Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

MARSHALL v. FAIRMAN

January 2, 1997

HERMAN L. MARSHALL, Plaintiff,
v.
J.W. FAIRMAN, C/O GALTNEY, C/O DOOLEY, SGT. BROWN, and SUPERINTENDENT DRAHOS, Defendants.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: GETTLEMAN

 This is pro se civil rights action brought by Herman L. Marshall under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against executives and officers of the Cook County Department of Corrections, which operates the Cook County Jail. He alleges that while incarcerated in the Jail, presumably as a pretrial detainee, he was assaulted and wrongfully disciplined. Certain of the defendants have moved to dismiss the complaint on the ground that it does not state a claim as to them.

 Marshall alleges that on November 25, 1995, while he was an inmate in the Jail, Correctional Officer Galtney falsely told Sergeant Brown (presumably her supervisor), that a group of inmates were inciting prisoners on Tier 1-E to riot. Brown came to Tier 1-E with a Lieutenant Salazar and other officers. Salazar asked Galtney "who was talking," i.e., planning a disturbance, and she named five inmates including Marshall. These inmates were told to pack their personal property because they were going to be taken to segregation pending a hearing. After they did so, they were taken out into the hallway. Brown told them to put their mattresses and property down and face the wall with their hands up and their legs spread apart. Marshall and the others complied.

 Marshall alleges at this point he was beaten and kicked by a correctional officer named Dooley while Sergeant Brown looked on and did nothing to stop the assault. Dooley told him to hit back, but he did not do so. Dooley pulled him away from the wall and slapped Marshall's left ear. Finally Salazar told Dooley to stop and "walk it off." Marshall's property was stepped on and the correctional officers gave away his food and tobacco worth $ 17 to "division 5 hallway workers." Marshall received medical attention the next day, but only after family members called Brown.

 On December 20, 1995, Marshall and the other accused inmates were taken to the office of Superintendent Drahos. There Marshall denied telling other prisoners not to lock up and denied that there was a riot or "gang activity." Marshall asked that witnesses be called, but states that he "was denied by the board." Marshall was found guilty and given twenty days in segregation. He has sued Dooley, Brown, Galtney, Drahos and J.W. Fairman, who at that time was the Director of the Cook County Department of Corrections. Fairman, Drahos and Galtney have moved to dismiss the complaint as to them. *fn1"

 A motion to dismiss should not be granted unless the court concludes that "no relief could be granted under any set of facts that could be proved consistent with the allegations." Hishon v. King & Spalding, 467 U.S. 69, 73, 81 L. Ed. 2d 59, 104 S. Ct. 2229 (1984). In deciding a motion to dismiss, the court must not only assume that the alleged facts are true, the court must draw every reasonable inference in the plaintiff's favor. Bowman v. City of Franklin, 980 F.2d 1104, 1107 (7th Cir. 1992). Complaints filed pro se are held to less stringent standards than pleadings drafted by attorneys, and are to be liberally construed. Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520, 30 L. Ed. 2d 652, 92 S. Ct. 594 (1972); Antonelli v. Sheahan, 81 F.3d 1422, 1427 (7th Cir. 1996).

 The defendants first contend that the complaint should be construed as only alleging claims against the defendants in their official capacities, since the complaint does not specify whether the defendants are sued in their individual or official capacities. While it is true that the Seventh Circuit in Yeksigian v. Nappi, 900 F.2d 101, 104 (7th Cir. 1990), gave this as a general rule of construction, this is not an inflexible rule of law and is the sort of technical requirement that should not be applied to a pro se complaint. It is reasonably clear that Marshall is not alleging any formal or informal policy of the Cook County Department of Corrections and that the defendants are sued in their individual capacities only.

 Defendants next assert that Marshall's claims against Drahos and Fairman assert a theory of respondeat superior, a theory inapplicable to claims under § 1983. Liability under § 1983 requires personal involvement; the defendant must have acted or failed to act with a deliberate or reckless disregard of the plaintiff's constitutional rights, or others' actions violating the plaintiff's rights must have occurred at his direction or with his knowledge and consent. Black v. Lane, 22 F.3d 1395, 1401 (7th Cir. 1994).

