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Dixon v. Robinson

February 17, 2010


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Blanche M. Manning United States District Judge

Judge Blanche M. Manning


Lamonte Dixon ("Plaintiff"), an Illinois prisoner currently incarcerated at Stateville Correctional Center (prisoner number K-96013), filed a 42 U.S.C. § 1983 action against Stateville Correctional Officer Robinson ("Defendant"). Plaintiff alleges that Defendant acted with deliberate indifference to Plaintiff's safety when Defendant allowed Plaintiff to shower with inmates who were in protective custody while Plaintiff was in temporary confinement. Plaintiff was attacked by another inmate in the shower. Defendant has filed a motion to dismiss the complaint. Plaintiff has filed a response. For the following reasons, the court grants the motion to dismiss and dismisses this case with prejudice.


When considering a motion to dismiss, this court assumes all well-pleaded allegations are true and views the alleged facts, as well as any inferences reasonably drawn therefrom, in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. Marshall-Mosby v. Corporate Receivables, Inc., 205 F.3d 323, 326 (7th Cir. 2000). The purpose of a motion to dismiss is to test the sufficiency of the complaint, not to decide the merits of its claims, or determine a plaintiff's ability to succeed on his claims. Weiler v. Household Finance Corp., 101 F.3d 519, 524 n.1 (7th Cir. 1996). Under the notice pleading requirement, a complaint need only state a federal claim and provide the defendants with sufficient notice of the claim and the grounds upon which it rests. Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). The allegations of a complaint, however, must at least "plausibly suggest that the plaintiff has a right to relief, raising that possibility above a 'speculative level.'" E.E.O.C. v. Concentra Health Services, Inc., 496 F.3d 773, 776 -77 (7th Cir. 2007). A complaint must do more than recite the elements of a cause of action, and a court need not accept mere labels and legal conclusions as factual allegations. Bell Atlantic, 550 U.S. at 555. Nor must a court presume facts not alleged. Id. Additionally, if a plaintiff pleads facts demonstrating that he has no claim, a court may dismiss the complaint. McCready v. eBay, Inc., 453 F.3d 882, 888 (7th Cir. 2006).


Viewing the pleadings in a light most favorable to Plaintiff, he alleges the following. On September 11, 2008, he was in protective custody at Stateville. (R. 19, Pl.'s Response to Motion to Dismiss at 1-2.) While in protective custody, he received a disciplinary ticket for not following a direct order (Plaintiff failed to "pair up," i.e., he did not get in line properly to go to the prison dining hall). As a result, he was placed on temporary confinement, also known as "deadlock." Because Plaintiff was on deadlock, he was not supposed to shower with other inmates.

At a time when other inmates in protective custody were supposed to shower, Officer Robinson (Defendant) came to Plaintiff's cell to let his cellmate go to the showers. Defendant asked Plaintiff why he was on deadlock. Plaintiff replied that he had been disciplined for not "pairing up." Defendant nevertheless allowed Plaintiff to shower at that time with other protective custody inmates. Plaintiff was assaulted by another inmate in the shower. During the fight, Plaintiff slipped and split open his eyebrow on the shower floor. Officers broke up the fight, and told Plaintiff to wash off his eyebrow and to return to his cell. (R. 19, Pl.'s Response at 2-3; R. 1, Complaint at 4-5.)

Defendant visited Plaintiff in his cell to check on his injury. Defendant asked Plaintiff why he was fighting in the shower, especially since Plaintiff knew that he was not supposed to be there because he was on deadlock. (R. 1, Complaint at 5.) Defendant sent Plaintiff to the health care unit for treatment. (Id.; R. 19, Pl.'s Response at 2-3.)

The Health Care Unit informed Plaintiff that the gash was too big to simply bandage and that stitches were required, which could not be provided until a doctor was present. Plaintiff returned to his cell, but Defendant later sent Plaintiff back to the Health Care Unit when Plaintiff's cut began to bleed. (R.1, Complaint at 5-6.) Plaintiff states that he later filed grievances about the above events, but received no response. (Id. at 6-8.)


Defendant contends that: (1) to the extent that Plaintiff is suing him in his official capacity, the Eleventh Amendment bars the suit, and (2) to the extent that Plaintiff is suing him in his individual capacity, Plaintiff fails to state a valid claim. (R. 11, Motion to Dismiss at 3-8.)

A. Official Capacity Claim

In his complaint, Plaintiff states that he is suing Defendant in both his official and individual capacities. (R. 1, Complaint at 9). Nevertheless, in his response to the motion to dismiss (R. 19, Plaintiff's Response at 5), Plaintiff correctly concedes that he has not stated a valid claim against Defendant in his official capacity. See Klebanowski v. Sheahan, 540 F.3d 633, 637 (7th Cir. 2008) (a § 1983 suit against an officer in his official capacity is the same as a suit against the government entity for which he works, so a viable § 1983 claim against a prison is generally based on an unconstitutional custom or policy, which Plaintiff does not allege). Moreover, Plaintiff's allegations, as described above, clearly demonstrate that he is attempting to assert claims against Defendant ...

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