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Lurz v. Monahan

August 11, 2006


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Amy J. St. Eve, District Court Judge


In their Second Amended Complaint ("SAC"), Plaintiffs allege that Defendants violated their Fourteenth Amendment Right to Substantive Due Process in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiffs also bring a claim under the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA"), 42 U.S.C. § 12101 et seq. Before the Court is Defendants' Motion to Dismiss pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). For the following reasons, the Court denies Defendants' motion.


The purpose of a motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) is to test the legal sufficiency of a complaint, not the factual sufficiency. Szabo v. Bridgeport Mach., Inc., 249 F.3d 672, 675-76 (7th Cir. 2001); see also Cler v. Illinois Educ. Ass'n, 423 F.3d 726, 729 (7th Cir. 2005) (motion to dismiss challenges complaint's sufficiency). The Court will only grant a motion to dismiss if "it appears beyond doubt that the plaintiff can prove no set of facts in support of his claim which would entitle him to relief." Centers v. Mortgage, Inc., 398 F.3d 930, 933 (7th Cir. 2005) (quoting Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 45-46, 78 S.Ct. 99, 102, 2 L.Ed.2d 80 (1957)). The Court must assume the truth of the facts alleged in the pleadings, construe the allegations liberally, and view them in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. Centers, 398 F.3d at 333.


I. Factual Background

Plaintiffs Timothy Lurz, Error Winterhalter, Raynor Daniels, Darius Mahaffery, Antwone Steward, Marc Burkett, Howard McGee, and Nathan McNeal have been involuntarily civilly committed at the Treatment and Detention Facility in Joliet, Illinois ("TDF") pursuant to the Illinois Sexually Violent Persons Commitment Act (the "SVP Act"), 725 ILCS 207/1 et seq. (R. 35-1; SAC at ¶¶ 1, 4-11.) Plaintiffs have been diagnosed as mentally disabled with a low IQ and have consented to participate in any and all mental health treatment programs provided by the Illinois Department of Human Services ("DHS"). (Id. at¶¶ 4-11, 23.) At or near the completion of Plaintiffs' confinement portion of their sentence, the State filed petitions to have each Plaintiff civilly committed pursuant to the SVP Act. (Id. at ¶ 20.) In the SAC, Plaintiffs allege that Defendants, who are employees of DHS and/or TDF, are violating their due process rights by denying them adequate mental health care treatment that gives them a realistic opportunity for their conditions to materially improve. (Id. at ¶¶ 28-32.) In addition, Plaintiffs allege that Defendants are violating the ADA by not modifying the present mental health treatment plans to meet Plaintiffs' needs. (Id. at ¶¶ 38-41.)

Plaintiffs premise their due process claim on Defendants' alleged failure to: (1) provide Plaintiffs with sex offender treatment providers who are properly trained in the treatment of mentally disabled individuals; (2) differentiate between the needs of mentally disabled residents and other residents not diagnosed as mentally disabled, and tailor the programs to meet the needs of both; and (3) provide individualized treatment programs designed for mentally disabled individuals. (Id. at ¶ 28a-c.) Plaintiffs allege that Defendants have failed to provide constitutionally adequate treatment because their present treatment substantially departs from accepted professional judgment, practice, or standards. (Id. at ¶ 29.)

II. Prior Lawsuit

Based on Judge Leinenweber's Memorandum Opinion, and Order in Hargett v. Adams, No. 02 C 1456, 2005 WL 399300 (N.D. Ill. Jan. 14, 2005), Defendants contend that Plaintiffs' claims are barred by the doctrine of res judicata. The Court takes judicial notice of the prior judicial proceedings in Hargett, including all matters of public record related to the Hargett proceedings. See Henson v. CSC Credit Servs.,29 F.3d 280, 284 (7th Cir. 1994) (court may take judicial notice of matters of public record without converting motion to dismiss into motion for summary judgment); see also Green v. Warden, U.S. Penitentiary, 699 F.2d 364, 369 (7th Cir. 1983) (courts may take judicial notice of "proceedings in other courts, both within and outside of the federal judicial system, if the proceedings have a direct relation to matters at issue"); Fed. R. Evid. 201(b).

In Hargett, plaintiffs Jeffrey Hargett, Kim Overlin, Jimmie Smith, and Loren Walker -- who is purportedly developmentally disabled -- brought a class action complaint alleging violations of the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment against the Director of the Illinois Department of Human Services and various officials at TDF. (02 C 1456, R. 1-1; Class Action Compl. at ¶¶ 1-12.) The Hargett plaintiffs alleged that their due process rights were violated based on the defendants' failure to: (1) properly train staff regarding the treatment of sexual deviance; (2) provide a coherent and meaningful individualized treatment program for each detainee with understandable goals and a roadmap for improvement and release; (3) make adequate provisions for detainees' family members to participate in rehabilitation efforts; (4) draft and implement fair and reasonable grievance procedures and behavior management plans; (5) afford reasonable opportunities to all residents for educational, religious, vocational, and recreational activities; (6) cease requiring, as a precondition to participate in all but the most basic treatment, that detainees admit to real and imagined crimes for which they were not convicted, thereby placing detainees in jeopardy of future criminal prosecutions; and (7) institute a procedure to guarantee appropriate therapist -- patient confidentiality. (Id. at ¶ 24a-g.) Based on these factors, the Hargett plaintiffs alleged that defendants failed to provide constitutionally adequate treatment because their treatment was a substantial departure from accepted professional judgment, practice, or standards. (Id. at ¶ 25.)

After conducting a bench trial, Judge Leinenweber first considered the defendants' assertion that many of the plaintiffs' arguments were moot because defendants had already changed some of the challenged policies -- policies that are not at issue in the present matter. See Hargett, 2005 WL 399300, at *15. Judge Leinenweber then examined the plaintiffs' claims of inadequate treatment, concluding that TDF's treatment program and delivery of services adequately met constitutional requirements and that the treatment program had a coherent overall plan with identifiable goals and standards. Id. at **18-20. Judge Leinenweber also concluded that the plaintiffs did not establish with sufficient evidence that the individualized treatment programs were constitutionally inadequate. Hargett, 2005 WL 399300, at **13, 20. Specifically, Judge Leinenweber concluded: "The treatment plan for the patients is sufficiently individualized to meet patient needs, and, as noted above, the treatment program provides a coherent road map and goals for treatment progress." Id. at *13.


I. Sufficiency of the ...

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