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Timothy Sain v. Michelle Saddler

October 25, 2012

TIMOTHY SAIN, PLAINTIFF,
v.
MICHELLE SADDLER, TARRY WILLIAMS, HUGHES LOCHARD, FORREST ASHBY, AND DALE KUNKEL, DEFENDANTS.



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

E-FILED

Thursday, 25 October, 2012 11:04:06 AM Clerk, U.S. District Court, ILCD

OPINION

Plaintiff is detained in the Rushville Treatment and Detention Center pursuant to the Illinois Sexually Violent Persons Act. He seeks leave to proceed in forma pauperis on his claim that the top bunk beds are dangerous.

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 action is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim, even if part of the filing fee has been paid. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(d)(2). 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 will be cancelled as unnecessary.

LEGAL STANDARD

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).

ALLEGATIONS

Plaintiff alleges that the top bunks at the Rushville Treatment and Detention Center lack railings or ladders. Twice he has fallen off the top bunk while sleeping, once injuring his back and the next time injuring his ribs. He cannot climb up safely onto the top bunk. His complaints to Defendants about this problem have been unavailing. He seeks "some safety mechanism" for the top bunk and damages for his pain and suffering.

ANALYSIS

Plaintiff is constitutionally entitled to humane conditions and to be free from deliberate indifference to a known and substantial risk of serious harm. Sain v. Wood, 512 F.3d 886, 893 (7th Cir. 2008)(committed person is entitled to "'humane conditions'" and the provision of "'adequate food, clothing, shelter, and medical care'")(quoting Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 832 (1994)).

At this point, determining whether the design of the top bunk presents a substantial risk of serious harm to Plaintiff would be premature. Accordingly, the claim will be allowed to proceed against the facility director, Forrest Ashby, and the Secretary of the Department of Human Services, Michelle Saddler. Ashby and Saddler arguably occupy positions which might enable them to take action to reduce the risk by installing safety rails and ladders for the top bunks. The claim will also be allowed to proceed against Defendant Dr. Lochard, who might have the authority to prescribe Plaintiff a low bunk.

Defendants Williams and Kunkel will be dismissed. Williams was the former security director, and Kunkel is the current security director. No plausible inference arises that they have any control over whether Plaintiff is ...


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