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Logan v. Godinez

United States District Court, Northern District of Illinois

July 19, 2010

JAMES LOGAN (#2010-00121211)

Name of Assigned Judge Sitting Judge if Other or Magistrate Judge James B. Zagel than Assigned Judge


Plaintiff's motion for leave to file in forma pauperis [#3] is granted. The Court authorizes the Cook County Jail trust fund account officer to begin making deductions from Plaintiff's fund account in accordance with this order until the entire $350 filing fee is paid. The Clerk shall send a copy of this order to the Supervisor of Inmate Trust Fund Accounts, Cook County Dept. of Corrections Administrative Office, Division V, 2700 S. California, Chicago, IL 60608. However, Defendants Cook County, Salvador Godinez, Tom Dart, and Superintendent Moreci are dismissed as Defendants. The Clerk is directed to issue summons for Defendants Emerson and Perry, and the United States Marshals Service is appointed to serve them. The Clerk shall also send Plaintiff a Magistrate Judge Consent Form and Instructions for Submitting Documents along with a copy of this order. Plaintiff's motion for appointment of counsel [#4] is denied.

O [For further details see text below.] Docketing to mail notices.


Plaintiff, James Logan, presently in custody of the Cook County Jail, has brought this pro se civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff claims that Defendants Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart; Cook County Jail Executive Director Salvador Godinez; Superintendent Moreci; and Correctional Officers Emerson and Perry violated his constitutional rights by failing to provide adequate medical care for a serious medical condition at the Cook County Jail. More specifically, Plaintiff alleges that he informed Defendants Emerson and Perry that he was suffering from itching and red bumps and his cell mate was sleeping in wet bedding and smelled of bad hygiene and mildew was denied care for scabies. Defendants Tom Dart, Salvador Godinez and Superintendent Moreci are seemingly sued in their supervisory capacities.

Plaintiff's motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis is granted. Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(1), Plaintiff is assessed an initial partial filing fee of $5.20. The supervisor of inmate trust accounts at the Cook County Jail is authorized and ordered to collect, when funds exist, the partial filing fee from Plaintiff's trust fund account and pay it directly to the Clerk of Court. After payment of the initial partial filing fee, the trust fund officer at Plaintiff's place of confinement is directed to collect monthly payments from Plaintiff's trust fund account in an amount equal to 20% of the preceding month's income credited to the account. Monthly payments collected from Plaintiff's trust fund account shall be forwarded to the Clerk of Court each time the amount in the account exceeds $10 until the full $350 filing fee is paid. All payments shall be sent to the Clerk, United States District Court, 219 S. Dearborn St., Chicago, Illinois 60604, attn: Cashier's Desk, 20th Floor, and shall clearly identify Plaintiff's name and the case number assigned to this action. The Cook County inmate trust account office shall notify transferee authorities of any outstanding balance in the event Plaintiff is transferred from the jail to another correctional facility.

Under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, the Court is required to conduct a prompt initial review of prisoner complaints against governmental entities or employees. Here, accepting Plaintiff's factual allegations as true, the Court finds that the complaint states a colorable cause of action under the Civil Rights Act against Defendants Correctional Officers Emerson and Perry. Davis v. Carter, 452 F.3d 686, 696 (7th Cir. 2006). Plaintiff also states a cause of action for unconstitutional conditions of confinement. Antonelli v. Sheahan 81 F.3d 1422, 1427 (7th Cir. 1996) (to state a valid unconstitutional condition of confinement claim, the plaintiff must be able to demonstrate that the defendants, acting with deliberate indifference, deprived him of "basic human needs" or "the minimal civilized measure of life's necessities"); Gillis v. Litscher, 468 F.3d 488, 493 (7th Cir. 2006)

However, Plaintiff's complaint must be dismissed as to Defendants Tom Dart, Salvador Godinez and Superintendent Moreci as Plaintiff's allegations seeking to hold them liable for their supervisory roles in the running of Cook County Jail fail to state a claim. See Perkins v. Lawson, 312 F.3d 872, 875 (7th Cir. 2002). Plaintiff has alleged no facts suggesting their direct, personal involvement, as required by J.H. ex rel. Higgin v. Johnson, 346 F.3d 788, 793 (7th Cir. 2003), inter alia. Nor has Plaintiff indicated that the alleged violation of his constitutional rights occurred at their direction or with their knowledge and consent. Id. Section 1983 creates a cause of action based on personal liability and predicated upon fault; thus, "to be liable under § 1983, an individual defendant must have caused or participated in a constitutional deprivation." Pepper v. Village of Oak Park, 430 F.3d 809, 810 (7th Cir. 2005) (citations omitted).