 Defendants are certainly correct as to Fairman. Marshall does not allege that Fairman even knew of the events described in the complaint, but states that "I fault J. S. Fairman who is the Director of C.C.D.O.C. because he has sole responsibility for all action on behalf of his staff." Marshall makes similar allegations as to Drahos: "[Drahos] is responsible for the welfare and security of all inmates in division five which this incident took place based on his negligence I was a victim of a beating ...." While this goes beyond respondeat superior and also alleges actual fault on Drahos' part, that fault is only negligence. Negligent action that results in injury is not a violation of the Due Process Clause and hence not actionable under § 1983. Daniels v. Williams, 474 U.S. 327, 88 L. Ed. 2d 662, 106 S. Ct. 662 (1986); Davidson v. Cannon, 474 U.S. 344, 88 L. Ed. 2d 677, 106 S. Ct. 668 (1986). It would be a different matter if Drahos had been on notice that his staff had been abusing prisoners and had turned a blind eye, but this has not been alleged.

 The defendants are also correct that Marshall has not stated a claim against them with respect to his confiscated property. A state may not take a person's property without due process of law, but if the plaintiff has an adequate remedy under state law there is no constitutional violation if the taking has been a random, unauthorized act by a state employee. As Illinois does provide an adequate remedy through the Illinois Court of Claims, Marshall has no claim under § 1983. Stewart v. McGinnis, 5 F.3d 1031, 1035-36 (7th Cir. 1993), cert. denied, 510 U.S. 1121, 127 L. Ed. 2d 393, 114 S. Ct. 1075 (1994).

 Marshall's complaint against Officer Galtney is that she made up the accusations against him that resulted in his discipline. Before addressing her possible liability, two red herrings must be addressed. First is defendants' contention that Marshall had no liberty interest in not being placed in segregation. Defendants are correct that Marshall had no protected liberty interest in being housed in any particular part of the Jail. That is beside the point; Marshall had a protected liberty interest in not being punished. As a pretrial detainee, Marshall could not be punished except in accordance with due process of law. This right did not arise from any guarantees of state or county regulation; it is a requirement of the Constitution itself. Bell v. Wolfish, 441 U.S. 520, 535 n. 16, 60 L. Ed. 2d 447, 99 S. Ct. 1861 (1979); Antonelli, 81 F.3d at 1427-28. Nothing in the complaint suggests that Marshall was placed in segregation for any reason other than punishment, so cases such as Pardo v. Hosier, 946 F.2d 1278 (7th Cir. 1991), holding that prisoners have no right not to be segregated from the general population for non-punitive reasons, are inapplicable.

 Second, defendants contend that because Marshall did not allege that conditions in disciplinary segregation were worse than those prevailing generally in the Jail, he has not alleged that he has been punished. They go so far as to suggest that "segregated confinement at [the Jail] may in fact be preferable to the overcrowded conditions of general population in the various divisions of the jail." Def. Br. at 13. However, in ruling on a motion to dismiss the court is required to draw all reasonable inferences in Marshall's favor. It is reasonable to infer that if a prisoner is put somewhere as a punishment, it will be a distinctly less pleasant place to be. The court has to assume some degree of rationality on the part of the Jail's administrators. The defendants are welcome to prove at trial, or in a motion for summary judgment, that as a consequence of planning a disturbance Marshall was placed in equally comfortable quarters and therefore suffered no injury. It will not be assumed in deciding a motion to dismiss.

 Although acknowledging that the Supreme Court's decision in Sandin v. Conner, 515 U.S. 472, 115 S. Ct. 2293, 132 L. Ed. 2d 418 (1995), is inapplicable to pretrial detainees, defendants suggest that the opinion "lays the groundwork" for rethinking the legal standard applicable to the disciplinary punishment of pretrial detainees. Def. Br. at 15. But the inapplicability of Sandin is not a mere formality. Sandin's holding, that state law cannot create a liberty interest in avoiding periods of confinement in disciplinary segregation under ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.