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Fitch v. Doe

May 11, 2007

DORIS FITCH, ADMINISTRATOR OF THE ESTATE OF ROLAND MAYES, DECEASED, PLAINTIFF,
v.
JOHN AND JAMES DOE, INDIVIDUALLY AND AS AGENTS AND/OR EMPLOYEES OF ROBERT HERTZ, SHERIFF OF MADISON COUNTY AND ROBERT HERTZ, SHERIFF OF MADISON COUNTY, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Reagan, District Judge

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

I. Introduction and Procedural Background

On September 4, 2006, Doris Fitch, Administrator of the Estate of Roland Mayes, deceased, filed a six-count Complaint in this Court pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Fitch alleges, inter alia, that, pursuant to the Defendant Robert Hertz's policy, custom and practice, 1) persons placed into custody at the Madison County Jail are prohibited from bringing or having brought to them any type of medications; 2) medications brought by a person being admitted to the jail are inventoried, so that Hertz's own medical staff or pharmacy staff can supply the same or equivalent medications to the inmate; and 3) Hertz employs physicians and other medical-care providers to examine and treat inmates but does not require these providers to regularly examine and treat inmates with known life-threatening conditions and does not require these providers to contact inmates' primary medical-care providers to discuss the inmates' medical history, condition or the medications inmate was taking when incarcerated.

Fitch claims that, when Mayes was taken into custody and incarcerated at Madison County Jail, he brought with him medications for depression, seizure prevention and a "diabetes-like" endocrine disorder. Both Mayes and his wife told Defendants John and James Doe*fn1 that he could have a seizure or an attack if he did not receive his medication. Mayes was seen by a physician between September 6, 2005, and September 12, 2005, and informed the physician of the medications he had been taking and asked that his primary care physician be contacted. Mayes received no medication while he was incarcerated, and no one contacted his primary care physician or family members. Fitch alleges that, as a result of the sudden discontinuance of Mayes's seizure or diabetes/endocrine medication, or both, Mayes suffered a seizure, epileptic reaction or diabetic attack, and died on September 15, 2005.

Defendant Hertz moves to dismiss Counts II through VI of Mayes's Complaint, maintaining that Mayes has failed to state a claim upon which relief can be granted and that Mayes's state law tort claims are barred by the immunity provided under the Illinois Local Governmental and Governmental Employees Tort Immunity Act ("Tort Immunity Act"). The matter is fully briefed and ready for disposition.

II. Standard Governing a Motion to Dismiss

Hertz moves for dismissal pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, which governs dismissal for failure to state a claim. In assessing a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, the Court must take as true all factual allegations and construe in plaintiff's favor all reasonable inferences. Massey v. Merrill Lynch & Co., Inc., 464 F.3d 642, 656 (7th Cir. 2006); Albany Bank & Trust Co. v. Exxon Mobil Corp., 310 F.3d 969, 971 (7th Cir. 2002).

A complaint should be dismissed only "if there is no set of facts, even hypothesized, that could entitle a plaintiff to relief." Massey, 464 F.3d at 656. As the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit explained:

"We construe the complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, taking as true all well-pleaded factual allegations and making all possible inferences from those allegations in his or her favor." Barnes v. Briley, 420 F.3d 673, 677 (7th Cir. 2005)....

Dismissal is proper "only 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.'" Id. McCready v. EBay, Inc., 453 F.3d 882, 887 (7th Cir. 2006).

Indeed, the law of this Circuit recognizes that, generally, "a party need not plead much to survive a motion to dismiss" - not specific facts, not legal theories, and not anything in anticipation of a possible defense. Massey, 464 F.3d at 650 (citing Xechem, Inc. v. Bristol-Myers Squibb Co., 372 F.3d 899, 901-02 (7th Cir. 2004)).The gist of this Court's inquiry is "whether the complaint gives the defendant fair notice of what the suit is about and the grounds on which it rests." Mosely v. Board of Educ. of City of Chicago, 434 F.3d 527, 533 (7th Cir. 2006).See also Swierkiewicz v. Sorema N.A., 534 U.S. 506, 508 (2002) (complaints need not allege facts; they need only present a claim for relief).

III. Analysis

Defendant Hertz contends that dismissal is appropriate because 1) Fitch failed to allege that he personally participated in the deprivation of Mayes's constitutional rights as required under 42 U.S.C. § 1983; and 2) Fitch's state law tort claims are barred by the immunity provided under the Tort Immunity Act.

Stated simply, a ยง 1983 claim requires the plaintiff to allege that a state actor deprived him of a federally-secured right. Mosely, 434 F.3d at 533; see also Neuman v. McCoy, 210 Fed.Appx. 542, 2006 WL 3804383 (7th Cir. 2006) (unpublished) (Section 1983 requires that the defendant's action, or inaction, ...


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