The mere fact that Defendants Dart, Godinez, and Moreci hold supervisory positions is insufficient to establish liability, as the doctrine of respondeat superior (blanket supervisory liability) does not apply to actions filed under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. See Sanville v. McCaughtry, 266 F.3d 724, 740 (7th Cir. 2001). Section 1983 does not create collective or vicarious responsibility. Id. Supervisors cannot be held liable for the errors of their subordinates. Birch v. Jones, No. 02 C 2094, 2004 WL 2125416, at *6 (N.D. Ill. Sep. 22, 2004) (Manning, J.), citing Pacelli v. DeVito, 972 F.2d 871, 877 (7th Cir. 1992). "Supervisors who are merely negligent in failing to detect and prevent subordinates' misconduct are not liable." Chavez v. Illinois State Police, 251 F.3d 612, 651 (7th Cir. 2001) (citations omitted). To be held liable under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, supervisors "must know about the conduct and facilitate it, approve it, condone it, or turn a blind eye for fear of what they might see. They must in other words act either knowingly or with deliberate, reckless indifference." Id. In short, some causal connection or affirmative link between the action complained about and the official sued is necessary for § 1983 recovery. Hildebrandt v. Illinois Dept. of Natural Resources, 347 F.3d 1014, 1039 (7th Cir. 2003). Because Plaintiff has failed to state any facts suggesting that Dart, Godinez, and Moreci were personally involved in--or even aware of--the alleged circumstances giving rise to the complaint, they are dismissed as Defendants in this matter.

The Clerk shall issue summons for service of the complaint on Defendants Emerson and Perry (hereinafter, "Defendants"). The Clerk shall also send Plaintiff a Magistrate Judge Consent Form and Instructions for Submitting Documents along with a copy of this order.

The United States Marshals Service is appointed to serve Defendants. Any service forms necessary for Plaintiff to complete will be sent by the Marshal as appropriate to serve Defendants with process. The U.S. Marshal is directed to make all reasonable efforts to serve Defendants. With respect to any former jail employee who can no longer be found at the work address provided by Plaintiff, the Cook County Department of Corrections shall furnish the Marshal with Defendant's last-known address. The information shall be used only for purposes of effectuating service [or for proof of service, should a dispute arise] and any documentation of the address shall be retained only by the Marshal. Address information shall not be maintained in the Court file, nor disclosed by the Marshal. The Marshal is authorized to mail a request for waiver of service to Defendants in the manner prescribed by Fed. R. Civ. P. 4(d)(2) before attempting personal service.

Plaintiff's motion for appointment of counsel is denied. Civil litigants do not have a constitutional or statutory right to counsel. See Lewis v. Sullivan, 279 F.3d 526, 529 (7th Cir. 2002). Nevertheless, a district court may, in its discretion, "request an attorney to represent any person unable to afford counsel." Gil v. Reed, 381 F.3d 649, 656 (7th Cir. 2004), citing 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(1); Luttrell v. Nickel, 129 F.3d 933, 936 (7th Cir. 1997). In deciding whether to appoint counsel, the Court must consider: (1) whether, given the degree of difficulty of the case, a plaintiff appears competent to try it himself; and (2) whether the assistance of counsel would provide a substantial benefit to the court or the parties, potentially affecting the outcome of the case. Gil, 381 F.3d at 656, relying on Farmer v. Haas, 990 F.2d 319, 322 (7th Cir. 1993).

After considering the above factors, the Court concludes that appointment of counsel is not warranted in this case. Although Plaintiff has articulated colorable claims, he has alleged no physical or mental disability that might preclude him from adequately investigating the facts giving rise to his complaint. Neither the legal issues raised in the complaint nor the evidence that might support Plaintiff's claims are so complex or intricate that a trained attorney is necessary.

Additionally, it should be noted that the Court grants pro se litigants wide latitude in the handling of their lawsuits. Therefore, Plaintiff's motion for appointment of counsel is denied. Should the case proceed to a point that assistance of counsel is appropriate, the Court may revisit this request.


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