United States District Court, N.D. Illinois
February 6, 2004.
KEDRON JONES, JR., Plaintiff
ARAMARK CORRECTIONAL SERVICES, INC., et al., Defendants
The opinion of the court was delivered by: SAMUEL DER-YEGHIAYAN, District Judge
Petitioner Kedron Jones, Jr. ("Jones"), an inmate at the Cook County
Jail, has brought this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 ("Section
1983") against The Cook County Department of Corrections ("CCDOC") and
various employees of the CCDOC. Jones also named as a defendant Aramark
Correctional Services, Inc. ("Aramark"), which is the food service
provider to the jail, and a Dr. Fowler ("Fowler") who Jones claims works
for Cermak Health Services. Jones alleges in his complaint that he is
allergic to certain types of food and that on March 11, 2002 Fowler
prescribed a special diet for him. Jones claims that on April 23, 2003
his special diet was cancelled. He alleges that since the cancellation of
his diet he was forced to skip meals in jail because he was not provided
with appropriate food and at times he had to eat unsuitable food for
nourishment and suffered allergic reactions.
Jones filed a separate suit alleging the same violations as in the
instant action on
September 10, 2002. In that action Judge Plunkett appointed counsel
for Jones and on April 29, 2003 Jones agreed to stipulate to a dismissal
as part of a settlement. The stipulation acknowledges that Jones signed a
release of his claims and that his counsel received the agreed upon check
from the defendants on April 21, 2003. Jones admits that he signed a
release as part of the settlement, but claims that the current
allegations of mistreatment are not covered by the release. In the
instant action Jones seeks injunctive relief, $1 million in compensatory
damages, and $1 million in punitive damages.
A district court is required to:
review before docketing, if feasible or, in any
event, as soon as practicable after docketing, a
complaint in a civil action in which a prisoner
seeks redress from a governmental entity or
officer or employee of a governmental entity . . .
[and dismiss the complaint to the extent that it
is] frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a
claim upon which relief may be granted . . . [,] or
seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is
immune from such relief.
28 U.S.C. § 1915A.
I. Individual Capacity Claims
The doctrine of respondeat superior is not applicable in a
Section 1983 action. Sanville v. McCaughtry, 266 F.3d 724, 740
(7th Cir. 2001). Therefore, in order to hold a defendant liable in his
individual capacity the individual defendant must be "personally
responsible for the deprivation of a constitutional right," which can be
illustrated by the fact that
the defendant "directed the conduct causing the constitutional
violation," the violation "occurred with his knowledge or consent," or
the defendant acted with "`deliberate, reckless indifference' to the
conduct of subordinates." Id.
In this case Jones alleges that on April 23, 2003 Fowler cancelled his
special diet at the request of the defendant referred to as "S. Vivado"
("Vivado"), Chief of Division 11 at the Cook County Jail, and "M. Holmes"
("Holmes"), Superintendent of Division 11 of the Cook County Jail. Jones
has also included as Defendants Michael Sheahan ("Sheahan"), Sheriff of
Cook County, and John Maul ("Maul"), Director of CCDOC. Although Jones
alleges in a conclusory fashion that all the defendants listed in his
complaint conspired against him, Jones has not alleged any facts that
would suggest, even under the liberal standard for pro se
plaintiffs, that Sheahan or Maul had a personal involvement in the
alleged decision to ignore his alleged allergies and discontinue his
special diet. Nor has Jones alleged any facts that would suggest that
Sheahan or Maul were personally aware of Jones' special diet to begin
with. Jones' allegations regarding these defendants are limited to
general statements such as with Sheahan who Jones claims is liable
because he has a "duty to supervise manage and control the Cook County
Department of Corrections." Therefore, we dismiss all claims against
Sheahan and Maul in their individual capacities.
II. Official Capacity Claims and Entity Claims
Jones also brings official capacity claims against Sheahan, Maul,
Holmes, and Vivado. A suit against an individual defendant in his
official capacity is the equivalent of a suit against the governmental
entity that the individual represents. Gossmeyer v. McDonald,
128 F.3d 481, 494
(7th Cir. 1997). Therefore, to the extent that Jones is bringing
official capacity claims against Sheahan, Maul, Holmes, and Vivado, and a
claim against CCDOC, Jones is bringing suit against Cook County. Local
governmental units cannot be held liable for Section 1983 violations
under the doctrine of respondeat superior "unless the
deprivation of constitutional rights is caused by a municipal policy or
custom." Kujawski v. Board of Comm'rs. of Bartholomew
County, Indiana, 183 F.3d 734,737 (7th Cir. 1999)(stating that
county could not be held liable unless violation was caused by county
policy); Gossmeyer, 128 F.3d at 494. Jones alleges that Fowler
cancelled a dietary order specifically written for Jones. Jones makes no
claims that his lack of a special diet was the result of any policy or
custom at the Cook County Jail. Therefore, we dismiss all claims against
CCDOC and against Sheahan, Maul, Holmes, and Vivado in their official
capacities. We also dismiss the official capacity claim against Fowler
for the same reasons.
Jones also sues Aramark who provides the food to the Cook County Jail.
Even if Jones could show that Aramark was acting under color of state
law, Jones could not sue the entity for the reasons stated above relating
to the dismissal of the claim against the CCDOC. Also, Jones claims that
Fowler, who was a physician with authority to dictate the dietary
restrictions for inmates, issued a written order cancelling the special
diet for Jones. Vivado, the Chief of Division 11, signed the memo
confirming that Jones' special diet was cancelled. Therefore, according
to Jones' own allegations Aramark only obeyed the instructions of a
supervising physician and the Division 11 Chief. Therefore, we dismiss
all claims against Aramark.
We note that there is little indication from the alleged facts in the
complaint that Holmes, who is the Superintendent of Division 11, had any
personal involvement in the decision to cancel Jones' special diet. While
the cancellation document is signed by Vivado, there is no connection
drawn to Holmes other than the general allegation in the complaint
that Fowler agreed to cancel the diet at the request of Holmes and
Vivado. However, for the purposes of our review to determine whether or
not the complaint states a claim, we are required to accept the
allegations as true and draw all inferences in Jones' favor. Therefore,
based on the information before us at this juncture we will allow the
individual capacity claim against Holmes to remain. Also, we note that
Jones acknowledges that as part of his prior settlement he signed a
release form, but Jones has not appended the release to his complaint. It
is possible that the release may bar some of the claims in the instant
action. However, we do not have the release before us and therefore are
unable to make a determination at this juncture. In light of the above
analysis, the only remaining claims in this action are individual
capacity claims against Fowler, Holmes, and Vivado.
Based on the foregoing analysis we dismiss all official capacity claims
against Sheahan, Maul, Holmes, Vivado, and Fowler and all individual
capacity claims against Sheahan and Maul. We also dismiss all claims
against CCDOC and Aramark.
© 1992-2004 VersusLaw Inc.