint; or that the "wrongdoers acted under the control and direction of defendants; or that "defendants knew of such conduct and failed to take corrective action." (Id. P 32.) Plaintiffs allege that defendants have acted "deliberately, recklessly and with deliberate indifference." (Id. (emphasis added).)

 The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure require only "'a short and plain statement of the claim' that will give the defendant fair notice of what the plaintiff's claim is and the grounds upon which it rests." Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 47, 78 S. Ct. 99, 103, 2 L. Ed. 2d 80 (1957) (quoting FED. R. CIV. P. 8(a)(2)). "To this end, pleadings are liberally construed and each theory need not be explicitly spelled out, so long as the other side receives notice as to what is at issue in the case." Bob Willow Motors, Inc. v. General Motors Corp., 872 F.2d 788, 791 (7th Cir. 1989) (citing American Timber & Trading Co. v. First Nat'l Bank of Oregon, 690 F.2d 781, 786 (9th Cir. 1982).

 Defendants clearly have sufficient notice of what plaintiffs' claim is and the grounds upon which it rests, and what is at issue in the case. Plaintiffs repeatedly allege that the inadequacies in the DMHDD facilities are "'systemic in nature.'" Strauss, 760 F.2d at 770 (quoting Powe, 664 F.2d at 639). Plaintiffs also allege that defendants acted deliberately or with deliberate indifference and thereby caused the pattern of abuse and neglect that has existed for years within the DMHDD. These allegations, combined with the other allegations of specific faults in the DMHDD and injuries to plaintiffs, give defendants fair notice of what is at issue in plaintiffs' case. This is particularly true given that the court should liberally construe plaintiffs' complaint. See Bob Willow Motors, 872 F.2d at 791.

 Moreover, the complaint is replete with allegations regarding the injuries that class plaintiffs have sustained because of defendants' conduct. (See, e.g., Second Am. Compl. PP 15, 16, 18, 19, 20, 21, 23, 25, 26, 27, 28, 33, and 34.) These allegations, combined with the other allegations regarding the systemic nature of the problems alleged in the complaint, give defendants sufficient notice of the injuries to plaintiffs allegedly caused by defendants.

 The complaint also contains numerous allegations regarding injuries suffered by the named class representatives. (See id. PP 16, 20, 21, 23, and 24.) These specific allegations, combined with the other, more general allegations in the complaint, are sufficient to state a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Furthermore, the representatives' claims appear to be typical of the claims of the rest of the class because all of the claims are based on the same pattern of conduct by defendants and the same legal theory. See Patrykus v. Gomilla, 121 F.R.D. 357, 361-62 (N.D. Ill. 1988). Therefore, the named class representatives adequately represent the class.

 In sum, defendants' motion effectively asks the court to construe plaintiffs' second amended complaint very narrowly and strictly. That is not what the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure require. Plaintiffs have made a "'short and plain statement of the claim'" that gives defendants fair notice of the nature of ...


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