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Estate of Carlock v. Williamson

November 21, 2008

ESTATE OF AMON PAUL CARLOCK, JR., DECEASED, BY MARY L. ANDREATTA-CARLOCK, EXECUTOR, PLAINTIFF,
v.
NEIL WILLIAMSON, AS SHERIFF OF SANGAMON COUNTY, ILLINOIS, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Jeanne E. Scott, U.S. District Judge

OPINION

This matter comes before the Court on Defendants Sangamon County, Illinois, Sheriff Neil Williamson and Kevin Furlong's Motion to Dismiss Counts VI, VII, and VIII of the Second Amended Complaint (d/e 50), and the Defendants Aaron Conard, Terry Durr, Guy Bouvet, Officer Watkins, Steve Beninato, Nurse West, and Lucy Ramsey's Motion to Dismiss Count VI, VII, and VIII of the Second Amended Complaint (d/e 58). Plaintiff Mary L. Andreatta-Carlock, as Executor of the Estate of Amon Paul Carlock, Jr. (Estate), alleges that Sheriff Williamson and the other Defendants, all employees of the Sangamon County Sheriff's Department (Department), violated Amon Paul Carlock, Jr.'s (Carlock) constitutional rights, and that those violations caused Carlock's death in the Sangamon County Jail (Jail) on November 16, 2007. Second Amended Complaint (With Added Parties) (d/e 35) (Complaint), Counts I-Counts V. The Complaint also alleges supplemental state law claims in Counts VI, VII, and VIII. The Moving Defendants ask the Court to dismiss the state law claims against them. For the reasons set forth below, the Motions are allowed in part.

STATEMENT OF FACTS

For purposes of the Motions, the Court must accept as true all well-pleaded factual allegations contained in the Complaint and draw all inferences in the light most favorable to the Estate. Hager v. City of West Peoria, 84 F.3d 865, 868-69 (7th Cir. 1996); Covington Court, Ltd. v. Village of Oak Brook, 77 F.3d 177, 178 (7th Cir. 1996). When read in that light, the Complaint must set forth a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the Estate is entitled to relief. Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a); Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544 (2007); Airborne Beepers & Video, Inc. v. AT&T Mobility, LLC, 499 F.3d 663 (7th Cir. 2007).

The Complaint alleges that Carlock was detained at the Jail on pending federal charges from October 9, 2007, until his death November 16, 2007. The Complaint alleges that Carlock was a diabetic and that his health deteriorated during his detention. Count VI alleges that on November 16, 2007, Defendant Aaron Conard, a Department Officer, tasered Carlock while Carlock was handcuffed, shackled and unable to respond because of his poor physical condition and illness. The Complaint alleges that Defendant Furlong, another Department Officer, applied heavy pressure to Carlock's chest which restricted his breathing. Count VI alleges that, in committing these acts, Conard and Furlong willfully and wantonly used excessive force. The Complaint alleges that Carlock died as a result of these wrongful acts. The Estate brings Count VI against Sheriff Williamson, "as the official responsible for the Sangamon County Sheriff's Department and Jail." Complaint, ¶ 78.

Count VII alleges that prior to November 16, 2007, Defendants Anthony Sacco, Terry Durr, Ron Beckner, Candace Cain, Todd Guy, Furlong, Amber Green, Tammy Powell, Officer Kirby, Lee Anne Brauer, Guy Bouvet, Officer Watkins, Conard, Steven Beninato, Nurse West, and Lucy Ramsey failed to provide Carlock with proper medical treatment. Count VII alleges specifically that on November 16, 2007, Beckner, Conard, Furlong, Watkins, Kirby, Cain, Guy, Brauer, West, and Ramsey: failed to provide appropriate emergency medical services and assistance to Amon Paul Carlock, Jr. when they knew he was incapacitated and unresponsive as his feet were purple, he had no pedal or carotid pulses and his respiration had ceased on the morning of November 16, 2007, when they failed to use CPR or any other life-saving techniques in an attempt to save his life. Complaint, ¶ 87. Count VII also alleges that, at other times during his detention, Defendants Brauer, Ramsey, and West personally observed Carlock's condition and knew that he needed medical care for various reasons and failed to provide or obtain appropriate care. Id., ¶ 88. The Estate alleges that Carlock suffered injury and death as a result. The Estate brings Count VII against Sheriff Williamson "in his official capacity as the entity responsible for the Sangamon County Sheriff's Department and the Sangamon County Jail." Complaint, ¶ 85.

Count VIII alleges that Sheriff Williamson and Department Supervisors Sacco, Durr and Beckner (collectively the Supervising Defendants), failed to adequately supervise Department personnel. Count VIII alleges that the Supervising Defendants failed to enforce Department rules and regulations even though they knew that Department employees had previously violated those rules and regulations and thereby abused detainees, mistreated detainees, and denied detainees adequate medical care. The Estate alleges that the Supervising Defendants' failure to enforce rules and regulations constituted "willful, reckless and/or deliberate conduct." Complaint, ¶ 96. The Estate alleges that Carlock suffered injury and death as a foreseeable result of the Supervising Defendants' wrongful conduct. Id., ¶¶ 97-98. The Estate brings Count VIII against Sheriff Williamson and other supervisors "as the Sheriff's supervisory staff having ultimate authority over the Jail." Complaint, ¶ 95.

ANALYSIS

The Moving Defendants move to dismiss Counts VI, VII, and VIII. The Court will address each Count separately.

I. COUNT VI

Count VI alleges a state law claim for wrongful use of excessive force.

The Moving Defendants argue that Illinois does not recognize a tort of excessive force. They argue that the Estate would need to allege and prove the elements of the intentional torts of battery or assault. The Estate, however, cites several Illinois Court of Claims decisions that recognize a claim in Illinois for excessive use of force. E.g., Robinson v. State of Illinois, 47 Ill.Ct.Cl. 364, 1994 WL 907440, at *3 (Ill.Ct.Cl. 1994). The Court therefore concludes that such a claim exists. The Estate may proceed against Furlong and Conard on Count VI.

Sheriff Williamson argues, additionally, that he is immune from the Estate's Count VI claim because he cannot be held vicariously liable for the acts of another state employee. The Court agrees. The Estate alleges in Count VI that Sheriff Williamson was the official "responsible for the Sangamon County Sheriff's Department and Jail." Complaint, ¶ 78. The Estate does not allege that the claim is brought against Sheriff Williamson in his official capacity. Thus, the Estate alleges that Sheriff Williamson is personally vicariously liable for the other officers' acts. Sheriff Williamson is immune from personal vicarious liability. Section 2-204 of the Illinois Local Government Tort Immunity Act (Tort Immunity Act) provides:

Except as otherwise provided by statute, a public employee, as such and acting within the scope of his employment, is not liable for an injury caused by the act or omission of another person. 745 ILCS 10/2-204. This provision immunizes Sheriff Williamson personally from liability for the wrongful acts of his employees. Payne for Hicks v. Churchich, 161 ...


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