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Jackson v. Kane County

November 9, 2010

ANDRE JACKSON, PLAINTIFF,
v.
KANE COUNTY, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: James F. Holderman Chief Judge, United States District Court

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

JAMES F. HOLDERMAN, Chief Judge

The plaintiff, a former inmate at the Kane County Jail, has brought this pro se civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The plaintiff claims that the defendants, Kane County and its Sheriff, violated the plaintiff's constitutional rights by subjecting him to inhumane conditions of confinement at the Kane County Jail. This matter is before the Court for ruling on the defendants' motion to dismiss Count I*fn1 of the amended complaint for failure to state a claim. For the reasons stated in this order, the motion is granted in part and denied in part.

LEGAL STANDARD

It is well established that pro se complaints are to be liberally construed. Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972); see also McCormick v. City of Chicago, 230 F.3d 319, 325 (7th Cir. 2000). Rule 8(a)(2) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure requires only "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief," in order to " 'give the defendant fair notice of what the . . . claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.' " Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (quoting Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 47 (1957)). To satisfy the notice pleading requirements of Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2), the plaintiff must only state his basic legal claim and provide "some indication . . . of time and place." Thompson v. Washington, 362 F.3d 969, 971 (7th Cir. 2004). While a complaint challenged by a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss does not need detailed factual allegations, a plaintiff's obligation to provide the grounds of his entitlement to relief requires more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do. Bell Atlantic Corp., 550 U.S. at 555 (citations omitted).

In addition, when considering whether to dismiss a complaint for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted, the court takes the allegations in the complaint as true, viewing all 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); Bell Atlantic Corp., 550 U.S. at 563 (citing Swierkiewicz v. Sorema N.A., 534 U.S. 506, 514 (2002)). A well-pleaded complaint may proceed even if it appears "that actual proof of those facts is improbable, and that a recovery is very remote and unlikely." Bell Atlantic Corp., 550 U.S. at 556. Nevertheless, the factual allegations in the complaint must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level. Bell Atlantic Corp., 550 U.S. at 555. Furthermore, a plaintiff can plead himself or herself out of court by pleading facts that undermine the allegations set forth in the complaint. See, e.g., Whitlock v. Brown, 596 F.3d 406, 412 (7th Cir. 2010) (citations omitted).

BACKGROUND

The plaintiff was a pretrial detainee at the Kane County Jail at all times relevant to this action. The plaintiff sues Kane County, as well as Kane County Sheriff Patrick Perez.

The amended complaint alleges the following facts, which will be assumed true for purposes of the motion to dismiss:

On May 17, 2006, the plaintiff was admitted to the Kane County Jail. He was initially assigned to the jail's Cellblock 161.

Seven days a week, the plaintiff and all other detainees were locked out of their cells from 5:30 a.m. until 9 p.m. The inmates spent about fifteen and a half to sixteen hours every day in the day room.

The day room was very cold, with frigid air blowing throughout the cellblock. The rusted radiator did not work. The inmates were issued uniforms consisting of only a thin orange t-shirt and pants. Inmates were not allowed to take their sheets or blankets to the day room. The day room was so cold that the prisoners would tuck their arms inside their shirts and wrap their arms around themselves under their shirts to stay warm. The plaintiff would sometimes slide under a wooden bench and ball up in a fetal position to warm himself. The plaintiff maintains that he became ill on account of the cold temperatures, suffering from body aches, severe headaches, unstable blood pressure, dizziness and numbness, and a "touch" of pneumonia. Although the detainees repeatedly complained, the maintenance department took no action. The plaintiff endured the cold environment from May 2006 until the middle of July 2006.

From October 2006 to February 2007, a strong odor of "musky funk" pervaded the plaintiff's living area. The stench was so bad that officers covered their faces or hurriedly left when they entered the cellblock. Furthermore, because the inmates had to wear so many layers of clothing to keep warm, foul body odor contributed to the unpleasant smell in the unit. Again, the administration ignored complaints about the stagnation.

In June 2007, the plaintiff was relocated to Block 301, where he remained until April 2008. Although the cellblock was designed to house ten inmates, twenty detainees occupied the unit. That day room was even colder than the one in the plaintiff's prior housing division; the cold air ...


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