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Jeremy L. Schloss et al v. Forest Ashby et al

October 11, 2011


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


Tuesday, 11 October, 2011 09:07:51 AM

Clerk, U.S. District Court, ILCD


Forty plaintiffs detained in the Rushville Treatment and Detention Center ("Rushville") challenge alleged systemic failings in Rushville's administration. Plaintiffs seek leave to proceed in forma pauperis. For the reasons below, the Court dismisses Plaintiff's complaint for failure to state a claim, without prejudice to filing an amended complaint in accordance with this opinion.


Plaintiffs are not "prisoners" within the meaning of the Prisoner Litigation Reform Act because they have no current criminal charges filed against them and are not serving criminal sentences. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(h); see also Kalinowski v. Bond, 358 F.3d 978 (7th Cir. 2004)(declining to consider whether a person held as sexually violent is a prisoner, but noting that "[a]pplying the PLRA's definition to such detainees may be difficult."); Page v. Torrey, 201 F.3d 1136, 1139 (9th Cir. 2000)(person detained as sexually violent under California law was not a "prisoner" under PLRA); West v. Macht, 986 F.Supp. 1141 (W.D. Wis. 1997)(person detained as sexually violent under Wisconsin law was not a "prisoner" under PLRA). Accordingly, the provisions of 28 U.S.C. § 1915A requiring a screening of the complaint do not apply.

However, the "privilege to proceed without posting security for costs and fees is reserved to the many truly impoverished litigants who, within the District Court's sound discretion, would remain without legal remedy if such privilege were not afforded to them." Brewster v. North Am. Van Lines, Inc., 461 F.2d 649, 651 (7th Cir. 1972). Additionally, a court must dismiss cases proceeding in forma pauperis "at any time if the court determines that the action fails to state a claim." 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(1). Accordingly, this Court grants leave to proceed in forma pauperis only if the complaint states a federal claim. A hearing was scheduled to assist in this review, but the hearing has been cancelled as unnecessary.

To state a claim, the allegations must set forth a "short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief . . . ." Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2). Factual allegations must give enough detail to give "'fair notice of what the . . . claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.'" EEOC v. Concentra Health Serv., Inc., 496 F.3d 773, 776 (7th Cir. 2007), quoting Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544 (2007)(add'l citation omitted). The factual "allegations must plausibly suggest that the plaintiff has a right to relief, raising that possibility above a 'speculative level.'" Id., quoting Bell Atlantic, 550 U.S. at 555. "A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged . . . . Threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009), citing Bell Atlantic, 550 U.S. at 555-56. However, pro se pleadings are liberally construed when applying this standard. Bridges v. Gilbert, 557 F.3d 541, 546 (7th Cir. 2009).


Plaintiffs are detained in Rushville pursuant to the Illinois Sexually Violent Persons Act. Their complaint is lengthy but can be distilled into a few recurrent themes.

Plaintiffs allege that Defendants are required to adhere to the entire Title 59 of the Illinois Administrative Code governing mental health, not just part 299 of Chapter 1, which specifically applies to sexually violent persons. 59 Ill.Admin.Code §§ 299.100-350. Defendants are allegedly violating Title 59 in many ways, including the failure to give adequate notice of rules, the adoption of prison-like policies, the failure to adequately monitor residents, the failure to provide rehabilitative treatment, the segregation of residents who consent to treatment from those who do not, the failure to provide a meaningful grievance process, and the implementation of restrictions on resident movement and interactions.

For example, the allegations include the banning of gaming consoles for irrational reasons and a ban on access to the outside patios. Additionally, the waiting list to obtain sex-offender treatment is allegedly six months to one year long, and residents are allegedly not allowed to participate in other groups such as the health care fitness group unless they are in treatment. Further, the rehabilitative treatment that is provided is allegedly based on "outdated and incorrect diagnostic tools."

Plaintiffs appear to assert that these conditions violate not only Title 59 but also their equal protection right to be treated just like any other mentally ill patient who is confined in a state mental health facility. ...

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