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Lenard Collins, A/K/A James Williams v. Illinois Department of Corrections

January 17, 2012


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Michael J. Reagan United States District Judge


REAGAN, District Judge: Introduction

Plaintiff brings this action for deprivations of his constitutional rights pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (e.g., deliberate indifference to serious medical condition). Although Plaintiff is no longer incarcerated, his § 1983 claims are based on events that occurred while he was a prisoner at Vienna Correctional Center (Doc. 1). On October 26, 2011, the undersigned Judge granted Plaintiff's motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis ("IFP") in this case.


A. Defendant Illinois Department of Corrections ("IDOC")

Plaintiff alleges in his complaint that the IDOC refused to honor a judge's order that Plaintiff be sent to a psychiatric unit (Doc. 1, p.4). Plaintiff does not provide any further facts in his complaint as to his claim against the IDOC, but simply states in the "Request for Relief" portion that he "should have been moved to a psych unit or at least a dorm housing unit and going 6 months without seeing a psych doctor is simply ridiculous" (Doc. 1, p.6). The Court construes Plaintiff's request for relief against Defendant IDOC as a request for injunctive relief, that is, he should have been placed in a psychiatric unit.

Although Plaintiff was incarcerated at the time the events he complains of occurred, he has since been released from custody. Therefore, Plaintiff's request for injunctive relief is moot and the Court lacks jurisdiction over the matter. See Walter v. Edgar, 163 F3d 430, 432 (7th Cir. 1998).

In addition, to the extent that Plaintiff may also be seeking money damages against Defendant IDOC, such a suit is barred by the Eleventh Amendment. See Will v. Mich. Dep't of State Police, 491 U.S. 58, 71 (1989) (state agency is not a "person" within the meaning of § 1983); Wynn v. Southward, 251 F.3d 588, 592 (7th Cir. 2001) (Eleventh Amendment bars suits against states in federal court for money damages); Billman v. Ind. Dep't of Corr., 56 F.3d 785, 788 (7th Cir. 1995) (state Department of Corrections is immune from suit by virtue of Eleventh Amendment).

Accordingly, Defendant IDOC will be dismissed from this action with prejudice.

B. Defendant Vienna Correctional Center Healthcare Department

Though Plaintiff names Defendant Vienna Correctional Center Healthcare Department ("Vienna Healthcare") in the caption of his complaint and lists this entity as a Defendant, he fails to make any allegations against Vienna Healthcare in the body of the complaint. The Court is thus unable to ascertain what claims, if any, Plaintiff has against this Defendant.

The reason that plaintiffs, even those proceeding pro se, for whom the Court is required to liberally construe complaints, see Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520-21 (1972), are required to associate specific defendants with specific claims is so these defendants are put on notice of the claims brought against them and so they can properly answer the complaint. "Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)(2) 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)). Thus, where a plaintiff has not included a defendant in his statement of the claim, the defendant cannot be said to be adequately put on notice of which claims in the complaint, if any, are directed against him. Furthermore, merely invoking the name of a potential defendant is not sufficient to state a claim against that individual. See Collins v. Kibort, 143 F.3d 331, 334 (7th Cir. 1998) ("A plaintiff cannot state a claim against a defendant by including the defendant's name in the caption.").

Because Plaintiff has not listed Defendant Vienna Healthcare elsewhere in his complaint, he has not adequately stated claims against them, or put them on notice of any claims that Plaintiff may have against them. For this reason, Defendant Vienna Healthcare will be dismissed from this action without prejudice. However, the Court observes that the Eleventh Amendment considerations discussed ...

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