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COPELAND v. NORTHWESTERN MEM. HOSP.

December 2, 1997

CLYDE J. COPELAND, Plaintiff,
v.
NORTHWESTERN MEMORIAL HOSPITAL, THE CITY OF CHICAGO, LEE HARBAUGH AND ABEL PENA, Defendants.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: ALESIA

 Before the court are three motions to dismiss plaintiff Clyde J. Copeland's amended complaint pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). The first motion is on behalf of defendant Northwestern Memorial Hospital; the second is on behalf of defendant City of Chicago; and the third is behalf of defendants Lee Harbaugh and Abel Pena. For the reasons that follow, the court grants all three motions to dismiss.

 I. BACKGROUND

 On March 4, 1996, plaintiff Clyde Copeland ("Copeland") filed a six-count complaint in this court, alleging various claims against defendants Northwestern Memorial Hospital ("Northwestern"), the City of Chicago ("the City"), Abel Pena ("Pena"), Lee Harbaugh ("Harbaugh"), and other unknown defendants. On May 30, 1997, the court dismissed the complaint in its entirety. Copeland v. Northwestern Mem'l Hosp., 964 F. Supp. 1225 (N.D. Ill. 1997).

 II. DISCUSSION

 A. Standard for deciding Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss

 When deciding a motion to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), the court must accept all factual allegations in the complaint as true and draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the plaintiff. Cromley v. Board of Educ. of Lockport, 699 F. Supp. 1283, 1285 (N.D. Ill. 1988). If, when viewed in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, the complaint fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted, the court must dismiss the case. See FED. R. CIV. P. 12(b)(6); Gomez v. Illinois State Bd. of Educ., 811 F.2d 1030, 1039 (7th Cir. 1987). However, the court may dismiss the complaint only if it appears beyond a doubt that the plaintiff can prove no set of facts in support of his claim that would entitle him to relief. Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 45-46, 2 L. Ed. 2d 80, 78 S. Ct. 99 (1957). Finally, when reviewing a pro se complaint, the court must employ standards less stringent than if the complaint had been drafted by counsel. Donald v. Cook County Sheriff's Dept., 95 F.3d 548, 555 (7th Cir. 1996).

 B. Federal question claims

 1. Counts One, Two, Three, and Four -- claims against Northwestern for constitutional violations

 Counts One, Two, and Three allege that Northwestern violated various constitutional rights of Copeland. Northwestern is a private, not state, actor; therefore, in essence, Counts One, Two, and Three must be section 1983 claims against Northwestern. See Serfecz v. Gallitano, 1995 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 17030, No. 95 C 5140, 1995 WL 680829, at *3 (N.D. Ill. Nov. 14, 1995). Count Four is a section 1983 claim against Northwestern (and also the City) for the same constitutional violations alleged in Counts One, Two, and Three.

 To state a claim under section 1983, a plaintiff must allege that the defendant acted under color of state law; thus, section 1983 claims generally do not reach a private individual's conduct. Copeland, 964 F. Supp. at 1238. However, a private individual might be subject to liability under section 1983 under either a joint action or a conspiracy theory. Id.; Bowman v. City of Franklin, 980 F.2d 1104, 1107 (7th Cir. 1992).

 As with his original complaint, however, Copeland's amended complaint does not allege sufficiently either a joint action or a conspiracy theory as a basis for subjecting Northwestern to section 1983 liability. Copeland, 964 F. Supp. at 1238. Therefore, because Copeland's amended complaint fails to allege that Northwestern or any of its employees or agents acted under color of state law in any way, the court dismisses Count One in its entirety ...


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