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Timmy J. Lurz, et al v. Michelle R.B. Saddler

July 26, 2012

TIMMY J. LURZ, ET AL., PLAINTIFF,
v.
MICHELLE R.B. SADDLER, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Sue E. Myerscough United States District Judge

E-FILED

Thursday, 26 July, 2012 01:26:58 PM Clerk, U.S. District Court, ILCD

OPINION SUE E. MYERSCOUGH, U.S. District Judge:

Eleven plaintiffs pursue, pro se, systemic challenges to the conditions at Rushville Treatment and Detention Center ("Rushville"). Their first Complaint was dismissed for failure to state a claim. In response to that order, they filed an Amended Complaint (d/e 15), an "Addendum" (d/e 16), and a "Second Addendum" (d/e 19), all of which the Court will consider in ruling on their petitions to proceed in forma pauperis.

Plaintiffs first assail the "lack of clearly defined and articulated rules/regulations" at Rushville. (Am. Compl., p. 10.) They give as an example an alleged unsubstantiated disciplinary report issued against Plaintiff Webb for unauthorized movement which resulted in a "warning" to Webb. As another example, Plaintiff Bauer was allegedly issued an unsubstantiated report for removing his name from his door, but he was ultimately found not guilty. Plaintiffs assert that these unsubstantiated accusations detrimentally affect their evaluations in state court challenges to their detention.

The Court sees no viable constitutional claim based on these allegations. Procedural due process rights are not triggered unless the deprivation suffered amounts to an "atypical and significant deprivation" in light of the typical deprivations experienced by someone in Plaintiffs' position. Thielman v. Leean, 282 F.3d 478, 484 (7th Cir. 2002). A "warning" and an unsubstantiated accusation which resulted in no discipline are not "atypical and significant deprivations." See, e.g., Miller v. Dobier, 634 F.3d 412, 415 (7th Cir. 2011)(no liberty interest implicated in resident's status demotion from "intermediate" to "close" because "the additional restrictions are too limited to amount to a deprivation of constitutional liberty"). The allegations in Plaintiff's Second Addendum also fail to identify any constitutional deprivation suffered. (Sec. Addendum to Am. Compl., d/e 19, pp. 5-6.)

Further, the possibility that unsubstantiated disciplinary reports might affect Plaintiffs' state court proceedings is too attenuated to make out a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. See Sandin v. Conner, 515 U.S. 472, 486 (1995)(allegedly false misconduct record did not inevitably affect the duration of an inmate's sentence--"chance that a finding of misconduct will alter the balance [of parole release decisions] is simply too attenuated to invoke the procedural guarantees of the Due Process Clause").

Plaintiffs' allegation about the alleged lack of notice of the rules is too vague to infer a plausible claim. No inference arises that any constitutionally protected conduct is prohibited by any rule. Plaintiff's primary contention seems to be not with the rules themselves, but with the alleged arbitrary and irrational application of the rules, which does not state a constitutional claim absent an atypical and significant deprivation.

Plaintiffs next allege a lack of educational programs that they assert are essential to secure their release. They seek a testing of all residents to identify those who are performing below a sixth grade level, and ask for a teacher certified to teach K-12 levels as well as special education students. As stated in the Court's prior order, Plaintiffs do not have a constitutionally-protected interest in educational advancement in and of itself. (Ct. 12/14/11 Order, pp. 5-6.) Rushville is not constitutionally required to provide the same educational opportunities that Plaintiffs assert are available in the Illinois Department of Corrections.

Further, no plausible inference arises that Plaintiffs' educational advancement is a requirement of their treatment progress. Plaintiffs do allege that residents who are unable to read and write are unable to progress in treatment. However, this problem only applies to Plaintiff Lurz, who allegedly "possesses a very limited reading and writing ability." (Am. Compl., p. 2.) Lurz might be able to state a claim if he asked to participate in treatment but was denied because of his disabilities (learning or otherwise), or was unable to progress in treatment because of those disabilities. Yet, that claim would belong to Lurz individually, not to the rest of the Plaintiffs.

Plaintiffs next challenge the use of the black box during court writs, asking the Court to order Defendants to "implement a system which utlize [sic] the exercise of professional judgment in the use and employment of the black box restraint." (Am. Compl., p. 15.) As the Court stated in its prior order, the "black box," by itself, does not amount to a constitutional deprivation. (Ct. 12/14/11 Order, d/e 14, p. 14)(citing Miller v. Dobier, 634 F.3d 412, 414-15 (7th Cir. 2011)(no constitutionally protected liberty interest in avoiding the "black box" restraints); Thielman, 282 F.3d at 483-84 (7th Cir. 2002)(addition of waist belt and leg chains to handcuffs during transport of detained person did not implicate Constitution)).

Plaintiffs allege that they have endured swelling, bruising, and cuts from the black box, and that Plaintiff Webb fell while wearing the black box on some unidentified date, sustaining serious injuries. The incorrect application of the black box to a resident, if done intentionally to cause significant pain, would arise to a constitutional claim, just as applying regular handcuffs in such a manner would state a claim. However, the claim would arise only to the resident harmed from the incident. No plausible inference arises of a systemic constitutional problem that affects all Plaintiffs with regard to application of the black box.

Plaintiffs next allege that "they have been forced to have bowel movement[s] in their clothing and urinate in their clothing do [sic] to the Defendants [sic] policy for not stopping" during writs. (Am. Compl., p. 14). They further allege that they have appeared in open court in soiled clothing as a result, which they believe is done to embarrass and humiliate them.

The Court has already held that "refusing Plaintiffs the use of a public restroom during transport would not, per se , violate the Constitution . . . ." (Ct. 12/14/11 Order, d/e 14, p. 6). Requiring the use of a urinal jar during transport does not, by itself, amount to a constitutional deprivation. The Court cannot "direct[] the Defendants [to stop] . . .using or ...


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