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Adedeji v. County of Cook

May 31, 2007


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge Robert W. Gettleman


Plaintiff Abayomi Adedeji filed a six-count first amended complaint*fn1 under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against defendants: (1) Cook County; (2) Sheriff Thomas Dart, in his official capacity; (3) former Sheriff Michael Sheahan, in his official capacity; (4) Lieutenant Jerry Camel; (5) Sergeant Christopher Young; (6) Sergeant Henderson*fn2 ; and (7) Officer Alvear. Plaintiff alleges:

(1) cruel and unusual punishment; (2) conspiracy to use excessive force; (3) conspiracy to fail to protect; (4) use of excessive force; and (5) failure to protect, as well as (6) a claim for statutory indemnification against Cook County. Defendants Cook County, Dart, Sheahan, and Alvear have filed a motion to dismiss pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 4(m) and 12(b)(6). For the reasons discussed below, the court (1) grants the motion to dismiss defendant Dart; 2) denies the motion to dismiss defendant Dart in his official capacity; (3) grants the motion to dismiss defendant Cook County from Counts I through V; (4) grants the motion to dismiss defendants Henderson, Alvear, Camel, and Young in their official capacities; (5) denies the motion to dismiss defendant Henderson in her individual capacity; and (6) denies the motion to dismiss defendant Alvear in his official capacity for untimely service.


From January 2002 to June 2004, plaintiff was a detainee under the control and custody of the Cook County Department of Corrections ("CCDOC"), a department of the Cook County Sheriff's Office.*fn4 On March 12 and 13, 2004, plaintiff was held in the Protective Custody wing of the Cook County Jail, located in Chicago, Illinois.

On the evening of March 12, 2004, inmates removed a sprinkler head from the sprinkler system in the Protective Custody wing and flooded it. In response, guards entered each cell in the wing and threw each inmate's personal effects and papers onto the flooded floor. Plaintiff's cellmate tried to prevent the guards from entering their cell but was unsuccessful; the guards forcibly removed plaintiff and his cellmate and destroyed their belongings and papers.

According to plaintiff, defendant Henderson and approximately eight other correctional officers moved plaintiff and his cellmate to an isolated room and forced them to remove all clothing for a body cavity search. Defendant Henderson then ordered both men to squat naked, bend over, and cough; she forced them to remain in that position for between twenty and thirty minutes while she taunted plaintiff. Defendant Henderson then ordered both men shackled hand and foot and forced them to stand naked for another thirty minutes while she and other guards verbally abused them.

Defendant Henderson then returned plaintiff to his cell, at which point she told him, "I'm going to get you fucked up! I'm going to get someone to fuck you up. I'm going to get another nigger from another deck to fuck you up!" At the end of her shift, defendant Henderson met with defendants Camel, Young, and Alvear, correctional officers, and told them to bring general population detainees to plaintiff's cell in the Protective Custody wing. At 3:00 am on March 13, defendant Alvear approached plaintiff's cell with two general population detainees. Defendant Alvear let the two inmates enter plaintiff's cell, where one inmate attacked plaintiff. The inmates then dragged plaintiff from his cell into the dayroom area, where they began to beat him. Plaintiff asked defendant Alvear to help him and to make an emergency call on his radio, but defendant Alvear walked out of the dayroom and joined defendants Young and Camel in the hallway. The guards cheered on the beating, which continued until plaintiff was unconscious.

As a result of the beating, plaintiff was first treated at the jail's Division 11 internal medical unit and then transferred to Cermak Medical Center. Plaintiff began having nightmares about the incident and became suicidal, which led to his transfer to the Cermak Medical Center psychiatric wing, where he was placed on suicide watch and held in four-point restraint in the "naked room." Plaintiff remains under psychiatric care and medication as a result of the beating.

According to plaintiff, his beating is one example of what has become a "routine practice" of excessive force by CCDOC guards. Plaintiff alleges that guards frequently beat detainees to punish them or to retaliate against them for complaining about conditions of confinement. Although policies exist to prevent the use of excessive force, they are not enforced; instead, the incidents are not investigated, and guards falsify incident reports or refuse to file reports at all. Guards are rarely disciplined for administering these beatings because of a "code of silence" among CCDOC employees. Employees who break the code of silence face harassment and threats to their own safety.


The purpose of a motion to dismiss is to test the sufficiency of the complaint, not to decide the merits. Gibson v. City of Chicago, 910 F.2d 1510, 1520 (7th Cir. 1990). Federal notice pleading requires only that the plaintiff "set out in her complaint a short and plain statement of the claim that will provide the defendant with fair notice of the claim." Scott v. City of Chicago, 195 F.3d 950, 951 (7th Cir. 1999). When ruling on a motion to dismiss, the court must accept all factual allegations in the complaint as true and draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the plaintiff. Szumny v. Am. Gen. Fin., Inc., 246 F.3d 1065, 1067 (7th Cir. 2001).

Statute of Limitations

Defendants argue that official capacity claims against Cook County, Michael Sheahan, and Thomas Dart are barred by the statute of limitations.*fn5 The time period for bringing a § 1983 claim in the state of Illinois is two years. Dixon v. Chrans, 986 F.2d 201, 203 (7th Cir. 1993). Defendants claim that because the incidents of which plaintiff complains occurred on March 12 and 13, 2004, plaintiff was required to file his complaint naming Sheahan and Dart as defendants by March 13, 2006. The original pro se complaint, filed on January 13, 2006, did not name Sheahan, Dart, or the County. Pro se complaints are held "to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by ...

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